For anyone who has been in the audience when Bozoma Saint John is speaking, the second thing you notice after you get over how totally she dominates the stage is how energized she is. Not so much a hyper, over-the-top energy (although she can do that too) but the sense that she’s pissed off, and that’s part of what’s driving her.
It’s like she’s summoning deep wells of resources from her experience in the world, and she’s using her voice as a laser pointer to get the message to you.
Uber’s chief brand officer, Saint John has the difficult job of trying to get people to love a company that dominated headlines in 2017 for exemplifying some of the worst excesses in Silicon Valley culture.
To that end, Saint John is trying to reframe the stories people tell when they talk about Uber, and she’s doing it with her voice — a brand unto itself — pulling from her own history in popular culture.
In a recent Goldman Sachs video interview, Saint John talked about how pissed off she gets when people express shock about the level of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley and inequality in corporate America:
When I got the job and I started having conversations around sexual-harassment, I was really shocked at how shocked people were. I was like ‘I’m sorry, did you not know this was happening?’ Like is this a brand new conversation? Like really we didn’t know that? How is that possible? So I had to get over my attitude and use this as a moment to move forward. That was a conscious decision for me and that was tough because I was so upset, almost offended by it.
If you’re going to ask me how I feel about this moment then you haven’t been paying attention. Do you think I became a Black woman yesterday? In corporate America? Did that just happen? You don’t think I’ve been dealing with this for the entirety of my career? I’m pissed off but I’m going to rise above it.”
Here’s more from the Goldman Sachs video interview with Bozoma Saint John, interviewed by Kim Posnett, global head of internet investment banking at Goldman Sachs:
Goldman Sachs: What are you doing to improve the image of the Uber brand?
Bozoma Saint John: I come from a history of pop culture. I have worked most of my career in some form of entertainment, whether it’s music or entertainment or sports. It’s not possible to separate that from brands, especially not today. Not with social media. For me it’s very important to connect Uber to those pop culture spaces. it’s not just about the utility of getting to those spaces. You want to go to a concert. You want to go to your girlfriend’s house to have some wine. What is the conversation happening between those spaces?
(Saint John is an experienced driver or at least she said she thought so until she got in the driver seat of an Uber Pool).
Let me tell you something, when that little ding goes off that says you have a passenger who is waiting for you and they’re two minutes away and you’ve got to go find them — you’ve got to figure out who the hell they are, pick them up, and you don’t know what kind of energy they’re bringing into your space — and then drive them someplace following the navigation, and most of the time they know better how to get to the place you’re going then you do, and then having to ask them if they want something to drink, is the temperature OK? i]Is my hair in your way? I don’t know what I’m doing. I was so confused. The pressure was so in enormous. I was terrified. I drove for about three hours. I made some money. I wanted to understand what that was like. Unless you feel what it’s like — the real pressure — you won’t be able to solve for that problem. It was an adventure.
Goldman Sachs: Tell us what brand value means today?
Bozoma Saint John: Brand value is — from a product standpoint — can you imagine your life without it? That is some real value — if you cannot imagine going back to the time before the other. Value is non-tangible. Do you trust it? Are you in love with it? Do you depend on it? Does it give you access into other things that you did not have if you did not have the product? It’s probably the latter that I’m trying to work on and shape because it’s really the intangibles that are going to make us the force that we desire.
Goldman Sachs: Travis (Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick was fired by the Uber board) leaving was a big moment. Now there’s a much bigger conversation going on about corporate culture. What is it like for you to be a Black woman in corporate America given all these conversations on diversity, equality, sexual-harassment?
Bozoma Saint John: This is a turning point moment … If you’re going to ask me how I feel about this moment then you haven’t been paying attention. Do you think I became a Black woman yesterday? In corporate America? Did that just happen? You don’t think I’ve been dealing with this for the entirety of my career? I’m pissed off but I’m going to rise above it … I’m going to use this moment to push us forward, truly step on the gas. To me this very moment is that. Let’s just gather the forces. If we are excited about this, if there’s movement about this, I want everyone to step on the gas, and use this moment as a catalyst to make some significant change. It is about representation.
