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Leaving Microsoft To Change The World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children [Paperback]

John Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 23 2007

John Wood discovered his passion, his greatest success, and his life's work not at business school or helping lead Microsoft's charge into Asia in the 1990s but on a soul-searching trip to the Himalayas. He made the difficult decision to walk away from his lucrative career to create Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes education across the developing world. By the end of 2007, the organization will have established over 5,000 libraries and 400 schools, and awarded long-term scholarships to more than 3,000 girls, giving more than one million children the lifelong gift of education.

If you have ever pondered abandoning your desk job for an adventure and an opportunity to give back, Wood's story will inspire you. He 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 the world's most pressing social problems.


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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's a rare business book that not only provides savvy insights for better business practices but transcends the category altogether, to rank as an infectiously inspiring read. Wood takes the reader on an engaging journey from his life as a rather ordinary marketing director at Microsoft through the transformative decision to launch the nonprofit organization Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org), which has created more than 2,000 schools and libraries for children across Asia. From his first trip to Nepal, where he was struck by the country's 70% illiteracy rate, through his courageous decision to leave Microsoft, to the logistics of growing and expanding the Room to Read initiative, Wood endears himself to the reader with his introspection and honesty. Crediting his former employer with giving him the business skills and drive to aim high, he outlines the concrete steps he took to make his vision a reality. Marked by sincerity and savvy, this is the kind of book that business colleagues will discuss with their acquaintances, spouses and friends. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaving Microsoft is simply inspirational! Sept. 5 2006
Format:Hardcover
John Wood's "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" is absolutely incredible! It's an inspirational story of how one man came to decide he wanted to make a positive difference in our world, and outlines how he proceeded to do so by founding "Room to Read", an international organization dedicated to providing schools, libraries, educational scholarships for girls, and books to communities who need them.

John's obvious passion for what he's doing comes through loud and clear in the book; his refreshing honesty and informal writing style makes "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" less like a book and more like a conversation with a close friend.

The author does a wonderful job of evoking various emotions in the reader; some of his witty observations and social commentary found throughout the book will force you to laugh out loud! And some of his heart-warming recollections of the people he has encountered on his journey thus far will simply warm your heart.

If you've ever asked yourself "how does what I do matter?" or "how can I make the world a better place?", you'll definitely want to pick up a copy of "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World". The book shows us not only how one person can make a difference, but also how even those who don't decide to take the dramatic step of leaving their careers to become full-time fundraisers can help change the world, one book at a time.

Full disclosure: I had the privilege of meeting John three weeks ago when he was brought in as a guest speaker for a corporate conference I attended; the speech he gave to our group was both inspirational and motivational, and it made me quite excited to begin reading the advance copy of the book each conference delegate was given. As a result of John's terrific prose, I finished the book quickly and have since lent it to two of my friends!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It is a rare find to have top-tier business skills, a fierce compassion for people and a successful track-record of reaching for the stars, and pulling them in; John Wood is such a find, and his book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" gives us the opportunity to find it as well.

John's heroic odyssey is so captivating and honest, that it's enjoyment factor almost masks the plethora of lessons and insights coming through page after page. This is a must read for anyone wanting to up-the-ante on their own expectations for life, leadership or impact in the world.

Not only does John's story inspire the heart to aim higher, it pinpoints the rigor and awareness required to get there. It is impossible to read this book and see your own potential in the same way ever again. John Wood has us believe there's more -- lots more -- and he provides the hope, and means, to pursue it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Inspirational! Dec 31 2006
Format:Hardcover
John Wood's chronicle of his personal and professional transformation from Microsoft executive to "Micro-Charity" founder is a must read for any aspiring entrepreneur, global traveler, teacher, volunteer and philanthropist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Purchase Feb. 6 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thank you so much! The book is great and helped save me a lot of money on my books this semester for school.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  103 reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Inspiration and a Great Read Sept. 4 2006
By Helveticus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had this book on backorder and raced through it as soon as it arrived. In a busy world preoccupied with success and materialistic pursuits, this was a breath of fresh air. A well written account of one man's journey from corporate America to making a real change in children's lives. This is a must read for all - it reminds us that we can all make a difference if we choose to do so. Also loved the inside peek at Microsoft and those who are at the helm. John Wood is funny, honest and a great storyteller. A great gift for young adults heading off to college or those starting on their own career path!
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Passion for Learning Aug. 29 2006
By Chapati - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you're one of those people who always has a book in your bag, who snatches moments to read just one more page on the morning commute, and who really can't imagine growing up without a library close at hand ... this book is for you.

