Uber Chief Brands Officer has urged young people never to settle for less or take no for an answer as the New Year begins.
Bozoma Saint John shared the advice as a lesson she gleaned following the death of her husband, Peter St John in 2013.
The couple had been married for 10 years and were making great strides in their advertising careers before the “shock” news.
“We discovered that year  that he had cancer”, the Connecticut-born Ghanaian told an audience at the Labadi Beach Hotel where the African Leadership Initiative West Africa held a fund-raising.
But after months of chemotherapy with little success, the ultimate bombshell dropped on the family with a four-year-old daughter.
“He was told that he would not make it and that his cancer was terminal…he had a few weeks to live”.
Life reset the . of her priorities and there was a great ‘do-it-now’ mentality. “It created this urgency for us” she recalled, “we needed to do everything we wanted to do, before he was gone.”
“If Peter wanted to go camping, there were little second thoughts. “There was no next week”. He made up with friends and dropped grudges more instantly. The little fights in the marriage stopped.
“If we wanted to make up for the little fights that we had along the year, we clear the air.
“You really don’t know how long we have. I think we all ….but the truth of the matter is, we really don’t know how long we have…
“And when you do know, it gives you that much more urgency..fire to do everything that you wanted to do”.
At the latter stages of cancer, Peter could not talk. He lay in bed staring into his wife’s eyes. Peter passed away in December, leaving his wife and daughter to enter 2014 alone.
Bozoma Saint John said her late husband gave her the “gift of urgency” and “the grace” to be more determined to execute tasks.
“Never settle for the things that you think are impossible to attain….and never take no for an answer. Do it right now”.
Following the passing of her husband, Bozoma joined Apple in 2014 and later Uber in June 2017as its first Chief Brands Officer.
The Uber executive is known for creativity and power of improving brands through music and entertainment. She was the former head of music and entertainment . at PepsiCo, where she struck a massive $50 million sponsorship deal with Beyoncé.
Uber has described Bozoma Saint John as having a ” long track record of successfully creating emotional connections between people and the products they love.”
Bozoma has been named one of Fortune’s 40 Under 40 in 2016.
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