Aminatou Sow is a thought leader and media guru. She’s a digital strategist, writer, podcast host, and co-founder of Tech LadyMafia. She’s worked in media, on public policy, at a toy store, and at Google. She’s worked for herself and had collaborators such as longtime friend Ann Friedman, with whom she hosts the Call Your Girlfriend podcast. Most recently, the pair have embarked on a new project together: their much-talked-about book, Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close. “If you’ve ever had a friend, or you’ve ever known anyone who has a friend, you have to read this book,” gushes Hillary Kerr in the latest episode of Second Life.
The premise of Big Friendship is simple: Friendships are not. They are complicated, messy, and some of the most rewarding things in our lives, and yet, we somehow don’t have the vocabulary or familiarity with which to discuss such complexities. That is until Sow and Friedman explore the idea of how to stay in each other’s lives over the years, and through their book, they bring to light a conversation that we, and our relationships, can all benefit from. “As a society, we don’t offer good support for friendship in general as a relationship. When you get married, for example, people will give you advice all day long. … I have never had my parents give me advice about how to be a good friend,” explains Sow.
Though this is their first book together, Sow and Friedman have been co-hosting the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend since 2014. What started as “a podcast for long-distance besties everywhere” has become a bona fide media source visited by the likes of Kamala Harris and Hillary Clinton. Still though, throughout the successful six-year run, the originality of the podcast remains. “The days that I am the happiest on our show are when we talk about something completely ridiculous,” Sow says as she further solidifies her relatability.
Listening to Sow speak, it’s clear that she’s not only a “words person,” but her experience and understanding of media run so deep that if you didn’t know better, her background in tech might shock you. Not only did Sow work at Google for three years, but prior to that, she co-founded Tech LadyMafia with colleague and friend Erie Meyer. What started as an email Listserv sent out to 20 fellow tech-minded women quickly grew to a community of thousands and today serves as an incredible resource for everything from salary negotiations to job postings and much more.
This community building and big thinking are a through line in Sow’s career. After college, she got her foot in the corporate door at a think tank in D.C., where she worked on public policy before joining the ranks as an analyst at a social media agency, where she learned how brands were using the emerging platforms to create effective campaigns.
Looking back on her forward-thinking disposition and her career as whole, Sow empathizes with her 22-year-old self. “There’s this idea that if you’re a young person, you’re supposed to be Mark Zuckerberg, or you’re supposed to be accomplishing something so incredible, and it’s true; it happens for some people. But those people, they’re the exception, not the norm,” she says. “Be patient with yourself because so many of the skills that you actually need to acquire to be successful and to be a person in the world, they take a really long time.”
Head to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts to hear how Sow’s experience has converged into one impressive and admirable career path on this week’s episode of Second Life.