Strong Like Water by Laila Tarraf

"Non Fiction" words carved into wood
Book cover "Strong Like Water" with cover image of water rippling
Book Genre "Memoir" with person writing with pen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This book is all memoir, self-help, and inspiration. I loved that while it discusses ways to be stronger in a business setting, this story really prepares you to be successful in life.

Tarraf takes the reader on her emotional journey of heartbreak and growth. I was saddened reading about Laila’s childhood where her parents’ fighting turned physical, creating a poor home environment for her. After she started her own family, she endured a devastating loss of her husband as well as both of her parents. Her story talks about her therapy and finding a way through her grief. The things that she learns, she speaks to us about applying in our daily lives, both personally and professionally.

Book Strong Like Water

I found Laila’s story to be so emotional. I couldn’t imagine going through what she went through. While I found it to be so heartbreaking, it was also uplifting, and carried a strong message with it. I had some great takeaways from this, and I loved the way the messages feel like a friend providing wisdom.

Where to Find This Book:

Amazon ~ Goodreads


Laila Tarraf was the Chief People Officer for Peet’s Coffee and Tea, the iconic Berkeley coffee roaster that launched the craft coffee movement in America, but she had a secret: she was failing in the most important relationships in her life. Yes, she was a strong and effective business leader, the successful daughter of immigrants, and the mother of a toddler; but she was also disconnected from her own feelings and had little patience for the feelings of others.

All that changed when life handed her a trifecta of losses: her husband died of an accidental drug overdose, and her parents’ deaths followed in quick succession. Laila had spent her life leading from the head, convinced that any display of vulnerability would make her soft. What she didn’t expect was that soft would turn out to be strong. As she reconnected to her heart, one painful step at a time, something remarkable happened: she became a better leader, a better mother, and a better person. Her heart turned out to be the true source of her power, at home and at work.

This is a book about healing, about waking up, about learning who you are–who you really, truly are at the core–and reclaiming and embracing all the pieces of yourself you long ago abandoned in the name of survival. Women longing for balance will discover a path to infusing our leadership and relationships with love, compassion, and authenticity.

Just the Facts:

Strong Like Water by Laila Tarraf
Subtitle: How I Found the Courage to Lead with Love in Business and in Life
Genre: Non Fiction
Page Count: 256 pages
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub Date: April 13, 2021

LAILA TARRAF is a senior human resource executive with over 25 years of professional experience. After graduating with her MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, she became one of the founding team members at She then served as Chief People Officer at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, an iconic Bay Area premium coffee company.

Currently, Laila is the Chief People Officer at AllBirds, a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs and investors, and a regular guest lecturer at Berkeley Law School. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Nadia.

Author Links:
Website  ~ Facebook ~ Instagram


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I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.

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