Powerful Lessons from Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka’s Inspiring Career Comebacks

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

From the sidelines of the US Open, Naomi Osaka revealed in an interview last week that she will officially be returning to competitive tennis in 2024. Osaka expressed how watching other competitors has ignited a fire within her, as reported by ESPN.

However, Osaka’s comeback is not only positive news for the sport. According to Quartz at Work’s Gabriela Riccardi, it serves as a beacon of hope for those who have contemplated quitting while ahead.

Osaka took a deliberate break from competitive tennis in mid-2021 to prioritize her mental health. This decision mirrors another top athlete, Simone Biles, who withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics for similar reasons. Both Osaka and Biles stepped away from their careers at their peaks. Osaka was the highest-paid female athlete globally and ranked second among women’s tennis players. Biles, on the other hand, held the title of the most-decorated female gymnast in history. Both athletes made the choice to pause temporarily or indefinitely, guided by something greater than personal ambition.

Biles recently made her own triumphant return to competition, earning gold medals and setting new records. It’s easy to envision Osaka reclaiming her full-form champion status as well.

According to Riccardi, both Biles and Osaka have proven that their decisions to step back were justified. However, they also provide an example to others considering a similar path: choosing to prioritize self-care does not define one’s career. In fact, as Riccardi suggests, quitting may be the setup for an even more extraordinary career comeback.


🍂 ‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice, and while enjoying your Starbucks latte, take a moment to examine your cup. There’s a valuable lesson in feedback hidden there, as highlighted in Eduardo Briceño’s book, The Performance Paradox, excerpted on Quartz.

When faced with the challenge of hearing drink orders in a noisy Seattle cafe, barista Traca Savadogo proposed writing the orders on the cups instead. Starbucks embraced this suggestion, making it a standard practice across the industry.

Savadogo’s suggestion demonstrates the value of a learning culture, where teams are open to new ideas, seek feedback, and pay attention to fresh insights. Briceño emphasizes that all managers should take note of this approach.


“Our campaign slogan is simple: record profits mean record contracts.”

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain recently delivered this statement as a strike deadline looms for auto workers at GM, Ford, and Stellantis. It has been a summer of victories for unions, with employees at companies like UPS and American Airlines securing higher salaries through contract negotiations. Now, the auto workers are demanding their fair share of the profits, considering their employers’ record-breaking financial performance.

This week, the union shifted its approach to salary demands, prompting Quartz’s Ananya Bhattacharya to analyze their new strategy ahead of the impending deadline.


In recent decades, corporate America has placed increasing emphasis on academic credentials when hiring. However, companies are now reconsidering these requirements and welcoming applicants without traditional four-year degrees. But eliminating degree requirements entails more than making a slight adjustment to job postings. Hiring managers must make significant changes, including:

🤝 Adopting effective recruitment methods
📝 Updating evaluation criteria
🪙 Avoiding unintentional tokenism

Elyse Rosenblum, founder of the strategy firm Grads of Life, emphasizes that removing the four-year degree requirement is a crucial initial step, but it must be followed by further action. Learn more about how teams can navigate this transition in the full story.


💬 Instead of conducting exit interviews, consider stay interviews

🐣 Companies are implementing a new type of family leave policy for grandparents

🗒 Achieve your goals by structuring them like syllabi

📈 The workplace gains when we shift focus away from generational divides

🎓 Eliminating degree requirements requires more than job-posting changes


Send your questions, comments, and interesting discoveries on your Starbucks cups to [email protected]. This edition of The Memo was written by Gabriela Riccardi.


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