In this episode, David Folwell, President of StaffingHub, and Caitlin Delohery, Editor-in-Chief, talk to Jake Wood. Jake Wood is the CEO of Team Rubicon, a global nonprofit he co-founded in 2010. Team Rubicon serves communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises.
In this episode, we talk about Wood’s forthcoming book, Once a Warrior: How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home, which has already received wide acclaim. Simon Sinek said it “will inspire you to want to be a better human being.” Chris Sacca, investor, self-made billionaire, and frequent co-host of Shark Tank, said “Ever notice that the best business books aren’t business books? This is one of those books.”
Delohery: David Folwell and I are here with Jake Woods today. Jake Woods is the CEO of Team Rubicon, a global nonprofit he co-founded in 2010. Team Rubicon serve communities by mobilizing veterans to continue their service. Leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Additionally, would write and speak frequently on topics of leadership, organizational culture, and social issues. He’s a sought after media voice and has appeared on every major network and cable news program. His most recent book, Once a Warrior: How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home, comes out next month and has already received wide acclaim. Simon Sinek said, “It will inspire you to want to be a better human.” Thanks so much for joining us today Jake.
Woods: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to join.
Delohery: And just to kick it off, you and Dave go way back. So can you guys talk a little bit about how you know each other?
Woods: Yeah, we do. We should have come to an agreement about all the stories that we wouldn’t tell before we kicked this off.
Folwell: That’s actually why I joined.
Woods: Yeah, we could ruin one another’s future political careers in a heartbeat. David and I, we grew up together. I think I moved to what we would call our hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa right before the sixth grade. And we spent a year in elementary school together and then played sports together all through high school and I had the pleasure of playing offensive line on the football team where David was the running back and had the honor of blocking for him in many a game always, which was always fun.
Folwell: Which was also amazing, I will say that. My junior year of football was pretty great when Jake was not injured. And then once Jake was injured, I will say that my running back skills maybe weren’t as strong as Jake’s blocking skills.
Woods: And we’ve been friends ever since. David and I are both entrepreneurs and I think that’s been a thread that’s kept us tied together in the decades since we last laced up our cleats together. So it’s fun to join one of his many ventures here on this podcast.
Delohery: Yeah, thank you so much for joining and I’ll see if I can dry out any of those stories that you guys don’t want to tell. Since we’re talking about origin stories, can you tell us a little bit about how you came to start Team Rubicon?
Woods: Sure. The story of starting Team Rubicon starts long before Team Rubicon. So after high school, I had the opportunity to go to University of Wisconsin to play football. And while I was there the attacks of 9/11 happened, that happened during my freshman year. And obviously the world changed in that moment and one of the ways that it the changed was of course at the US first, in 2001, went to war in Afghanistan, and then about a year and a half later, we followed and went to war in Iraq. And it was interesting to be on a college campuses that was unfolding. And when my time in Madison came to an end, I was faced with this decision. I ultimately made the choice to join the Marine Corps.
My football career hadn’t quite panned out like I thought it would. So when people ask me how I ended up in the Marine Corps, I said, “Well, I didn’t end up in the NFL.” In fact, I wasn’t even close. And so I joined the Marine Corps and I served in the Marines from 2005 to 2009. I was in the infantry. I did a tour to Iraq in ’07 and in Afghanistan in ’08 and in late ’09, I decided that I wanted to get out of the Marine Corps and move on to the next chapter of my life.
And so I’d been out of the marines for one or two months and was sitting in my apartment in Los Angeles when the news of the Haiti earthquake broke. And when I was watching that situation unfold, I felt compelled to do something to help in some way. And I called one of the organizations that I saw was mobilizing people down in Haiti. And I called and after a dozen rings and nice old woman answer the phone and I said, “Hi, my name’s Jake, I just got in the Marine Corps. I’m an expert at leading small teams in really bad situations. I’d love to help you with operations in Port-au-Prince.” And she said, “Thanks, but no thanks. Why don’t you just hang up and text us $10?” It didn’t seem like that was the best way for me to help.
