Summoning Resilience In Our Darkest Times: Bozoma Saint John on Loss and Motherhood

“My parenting has changed because I need to make space for [my daughter] to be honest with me about what she needs so that I can be the mother that she needs; not necessarily the mother that I think is needed.” – Bozoma Saint John

Episode 02

Continuing In our For the Love of The Matriarchy series, Jen talks with powerful women who are taking innovative approaches to their work, their relationships, and their joy. Bozoma Saint John is a trailblazing marketing executive whose career has taken her to the heights of companies like Pepsi, Apple, Uber and Netflix. But her path to becoming a “badass” has been one marked by profound loss and upheaval. 

From the loss of her first child and her husband’s battle with cancer, to being told she’s “too much” by those closest to her, Bozoma opens up about summoning resilience from life’s lowest lows. She discusses redefining what true strength looks like, embracing authenticity even when it ruffles the status quo, and pioneering a collaborative model of single parenthood that makes space for her daughter’s voice.

Jen and Bozoma discuss:

  • Embracing authenticity even when it ruffles the status quo and offends those in power
  • Redefining strength not as impenetrable toughness, but as the pliability in experiencing brokenness yet still rising again
  • The complexities of reconciling life’s tragedies with its gifts and holding space for gratitude amid loss
  • Pioneering a collaborative, trust-based model of single parenthood that makes space for her daughter’s voice and needs

For anyone craving inspiration to honor their scars while uncompromisingly claiming their power, this is a master class.

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love podcast. Welcome to the show. I don’t know if you can hear me smiling or if you’re over on YouTube, you can see me smiling, but I just finished today’s interview and I’m just delighted by it and energized by it and inspired by it. I love this girl. We’re continuing our series on matriarchy and doing a deep dive into the power, beauty, and resilience of women who are leading, inspiring, and shaping our world. That’s all we’re trying to do here. This is a celebration of the strength, wisdom, and determination of who I would consider some of our most beautiful matriarchs. I mean that in the most honoring way — the women who are showing us a path, who are lighting it up with their own lanterns and their own lives and their own choices. Today, we have a truly extraordinary guest. We have Bozoma Saint John here today and if you know her, you know her, or if you love her, you love her. I mean, millions of us do for a reason. 

Bozoma is not just a corporate powerhouse. She is a force of nature. She is an absolute trailblazer. She has shattered glass ceilings. She has defied expectations. She has exemplified, on a personal level, what it takes to keep going after tragedies rock your world. She’s the epitome of this series. Bozoma faced the loss of her husband to cancer. She’s navigated the complexity of single motherhood. She learned to embrace life with courage, with resilience as a fully realized woman. I’ve been watching her and learning from her for years. Our first touch point was years ago when I began going, “Wait a minute, I respect her. I admire her. She is her own self.” Bozoma is her own self. She is at the very top of the ladder in a corporate success space. But in all areas of her life, she is her. She is uniquely her. She is powerfully her. And I’ve been obviously drawn to that. 

So, just in case you don’t know her work, she is a groundbreaking business leader. She’s led marketing for mega companies. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of any of them. And I mean led marketing, chief of marketing, chief marketing officer—the CMO — Apple, Netflix, Uber, Pepsi. I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. She’s been nominated several times over for her amazing work, but she was just recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame. She’s won so many awards. I cannot list them all. One of my favorites is that in 2021, she was crowned by Forbes as the world’s most influential CMO. 

Beyond that, Bozoma is a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion. She uses her power and her platform. She’s expanded her service outside of the US now. She has been named as an ambassador for the African Diaspora and special envoy to the President of Ghana, which is where she was born, and she was raised in the US. She is just special, really, on every level. I don’t care who you are, this conversation is going to move you. We are in the guts and the bones of real life today. We are talking about being a woman in this world and what strength means and what resilience means, what loss looks like, what single parenting looks like. This is a human conversation, and I mentioned it at the top, but if you’d like to watch any of the episodes, that’s over on my YouTube channel. Bozoma is such a stunning and beautiful human. This conversation will be a really fun one to watch with your eyeballs, but otherwise, enjoy this discussion. 

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