John Wood discovered his passion, his greatest success, and his life's work—not at business school or leading Microsoft's charge into Asia in the 1990s—but on a soul-searching trip to the Himalayas. Wood felt trapped between an all-consuming career and a desire to do something lasting and significant. Stressed from the demands of his job, he took a vacation trekking in Nepal because a friend had told him, "If you get high enough in the mountains, you can't hear Steve Ballmer yelling at you anymore."
Instead of being the antidote to the rat race, that trip convinced John Wood to divert the boundless energy he was devoting to Microsoft into a cause that desperately needed to be addressed. While visiting a remote Nepalese school, Wood learned that the students had few books in their library. When he offered to run a book drive to provide the school with books, his idea was met with polite skepticism. After all, no matter how well-intentioned, why would a successful software executive take valuable time out of his life and gather books for an impoverished school?
But John Wood did return to that school and with thousands of books bundled on the back of a yak. And at that moment, Wood made the decision to walk away from Microsoft and create Room to Read—an organization that has donated more than 1.2 million books, established more than 2,600 libraries and 200 schools, and sent 1,700 girls to school on scholarship—ultimately touching the lives of 875,000 children with the lifelong gift of education.
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World chronicles John Wood's struggle to find a meaningful outlet for his managerial talents and entrepreneurial zeal. For every high-achiever who has ever wondered what life might be like giving back, Wood offers a vivid, emotional, and absorbing tale of how to take the lessons learned at a hard-charging company like Microsoft and apply them to one of the world's most pressing problems: the lack of basic literacy.
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After earning an MBA at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, John Wood worked for several years in banking before joining Microsoft in 1991. Through hard work and determination, he ascended rapidly, earning coveted overseas assignments in Australia and China. While serving as Microsoft's Director of Business Development for the Greater China region, Wood decided to change his life's focus to help children break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education. In 2000, he founded Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and soon in Africa. When not traveling the world fund-raising and visiting Room to Read communities, he lives in San Francisco.From School Library Journal:
Adult/High School—As much about business practices as about personal discovery, this book lives up to its name as it details how the author traded in the executive lifestyle to champion his own nonprofit organization, Room to Read. Wood describes his life at Microsoft as a marketing director for Australia and, later, China. Young business enthusiasts familiar with Steve Ballmer and Bill and Melinda Gates will be entertained by the glimpse into their respective management styles and by the author's efforts to pattern himself in their likeness. He also describes his lack of personal fulfillment and his eventual redirection, brought on by a visit to the mountains of Nepal. With vignettes from profitable fundraising activities for Room to Read, he documents how to successfully start up a nonprofit organization and how to sustain it. Originally named Books for Nepal, Wood's organization focused initially on providing books to the disadvantaged schools of Nepal, but eventually he expanded its scope (and renamed it) so as to include the building of schools, Tsunami relief, and educational programs for the children of Asia. Corporate-minded adolescents interested in giving back to society will enjoy this title and glean practical advice from it.—Brigeen Radoicich, Fresno County Office of Education, CA
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