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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World summary

John Wood

An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children

4 (118 ratings)
18 mins

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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World - a memoir by John Wood, former Microsoft executive turned philanthropist. Wood shares his story of founding Room to Read, a non-profit organization providing education for children in developing countries. A tale of social entrepreneurship worth exploring.

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    Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
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    John Wood's life changed during a trip to Nepal, where he realized the value and necessity of literacy and children's education.

    Meet John Wood: a top executive who worked for Microsoft between 1991 and 1998. Wood enjoyed great success at Microsoft, until an eye-opening vacation in Nepal forced him to scrutinize the value of something he'd always taken for granted: education.

    Wood was on a hike in rural Nepal when he decided to take a tour of the local schools – and his life changed forever. The condition of the schools absolutely shocked him.

    Wood met with an education resource guide named Pasupathi. Pasupathi told Wood that the literacy rate in Nepal was only 30% and that he dreamed of improving the country's education system.

    Pasupathi then took John on a tour of a local school. The room marked “School Library” was empty. When Wood asked where the books were, he was shown a locked cabinet. The books were so precious they had to be kept under lock and key.

    The few books they did have weren't really fit for schoolchildren, either. One of them was an Italian edition of a book by Umberto Eco.

    So Wood asked if the teachers would be interested in English books, and when they said yes, he promised to send two to three hundred books along.

    Wood remembered his promise. When he got back to Kathmandu he emailed several of his contacts, informing them of the school's poor conditions. He asked for books and monetary donations, promising to use 100 percent of the donations to buy more children's books. He also asked people to forward the email to their own contacts.

    The results exceeded his expectations. Wood quickly gathered about 3,000 books to send back to Nepal.

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    What is Leaving Microsoft to Change the World about?

    Leaving Microsoft to Change the World (2006) is the story of John Wood, a former top-level Microsoft employee who left his career to found Room to Read, a non-profit charity organization. Room to Read aims to help stamp out global illiteracy by focusing on children's education and gender-equality.

    Best quote from Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

    What struck me first was the UNs estimate that 850 million people in the world lacked basic literacy.

    —John Wood
    example alt text

    Who should read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World?

    • People interested in global education
    • Those who want to learn about nonprofit organizations
    • Philanthropists and charity workers

    About the Author

    John Wood is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, best-selling author and the founder of Room to Read and Room to Grow, nonprofits devoted to ending childhood illiteracy.

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