Review – Leaving Microsoft to Change the World | John Wood

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  • Title: Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
  • Author: John Wood
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • Publication Year: 2006
  • Pages: 278


John Wood discovered his passion, his greatest success, and his life’s work not at business school or his high-flying job at Microsoft but on a chance visit to a school library in Nepal. He walked away from his lucrative career to create Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes education across the developing world, 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, you will love Wood’s vivid, emotional, and absorbing tale on how to take the lessons learned in big business and apply them to the world’s most pressing social problems. 

I bought this book exactly two years ago, while I was still interning at Microsoft Malaysia. Well I must say that even though I was enjoying my time there (had no intention of leaving), it certainly caught my eye and I was genuinely curious on what it had to offer. Plus, I was actively involved in a non-profit organization, Enactus, that very same time so an outlook on an entrepreneur’s odyssey to educate the world’s children was one I was excited to dive into. Unfortunately, life got into the way so it is not surprising that I only got into reading this last month. (Whoops!)

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World is a feel-good, inspiring book written by John Wood, the founder of Room to Read.  It starts off with Wood’s share of experiences on his life in the corporate world – the challenges he faced, the dissatisfaction he experienced and his continuous yearning to do something better with his life. During his travels to Nepal, he learned on how scarce books were in remote parts of the country. With some help from the locals and his close family and friends, he set off to collect books and funds to improve education and knowledge accessibility in the area he visited. Consistent little steps kept the dream alive and soon, Room to Read became an important part of communities not only in Nepal, but all over the world.

The highlight of this book for me would be the opportunity to learn on the non-profit organization’s business model. I love how Wood emphasized the importance of his experiences and knowledge gained at Microsoft in adding value and bringing Room to Read together. His focus on networking, management, quantitative results and sustainability made this organization a success and this book, an eye-opening read.

Each chapter of his journey was written with much thought, care and simplicity. It is easy to follow and very engaging. If you’re a fan of memoirs and in need of a jab of inspiration, this book is for you. Not only will it give you a peek into Wood’s journey, it will encourage you to take the next course of action to make a sustainable difference in this world.