Jake Wood

Speech Topics

There is perhaps no greater disruption than a natural disaster. Disruption on a disastrous scale forces organizations to rethink what they know about leadership, change management and risk. Those that can adapt will thrive, while those that refuse change will flounder and fail. Jake Wood, athlete, Marine scout sniper, and co-founder of Team Rubicon, draws upon lessons learned in working with 55,000 Team Rubicon volunteers responding to catastrophic events, most recently Hurricane Harvey in Houston (over 1,00 volunteers on the ground), Hurricane Irma in Florida, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the wildfires in Sonoma. Using his own remarkable journey, Jake provides a framework for becoming a better leader and building more agile organizations.

For every 100 people in a typical organization or on your team, there are 10 people who shouldn’t even be there,  80 who at their best have a neutral impact, 9 who perform exceptionally, and one who is a true leader capable of taking command and creating a winning team or culture. This reality is forcing organizations to rethink what they know about leadership, change management and risk.  Those that can adapt will thrive, while those that refuse change will flounder and fail. Jake gives organizations the framework for becoming a better leader and building more agile organizations.  Using his own remarkable journey as an Athlete, Marine Scout Sniper, and co-founder of Team Rubicon, Jake shows how you can find and build the team needed to win life’s battles and become the “one” others look to.

We all want to be the people who remain steady even as others lose their footing. Drawing from his experience in the military, with Team Rubicon, and his debut book, Take Command: Lessons in Leadership: How to Be a First Responder in Business, Jake provides the framework to lead and thrive in high-stakes situations. He outlines the how, when, and why of resolute, lead-from-the-front leadership, offering a set of principles that one can draw upon in any situation.

We all have a purpose. Sometimes it’s helping communities recover after a wildfire, sometimes it’s lending a strong shoulder for others to lean on. Over 25,000 veterans and first responders have found a new purpose through continued service in Team Rubicon, the disaster relief nonprofit founded by Jake Wood. In this talk, Jake shares the vision he had for Team Rubicon which has provided aid to survivors of more than 80 natural disasters around the globe. Learn how Jake’s vision became a reality and how you and your organization can apply these lessons in finding and defining your own purpose.


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Jake Wood is cofounder and CEO of Team Rubicon, the only nonprofit disaster response organization that utilizes the skills of military veterans to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. In repurposing the skills gained during service – like emergency medicine, risk assessment and mitigation, logistics, teamwork and decisive leadership – Team Rubicon provides veterans with a sense of purpose, community and identity created by joining a new mission. Since the organization’s founding in 2010 following the devastating Haiti earthquake, Team Rubicon has responded to over 230 disasters and grown from eight to 75,000 volunteer members. Under Wood’s leadership, the organization has responded following the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Hurricane Sandy, the 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, , the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal and the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017. Team Rubicon has been finished in the top three of the Nonprofit Times’ “Top Nonprofit To Work For in America” lists three years in a row.

Prior to Team Rubicon, Wood served four years in the United States Marine Corps where he graduated at the top of his class at Boot Camp, the School of Infantry, and the Marine Scout Sniper School. During his service he deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, and earned numerous commendations, including the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor distinguishing device. Wood left the Marine Corps a Sergeant.

A leading veterans’ advocate, Wood has briefed President Obama on veterans’ issues, met with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to talk about Team Rubicon’s role in veteran transition and disaster response and testified before a Senate committee to improve mental health care services for returning veterans. He has also appeared in the major media, including MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, Al Jazeera, US News & World Report, Forbes, Huffington Post and Fox News and penned an op-ed for The New York Times. An expert on veteran reintegration, disaster response and social entrepreneurship, Wood has spoken at Harvard, University of Wisconsin, University of Washington, University of Southern California, and Syracuse University as well as Goldman Sachs, Jones Lang LaSalle and Home Depot. He has also delivered keynote addresses at the National Emergency Management Conference and the National Green Building Conference and presented at TedX San Diego in 2010. In 2014, Crown Publishing published Wood’s book, Take Command: Lessons in Leadership.

Wood has received numerous awards including: the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “40 Under Forty”; the LA Chamber of Commerce Visionary Leader Award; the Goldman Sachs “100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs” award; GQ Magazine’s 2011 “Better Men, Better World” Gentleman of the Year designation; University of Wisconsin’s “Forward Under 40” award; the Grinnell Prize for social change; the Heinz Foundation’s Heinz Award; and was selected as a CNN Hero in 2012. He was also selected as a Millennium Fellow by the Atlantic Council.

Wood holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin with a double major in Business and Political Science.  He played football for the Badgers on a full athletic scholarship and was twice selected to the Academic All-Big Ten football team.  He splits his time between Los Angeles and New York City with his lovely wife.

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