So after hanging up the phone, I ended up working to organize a team of veterans that I served with and doctors. We got down to Port-au-Prince a few days later and began really conducting relief efforts. And that was when the idea of Team Rubicon started this idea of recruiting men and women who have served in the military to repurpose the skill and experience that they gained through that service in a new mission, which for us was humanitarian relief and disaster relief. And we’ve been at it for almost 11 years now. And the success has been really amazing to see. I think that there was a logical tie between that military service and this new found disaster service that has really enabled that scale.
Delohery: You guys have helped all over the world and recently you’ve found more cause I think to bring your services here in the United States. Can you talk a little bit about working with COVID right now?
Woods: Yeah, so in over the last decade, the organizations scaled a lot. We started with eight volunteers in Haiti. We’ve now had over 130,000 Americans registered as volunteers throughout the US and we’ve run nearly 700 missions both around the world, but many of them here in the US. And when COVID began racing around the globe, we were preparing for worst case scenarios. We didn’t sit back and wait for it to happen. We were very proactive as this thing was racing through China. We took a posture that really looked at the worst case scenario and so, we weren’t caught flat footed.
That being said, there was no playbook for this and we certainly didn’t have one, even as a disaster response organization, even as an organization that had responded to infectious disease outbreaks before, we didn’t have a playbook for this. But that didn’t stop us. We moved very aggressively to get our organization into the fight against COVID early. That ranged from taking our medical teams and repositioning them here for domestic work. And that took the form of, at one point when it looked like San Francisco was going to be as bad an epicenter as New York city, we worked with HHS to set up a 250 bed hospital in Santa Clara. It ultimately ended up that wasn’t needed. And we ended up shutting that hospital down after seeing only a few dozen patients.
Then we redirected that effort into the Navajo Nation which is in the four corners of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. And this is one of the most marginalized populations in America. At one point a few months into the pandemic, it had the highest disease rates for COVID of anywhere in the US, but it’s also got probably the most fragile health care system in the US. So we moved a hundred medical providers into Navajo Nation, decompressed their medical system, decompressed their ambulance system and treated nearly 3000 COVID patients during that time, over the span of about, say 120 days.
So there was the medical work on one side, and then on the spectrum of work, we’ve been running mobile testing sites, we’ve been still responding to hurricanes floods and fires during this pandemic, but then also we pivoted into helping food support partners like Feeding America and Meals on Wheels. We’ve put nearly 10,000 of our volunteers into food banks this year. Packaged over 40 million pounds of food, driven over a 100,000 miles in last mile logistics deliveries for individual homeowners.
And so it’s been a pretty crazy year, certainly not one that we expected, but we relied on a couple of philosophies that we always hold near and dear. One being that hope is not a strategy. And early in this, you saw a lot of organizations you even saw our nation rely on this strategy of, “Hey, we hope it’s not that bad.” Well, guess what? This was bad and hope isn’t the plan, right? So you better have a plan and treat hope like a tactic and that’s what we’ve done.
Delohery: It’s interesting listening to you. I talk to a lot of leaders who are about leading through crisis, and that means something very different for the majority of our listeners, I think, than it means for you in these extreme circumstances in the very heart of what’s going on for us and in so many other disasters but you were a speaker at staffing up live. You’re so good at taking these lessons from these intense circumstances and making them applicable to leaders that are facing a different maybe more everyday crisis. I’m wondering what you learned about really working in COVID right now, especially in terms of growing your organization in terms of staffing. What have you learned? What advice can you offer the leaders listening here?
