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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

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

By John Wood
15-minute read
Audio available
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood

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.

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

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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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

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

By John Wood
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood
Synopsis

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.

Key idea 1 of 9

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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