Career grand slam

Plus: Rewriting rubrics and pumpkin spice lessons this week in The Memo.
Career grand slam

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

Speaking from the sidelines of the US Open, Naomi Osaka slipped some subtle news into a interview last week: She’s returning to the competitive tennis court, officially, in 2024. Watching other competitors has “really fueled a fire in me,” she told ESPN.

But Osaka’s reentry isn’t just good news for the sport, writes Quartz at Work’s Gabriela Riccardi. It’s good news for anyone who’s considered quitting while they’re ahead.

Osaka has been on a deliberate break from competitive tennis since mid-2021, when she withdrew from the French Open to take care of her mental health. And her return is reminiscent of another athlete at the top of her game: Simone Biles, who bowed out from the floor of the Tokyo Olympics just a few months after Osaka for similar reasons.

But what’s also worth noting is that both women walked away as their careers were cresting. Osaka was the globe’s highest-paid female athlete and ranked the second-best women’s tennis player in the world. Biles was the most-decorated female gymnast of all time. Both had drive. Both had dominance. And both chose to quit, temporarily or not, in service of something larger than their ambition.

Biles made her own reentrance to competition this summer—and blew the roof off of her return, grabbing gold medals and setting new records. Biles was back as a full-form champion. One can imagine Osaka will be, too.

Neither Biles nor Osaka need to prove that quitting was the right call, Riccardi writes. But they also offer an example to other would-be walk-offs: Leaving work to take care of yourself doesn’t have to define your career. And quitting, as she explains, may just be the set-up for your biggest professional comeback.


🍂 ‘Tis the season of pumpkin spice. But if you’re going to grab a Starbucks latte, take a closer look at your cup: there’s a lesson in feedback scrawled there, too.

That’s the case that author Eduardo Briceño makes in his new book, The Performance Paradox, excerpted now on Quartz.

When barista Traca Savadogo couldn’t hear drink orders shouted in her noisy Seattle cafe, she proposed the team start writing them on the cups instead. The company listened—and used the suggestion to start a now-standard practice across the industry.

The response to Savadogo’s suggestion is what’s known as a learning culture—or a team’s commitment to trying new things, soliciting new feedback, and paying attention to new information. And according to Briceño, all managers should take note of it.


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

That’s from Shawn Fain, president of United Auto Workers (UAW), earlier this month as a strike deadline looms tomorrow.

It’s been a summer of wins for unions, with workers like UPS drivers and American Airlines pilots using contract negotiations to secure significantly higher salaries. Now auto workers at Detroit’s Big Three—or GM, Ford, and Stellantis—are bargaining for the wages they want, especially as their bosses are banking record bottom lines.

But this week, the union shifted its stance on salary demands. Quartz’s Ananya Bhattacharya looks into their new strategy ahead of the deadline.


Over the last few decades, corporate America has pumped up the credentials needed to get a job. But companies are finally starting to rethink those requirements—and started inviting applicants without four-year diplomas to inquire within.

But getting rid of degree requirements means changing a lot more than a line or two in your job postings, according to the experts. And if you’re a hiring manager, you’ll need to make other changes, too, like:

🤝 Recruiting the right way
📝 Rewriting your rubrics
🪙 Avoiding inadvertent tokenism

“Removing the four-year degree requirement is a powerful first step, but isn’t going to get the job done all by itself,” Elyse Rosenblum, founder at the strategy firm Grads of Life, tells Quartz. Learn how teams can keep going in the story.


💬 Instead of exit interviews, try stay interviews

🐣 Companies are trying a new kind of family leave—for grandparents

🗒 Hit your new goal by structuring it like a syllabus

📈 What we gain when we stop fixating on generational divides in the workplace

🎓 Getting rid of degree requirements means changing a lot more than job-posting language 


Send questions, comments, and what else you found on your cappuccino cup to This edition of The Memo was written by Gabriela Riccardi.