Woods: Yeah. Well, a lot. I mean, I think that the one thing, and I think David can relate to this as an entrepreneur. As a business leader you never want the moment of crisis that will inevitably come to your company to be the first time that you’ve ever faced crisis, right? So, your team is counting on you, you owe it to them to have muscle memory when it comes to these moments of chaos, right? As an entrepreneur, David and I we can relate like the crisis around every corner when you’re building a business, right David?
Folwell: Absolutely. Every minute.
Woods: Yeah. I mean, making payroll, whatever it is, right? A lawsuit. So I think one of the things that we were fortunate to have was this depth of experience in managing chaos, managing crises where cooler heads were able to prevail. We were able to move deliberately into this environment and make smart tactical decisions. Part of that was, adjusting our full year plan, which we came into 2020 thinking we were going to do all these amazing things and of course by March that plan’s out the window. So now we have to completely readjust that plan.
Part of that was embracing the brutal reality of the situation. So again, not just closing our eyes and hoping that things weren’t going to be that bad, but saying, “Okay, if this is as bad as they say, here are all the second and third order impacts of that to where we think we’re going this year.” And so then here are all the contingencies that we have to develop. And then just as those assumptions start playing out, some proved to be true, some proved to be false. You have to continue to adjust that plan.
One of the things that we did was we believed early that we were going to be able to pivot into this fight against COVID and begin generating impact in helping these communities with it. We knew that we were going to be able to convince some of our long term strategic partners to fund that effort. Both those assumptions proved true, which meant that we had to execute against a pretty aggressive hiring plan. We’ve never hired people in a pandemic before. We have a very office centric culture, and some companies had this luxury where they had always been remote. I’m looking at David chuckle right now.
Folwell: We’re on the other side of that from day one, remote. We were ready to go.
Woods: Exactly. So there was no culture shock, there was no adjustments that new normal, whereas, we had nearly 175 full time employees, 75% of them working out of one of our three major offices and suddenly they’re going home. They’re having to figure out…we’re having bandwidth issues, there’re screaming kids in the background. This is just a new normal for us that we’re having to adjust to. And then on top of that, we’re saying, “Okay, and we’re going to hire 75 new full-time people in this environment, we’re going to have to retool our onboarding program to accommodate for that, we’re going to have to figure out how to integrate them culturally, when our culture again is very much an in-person culture. So now how do we adjust that to make sure that we’re warmly bringing them into that culture? And then that culture is now set up to guide people to success in a remote environment.
We also, as we were rapidly expanding these programs that had never existed before, like I mentioned earlier support to Feeding America and some of these food programs. We’ve deployed 10,000 people into those food banks this year. We had no infrastructure for that. And we also didn’t know how long they were going to persist. We didn’t know if this pandemic was going to last three months or three years. We didn’t know how long the food insecurity issue was going to last, but we knew that it was urgent. And so we ended up working through a leased employee program where we worked with an agency that we were hiring our volunteers who had recently become unemployed due to the pandemic, and then we were leasing them back as flex capacity into this program to help manage it and provide sustainable and consistency.
So we had to retool a lot of our human capital, not just the number of people that we were employing, but really the methods that we were employing them through. I’ll say this last thing, we went work from home really early. And of course not all of our people can go work from home. We have some jobs that by the nature of the work that we do are literally on the front lines of these disasters. One example, we were on a rebuilding program where we rebuild homes damaged by disasters, and it’s headquartered in Houston, which was hit by Hurricane Harvey three years ago. And so we’ve got 15 or 20 full-time staff in Houston that run this program and you can’t build a house from home, right?
And so these people literally could not do that. There was no physical way to do their job. And one of the things we said early to them was your job is safe. It doesn’t matter how long you can’t do whatever it is we hired you to do, you will not lose your job because of that. We’re going to find a way for you to continue to work here, we’re going to change your job description, in the end, we’re going to give you job security. Because the last thing you need to do with everything going on in the world, all the anxiety producing elements in the world around you, you should not have to worry about that. So in March we looked them in the eye virtually of course, over Zoom. And we said, “It doesn’t matter how long this lasts. There’s a job for you here.” So I think creating that culture of safety for your people was also really, really important in this.