Goldman Sachs: You’re an important role model and you dare to be unapologetically different. You dare to be yourself. How should people in the audience think about that as they build their own careers?
Bozoma Saint John: It became apparent to me pretty early that the only way I could create a noise was to bring different opinions, thoughts, ideas to the rooms I was in. Trying to be what other people expected was not going to work for me. Maybe I’m not a great enough actress. I couldn’t bring all my ideas and authentic ways while trying to be somebody else. There was only one option: be myself. It was really terrifying. It still is, unfortunately, a surprise when you see somebody who’s a little bit different from the rest, but it’s really quite important. It’s also about being an ally if you see someone in the hallway who’s a little bit left of center.
Maybe you’re comfortable with what has been seen as stereotypically successful, but maybe someone else isn’t. If you’re a manager, (try) to encourage that difference. In my work I didn’t always get good reviews. My work was always reviewed well but I did not review well. It was like, ‘If you would just turn it down a little bit you might be more successful.’ I needed colleagues.
I’m really grateful to those people who, along the way, have been encouraging to me. There’s this guy at Pepsi — Zach Harris (senior director of marketing). We came into the company around the same time. He is very beloved, a golden child. He gets promotions. Zack is the guy. I was the opposite. Zack would constantly applaud my ideas in meetings. One time I showed up to a meeting with these leather pants that had spikes on the side. I was feeling it that day. (Zack was supportive.)
Goldman Sachs: You worked with Spike Lee, Tim Cook, Zach, and many others. Tell us the qualities of the most dynamic leaders you worked with?
Bozoma Saint John: Most of them have been very focused almost maniacally on people — the connections between people. Even Spike quite famously keeps a really tight circle around him and when he makes you the object, that’s it. You’re in for life. The most successful people I’ve met have been very deep in their relationships. When you’re talking to Ariana (Huffington) she makes you feel like you’re the only person that she ever talked to in her life. That’s a really important quality. It also creates that loyalty. Dara (Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new CEO, was hired in August 2017 to replace Travis Kalanick) has that. He has that a ton.
Goldman Sachs: What are your hopes and dreams for 2018 for Uber, Silicon Valley and Bozoma.
Bozoma Saint John: I want people to wear the Uber sweatshirt. I want people to be proud to wear that brand of logo. For the Valley, I want more diversity. I want it not to be a surprise when you find interesting people in the Valley — that there just doesn’t have to be this one stereotype, that there are success stories that can be told. I want more of that.
For myself, I want world domination baby. I want to just continue to show up as myself, bigger and badder than ever. It’s also the responsibility of those who have “made it” to serve as a reminder that we are not done. There’s got to be more. There’s got to be accountability. I’m not it. I am not the end of the road. Heavy is the head that wears the crown. For those who have made it, it is the responsibility of those people to remind us that we are not done. The road is not anywhere near complete. We have to push forward and get more.
Handcuffing of 2 Black Men Waiting For Friend in Philadelphia Starbucks Called ‘Reprehensible Outcome’ by CEO
Two black men were handcuffed and paraded out the door of a Philadelphia Starbucks for allegedly refusing to leave when asked by staffers and police in an incident captured in a video that went viral and prompted the chief executive officer of the coffee company to say the “reprehensible outcome” should have never happened.
The video, posted by Melissa DePino, took place at around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday inside of a Starbucks on Spruce Street near South 18th Street.
DePino’s footage immediately went viral on Twitter, racking up more than 9 million views.
@Starbucks The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing. pic.twitter.com/0U4Pzs55Ci
— Melissa DePino (@missydepino) April 12, 2018
Starbuck’s CEO Kevin Johnson released a statement apologizing to the two men on behalf of the company and saying he hopes to meet with them to “offer a face-to-face apology.”
“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson said in his statement released late Saturday. “Creating an environment that is both safe and welcoming for everyone is paramount for every store. Regretfully, our practices and training led to a bad outcome — the basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong. Our store manager never intended for these men to be arrested and this should never have escalated as it did.”