John Wood did what most people only dream of- he left a lucrative position in one of the world's top companies to form a non-profit organization whose purpose it is to bring books, computers and a chance at education to children throught South and Southeast Asia.

And then he wrote a book about it. In it, he says that non-profit companies should work, in practical matters, very much like for-profit companies. They should be organized, passionate and focused. Wood takes some time to give readers pointers as to how to achieve this.

The success of the idea for the Room to Read organization has been amazing. I hope the success of the book matches that.

I only have one quibble with this book and that is that at some points, Wood seems almost whiny. There are at least a handful of times in which he is close to tears, and a few more in which he does some real soul-searching. Luckily for us readers, Wood writes more about these instances in his journal than in his book.

The book is passionate, upbeat and interesting- it really will make you want to do your part to make the world a better place.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for leaders wanting to make a difference! Sept. 10 2006
By J. Balin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It is a rare find to have top-tier business skills, a fierce compassion for people and a successful track-record of reaching for the stars, and pulling them in; John Wood is such a find, and his book, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" gives us the opportunity to find it as well.

John's heroic odyssey is so captivating and honest, that it's enjoyment factor almost masks the plethora of lessons and insights coming through page after page. This is a must read for anyone wanting to up-the-ante on their own expectations for life, leadership or impact in the world.

Not only does John's story inspire the heart to aim higher, it pinpoints the rigor and awareness required to get there. It is impossible to read this book and see your own potential in the same way ever again. John Wood has us believe there's more -- lots more -- and he provides the hope, example and means, to pursue it!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-read Feb. 24 2007
By NY Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a fantastic book - for people in the business or the non-profit world who want to be inspired by a single individual's ability to produce amazing results. Its an unapologetic look at what it takes - personally and professionally - to accomplish the most daunting of goals. John and Erin's model clearly works and will continue to scale and change the lives of generations and generations of families around the world. Literacy is one of the most powerful tools in any country.

This is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered, "how can I make a difference?" I suggested this for book club and everyone loved it ... I also gave this book to a number of friends at Christmas and received rave reviews back.

[...]
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an inspiring journey March 31 2007
By Michael Erisman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Wood has an epiphany while trekking through Nepal. He was a highly compensated leader at Microsoft and yet when confronted with a simple request from a poor Nepal educator - "Next time you come maybe you can bring some books" - little did John know that this would change his life, and the life of countless others.

This is a truly inspiring story of someone who realized that there is more to life than the endless meetings and business strategy, and chose to leave that world behind to focus on making a difference to the education and literacy of countless children in Nepal.

The book is well written, engaging, funny, touching and at times depressing. I have been employed at Microsoft for a while and found it sad that John felt he could not have this kind of impact from within the company. There are so many great things the company is doing to help bring literacy and education to the world through technology, and it's a sad testament to those he worked with that someone as courageous and obviously talented as John couldn't have been used by the company with its resources to make this kind of impact from within. There are some hilarious bits in here about Microsoft, but overall I was left wondering "what if".

The book is enlightening in more ways than just the wasted potential of major multi-national companies; it also addresses some of the short sightedness of many charitable organizations he sought to partner with. Most importantly though it sends the message that one person really can make a difference. I was reminded of the wisdom of gaining wealth but losing your soul. John found the courage to find his, despite what he had to leave behind.

Overall, I recommend this book highly. It is well written, enjoyable, and inspiring. If John can make a difference, then so can we.
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