Folwell: And Jake, one thing that when you talk about the leased employee route and like what you did with COVID, obviously you were doing what in the staffing industry is known as building out a contingent workforce, on demand workforce. But if you look back on, you’ve historically, I mean, you’ve built a contingent nonprofit workforce for Team Rubicon. I mean, you have hundreds of thousands of volunteers. I don’t know what the number is at now, but I know every time I look at the count, I’m blown away by how you scaled it. And I think that’s something that when I think about our listeners, a lot of the staffing firms that are there doing that for their clients. They’re looking at how do we help them scale on demand when they need it? And I’m just curious if you can share of what you’ve learned through that process or any challenges that you had that you wished somebody had solved ahead of you.
Woods: Yeah, that’s actually, it’s a good point. What we’ve built at our core is disaster response on demand. When you think about what we do, we take people who’ve never met one another, deploy them to a town or a community they’ve never been to and assemble them in a team and say, “Hey, go achieve all these impossible objectives in the aftermath of a disaster.” Right? So it’s the most extreme level of team building you can imagine.
Yeah, we’ve learned a lot about that. One, culture is king. You can’t do that unless you have a positive culture that can assimilate those people. And when we think about culture at Team Rubicon, given the ambiguous situation we deploy into, what culture does for us and what I ultimately think it should be able to do for any organization is, guide decisions in the absence of orders. So when people don’t have an explicit directive or understanding of what to do, culture guides them consistently to the right decision and the right behavior. And that’s really, really important. And so you have to have a strong culture. If you’re going to be bringing people in and out of a job or a team, there needs to be a culture that serves as guardrails, that brings them to the right actions and activities.
Second, training is important, right? I don’t think companies invest enough in training and it’s because it takes time, it takes investment, done well, it takes really, really smart people. You need instructional designers, you need to invest in the IT side of it. We’ve invested heavily in training. We call it tools, tactics, and techniques. If people have those and they have a culture, they’re probably going to be okay.
Beyond that, we’re doing some really cool stuff where we’re actually building out artificial intelligence tools that will help us to assemble the right teams based off of the skillsets, backgrounds, and experience.
Folwell: Oh, that’s amazing.
Woods: We’ve partnered up with Microsoft on that. I imagine some of the people that are listening here, you probably have enough data and you probably have enough volume with the people that you’re building up these contingent workforces with. If the client comes to you and says, “Hey, we need 15 people to accomplish X.” You probably have enough data to say, “Well, here’s the exact skillsets that you need, here’s the right mix of demography in order to make a successful team that’s going to have impact.”
Folwell: That’s awesome.
Delohery: You mentioned that how culture is king and a little bit about creating the sense of baseline trust by really reaching out the beginning of the pandemic and saying you’re with us no matter what. Can you think of any other ways that you’ve fostered culture or created the strong culture that you’re known for at Team Rubicon remotely?
Woods: Yeah. Well, we’ve tried to do a couple of things. Again, our culture was very much an in-person, office centric culture, and I think we’ve done our best to maximize face to face interaction. So we leveraged the tools, everybody now has available, they’re ubiquitous, the Zoom meetings, we use Microsoft Teams and stuff like that. So we have multiple all hands calls throughout the week. We make sure that people have their cameras on. You see a lot of people now, you get into meetings people try to turn their camera off and hide from the camera and we’re really encouraging people, no, turn the camera on. If that means you have to wake up 30 minutes early and shower, so be it, you’d be doing it anyway, if you’re going into the office, right?
