A lot of classic business culture uses the lexicon of competitive conflict; a lot of terms derive from war and sports. These are considered classic examples of leadership and the analogies and metaphors are thick. So it’s interesting to read Abby Wambach’s Wolfpack, where she takes lessons learned from the top echelons of competitive soccer to turn classic leadership rules on their heads. In this episode Blake and I share our takes on the book.
Here are her 8 rules, in summary:
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Hey there. This is Addison Berry, and you're listening to the Osio Labs podcast. The show that explores the question, how can we create sustainable businesses that care for people and make the world a better place? On today's episode, I'm joined by my colleague Blake Hall. And this is episode number three, which will be a book chat about Wolfpack by Abby Wambach. So a lot of classic business culture uses the lexicon of competitive conflict. A lot of terms derived from war and sports. These are considered classic examples of leadership. And the analogies and metaphors are really thick from those. So it's interesting to read Abby Wambach's Wolfpack, where she takes lessons learned from the top echelons of competitive soccer to turn classic leadership rules on their heads. Here are her eight rules for leadership that she has in Wolfpack, just to summarize that before we dive into it. One: create your own path. Two: be grateful for what you have and demand what you deserve. Three: lead now from wherever you are. Four: failure means you're finally in the game. Five: be for each other. Six: believe in yourself, demand the ball. Seven: lead with humanity. Cultivate leaders. Eight: you're not alone. You've got your pack. So, to start off, before we get into the details of all the things, what was your overall impression of the book and would you recommend it or not?Blake:
I would say my overall impression was positive. I think I heard about the book either from you mentioning it or, um, my partner's a big fan of the We can Do Hard Things podcast with Glennon, Abby's partner. Mm-hmm. So might have been there as well, but. Or maybe that just gave me permission to order it right away. I'm not sure. I can't remember how that played out. It's a short, quick read, which I thought was great. You know, I can kind of cruise through it in an hour pretty comfortably, which makes it easy to revisit too, which is kind of nice. We were both actually such a big fan of it that when we were searching to buy it, we noticed that there's a, a kids' version, so we picked that up for our daughter right away. I don't think she's read it quite- fair enough- all the way through. I found her bookmark in there the other day when I was sort of comparing the two. I think it's full of a bunch of really high level great lessons and, and good reminders. I'm always a little bit gun shy about leadership books in general because they feel kind of so high level and, and lacking in like actionable tasks that, especially giving one to like a 10 year old feels sort of weird. But I feel like this has a, a bunch of really good lessons and reminders for just everyday life too, beyond just leadership. And I like the way that she sort of recasts leadership as it's something that everybody can bring to the table and a very actionable process and not like something that someone else has to give to you. It's something that you can kind of give to the world.Addi:
Yeah. I liked it too. I also liked that it was fast. Like you said, we could probably like read the entire book on a podcast episode. And you know, I have a similar thing with leadership books, because I often feel like I need to read and take a lot of notes and then figure out how I'm gonna implement the new things I'm learning and all of that. And this is really kind of not, not even that, it's just like you need to think about what leadership means differently. Here's some points to think about differently. Mm-hmm. And it's such a short, easy read that you can kind of like pick it up and be like, oh yeah, that thing, and then go about your day. It's not like a, a tome that you have to like weed through to figure out what she's trying to say. Mm-hmm. You know, so, yeah. Yeah. So I definitely, I would recommend it for sure if nothing else, because it's a really fast read and you can just read through and if you get something from it, great. And if you don't, you haven't wasted hours of your life. So I feel like that's, that's a, a big advantage, but I do think that a lot of people could take away some positive stuff from it, for sure.Blake:
Yeah, absolutely. I also kind of find myself gravitating a bit towards, books of this type that are broken down, sort of, you know, she has these kind of eight rules and, books that are broken down in that way, so you can sort of like, Journal about one of the rules in a particular month or, you know, revisit one during a particular day and sort of just give it some time to sort of stew and chew on and think about how that rule applies to you and impacts your life and all that sort of thing. When a book is structured that way, it sort of makes it easier for me to think about in mm-hmm. In ways that are a little more actionable than. Like you're saying, if you have to sort of stop and take notes and look up sources and, you know, consider how you might go about implementing some sort of marketing project or, or whatever. Right. This is sort of the opposite of that, which is, is great.Addi:
So what would you say like your biggest takeaway is? Or like what's, what do you think? Or I guess maybe even, like, what do you think her, her message is like, what is she actually saying?Blake:
I think my biggest takeaway is that, you know, growing up sort of a, a Midwestern white male, a lot of the things you're taught about leadership and sort of business and, and competing are very individual. So then when you think about leadership, it's sort of at odds with a lot of the other like hyper-competitive things that you're taught to sort of get ahead and, and succeed. And, I love that, that her message is, is more kind of nurturing and collaborative and, I like the concept of, of both the Wolf and the Wolf Pack because I feel like. You, you still need to be competitive and you still need to sort of be the best person that you can be. But you also need the support of a community of some sort and your team and the people around you. And cultivating that and embracing that is just as important to your success as sort of being your own individual rockstar. Mm-hmm. And I think that's a, a really good reminder that's not present in a lot of the sort of historically celebrated leadership books.Addi:
For me, I ended up sort of like taking away two main messages and, to speak to background from, from my side, right? So I'm a, a woman leader, so she, this book is specifically written to me. I'm also queer, and she's queer as well and brings that up in the book. And so, I'm kind of like her primary target audience that she's, she's speaking to in the book for sure. But one of the, what I took away was sort of two messages of basically demand more of the world, expect more of of the world. Don't let the world tell you how it's supposed to be, and to support each other, to create a pack, and to work as a team, to get the world to give into our demands, as it were. Instead of trying to do that alone. Or trying to do it the old way, like really, I mean, and she specifically says in the book, right? She's taking like, what, what is the old rule? And then this is her new rule, which is to don't play by the old rules, do things differently if you wanna change the world. And that's, I mean if, if nothing else is just heartening to hear, cuz that's how I feel and I feel like it's a struggle and I feel like people. Here I'm a CEO of a company and they have sudden expectations about who I am and how I behave in the world and it's very frustrating to me. And so it's like I would like to personally change that message because I am not that way. I'm not that, you know, uber competitive, type A personality, workaholic, take on the world rockstar kind of thing. But people just get this like weird impression of you as soon as you say like the letters, CEO or whatever capacity of official authority. So I just also really enjoy like the fact that, I mean, and she's not the only person saying these things, so this is a huge thing that's happening, uh but it's just great to read it, to see it, to hear that message over and over again because it's really easy to get kind of stuck in the old systems of thinking, or be surrounded by them. And so it's just heartening to be like, oh yeah, all right. I'm not alone. I'm not alone. There is a wolf pack, right? There are a whole lot of people like this who think this way. Yeah, absolutely. Good to remember that.Blake:
Right. Well, and even, even on a, another individual level, I think like her second rule is sort of be grateful for what you have, but also demand what you deserve. And I think that's mm-hmm. That speaks a lot to sort of what you're talking about is like, trying to make these changes in the world doesn't mean that you're not also, you know, thankful that that-mm-hmm- you've gotten to be a CEO. Like, balancing those two things is, is something that isn't always encouraged or accepted. Like a lot of times I feel like people, especially in the, in the larger media, when they come out and say that they're in favor of some sort of social change or social justice, it's sort of like, well, you should be grateful for, you know, X, Y, or Z that's happened recently. And it's like, well, yes, but like, that's not enough still, you know? Mm-hmm. There's sort of, it's it's okay to both, like celebrate you know, where we are and, and what we have now, but also still expect things to be better and, and keep pushing forward for more. And I think that's, especially for somebody like me, that's, that's a really good message too, because it sort of feels like, you know, sometimes like the unrelenting push towards progress can just feel like you never get anywhere, right? Yeah. It's kind of like, it's kind of like working with with code on a, on a website, it's like you're constantly squashing new bugs that you find or trying to improve performance or, you know, all these things. It sort of feels like your job is never done, and that can feel kind of disheartening at times, but realizing that you can take a step back and, and sort of hold the two truths of, you know, things are going really well and I've worked really hard and there's still more to do. Mm-hmm. To improve things. Like that's a, that's a really good reminder. Yeah. As well, I think.Addi:
It's hard to hold both of those at the same time. Absolutely. But, but yeah, it's, uh, it's a good practice. It's a good thing to, to practice doing for sure. Mm-hmm. So singing lots of praises. Are there any drawbacks for you? Not that there have to be, but I'm just curious.Blake:
I think the one thing I would say is just mostly because the book is so short, there's, there's kind of a lack of real actionable mm-hmm. Steps you can take. But I also sort of feel like it's because, at least when I read the book, it felt very individually targeted and, and sort of like, this is how you work on yourself to improve your leadership skills. So it's more, it's harder to do that sort of thing in a book like that, that's mm-hmm. That's a little more personal and about, you know, bringing your values for the rest of your life, your work life in particular. So, like, I understand why that's a shortcoming, but I would still say, you know, it'd be great if there was some sort of follow up or online community where people were kind of talking about how to go about implementing these things, and there's a very good chance that something like that exists and I'm just unaware of it or ignorant of it, but mm-hmm. I would say if somebody just grabs the book and that's their only experience with these concepts, that would be my biggest kind of drawback.Addi:
Yeah. You know, I looked, when I, after I read it, I did look to see if there was like some kind of Wolfpack community, and it seems like maybe there was some discussion about that or something like that happened, but it doesn't seem to be a thing that's like out there. Cuz that was definitely one of the things for me too, is it's like this is all good and well. And like in a sense, I have many packs, you know, I have my family and I have my friends and I have my team here at work and we are packs like we, we do stick together and support each other. But I definitely feel like, how do I, how do I find the larger packs? How do I find this, this larger movement of the way that people are thinking and being a, CEO or just any kind of management that is sort of set apart in some way with levels of authority, I guess. It does feel lonely sometimes in its own way and it's interesting. Like I, I've, I go through lots of different ways of trying to find other people. A part of doing this podcast is for me to, to try and find other people who think the way that we think, so that I can sort of grow this, this pack, that we have. Mm-hmm. But I, I would've liked in the book to have more like, Finding a pack or defining a pack and like how do you, how do you grow that? How do you do that exactly? Mm-hmm. Because I think a lot of people can read this and be like, this is great, but I feel really alone because I'm reading this book, but no one around me is reading this book or, or cares. And so how do I find the other people who are doing that? So I feel like that would've been. Yeah. Like a, yeah, absolutely a next step from reading the book is like, okay, now go connect with other people who just read this book too and, and wanna explore this, so. Mm-hmm. And then I think the other I, this isn't really a drawback actually, I think this is just more of a observation, which is, like I said earlier, like she, Abby is definitely speaking to me, a queer woman in business leadership. And so a lot of, you know, things in there resonated, but you know, we're still white women. We still have other, other levels of privilege and so I'm like, I guess I'm more curious like how other underrepresented minorities would respond to the way that she's laying things out in the book. You know, the assumption is that you just sort of take these concepts and apply, but I also am sort of aware of the privilege from the perspective that the book is also written in. Mm-hmm. So, yeah, not exactly a drawback, but more of a curiosity or a question, right. For how that, how that would play out out there.Blake:
Yeah. I mean, in terms of like gaining larger acceptance among sort of the status quo system. Like we can't all be the women's national soccer team in terms of Right. You know, global success and reach and, and sort of you know, work harder to get a bunch of attention to your cause isn't always the greatest like, actionable step, right. For things like this, that's for sure.Addi:
Yeah. So I also have a question to come back to. You said that there was a kids version. I'm curious, like is there, is it very different? Like how is it different? Obviously it must be different in some way. Yeah,Blake:
it's, it's actually not all that different. Mm-hmm. A lot of the references, to women in particular are sort of just rewritten as young people. Okay. Which I find kind of interesting, but, I mean, it also sort of speaks to the nature of the book itself. It's sort of the quick breezy read and it's not mm-hmm. It's not overly complicated like it is, it is, young adult friendly, even in its original form, I would say. Right. So I was actually kind of surprised by that a little bit. Like, I sort of, I thought there might be, you know, more, I hate to say like dumbing down, but, you know, simplification or whatever, but the overall message of the book really is pretty straightforward and simple and the rules themselves are, are young, adult friendly mm-hmm as they are. So, it's not like it's, you know, filled with pictures or Right. Or you know, a bunch of profanity cleaned up or anything like that. Like it's, it's basically the same book with a few different word choices here and there. Which is great. I mean, I think it, it sort of speaks to the simplicity of the ideas, which doesn't mean they're not powerful, that they're just, you know, distilling something to, to that level of, you know, a, a kid can understand it is often a pretty hard thing to do, so, yeah. Huh.Addi:
Interesting. Yeah, I guess I was like imagining yeah, more pictures and like, I don't know, stories and scenarios for kids in, you know, so instead of talking about, even, even high level team sports and stuff like that, but you know, it's like being in homeroom and school or I don't know, you know, we're like, I whatever, like the Girl Scouts, I don't know, but so it was just, uh, anyway. Yeah. Interesting. Cool. But it, it's also just good to know that that version of the book is out there too. All right. I think we should probably wrap it up, but I wanna wrap it up with, did any of the eight rules stand out to you more than others, just like personally resonating for you?Blake:
I mean, I think they're all really good and applicable, which is a total cop out answer. It's fair enough though, but I, I have to pick two. One of them we talked about already quite a bit and it was rule number two. Mm-hmm. Which is be grateful for what you have and demand what you deserve. Cuz I feel like that's a really important ongoing practice for everybody. And it sort of seems like younger generations are, are doing a better job of that than, than mm-hmm. Some of us who aren't so young anymore, which is great to see, but it, it also has a lot of backlash too. So it's, it's a hard thing to do and continue to implement. But the other one, that's a really good reminder for me is number four, failure means you're finally in the game and basically like, instead of being afraid of your failures, you need to lean into them and sort of realize that those are your learning moments. You know, there's, there's a ton of old and tired cliches about, you know, as long as you get back up, you, you haven't really failed and, and those sorts of things. But, I think that's a, that's a really great business lesson because mm-hmm. You know, li life in general is just full of failure. And if you can learn how to take those things in stride and actually learn from them and, and not be afraid of failing, I think is sort of the biggest thing. Because that fear can really be paralyzing and controlling and annoying to deal with. Yes. So, that's another good kind of ongoing practice I took away.Addi:
Yeah. And I, I mean, I would say both personally and from a business perspective, like one of the harder things that I continue to work on is, is leaning into failure. Not even It's okay, but like it's actually expected and needed and like, that's just like a whole other level of dealing with failure that is really difficult for me. But that's so fruitful and it also just makes life a lot less stressful if you can approach it that way. Yep. But yeah, hard to, hard to implement on the regular, for sure. So same for me as I was like, oh, these are all great and applicable in their own way. And I actually had more than one written down at first, and then I was like, Nope, let's just like cut it. Let's just do it. Let's go to the one. So I did only pick one at the end, which is, rule five be for each other. And this like really resonates for me, sort of like where I am, you know? So in that rule she's talking about like celebrating the success of others and when you are successful, celebrating the people who helped you make that success happen. But in that chapter where she's talking about like, she really talks about sort of this culture of scarcity and that everybody's gotta get their piece of the pie. And that means, you know, if somebody else gets a piece of pie, you're not gonna get any, that there's a finite amount of success available, of happiness. And that's something that like personally I've been sort of deep into lately in my life is, is trying to sort of take down the scaffolding of scarcity that we've been taught. And being able to really just open up to sort of the abundance of life, and that there's not like a finite amount of love available in the world. There's not a finite amount of joy, of, of caring for people like the, it just doesn't work that way. But we've been taught to, to believe that in so many aspects of things. Mm-hmm. So that one really resonated for me because I was like, yep, that's, that's a tough one and it colors like subtly colors, so many ways of interacting in the world. And I wanna work on that more, kind of break free from that. So, but yeah, they're all, they're all good rules. I think they're good little reminders, little things you could write on a sticky note for a week, like you said actually like, um, I like the idea of like journaling each of them. And like another, there's another book which is, uh, Brene Brown I think The Gifts of Imperfection does a similar thing where it's sort of like each chapter's about a, a thing. And I actually was in like a little book group and we, we each, each week we would read one and journal about it and then get together and talk about it. And it was actually, it was just a nice structure to exploring and really sitting with the idea. It's a nice, structure to the book and it is so sweet and simple that you can really kind of go where you want with it. Yep. Awesome. Well thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas on this one, cuz this, I would like to do more of these book chats cuz I read a lot. It's way more fun to think about books that I've read with other people.Blake:
Yeah, they're ideas. Absolutely. Yeah. Yep. Sign, sign me up.Addi:
Awesome. Cool. Well, we will definitely be doing more of these book chats in the future. We have a list of books that I'm interested in reading, so if other people are gonna read them. Sweet. And for anybody listening to the podcast, if you have a book that you think is pretty awesome that you would like us to read and do a podcast on, let us know. I am open to all kinds of books. I read a lot. I actually, my wife was just teasing me about this the other day, so I looked up on Good Reads last year I read 171 books last year in 2022, which is more than three books a week. I'm like, I don't even know how I do that. But anyway, I read a lot of books, so we can always put another on the shelf. All right, well thanks Blake. And, I'm sure you're gonna be on another podcast, so talk to you again hopefully soon. I think it'll happen. I think it'll happen.Blake:
Thanks, Addi. Thanks.Addi:
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