Bozoma (Boz) Saint John, CMO of Endeavor (aka @badassboz) has had an exciting career leading brands like Uber, Apple Music, Pepsi and now Endeavor, the entertainment and sports conglomerate. In this episode, we dive deep into her unique superpowers–which sit squarely amidst the magic of pop culture–and how she's added skills along the way to help her do “the full job.” Despite creativity being her leading strength, Boz has leaned into “the math” to underscore her achievements. A skill she said she was criticized for having not mastered early in her career. But no one can argue with the numbers, she told me, especially when you launch Apple Music and earn 40 million subscribers early on.
“But to me and to the team, the thought was not about the subscribers and if they would come, it was 'could we create a home for the artists?' Whereas the record label had been home for decades, if we could create a new home for the artists, they would come and if they came then so would the subscribers. No math could tell you that making an artist feel comfortable and at home within a streaming service that relies on algorithms would indeed net you the numbers. And to me, that was like splitting the atom.”
So what is Boz up to now at Endeavor? Well, tune in to hear more about the rebranding of Endeavor's rapidly-growing global marketing team into 160over90, how she’s thinking about connectivity between brands and talent – like Charlize Theron, Matt Damon, Serena Williams, Janell Monae, etc. – and how Endeavor is bringing new life to legacy businesses such as Professional Bull Riders and Miss Universe. Speaking of Miss Universe, it’s been a historic year as for the first time in history, Miss America, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA are all black women. And get ready because Boz is now a judge (possibly a future contestant, if I convinced her to run with her soon-to-be developed trapeze skills).
This episode is filled with heart, excitement and great life advice–see tips below. As Boz shares her experience of losing her husband at such a young age, she reminds us all to live life urgently. She describes her own life as a campfire, where you need lots of different kinds of logs to really make the fire blaze. Speaking of fire, here's a photo of how this CMO shows that she “moves”–a three-piece suit in African fabric that she wore to record this exceptional episode.
Heard on this Episode: Boz’s Life Tips
Find Joy in Your Journey
I have chosen to find joy in every job. It's a distinction that I've had to make that I learned pretty early on actually. Essentially, because I felt that no environment was optimized for me – they were optimized for other people. And so, if I was going to stay sane and also to be able to do the job that I really wanted to do, I had to find the joy in not just the job, but in the brand, in my colleagues, in the industry. I had to find it. And that is what has kept me so positive and optimistic.
Don’t Play it Safe
I feel like my career has not been safe at all. I've probably taken moves and jumps and decisions that I've made, usually to the chagrin of those who advise me and definitely against my mother’s wishes, that's for sure. But it has all felt really natural to me and maybe some of it feels like survival – needing to feel seen, needing to feel like I was contributing with people who appreciated my contribution. All of those things were the softer metrics for why I made decisions to either a company, stay at a company or leave it.
Let Your Strength Take the Lead
When I first started in marketing, one of the first pieces of criticism I received was that I was not data-centered enough. I knew a lot about pop culture and creative and all of the, what I call, magic in the air, but the criticism was that I didn't use enough math in my predictions. For me, it's less about choosing one over the other than which one leads. The day we hit 40 million subscribers on Apple music, no math could have told you that making an artist feel comfortable within a streaming service that relies on algorithms would indeed net you the numbers.
Be the Campfire
What has happened in my career is that it's like a campfire. There are lots of logs that make the biggest fire. It's not one log… no, you need something to light it, a little spark, you need the small logs and big heavy ones that can last a long time. You need different pieces in order to make the fire roar and to sustain it. And that for me is what has happened over the course of my life. There are lots of things, big and small, that inspire me, that keep me optimistic or keep me curious about the world and keep me motivated and confident.
Live Life with Urgency
My husband passed away December 2013. He was four days from his 44th birthday. It makes me want to live every day that much more urgently. It doesn't make me afraid of life, his death inspired me to just live faster. I want to get all the good things done. It's like looking at my daughter, who is now 10 and a half, and she's so curious about the world, she says so many interesting things. We went to the American music awards together, and I was looking at her [singing all the lyrics] in wonder. Like, wow, I got to get some of that back.