Ale Eguren (MBA ’22) shares his experience of the SIP Anatomy of a Badass and how Bozoma Saint John taught him to live a fuller life, and to live that life now.
“The Anatomy of a Badass” was a week-long short intensive program (SIP)put together by Professor Frances Frei and Professor Francesca Gino. They invited Bozoma “Boz” Saint John, the CMO of Netflix, to run a workshop every morning to explore the questions of what it means to be a badass, what makes them so unique and how we can become one. To say we were impressed by Saint John would be an understatement. We were blown away. For five days, she told personal stories of her wins and failures, crystalizing lessons for students to write on their daily reflection submissions.
Embracing your Authentic Self
“Stop letting others define who you are,” Saint John asked us to reflect on the masks others have given us to put on. It is what others think we should be versus who we feel we really are. The truth is, we have been told many lies about what we are good and bad at. She challenged us to dig deep and separate the masks from our true selves. Paraphrasing her: at one point, when we were kids, we all were asked to draw something. Then one day, we started comparing and getting discouraged. That is precisely what we need to seek to end.
Saint John also taught us about Kintsugi, the Japanese art of fixing broken ceramics with precious metals in the cracks. The result is something more beautiful than before. We should practice Kintsugi with ourselves by working through our broken bits and displaying them beautifully instead of hiding them.
Redefine your Expectations
There are so many expectations we live by. The expectations our parents had, the ones society imposes, and even the ones we decide to push on to ourselves. Expectations can be great at pushing us to achieve. But they can also be crushing if they are too large or limiting if they are too small. Saint John shared with us how her father was from a small village in Ghana and not much was expected from him but he nevertheless pushed himself to achieve so much. He even got a PhD. But what would have happened if he believed in the expectations society had for people in his village?
To understand what expectations guide our lives, we need to dig deep. Saint John shared the lesson of regularly checking in with ourselves to see which expectations are driving us. She gave up her five, 10, 20-year plans because they started limiting her. Today she expects herself to be fluid and chase meaningful and fulfilling work.
Set the Conditions for your Success
“Get that money, honey!” perfectly describes the energy Saint John brought to class the third day. She focused on how we understand what our true worth is and how to communicate it. The day challenged us to really think about what our real strengths and weaknesses are. If we can share what our weaknesses are and ask for the right support from a prospective opportunity, we will be setting ourselves up to succeed. We should also push to really understand in detail what the job is like. For example, when the posting says “collaborative,” is that within a team or between departments?
Saint John told us to negotiate “like hell.” Get what you deserve and, most importantly, do not let others define your worth.
A Holistic Sense of Wellbeing
This day was all about listening to our mind, spirit, and body. Sometimes we can feel like Atlas—we carry the whole world on our shoulders. Saint John shared a few stories about how to deal with each area and reduce the burden.
For the mind, Saint John invited us to reflect: “What is the biggest thing that’s holding you down? You need to put that down.” After setting aside a problem for a minute, we can take an objective look and think of a real solution. More often than not, we are so caught up in the whirlwind of urgent tasks that we never find the time to solve the core issues.
For the spirit, Saint John asked us to listen. We usually feel when something is off or when the vibes are wrong. She said, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid? Don’t ignore your spirit. Give it the gravitas it deserves. Allow your spirit to lead you.”
The body came less of a surprise. We should all remember to treat ourselves like the temples we are. But most importantly, to listen: is the pain we are feeling a manifestation of our mind or spirit?
The Fierce Urgency of Now
This idea is not about living fast or doing things recklessly but, instead, about living with an urgency of intention. Saint John shared a heartbreaking story about her husband’s passing due to cancer. She reminded us that today is extraordinary and that looking at the past or future only steals from today.
Saint John taught us so many valuable lessons. Do not wait to realize who your authentic selves are and what expectations drive you. Invest in understanding your worth. Listen to your mind, spirit, and body. It took about 1,000 individuals across 10 generations, to make you—why wait to do anything without intention?
Ale Eguren (MBA ’22) is a global citizen by effect of his upbringing in multiple continents. He is passionate about connecting with others and contributing meaningfully to those around him. He loves to bake, use whiteboards, and practice Rebel Leadership.