In an interview with ABC News, Melissa DePino, a 50-year-old writer and mother of two, said a Starbucks barista shouted from behind the counter at the two men to make a purchase or leave.
“They were sitting quietly minding their own business, and waiting for their friend to come,” she said.
DePino said she was so appalled by the incident, she plans to not go anymore to Starbucks.
“Plenty of other local places to go,” she said.
The incident caught on video also brought criticism from the mayor of Philadelphia, which has the nickname, City of Brotherly Love.
Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted: “I’m very concerned by the incident at Starbucks. I know Starbucks is reviewing it and we will be too. @PhillyPolice is conducting an internal investigation.”
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) April 14, 2018
On Saturday evening, the mayor put out another statement saying he was “heartbroken” to witness what “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”
“For many, Starbucks is not just a place to buy a cup of coffee, but a place to meet up with friends or family members, or to get some work done,” he said in the statement.
Kenney also said that he had asked the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations to “examine the firm’s policies and procedures” and would be reaching out to Starbucks “to begin a discussion about this.”
He went on to add there would be “a thorough review” of police policies with regard to “complaints like this.”
The same day Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross Jr. posted a detailed account of the incident, in which he defended his officers’ actions.
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SOURCE: ABC News – M.L. Nestel
raceAhead: A New Nielsen Report Puts Black Buying Power at $1.2 Trillion
A new report from Nielsen on the current buying power of consumers of color offers a fascinating look at how we’re spending our money. For one, we seem to be eating a lot of vegetables.
For another, we’re shaping markets.
In the report Black Dollars Matter: The Sales Impact of Black Consumers, the message is clear: While African Americans make up just 14% of the population, we are responsible for some $1.2 trillion in purchases annually. Further, consumers of color are showing an outsized influence in several key consumer categories, and are increasingly demanding that businesses do and be better.
In some cases, black consumers make up over 50% of overall spending, such as the category of dry grains and vegetables. But other categories are stand-outs as well, like baby food (42.76%) personal soap and bath needs (41.64%) and air fresheners and deodorizers (38.29%).
But the big takeaway is the willingness of smart brands to respond to the needs and feedback of black shoppers.
“Our research shows that Black consumer choices have a ‘cool factor’ that has created a halo effect, influencing not just consumers of color but the mainstream as well,” says Cheryl Grace, Senior Vice President of U.S. Strategic Community Alliances and Consumer Engagement, Nielsen. “These figures show that investment by multinational conglomerates in R&D to develop products and marketing that appeal to diverse consumers is, indeed, paying off handsomely.”
But don’t try to play if you’re not ready.
Nielsen’s research shows that 38% of African Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 and 41% of those aged 35 or older expect the brands they buy to support social causes, outpacing the total population by 4% and 15%, respectively. The data also shows that once black-themed products are leaving the “ethnic” aisle and finding a wider audience. But the process can be fraught, as charismatic Shea Moisture founder Richelieu Dennis discovered last year when a poorly conceived video advertisement rankled their core customers.
Andrew McCaskill, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Multicultural Marketing, and long-time diversity advocate, breaks it down. “With 43% of the 75 million Millennials in the U.S. identifying as African American, Hispanic or Asian, if a brand doesn’t have a multicultural strategy, it doesn’t have a growth strategy,” he says.
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Industrial building in southern Dallas’ Redbird district sells to investor
A southern Dallas warehouse and manufacturing building has been acquired by a California investor.
San Francisco-based Polk Street Industrial LLC purchased the building in the Redbird area at 4949 Joseph Hardin Drive.
The industrial property purchase includes a 289,000 square foot manufacturing facility with 10 acres of storage yard plus an additional 24 acres of land contiguous to the leased facility and yard.
The building has been used by a pipe and plastics fitting manufacturer. Linron Properties sold the property in a transaction negotiated by JLL’s Dustin Volz, Zane Marcell and Grant Matthews.
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