On the most recent episode of The Thrive Global Podcast with iHeart Radio and Sleep Number, Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington, an Uber board member, sat down with Bozoma Saint John, the Chief Brand Officer at Uber. In a wide-ranging conversation, Huffington and Saint John spoke about everything from her relationship with sleep to overcoming loss and grief.
Saint John is active on social media, with more than 129,000 Instagram followers and nearly 50,000 on Twitter. So it may surprise some people that this tech leader carefully sets boundaries with her devices.
Her habit of disconnecting started with a pet peeve. Even back in the days when phones weren’t the main source of communication, Saint John explained, “I found it really annoying when people would be in meetings with their laptops open and typing away.” Regardless of whether they are answering important emails or doing it to appear busy, she finds it disrespectful and distracting when people focus on their devices instead of the other people in the room.
Saint John never brings her laptop to meetings and makes a point of keeping her phone tucked away. Since she doesn’t wear a watch, Saint John even has someone else tell her when a meeting is over so that she isn’t distracted by looking at her phone. She occasionally misses emails as a result, but believes it’s worth the cost. “If I didn’t miss any it would mean that whenever I’m in meetings… I wouldn’t be connecting with the people in the room.”
Saint John sets tech boundaries outside the office, as well. For example, she puts her phone away before getting in bed because it distracts her from falling asleep. Whenever she is traveling and needs to keep tabs on her daughter, she turns off all text and email alerts but keeps her ringer on (and phone close enough to hear) so that anyone can reach her in an emergency.
Avoiding her phone first thing in the morning allows Saint John to start the day off right, prioritizing her own agenda and not the demands of anyone else. “Whatever emails or text messages have come in during the evening or in the early morning are usually not in service to me,” she told Huffington. Often, she said, these emails are demanding and negative — “Can you fix this? Can you do that? Why did this happen?” — and can affect her entire day.
It’s why Saint John is fiercely protective of those precious morning hours, giving herself time to start her day with what matters, especially spending time with her daughter. After that, she’s ready for her phone.
“Because once I touch it,” she said, “it’s probably on and poppin’.”
To hear the full conversation on iHeartRadio, click here.