And that just reminds people who they’re meeting with. I mean, we think it increases creativity and collaboration to do that. I have my assistant scheduling 30 minute blocks with me randomly throughout the week with new hires. And one of the amazing things is we’ve hired 75 new full-time staff this year. Frankly, it’s hard to even remember who they are because I’ve met them maybe three times. Once when we interviewed them, once when I onboarded them and maybe I’ve had one other interaction with them. Whereas if I was in the office, I’d be passing that person’s desk 10 times a day on my way to the coffee maker. And so you have to forcibly recreate those interactions in order to really integrate those folks into the group.
Folwell: And what type of steps are you taking on the onboarding process? I mean, that’s one of the things that even talking to staffing firms themselves with the virtual onboarding, everybody’s got a different approach. But I mean, I know you said you have Zoom, you’re trying to have their ongoing mediums, but are there the tools specific to training? Anything that you said you’re on the Microsoft side of things, but are there anything specific have been tools that have been super helpful throughout this period?
Woods: I think for us, one of the things that we wanted to do was tie people to the organization physically because everything was virtual. I think one of the most important things we did was we started shipping, welcome to TR boxes to folks that they’d get well in advance their first day. They’d show up to work. On their first day, they log into an all hands meeting and all the Team Rubicon people, 200 people are all wearing Team Rubicon shirts, and they have theirs that they can put on for the first time. These other just tchotchkes that we’d send them, it just creates this physical connection to the organization and that’s what people are really yearning for now. I mean, it’s human nature to want to be physically connected to other people. So we really tried to create some element of that. We have digital happy hours at the end of the week that welcome them onto the team. I mean, honestly, none of these things are extraordinarily brilliant or scientific. It’s just really trying to recreate the magic of what an office environment is, which is social interaction.
Delohery: And I imagine there’s somewhat organic to the solutions grow out of the culture that you’ve already built too.
Delohery: So I wanted to zoom out a little bit and come back to your book. And I wanted to dig specifically into a little bit more praise that you’ve gotten through your book, because I think it’s a really good framework for a larger conversation about what’s going on in the world right now. So Tom Brokaw said, “Once a Warrior is the book that America needs right now. Jake Wood’s life changing experience is a reminder of the greatness of the American spirit and how now more than ever we need to activate that spirit for the common good.” So right now, the country is fractured in a lot of ways and struggling. I think what we’ve been seeing is often a failure to come together for that common good. So I was wondering if you could speak a little bit to our listeners about how to activate that spirit of common good for their communities and what you’ve learned in your experience.
Woods: Yeah. Well, first let’s just for a moment look back fondly on an arrow when Tom Brokaw was sitting in that seat and 95% of America believed that whatever he was saying was true, back when we respected journalists and believed in the truth. We’re fractured because we lack perspective, we’re fractured because we don’t agree on the world, right? We’re always going to have different perspectives in the world, but there were always certain universal truths that we’d subscribed to and those seem to have been thrown out the window, these universal norms of respect and trust and these values that we all used to hold.
I think that’s sad. When I look at the division today, I think that people on both sides lack perspective. They are failing to even try to see the world through other people’s eyes. In my experience, since I’ve left high school, I’ve been around the world literally and figuratively and have been fortunate, even fortunate through very, very bad circumstances to gain a perspective of the world that helps me to be empathetic and compassionate in situations. I can look at both sides of the coin on some of these issues, whether it’s social justice, whether it’s LGBTQ issues, whether it’s income inequality and look at it and just say, “All right, how can I look at this as an empathetic human being?”
And it’s really hard to do that if you don’t have perspective, it’s really hard to do that. I wrote an op-ed that’ll be published in The Dallas Morning News here in, I think the next week. It talks about perspective and how that service helps us to gain perspective and perspective helps us gain empathy and one of the lines that I said in there that it’s coming to the top of my head right now is, it’s really hard to be empathetic to a cause like Black Lives Matter if the closest you’ve ever come to a young black man is drafting one onto your Fantasy football team, right? It’s just hard to sympathize with the movement, right? It’s just hard.
