John Wood was a rising executive with Microsoft when he took a vacation that changed his life. What started as a trekking holiday in Nepal, back in 1998, became a spiritual journey and later a mission to change the world one book and one child at a time, by setting up libraries in the developing world. In this video John talks about how he left Microsoft to change the world.
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At age 35, John Wood left an executive career track at Microsoft Corporation to form Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that “combines the heart of Mother Theresa with the scalability of Starbucks” to help children across the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. Razor-sharp business acumen honed at Microsoft, combined with a passion to change the world, makes Wood a unique, inspiring and popular speaker with universal appeal.
Wood founded Room to Read out of deep concern that nearly one billion people lack basic literacy and that over 200 million children in the developing world are not enrolled in school. “I was blessed with a solid education, which was a wonderful foundation for my future. As a result, I had a great career at a company that encourages people to dream big dreams. I started Room to Read as a way to give that same opportunity to children in the world’s poorest places. Education is a hand up, not a hand out. It is within our power to be the generation that ends poverty, so we need to think big and execute flawlessly.”
Since its start in 2000, Room to Read has sponsored the opening of more than 1,100 schools and 9200 multi-lingual libraries across the developing world. The organization has distributed over 7.4 million children’s books in multiple languages and supports nearly 8,800 girls with long-term scholarships. Wood describes these results as “total tip of the iceberg” as Room to Read plans to increase this literacy network to 20,000 libraries and schools serving at least 10 million children by the year 2015. The organization currently operates in nine countries in Asia and Africa, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia.
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