Posted in on July 20, 2017

LeadingAge PA Outtakes – Specific Ideas from General Sessions, Part II

Editor’s Note: Several of Creating Results’ leaders recently attended the annual LeadingAge Pennsylvania conference. Team members had the privilege of both presenting our insights and learning from other presenters. This series of posts shares some OUTtakes and INsights for marketing to seniors and Baby Boomers.

SESSION: “The One and the Nine: Building Teams and Organizations that Win”

SPEAKER: Jake Wood, cofounder/CEO of Team Rubicon, leading veterans’ advocate

Jake Wood kicked off the general sessions at LeadingAge Pennsylvania, sharing his lessons about building successful teams and by extension organizations.

Wood’s theory is that every member of a team has unique strengths and needs to be treated individually. As he put it, you can’t change the deck and you can’t change the rules.  But you can prepare and build teams to win and thrive.  And that starts with leadership.  He went on to note that in each organization there is one true leader prepared to translate purpose into vision and inspire action that achieves goals.

Don’t tell people WHAT to do, counseled Wood. Design a culture to achieve what you want, one which makes clear the WHY of daily action. Tell your team what needs to get done and why it needs to get done, and the culture will ensure they figure out the right steps to take.

Jake Woods' definition of culture - LeadingAge PA 2017 - "Culture is the intangible sum of everything we do and all we believe"


I appreciated Wood’s inspiring yet realistic assessment of plans.

First, the inspiration for looking ahead:

“Good leaders play checkers; great leaders play chess.”

Next, the reality:

Mike Tyson - "Everyone has a plan ... until they get punched in the face"


I loved how Jake began his presentation, quoting the famous philosopher Mike Tyson. While in the moment that quote was incredibly funny, it took on new meaning as Wood’s presentation evolved, and served as great inspiration to me. It’s true if you think about it – plans are only good until they aren’t.  My key take-away from this thought was that what makes organizations strong isn’t the plan that one person creates or encourages others to execute, it’s the building blocks instilled in the team that makes the magic happen.

Some other important insights from Wood when it comes to effectively building teams, according to Wood:

  • We can’t understand others if we can’t understand ourselves
  • The most critical thing a leader can do is translate an organizations purpose into vision.  And you have to convince the team that the vision is achievable in order to inspire action.
  • Passion trumps talent, but culture is king.  Ask yourself this when hiring new talent – would you drop everything and follow that applicant if the opportunity presented itself?  If not, that’s a NO-GO
  • The best leaders know if the team is effective they can get out of the way. And when that happens the team feels empowered and is faster, more resilient and flexible

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