Book Spotlight | Strong Like Water

Wednesday, April 28th 2021

Laila Tarraf was the chief people officer for Peet’s Coffee and Tea, the iconic Berkeley coffee roaster, 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 disconnected from her own feelings -and had little patience for those of others.

All that changed, however, when three of the people most important to her - her husband, father, and mother - died in quick succession. Laila had spent her life leading from the head, convinced that any display of vulnerability would make her soft. But as this trifecta of losses led her to reconnect to her feelings, one painful step at a time, something remarkable happened. She became a better leader, a better mother, and a better person. Leading from the heart became the true source of her power.

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. For women longing for balance, this is a path to opening our hearts and infusing our leadership and relationships with love, compassion, and authenticity.

Join us for a fireside chat with Laila and Watermark CEO, Peggy Northrop.

Laila Tarraf
Chief People Officer, Allbirds

Laila Tarraf is a talent management and leadership development executive with over 25 years of experience building teams and advising companies across many industries and stages of growth. She was a founding member of Walmart.com at the height of the first internet bubble, and the Chief People Officer at Peet's Coffee and Tea as it was redefining its values as a national brand. She then spent seven years working in private equity as the Director of Human Capital at GI Partners and a Human Capital Advisor with Altamont Capital. Currently, as Chief People Officer for AllBirds, she is focused on building a high performance, human-centered organization capable of driving for results while at the same time nurturing a culture of connection and belonging as it grows into a global, sustainable consumer brand.

Over the years, through professional achievements and personal accomplishments alongside professional setbacks and personal tragedies, Laila has evolved her leadership and life philosophy into one that embraces the inherent duality of life -- balancing courage with compassion, integrating head with heart, infusing power with tenderness. Her journey and hard-won insights are what she shares in her debut book, Strong Like Water. Laila is a graduate of the Berkeley Haas School of Business, and is also a guest lecturer at Berkeley Law School. She is Lebanese and American, an avid traveler and world explorer, and a proud mom to her teenage daughter, Nadia and her 8-pound Yorkie, Max