Abby Wambach, WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game – Here are her eight lessons and takeaways

Abby WambachRetiring at the top of her game, the owner of the best goals-per-game ratio in U.S. history scored a total of 184 goals in just 256 games—a legacy that would forever leave an indelible mark for her legendary play.
(from the ABBY Wambach page at the USWNT site)



Abby Wambach was a soccer player. A very, very good soccer player: the greatest of all time.  That is not overstatement.  Here’s the line from Wikipedia: As a forward, she currently stands as the highest all-time goal scorer for the national team and holds the world record for international goals for both female and male soccer players with 184 goals.

(She has now retired — from soccer).  Wolfpack

In 2018, she gave the commencement address at Barnard College.  (Read the speech here). She later expanded that into a book, WOLFPACK: : How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game, and I presented my synopsis of this book at the July First Friday Book Synopsis.

It is a short book.  It is packed with punch.  It is an important book.  And it is worth reading, whether you are an aspiring (or accomplished) athlete, or just wanting to build a better WOLFPACK at work, or in your community.

In my synopses, I always ask: What is the point? – Here is the point: The strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

And I ask: Why is this book worth our time? Here are my four reasons:

#1 – Sometimes, we all need to just listen carefully to a good speech – a good commencement address.  Because, we are all, always, ending something, and commencing something new.
#2 – It is always good to listen to anyone who was the very best at what she did.  Abby Wambach was the very best at what she did.
#3 – We all will experience change, transition, even failure. This book will help us through those turbulent waters.
#4 – This book is a call to honesty.  We’ve got too little of that these days.

Here are a few selected Quotes and Excerpts from the book – the “best of” the best of Randy’s highlighted passages. (I include more in my synopsis handout):

“Excuse me, Abby, I just need to ensure that what you present is applicable to men, too.” I said, “Good question! But only if you’ve asked every male speaker you’ve hired if his message is applicable to women, too.”
I loved the intimacy of our team dinners, bus rides, and stinky locker rooms.
What I loved most about soccer was being a teammate to women and a leader of women.
We not only won, we won with joy, honor, connectedness, commitment, and sisterhood. We were not only champions on the field—we were champions of each other.
Regarding glass ceilings … I’m mostly bolstered by folks who create their own ceilings. I’m less interested in banging down the door of some man who doesn’t want me there. I’m more about building my own house.
Later that night, back in my hotel room, I lay in bed and finally acknowledged what had been simmering inside me for decades: Anger.
I was angry at myself for not speaking up more about this glaring inequity and obvious injustice.
My story is every woman’s story.
In the first quarter of 2018, women in the U.S. earned 81.1 percent of what their male counterparts earned across all industries and ages. …women must work sixty-six extra days in order to earn the same salary as their male counterparts.
Black women are typically paid only 63 cents, and Latina women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, male counterparts.
What keeps the pay gap in existence is not just the entitlement and complicity of men. It’s the gratitude of women. Our gratitude is how power uses the tokenism of a few women to keep the rest of us in line.
Women haven’t yet accessed the power of failure. When it comes, we panic, deny it, or reject it outright. Worst-case scenario, we view failure as proof that we were always unworthy imposters. Men have been allowed to fail and keep playing forever. Why do we let failure take us out of the game? 346
Imperfect men have been empowered and permitted to run the world since the beginning of time. It’s time for imperfect women to grant themselves permission to join them.
If you watch footage of any of those goals, you’ll see that the moment after I score, I begin to point. I point to the teammate who assisted. I point to the defender who protected us. I point to the midfielder who ran tirelessly. I point to the coach who dreamed up this play. I point to the bench player who willed this moment into existence.
I’ve never scored a goal in my life without getting a pass from someone else. Every goal I’ve ever scored belonged to my entire team. When you score, you better start pointing.
Championing each other can be difficult for women because for so long we have been pitted against each other for the token seat at the table.
Maintaining the illusion of scarcity is how power keeps women competing for the singular seat at the old table, instead of uniting and building a new, bigger table.
Scarcity has been planted inside of us and among us. This is not our fault—but it is our problem to solve.
My entire life I’ve been the only one. The only woman in the room, the only woman at the table, and I’ve raised my daughters without a village. Being a woman is a special kind of lonely.
…you need a crew of brave and honest women to support you. You need a Pack. The question is: How do we build one? 

