Brandon Wood: A New Way to Be Like Brandon Wood

Jake Wood Was Once a Warrior, Then a Nonprofit Leader. Now He’s an Entrepreneur.

The first time I met Brandon Wood was a few years ago, at the annual National Association of Realtors (NAR) convention.

Wood, who’s a senior vice president at the non-profit NeighborWorks, was sitting next to his wife, Jill, a real estate agent at the convention. Their paths had crossed at two other NAR conferences in the past, and I thought this would be just a friendly chat.

Yet Wood took the first step by introducing himself.

“Hi,” he said to the crowd.

“Brandon Wood,” I said. “You’re Brandon Wood, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” he said.

He introduced me to Jill, and then talked about his career as a U.S. Navy veteran and the non-profit community he represents. It included his volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity and his organization, NeighbourWorks.

“I’m here to meet a woman,” Wood says he was told, the non-profit leader sitting next to Jill on the convention’s third day.

Wood was meeting me as a reporter for the New York Times because — as he notes in a new book, “The Boy Who Grew Up to Be This: Finding My Way in a World of Self-Discovery and Professional Success,” due out next month — he was “being held back by society.”

“We see the world through a lens of stereotypes,” he writes. “There are only two types of people: good and bad.” The bad people are those who are “insecure, aggressive, controlling and self-centered,” Wood writes.

As an example: “I wanted to be like the people I admired most in life — the fighter pilots and military heroes. But they were always surrounded by cameras and people in the

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