Twice As Hard by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke

The Blurb On The Back:

Twice As Hard is an exploration of Black Identity in the working world and a blueprint for success.  You will learn what obstacles limit opportunity for Black professional progress, how to understand and overcome racial stereotypes, be productive, find purpose, and ultimately thrive in business.

Authors Opeyemi and Raphael Sofoluke explore their own personal brand of ethics, the challenges they have faced in their careers, and the learnings they took from them, before inviting other successful business people in a broad range of industries to share their experiences and the practical measures they take to realise their goals, too.

Featuring tips on entrepreneurship, as well as insights on the corporate world, this book highlights the positive advancements made in recent years, and equips individuals and businesses with the tools they need to continue to progress.

Twice As Hard aims to empower and inspire Black professionals, get everyone thinking and talking about their actions, and continue the fight for a truly inclusive, understanding society.

TWICE AS HARD was released in the United Kingdom on 3rd June 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order TWICE AS HARD by Opeyemi Sofoluke and Raphael Sofoluke from Amazon USAAmazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Raphael Sofoluke is the founder of the UK Black Business Show and UK Black Business Week.  His wife Opeyemi Sofoluke is Lead Regional Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at a “Big Four” tech company.  This book is essential for Black people navigating the corporate world or developing their own entrepreneurial brand and also vital for white people who want to be better, constructive allies to Black colleagues and entrepreneurs.

This is a very well researched book with the authors blending statistics from the US and the UK with the anecdotal experience and advice of their 42 contributors and adding their own anecdotes into the mix.  The result is a very readable book with arguments backed by substance but which also connect with the reader on an emotional and intellectual level.  

The other big point that I think is worth making is that although the book is primarily aimed at Black people looking to either build their own entrepreneurial business or navigate the corporate world, there is also a chapter aimed specifically at white people who want to be better allies and provide assistance to Black colleagues or Black people in the wider business world.  I am white and I picked this book up specifically because I recognise shortcomings within myself and want to do better and I have taken a lot from this book in terms of learning about speaking up, listening, understanding my own privilege and learning the difference between optical and actual ally-ship. It is really depressing to read some of the behaviour that the authors and other contributors have been subjected to within the workplace and the authors are very good at explaining the emotional toll that such behaviour takes – especially when added to the wider structural racism that Black people face within society.  However as white people – and as the authors stress – as uncomfortable as this is to read, you need to read it and understand it in order to try and help to make a difference and improve things.

The main focus of the book is on assisting Black readers, with the authors taking alternate chapters, each of which deals with topics including: developing your brand, the importance of networking and how to do the same, mentoring and sponsors (and what they mean for you), growing yourself and developing your skills and career, how to work within and navigate predominantly white organisations and the taboo topic of money (including how to manage money effectively and the importance of investment).   Each chapter ends with a bullet point summary of the key points that the reader should take away, including things to reflect on.

The advice is all very practical and sensible, particularly with regards to networking (which, to be honest, I wish someone had told me back when I started my career) and authenticity (which the authors discuss by reference to Black identity although the points they make can equally be taken by white or other people of colour.  I was particularly pleased that they included a chapter on the importance of maintaining your health – both physical and mental – because all too often that’s a topic that gets lip service paid to it but they really draw it in to the overall themes and topics within the book.  In particular, they address having to address micro aggressions, building mental resilience and avoiding burnout but I was also impressed that they include a section on dealing with success with the legendary DJ Trevor Nelson discussing the impact on friendships, which I found very interesting.

The authors have carried out interviews with 42 contributors for the book, finishing with a section where each contributor gives a key piece of advice, which is both clever and inspirational given that they come from a range of business backgrounds.  Some of the contributors are also very honest about their own journeys and experiences, discussing failures or things they could have done differently, which is just so important in books of this type.

As someone who reads a lot of books about both business and self-help, this is one of the best examples that I’ve reviewed.  The authors write clearly and very humanely and have really thought about the audience and the messages that they want to get across.  I genuinely wish that someone had given this book to me when I started my career *cough cough* years ago because I think it would have made me think about goals and strategy and just how I approach the office and my relationships within it.  If you are a young Black person getting started in business or putting your first foot on the career ladder then I really do think that this is worth a couple of hours of your time because there is a lot here that will make you think about identity and progression from people who have been there ahead of you. 

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