And I was having a conversation internally with someone at Team Rubicon. We’ve been having this dialogue around issues, diversity and inclusion. Somebody approached me that was offended. This was a white man who was offended by the idea that he could be advantaged in any way compared to his peers of color. We had a great conversation. It was a very civil conversation and I said is, “Listen, I would hope that your experience with Team Rubicon, where we’ve served alongside people of all colors, creeds, and religions, we have served in every community of color, we serve in the poorest communities in America. It should lead you to open your eyes to issues that cross all of these different boundaries.” And he acknowledged that, but it’s tough.
So when Tom Brokaw talks about the book, I guess, to get to your question. I do hope that the stories of service that I talk about in there, where I deliberately try to show the world through the eyes of people in Team Rubicon and the survivors of these storms, both lends people perspective through these different experiences, but also leaves people inspired by what’s possible when we come together and put aside our differences.
Delohery: I mean, we can take all we can get of that right now. I really resonate with what you said about empathy and it made me think of when you were talking about building a culture remotely, it feels like so much of this lack of empathy comes from a national lack of culture because we’re all even more isolated than ever. It just makes me think about the power of service, even from a distance to break down those barriers and create some sense of national culture that even that Tom Brokaw was a figurehead of before. We had a sense of a national culture, even if we had really different ideas of the specifics.
Folwell: We’re on point on perspective as well. I talk with people frequently, having one shared perspective, we used to have three to five newspapers, everybody would read, agree on. Tom Brokaw on the news and it’s like we talked about all the social media, all the technology changes and while I think there’s a lot of good that comes from that, there’s also the fact that whatever perspective or however evil your perspective, if you have a bad perspective, you’re going to find others who are like that and think it’s okay because there’s a Facebook group for that. We’re more segmented in terms of what we believe and it allows people to not have one standard truth that we’re all going to. So it’s interesting to see how much that I think has driven people apart as well. It’s one of the, maybe not so positive things about technology these days.
Woods: Absolutely. It’s allowed us to retreat into our corners like never before.
Delohery: This is maybe related or maybe not. I think so much of getting through this period right now is maintaining perspective and that is often tied to daily habits, both professionally and personally. So in the past year or so have you adopted any belief or behavior or habit that has helped you weather these storms?
Woods: Oh, man. It’s a tough question. I would say I go to bed earlier. So yeah, it’s interesting. While writing the book I got in the habit of waking up around 4:30 each day and writing. I’ve got a two year old at home.
Delohery: It’s the only time.
Woods: Yeah, exactly. You got to find the non-crazy times in the household. So I’d get up at 4:30 and I’d write, and eventually I finished the book but I kept the habit of waking up at 4:30, between 4:30 and 5:00. And it’s good. I start the day usually by reading. I tend to read The New York Times and then I’ll read a dozen articles or so try to stay up on what’s happening. And I dive right into work and usually shut it down around five o’clock, 5:30 in the afternoon. But I found myself then for a while getting into this cycle because the new cycle was just insane. I’d stay up until midnight reading more news and eventually I realized how toxic it was becoming. Because you’ll find yourself reading the same story just from a dozen different outlets, right?
Woods: It has no value added to your perspective, there’s no value added to anything and I realized it was actually draining me in an unimaginable way. So now I shut all that down and I’m in bed by 9:30 every night. So when David is texting me at 10:00 p.m. that’s why I’m not responding.
Folwell: Well, I’m getting up at 4:30 as well. So I’m with you.
Woods: Good habit.
Folwell: Yeah, it’s a great habit.
Delohery: You missed out on all the late night tweet storms too.
Woods: I avoid the Twitter rants.
Folwell: Yeah. That alone is a reason to go to bed when the sun goes down.
Folwell: Yeah. I’m not sure that the 24 hour news cycles good for anybody.
Woods: No, it’s not.
Folwell: Not sure that was a good shift.
Delohery: What advice do you have for staffing leaders as we head into… I assume we’re going to make it to 2021. So what advice do you have for staffing leaders as we head into the next year?
