A conversation with Badass Boz: leadership, creativity, and success for the future of business
Over the course of her awe-inspiring career, Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John has earned a formidable reputation as a trail blazing brand marketing executive and change agent. With nearly two decades of experience at some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide—from being CMO of Endeavor- one of the world's largest talent representation agencies, to executing Beyoncé’s Emmy-winning Super Bowl performance while at Pepsi, to heading iTunes and Apple Music’s global consumer marketing efforts, to helping turn around Uber’s reputation as their first-ever Chief Brand Officer, to her current role as CMO of Netflix-- Bozoma has always combined her pop culture savvy, analytical consumer insights, and ability to predict the zeitgeist, to reach new, unprecedented heights. In this powerfully honest, informative, and empowering conversation, Bozoma shares lessons from her life and career, shedding illuminating insight on leading through times of disruption, the importance of having your fingers on the cultural pulse, and resiliency in the face of unpredictability. Weaving in her personal experience as a daughter of two Ghanaian immigrants, a mother, and one of the few women and people of color at the C-Level of not one, not two, but three Fortune 500 companies, Bozoma leaves audiences ready to boldly take on the future.
Understanding pop culture: anticipate what’s coming (and avoid being tone deaf)
Named to Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People” and Fortune’s “Disruptors, Innovators & Stars,” Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John has used her pop culture intuition and uncanny ability to predict trends and understand what’s really happening beyond the world of C-Suite offices and analytical spreadsheets, to redefine the strategies of some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide. Prior to Netflix, Bozoma was the CMO of Endeavor, one of the largest entertainment representation companies on the world. From helping Pepsi resuscitate a failing Mountain Dew through an unlikely partnership in the world of Harlem streetball, to stealing the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference with a presentation that had Buzzfeed call her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event," to bringing in a series of A-List celebrity partnerships to help a PR-beleaguered Uber redefine its relationship between drivers and riders, Bozoma understands the power of pop culture as a bridge to connect with consumers, tap into overlooked and misunderstood markets, and drive unprecedented success. In this fascinating and informative talk, Bozoma reveals the future of marketing and brand development, sharing actionable lessons on how to understand the current cultural moment, and redefine relationships with consumers and clients. With infamous—and viral-- marketing “misses” paralyzing marketers who fear being the next ones to make a mistake, Bozoma highlights how and why pop culture is the key to tone deaf avoidance and spot-on marketing success.
Case Study: Bozoma Saint John Taught a “Badass Workshop” at Harvard Business School, Sharing the Secrets to Her Success
Netflix’s Chief Marketing Officer BOZOMA SAINT JOHN led a workshop called “Anatomy of a Badass” at Harvard Business School, speaking to MBA candidates to teach the secrets to her success. Harvard’s short intensive programs (SIP) generally have 50-60 participants, but around 300 students expressed interest in this one. Along with her position as Netflix’s CMO, Saint John is the former CMO at Endeavor, Chief Brand Officer at Uber, and Marketing Executive for Apple Music and PepsiCo, giving her a wide range of experience as a trailblazing brand marketing executive that she shared with a new generation of business leaders. Saint John spoke on the tactical and pivotal marketing moves she made during her career by trusting her gut instincts, which she finds critical for her success. Professor Francesca Gino shared on Instagram after the sessions, “Loved today’s class. Among the many insights: Set your own expectations. Say it, by stating them outloud. Advocate for them. Share them with your pack so that they can speak about them outloud in rooms you are not in.”
RESILIENCE PROGRAMMING | Leadership: Bozoma Saint John helps leadership teams reinvent themselves, innovative, and dominate their markets
Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix BOZOMA SAINT JOHN has helped some of the world's most notable brands and companies reinvent themselves, develop innovative products and services, and dominate their markets. Boz applies the lessons learned during her experiences working at Netflix, Endeavor, Uber, Apple, and Pepsi to her virtual engagements. “Bozoma was indeed magical. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event!” (Facebook) Simply put--she's a brilliant speaker, especially for these disruptive times which call for resilient leadership and innovative thinking. In fact, she plans to publish a memoir on these topics in 2022, titled The Urgent Life: A Story of Love, Grief, and Survival. She regularly speaks at virtual events, including Essence's Virtual Entrepreneur Summit, a virtual conversation with Harvard Business Review, and a new limited series podcast along with Katie Couric called Back to Biz, where the two interview CEOs, innovators, and thought leaders in nearly every industry to find out how they are adjusting to — and innovating in —this new reality we’re all experiencing.
Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix, who was previously the head of brand and marketing at Endeavor, Uber, Apple, and Pepsi, is helping to lead the complicated conversations we’re having during these times.
While more and more executives are looking to responsibly address deeply rooted societal issues both in the workplace and in our communities, Netflix CMO BOZOMA SAINT JOHN, who was previously the head of brand and marketing at Endeavor, Uber, Apple, and Pepsi, is helping to lead this complicated conversation. Saint John participated in a discussion with the executive editor of TIME where she shared, "It's really important for all of us who sit in positions in which we are leaders in these businesses to be able to show up, with our concerns on our sleeves, in our hearts, in our actions, and to be able to enact all of that, so I do take it as a personal responsibility to make sure my own beliefs are also coming through the work that I do. Not just in the marketing of our shows and our talent, but also in the way that we behave in the world. I believe that as business leaders, that is actually our responsibility too, and that we can't shy away from it," adding, "We can't hide behind logos...we have to have a voice, we have to make action."
She's talked about this before, such as in CNBC’s article, “The right way for companies to weigh in on racism, according to experts”, Boz said that it’s important to employees for companies to “put their money where their mouth is.” Leveraging her unique experience, Boz connects with senior leadership and their staff around the discussions and actions taking place now to help businesses effectively engage in the conversation of social justice, equity, and healing. “Even if it’s not perfect, acknowledging this very moment in time is extraordinarily important” she says. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also the profitable thing to do. Boz reminds businesses when they are culturally inclusive and just, they attract and retain employees, customers, and investors. In Boz’s new podcast with co-hosts Katie Couric, Back to Biz with Katie and Boz, the two interview CEOs, innovators, and thought leaders in nearly every industry to find out how they are adjusting and responding to — and creatively innovating in —this new climate we are all living through. At events, Boz is consistently praised, “Bozoma was indeed magical. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event!” (Facebook)
VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING: Partner with Bozoma Saint John on a reopening strategy that communicates your business and industry is ready to reemerge stronger, better prepared, and ready to dominate in these new realities
With our speakers helping to lead these discussions, more and more executives are turning to one another for advice on how to reopen safely and joining forces to solve problems posed by the pandemic. Netflix CMO, BOZOMA SAINT JOHN, partners with CEOs, CMOs, and those in senior leadership as part of a weekly discussion on communicating with clarity in the age of COVID-19 – how to reopen, regain trust, and reemerge as business leaders in your industry. She addresses such questions as: What are the narratives and communication that our audiences and consumers want from businesses now? How can leadership deliver in an authentic way to draw on the loyalty of existing consumers while also gaining new customers? How do we communicate with our employees that despite these extraordinary times we're all working toward a common purpose?
In Boz’s new podcast with co-host Katie Couric, Back to Biz with Katie and Boz, the two interview CEOs, innovators, and thought leaders in nearly every industry to find out how they are adjusting to – and innovating in – this new reality we’re all experiencing. In this talk recently featured on SXSWs at Home’s playlist, Boz discusses how brands and creatives can harness the “cultural crystal ball” to accurately predict what’s next in entertainment, sports, fashion, food, and – more importantly – how to bring their predictions to life. At events, Boz is consistently praised, “Bozoma was indeed magical – she crushed it today. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event for our customers!” (Facebook).
Virtual Programming: Rebranding and marketing innovation in a post-Covid world
Over the course of her career, Netflix CMO BOZOMA "BOZ" SAINT JOHN has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing brand and marketing executive and genuine change-agent in the space. Few people have the depth and breadth of experience that Boz has. Couple that with her remarkable success at Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and the Endeavor brands (WME | IMG, Miss Universe, and more) and you have one of the most effective marketers of any generation. At virtual engagements she delivers dynamic and actionable remarks, diving into how to rebrand yourself and your business during Covid-- especially in the time “post-isolation“-- and how to keep yourself motivated and inspired to be and do your best. From tactical insights into the narratives and communication that our audiences and consumers want from businesses now, to how leadership can deliver in an authentic way, to drawing on the loyalty of existing consumers while gaining new ones, Boz's insights leave audiences prepared to innovate. Boz has already been sought-out for virtual engagements at Essence's Virtual Entrepreneur Summit, engaged in a virtual conversation with Harvard Business Review, and launched a new limited series podcast along with Katie Couric called Back to Biz, which explores the ways thought leaders, CEOs and innovators are responding to the societal shifts that have been ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hailed as the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event,” by Buzzfeed, Boz brings unparalleled energy, transformative thinking, and innovative ideas to each engagement.
