Reading: #131: Laila Tarraf (Breaking Down So You Can Break Through)

#131: Laila Tarraf (Breaking Down So You Can Break Through)

April 16 2021

“Life was good,” says Laila Tarraf. She was head of the internet division at Walmart, then Chief People Officer for Peet’s Coffee and Tea. “I had a good circle of friends, a daughter. I was strong and capable.” Then one day her husband passed away accidentally of a drug overdose–a mixture of alcohol, pain pills, and antidepressants. “He always drank a lot,” says the daughter of immigrants who moved to the US from Lebanon when she was seven. “I never really understood there was a problem.” Tarraf says she “was really numb. Nothing like that had happened to me. I tried to tuck it away but feelings kept coming back. And I had this little girl who was grieving…I didn’t know how to comfort her.” So began Tarraf’s journey into therapy, deep work and her examination of the stories she had always told herself about not needing anyone or anything: “My mother was more like a child…I jumped in to take care of her. But I didn’t want to do that with my daughter.” A short while later Tarraf’s father and then mother passed away. “In four to five years I’d suffered three big losses,” she says. Tarraf left her corporate job to get certified as a coach and write her first book, “Strong Like Water: How I found the Courage to Lead with Love in Business and in life” ( “I grew up in a home where mom and dad fought a lot and I didn’t want to feel. It happens that qualities that saved you once, now hold you back…You have to go through the valley and break down to come out,” she says. “If you don’t there is no healing or transformation.”