Woods: Yeah. Boy, there’s a lot and I’d hate to try to present myself like an expert in the staffing or the recruiting industry, but there’s a couple of things that I’m looking at as we head into the next year, which we anticipate to hopefully be another big year of growth for us. One, the talent pool just got five times larger. I mean, we have 10% people unemployed and it cuts across all sectors, all levels. You have just this greatly expanded pool of people who are seeking work. Again, it’s different, I think, than The Great Recession because this really cut across all elements of our economy and so you’re seeing a flood of these candidates and in some ways that’s already benefited us because we’ve been able to hire people that we never could have recruited before. Either because we couldn’t have afforded them or they would never would have shaken loose from their up-and-coming job in say the entertainment industry, but now they’ve pivoted into a nonprofit organization. So we’ve just tapped into an incredible talent pool.
So there is opportunity amid this madness and people should really be looking at that. Two, I think people, this was already a trend, but I think it’s going to accelerate. People are looking for purpose in their work. I think a lot of people have been hollowed out by 2020 both because of their experience with their employer and maybe they were ruthlessly cut as a cost savings measure early in the pandemic, maybe they didn’t have that experience, but nonetheless, they look at the world through a different lens now for having experienced 2020. This notion of making sure that you’re bringing purpose into people’s work lives…
You don’t have to be a nonprofit for that, right? I mean, corporations should have purpose driven initiatives regardless of what their product or their service or their mission is. We’re going to have to contend from work from home. There’s already a drum beat within Team Rubicon about, should we ever go back into the office? And it’s a resounding hell yes from me, but I know we’re going to have a lot of people on the backside of this, they’re going to drag their feet. On the other hand, we’ve always had that corner of our staff who were always wondering why we had to come in the office and some of those very same people now realize that the work from home environment is not as green pastures as they thought it was going to be. So that’s been pretty interesting.
Delohery: A lot of people learn that.
Woods: Yeah. I’ll tell you, I think I’m a guy who I’ve loved every minute of it, because again, I have a two year old daughter, my wife’s pregnant. I’ve got to share experiences and time with them that normally I’m traveling 200,000 miles a year and I haven’t had to do and that’s been great. I realized my effectiveness as a CEO has dropped probably 30 to 40% as a result of working from home.
Delohery: I believe it, a two year old is a powerful contender.
Woods: It’s not even that I’m distracted by my toddler. I’m an in-person leader. I have to be able to connect with people in a way that I haven’t been able to. Serendipitous meetings are where I find myself most creative. So I just find myself ineffective in this environment which is, I don’t see that as a negative. It’s just, I have to understand that and realize that. So it’ll be interesting to see how self-aware people are on the backside of this, about what opportunities they want to pursue, because I think they’ll have more choices.
Folwell: Jake, I completely agree with you on one, the benefits and the downside of working from home. I think people are seeing both and people with kids… it’s been amazing in Zoom where people are like, they’re so excited about spending the time with kids, and then it’s also hard to get work done now. But the one thing I think people are going to come out of this with is a new perspective as we were talking about that. And I think a lot of people hopefully are feeling want more human connection. But you brought up purpose driven work and I remember when you started Team Rubicon in 2010, is that right? I got the year right?
Folwell: And I remember thinking, what the hell is this? What is he doing? And it took me a couple of years to get that, what you’re doing is it’s really amazing that you are helping give purpose back to people who, when you’re a veteran, you’re serving your country and you’re doing good that the idea that you’re going to leave that and maybe don’t have… I’m speaking out of turn. I’m not a veteran, I don’t have that experience but from my perspective the ability to give people purpose again, is something that is really an incredible thing and I see that with Team Rubicon where I’ve talked to a lot of people that volunteer for you, and it’s amazing to see their eyes light up talking about, I don’t know, do you call them tours missions that they go on?