Bozoma Saint John is Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix. Over the course of her career, Boz has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing marketing and advertising executive. She most recently served as CMO of Endeavor, a global leader in entertainment, sports and fashion. Operating in more than 30 countries, Endeavor is the parent of a number of subsidiaries with leadership positions in their respective industries, including WME, IMG and UFC. Collectively, Endeavor specializes in talent representation and management; brand marketing, sponsorship and licensing; media development, sales and distribution; and event operation, sports training and league development. In her role, Boz focused on driving marketing efforts across Endeavor’s growing portfolio, as well as its 160over90 business, which works with premium brands including Anheuser Busch InBev, Marriott, Microsoft, T-Mobile, USAA and Visa.
Boz also served as Chief Brand Officer for Uber, where she was tasked with telling the stories of millions of riders and driver partners across 600+ cities. Prior to Uber, Boz served as Head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple Music and iTunes, spearheading campaigns geared towards growing consumer brand recognition, loyalty and equity around the world. She stole the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference in 2016, where she introduced the new interface for Apple Music. Following the presentation, Buzzfeed called her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event.”
Prior to Apple, Boz served as Head of the Music and Entertainment Marketing Group at Pepsi-Cola North America, where she drove breakthrough consumer engagement plans for brands across the soda giant’s beverages portfolio by engaging tastemaker-consumers. Before Pepsi, Boz served as VP of Marketing for Ashley Stewart, a women’s fashion brand, as well as managed accounts at advertising agencies Arnold Worldwide and Spike Lee's SpikeDDB.
Boz has been recognized for her breakthrough work by both the industry and her peers. She has been inducted into Billboard’s Women in Music 2018 Hall of Fame and in 2014, she was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement, where she currently sits on their Executive Committee. She was named to The Hollywood Reporter’s 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 list and 2016’s Executive of the Year by Billboard Magazine; she has been featured in Fortune Magazine’s Disruptors, Innovators & Stars 40 Under 40 feature, Billboard’s Top Executives 40 Under 40 and Power 100 lists, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Ad Age’s 50 Most Creative People, Ebony Magazine’s 100 Powerful Executives, Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Business, Fortune Magazine’s 2018 list of Most Influential CMOs, and made the cover of Adweek as one of the most exciting personalities in Advertising. Additionally, Boz has been awarded African Health Now’s Inaugural Gift of Life Leadership Award as well as BET’s Leading Women Defined Butterfly Award. In March, 2017, she was named as a Henry Crown Fellow in the Aspen Institute. During the 2020 Spring semester, Professor Frances Frei of Harvard Business School used Saint John’s successful marketing career as a case study in her MBA class, “Leading Difference.” Boz appeared as a guest lecturer for the Harvard MBA students, delving deep into the tactical and pivotal marketing moves she made throughout her career, which she now credits as intrinsic to her success. Most recently, Saint John launched a podcast alongside award-winning journalist Katie Couric, “Back to Biz with Katie and Boz,” which explores the ways thought leaders, CEOs and innovators are responding to the societal shifts that have been ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic.
In spite of all of her professional success, Boz considers her greatest accomplishment to be mothering her 11 year old daughter, Lael. After the death of her husband, Peter, to cancer in 2013, Boz also took on the efforts of raising funding for cancer research and has been recognized by the TJ Martell Foundation for her devotion to the cause. Boz’s other philanthropic efforts include representing Pencils of Promise as a Global Ambassador to Ghana and serving on the boards of Girls Who Code and Vital Voices.
Boz was born in Middletown, CT, but spent her early childhood in Nairobi Kenya, Washington DC, and Accra Ghana, before immigrating to Colorado Springs, CO when she was 12 years old. She received her Bachelor’s degree in English and African American Studies from Wesleyan University (at which she currently sits on the President’s Advisory Council). After many years in New York, she currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.