If you have a preconceived notion of what a tech startup exec looks like, or sounds like, or about the path they took to get to their position, Bozoma Saint John will make you throw all your past ideas out the window. You may remember her from when her appearance on stage at Apple’s 2016 WWDC keynote made a splash on Twitter — but she’s since moved on from the tech giant to make waves at another company: Uber. The controversial ride-hailing app (which, since its founding, has also expanded into delivering food and other services) has had a rough year, including boycotts; disturbing allegations of sexual harassment and hostile work environments; and the resignation of its CEO, Travis Kalanick. But this summer, the company brought Bozoma, who goes more casually by Boz, to be its first-ever Chief Brand Officer, to help turn the tide.
Headlines like “Is this the woman who will save Uber?” from The New York Times show what Uber and the rest of the industry may be expecting from the woman who describes herself as “a force of nature in fierce stilettos” in her Twitter bio. But Boz isn’t just concerned with the changes she’ll make at Uber, she’s also concerned about her impact on the world. She’s passionate about not only showing up as an example for young women, and especially young women of colour, in the public arena; she also makes a point to show up to local schools’ career days and do as much outreach as she can.
In her career, she’s done everything from work in advertising for Spike Lee, to marketing at Pepsi, to changing the game as an Apple Music exec, proving that learning to code isn’t the only way into the tech world. Here Boz shares some of her best wisdom for those just starting out in their careers. And who knows — follow these tips and maybe you’ll end up just as badass as Boz herself.
1 Do. Your. Research.
Boz is all in favour of sending cold emails — after all, you’ll never know what you can get if you don’t ask — but she warns to make sure you do your research before reaching out. “Cold doesn’t mean you’re cold,” she says, meaning that even if you’re new to the person you’re sending an email to, they shouldn’t be new to you. Whether you’re emailing someone for an informational interview or because you’re applying for a job, showing interest in what they’re doing can make a huge impact. And likewise, when you come armed with info to a job interview, whether it’s stats on how the company is performing or an analysis of what salary you really should be asking for, Boz says you’re “that much more empowered” to handle the situation in a way that primes you for a positive outcome.
2 “Hustle to get in the right rooms”
When she was recently honoured by the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation at their annual Art For Life gala, Boz told a story about how, years back, she had actually snuck into the exclusive and star-studded event. After all, she knew she wanted to be in the same place as those invited to the event — so she found her way in. While she doesn’t quite recommend party crashing, she does advise that you have to be confident and get yourself into rooms while, as she puts it, “you’re young and dumb enough to think no one will turn you away.” That means, working hard, making connections, and saying yes to as many interesting offers as you receive.
3 Actually, don’t “dress for the job you want”
It’s time for an update on that timeless advice. Remember those preconceived notions about tech execs? In this case, they might include grey hoodies or black turtlenecks. But when you see Boz in her sleeveless Chicago Bulls T-shirt, fringed leather skirt, and red stilettos, it makes a statement way different than what you may expect. Instead of doing a wardrobe deep dive for your most “professional”-looking clothes, Boz says to “Dress in the thing that makes you feel most powerful.” For her, that’s leather, but she says it could be a favourite pair of heels, a certain shade of red lipstick, or anything else that makes you feel like you can take over the world. As you’re preparing for an interview, “Put on something that makes you feel confident,” she says. “Put on the armour.”
Taken from Teen Vogue. Click here to read the original.