In an interview with Rebecca Jarvis on her "No Limits" podcast, Bozoma Saint John discussed the well-intentioned advice from a female executive that turned out to be bad for her success.
Early in her career, she said that she was told by an older female colleague to never wear red nail polish or red lipstick in the workplace.
"It would be a bold message, and you don't want to do that," she says the executive told her. "You want to be sort of understated and let people take you seriously."
While the advice was meant to help Saint John's career, silencing her presence actually hurt her.
"The damage it did was made me question whether or not I could be bold in an office because I am a bold person," said Saint John, who served as an Apple executive before joining Uber in June 2017.
Saint John says she walked around in a slump for months as she tried to hide her personality.
Eventually, a good friend asked her what was going on, observing that, "This isn't you." Saint John says a light bulb went off that made her realize the only way to succeed is to bring her full self to work.
"By bringing your whole self to work you can bring full ideas and the wholeness of you," she said. "You are the only you — so why not bring that?"