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Incredible Women

Bozoma Saint John’s career rules

She’s the pin-sharp marketing renegade who has transformed iconic brands including Beats and Apple Music, before becoming CMO of entertainment industry behemoth Endeavor, and appearing on countless power lists along the way. Here, the indomitable BOZOMA SAINT JOHN shares five career rules she swears by

Photography Luke GilfordStyling Jason Rembert
Top and pants Maticevski

It will allow you to communicate your ideas with more confidence. When I wore a form-fitting fuschia dress and pink Louboutins to give the key note speech for Apple at their 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference it was a very disruptive moment. I don’t think anyone had worn such a colourful dress before. But for me, that outfit was a game-changer. I walked onto that stage feeling awesome. Undefeatable.

When my family moved from Ghana to Colorado, all the cues told me I didn’t fit in – my accent, my culture, my skin color. My mom was the one who reinforced the idea that assimilation was not an option. She took it to the extreme: whenever I had friends over, she would speak to them in our mother tongue. She refused to speak English, even though she speaks four languages. She wouldn’t order pizza. She’d cook our pepper soup and make them eat it. But she was the one who made me believe that what I had to offer was just as important.

I understood as a kid how to identify with ideas that didn’t have anything to do with me, or my upbringing, and it has helped me be really aware of other people’s emotional states. We have so much more in common than we think.

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Dress Reem Acra; sandals Sophia Webster; earrings Nausheen Shah x Monica Sordo

For me, that means huge curly hair, motherhood, grief, sequins, red lipstick. I think I am a better executive because I’m a widow and a single mom and because I have a life that’s busy – I don’t have to pretend everything is ok all the time, and I am able to bring the fullness of my emotion and my experiences to work. If you feel like you want to wear that floral blouse to the next meeting, wear it, so somebody else feels they can, too. The more of us that do it… there will be an army, and nobody can stop us. It’s a little bit different, but it’s also just being. How amazing is that? Isn’t that so revolutionary an idea, to just be? Let’s all revolt and just be.

Great leadership means getting your colleagues to really believe in the greatness of the idea – that’s where success comes from.

Read the full feature in PORTER’s Summer 2019 issue

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The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown.