Until June 2017, she was a marketing executive at Apple Music
In 2016, Fortune included her in their 40 under 40 list
“You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame, how could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes” – Friedrich Nietzche
This is Bozoma’s pinned tweet
She has had many life experiences “resembling a phoenix rising from the ashes”
“Starting over is always better than where I came from”
Bozoma was born in Conneticut. Her dad had come from Ghana as a Full Bright Scholar and was in the process of obtaining two PhDs. After he received them, they went back to Ghana.
At age 5, she moved to the U.S., then back to Africa a year later
They then moved to Colorado so her dad could help out international students studying in the U.S. by working for the International Students Association
Bozoma’s native language is “Fante”
Her mother taught her –“It really is okay to be different and to celebrate those things rather than hiding them”
“I am never afraid of being the odd man out, because I’m comfortable in that space”
Bozoma has a knack for pursuing leadership positions
She was captain of the cheer squad and track team in high school, and also ran for student council (which she lost)
She thinks it’s genetic
What did her parents say after she lost while running for student council?
The same thing they’d say after any failure – There’s no time for tears, build up your audience and do it next year
Her mom was very solution oriented and was eager to have Bozoma try again a new way
Bozoma got Jay-Z to perform at her college, Wesleyan University, where she studied pre-med
Bozoma became excited by music, dance, and the arts so she joined social clubs along these lines – like the Committee for African American Developments
Getting him there just involved a lot of phone calls, they held the concert in the cafeteria and charged $2 at the door
“When you do things for free, people don’t show up. When you charge a little bit of money, people are interested.”
What was her pitch?
“The art of the pitch is really about enthusiasm. It doesn’t really matter what you say, just that you’re enthusiastic about it”
Her Year Log Sabbatical
Bozoma graduated pre-med and got into med school, but she knew in her heart she didn’t want to be a doctor forever
She didn’t know how else to push off things until she could figure out what she wanted to do with her life
She told her parents that wanted to make sure she could go to med school, be committed to it, and graduate in a respectable amount of time, but she couldn’t do this until she’s taken the time to really reflect on her path in life
Upon beginning her sabatical, she had no idea what she was going to do and was scared, but she did know she was very smart and could hustle
Bozoma moved to NY, broke with no plan, to stay on her friend’s couch in exchange for cooking dinner every night
Her go to meal was some sort of starch (pasta or rice), meat (chiken/beef/fish in a stew or soup), then a green (collard greens)
There was a local restaurant that would give Bozoma one meal per day for free.
How? – The restaurant sold cheap rolls for breakfast, and Bozoma would buy one every day. The owner noticed, and got to talking with her, and found out more about her situation.
“It’s very much in my personality to talk to strangers. I’m very curious about people.” She asked questions, and her and the owner struck up a friendship.
She told Bozoma to always be friendly, and smile at people
The owner also told Bozoma about a temporary for hire agency, and Bozoma started working for the company. One day she got a call, and was told that Spike Lee had fired his assistant, and Bozoma was needed to go answer the phones at Spike Lee’s new advertising agency.
Her Job at The Ad Agency
She answered phones, got coffee, etc.
Spike had just finished writing Bamboozled, and told Bozoma to read the script one day, just dropping it on her desk
Bozoma took the liberty of marking it up with changes, using a red pen
Spike seemed annoyed when Bozoma showed him her corrections, but a little while later, he commented on how she made some great notes/edits and he would always have a place for her within his company
Naval Ravikant– “If I always did what I was qualified to do, I’d be pushing a broom somewhere”
Do the one extra thing you’re not qualified to do, and see what happens
She later took a job with Pepsi as a brand manager
There wasn’t much opportunity for growth. “If I stayed here, I’d just be some middle management person with no excitement.” – so she quit
At this point, Bozoma started experimenting with fashion/her look
Bozoma took a job here as head of marketing, the goal being to change the way plus size women were portrayed, although she didn’t really have the experience
She wanted the opportunity to run her own team, and thought “Why can’t I do this? I’m fashionable”
By the one year mark, she failed, and realized the position wasn’t for her – she wasn’t yet developed as a leader, and found it difficult to lead such a large team
Head of Music and Entrtainment Marketing at Pepsi
In 2011, Bozoma went back to Pepsi and created a new music and entertainment group
In 2013, her husband, Peter, was diagnosed with cancer
Both her and her husband’s mother were breast cancer survivors
6 months after being diagnosed, he passed away. They had a four year old daughter at the time.
He made Bozoma promise that she wouldn’t stop living life with as much fire as possible, and that she couldn’t take any day for granted
Grieving and Anger
Before Peter was diagnosed, he and Bozoma were briefly separated
When he got sick, this made Bozoma realize “This type of love doesn’t come around often. The very lucky only really get it once. It’s important to appreciate it.”
“The grief was not just about losing him, but also about forgiving herself” – Bozoma had a lot of regret about taking love for granted, and losing precious time together due to their divorce
“If I’m blessed enough to ever find this kind of love again, I’ll never take it for granted”
“Things can change, but always appreciate the greatest gifts you are given”
How has her perception of anger changed due to her husband’s passing?
Before he died, Bozoma was very unpatient, arrogant, unforgiving, and very demanding of herself and others
The death taught her that anger is useless – “You can still get a lot of things done without so much chaos in your wake”
With anger, you can damage others, and then you have to go back and correct the damage
Walking away, counting to 5, and just pausing help her diffuse the anger
Tim has found the question “What else might this mean?” – helps him diffuse emails that at first glance, seem angry, but are actually not
Shortly after her husband’s death, she met Jimmy Iovine, and he was looking for a someone to fill the head of marketing position for Beats Music
Bozoma knew she needed another risk to make her feel alive and quit her job with Pepsi, moved across the country (3 months after her husband passed away) to take the job with Beats