She especially emphasized these ideas in her eight chapters:

One: You Were Always the Wolf
Old Rule: Stay on the path.
New Rule: Create your own path.

Two: Be Grateful AND Ambitious
Old Rule: Be grateful for what you have.
New Rule: Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.

THREE: Lead from the Bench
Old Rule: Wait for permission to lead.
New Rule: Lead now—from wherever you are.

FOUR: Make Failure Your Fuel
Old Rule: Failure means you’re out of the game.
New Rule: Failure means you’re finally IN the game.

FIVE: Champion Each Other
Old Rule: Be against each other.
New Rule: Be FOR each other. 

SIX: Demand the Ball
Old Rule: Play it safe. Pass the ball.
New Rule: Believe in yourself. Demand the ball.

SEVEN: Bring It All
Old Rule: Lead with dominance. Create Followers.
New Rule: Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders. 

EIGHT: Find Your Pack
Old Rule: You’re on your own.
New Rule: You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack.

And in each chapter, she included her Call to the Wolfpack

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Wear what you want. Love who you love. Become what you imagine. Create what you need. You were never Little Red Riding Hood. You were always the Wolf.

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Be grateful. But do not JUST be grateful. Be grateful AND brave. Be grateful AND ambitious. Be grateful AND righteous. Be grateful AND persistent. Be grateful AND loud. Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: If you have a voice, you have influence to spread. If you have relationships, you have hearts to guide. If you know young people, you have futures to mold. If you have privilege, you have power to share. If you have money, you have support to give. If you have a ballot, you have policy to shape. If you have pain, you have empathy to offer. If you have freedom, you have others to fight for. If you are alive, you are a leader.

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Try. Fail. Feel it burn. Then transform Failure into your Fuel.

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Her victory is your victory. Celebrate with her. Your victory is her victory. Point to her.


• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Claim your power, and bring along your full humanity. Clear the way for others to do the same. Because what our families, our companies, and the world needs is nothing more—and nothing less— than exactly who we are.

• CALL TO THE WOLFPACK: Life is not meant to be lived as a Lone Wolf. We all need a Pack.

Here is one very key lesson:  Leadership is not a position to earn, it’s an inherent power to claim. Leadership is the blood that runs through your veins—it’s born in you. It’s not the privilege of a few, it is the right and responsibility of all. Leader is not a title that the world gives to you—it’s an offering that you give to the world.

And here are eight lessons and takeaways, from Abby directly, from her book — NEW RULES:

  1. Create your own path.
  2. Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve.
  3. Lead now—from wherever you are.
  4. Failure means you’re finally IN the game.
  5. Be FOR each other.
  6. Believe in yourself. Demand the ball.
  7. Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders.
  8. You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack.

    Abby in Center - in the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.

    Abby in Center – in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 Final at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada.

Though this book is filled with substance, especially about working with others (you know: teams and teaming – wolfpacking), it is also a great motivational read.  And we do need one of those occasionally; this one is a good one. I hope you will at least read her speech, and then maybe read the book. It will be good for you.

My synopsis, with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the July First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas, is available now.  Click here for this synopsis, and a number of other synopses of very good business books that I have recently presented.  (Click here to access all of our synopses).


And, take a look at one of the greatest plays in the history of soccer.  This is the pass from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach from 2011. Users have voted Abby Wambach’s memorable equaliser at the death for the USA against Brazil at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 as the best goal in the history of the Women’s World Cup.

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