Folwell: I mean, it’s really, really incredible to see how excited people are to be part of your organization and I think that goes back to one, your original mission, and then the culture that you talk about but I just think it’s a pretty incredibly built.
Woods: Yeah. But I always caution people away from thinking you have to be a charity or do good in the sense that Team Rubicon does in order to have that. I’ll use an example, David you used to work for a temporary housing for nurses.
Woods: A temporary housing for the nurses and that was probably just a job. Nurses, okay, whatever houses for nurses. I’ll tell you what? People have a whole new appreciation for the nursing industry in 2020, right? These are heroes. They always have been heroes. That’s been on full display in 2020. And so if you’re that company and your job is housing nurses, particularly in this environment and ensuring that they have a safe, comfortable, clean place to go home to after a grueling 12-hour shift in an ER fighting COVID, you should find purpose in that. And if you’re not capitalizing on the opportunities to help people understand purpose, you could be in the education tech business like, “Hey, there’s no more important job right now than ensuring our teachers can teach these little…” You know what I want to call? Shit head kids that are not trying to learn on Zoom. This is powerful stuff. You always find a way to, what’s the purpose of your company? If it’s just making money, it’s going to be really hard, but most companies do more than just make money.
Folwell: To that point, I mean, we have the software Staffing Referrals. One of our things that we’ve gotten behind as a team is we help find people find jobs and finding a career that you love, that’s a valuable thing. And I think almost every staffing firm could grab a hold of that as something that’s, if you are putting somebody to work and you’re getting them into a job that they care about where they’re getting paid and they’re happy about it, I feel like, I mean, it’s something that anybody in the staffing industry I think can feel good about the work they’re doing, because they’re helping people make an income, make a living,
Woods: On the flip side of that coin, you’re helping a smaller, medium-sized business owner or entrepreneur achieve their dream by finding the right talent to scale their businesses. I mean, that’s the backbone of this entire economy.
Delohery: And to your point, the companies that are closer to that purpose, that hold that purpose closer to the center of everything they do, are the companies that tend to succeed. Rather than people who see people as just transactions or numbers. I know listeners will want to reach out and support the work that you’re doing at Team Rubicon and we’ll put a link to your donation page, but is there anything else that listeners can do to support the work that you guys are doing?
Woods: I mean, obviously as a charity, we rely on philanthropy, so we’d certainly appreciate the support of anybody that’s listening and is moved by the work that we’re doing. I would also say that there are 20 million military veterans in this country dating back to World War II in Korea, which means that a lot of those people they’re in the job hunt. They’re like any other citizen right now, many of them are unemployed. So if you come across veterans and you look at their resume, whether you placed them or not, and you think that they could benefit from Team Rubicon or that Team Rubicon could benefit from them, point them our way. We have 130,000 of them now, but we’ve got more problems mounting in front of us that we’re going to have to tackle in the next decade than we can handle as it is. So we’d love to have more.
Folwell: I’ll give you the shameless plug. I’ve known you long enough, but I’m pretty excited about your damn book.
Woods: Yeah, listen, the book’s going to be good.
Folwell: I’ll also say, go out and buy his book. I pre-ordered mine. You should pre-order yours. Go to Amazon Once a Warrior: How a Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home. Check it out. I’m excited to get my hands on a copy and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well.
Woods: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, it’s going to be good. I’m excited to see it finally get out in the world.
Folwell: Yeah. It’s an exciting time. It sounds like we need it right now. So thanks so much. Thank you Jake for joining us today. This was a really fantastic conversation.
Woods: Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to join, I’m excited for live events to start happening again so I can come to StaffingHub Live! Again and drink some beers with all your listeners. Sounds like a good time.
Delohery: Just one year away.
Woods: Let’s hope.
Delohery: We’ll all be together again.
Woods: All right.
Folwell: Thanks Jake. Good to see you.
Delohery: Thanks Jake.
Woods: Of course, thanks everybody.