Jake Wood is the CEO of Team Rubicon and a Marine Corps combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the author of ONCE A WARRIOR. Over the past two decades Jake has navigated the world’s most complex environments, whether disaster zones, humanitarian crises, battlefields, or start-up boardrooms. His organization, Team Rubicon, has become one of the fastest growing nonprofits in America and is celebrated for its unique culture, innovation, and impact.  Wood is a sought-after speaker on topics of leadership, organizational culture, and crisis management.

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  • Sustaining Excellence =
    • Integrity – “I’ve been honored to serve with leaders who have high integrity.”
    • Initiative – Be proactive, take action
    • Tenacity – The ability to overcome
    • Enthusiasm – Bring energy to your environment
  • What Jake learned from his Dad:
    • “I feel lucky. He worked his way up with an untraditional resume. He worked his ass off.”
    • “He had this industrious nature and worked so hard.”
  • Giving the commencement speech at the University of Wisconsin
    • “Our words (as leaders) matter.”
    • “None of life experiences went according to plan. And that’s okay…”
  • Being the point man — It means, “When you walked a patrol, you walked first. If there was a landmine or booby trap in the road, you would be the first man to step on it. Initially, you walked in perpetual fear… There were intersections you had to cross where you would close your eyes and clench your teeth, but you never stopped pressing on.”
    • “Leadership is about love. You need to have a deep understanding of WHO your team is as people. Always think, ‘how can I help them?’ When they know they’re loved by you, they’ll feel safe. When they feel safe, that leads to courage.”
  • Clay Hunt — “We went to sniper school together… He was a good Marine. When I got paired up with him, I was told, ‘you are nothing without this partner.'” He didn’t kill himself because of what happened to him in Iraq and Afghanistan. He killed himself because of what he lost when he came home: Purpose, Self-Worth, and Community. Since 2012, more service members have died by suicide than in combat. “Purpose is a universal human need.”
  • The Acceptance of Risk: In Blackjack, there is a correct move for every interaction. When you have 16 and the dealer has a face card, you should hit. There is a 32% chance you win if you hit. There is a 26% chance you win if you stay. And yet, people stay. They haven’t come to grips with the risk. They’d rather sit back and try not to lose instead of taking the correct step. As a leader, you have to accept the risk, understand it, and press on.
  • The WHO — “Surround yourself with realists who offer you candid feedback.”
    • What does Jake look for when hiring a leader?
      • They must demonstrate they can overcome hardship
      • Ability to persevere
      • Industrious
      • “I’ll take passion over talent any day.”
  • The Haiti Earthquake in 2010. 100,000 people instantly died. 100,000 more died within the next 25 days. Jake felt compelled to go there to help.
    • Thus the beginning of Team Rubicon
  • Winning the Pat Tillman award. “It was a huge honor. Pat was why I joined the Marine Corps.”
    • His process to deliver the speech… “The producers wanted to take out the part of the speech that resonated most with people… The ending: Know your neighbor, love your neighbor, help you neighbor.”
  • Speechwriting/Communication skill:
    • “A company is nothing more than a story.”
    • Treat your people like characters in the story.
    • READ a lot of books. General Jim Mattis said, “There is a moral responsibility for leaders to read. If you have not read 100’s of books, you’re functionally illiterate.”
    • Vision – You need to convince your team you can take them to places they didn’t know they could go.
    • It’s the 10 year anniversary for Team Rubicon… It’s time to memorialize it.
    • “America needs to find inspiration. The book finishes with hope. It’s life’s most essential virtue.”


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