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Dear Readers,

Since Leaving Microsoft to Change the World was published in 2006, I have been incredibly touched by people's reactions to the book and am thrilled to know that so many individuals share my belief in the power of education. I believe that the world needs more "action-oriented optimists," and together, many thousands of us have created such a community around both Room to Read.

What began as a vision to share my love of reading with children of a rural Nepali village has quickly become a global movement of promoting literacy and education. By the end of 2011, we will have counted over 12,500 libraries, 1,500 schools, and more than 13,500 girls attending school and gaining life skills through our Girls’ Education program. We just distributed our 10 millionth book into our libraries and have impacted the lives of 6 million children in the developing world.

As I travel the globe to speak to various organizations and groups, I look forward to meeting many of you. I hope you will help us to spread the word about Room to Read's work by sharing the book with your friends, families and co-workers. Namaste, and thank you!

The Story

In 1998, John Wood was a rising executive at Microsoft when he took a vacation that changed his life. What started as a trekking holiday in Nepal became a spiritual journey and then a mission: to change the world one book and one child at a time by setting up libraries in the developing world. He was soon driven to leave his career with only a loose vision of the change he wanted to bring to the world.

John made the unlikely marriage between Microsoft business practices and the world of non-profits to create Room to Read, an organization that has created a network of over 7,500 libraries and 830 schools throughout rural and poor communities in Asia and Africa.

The organization is now one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. John has been recognized in the worldwide media as a "21st century Andrew Carnegie," building a public library infrastructure to help the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education.

In His Own Words

See John describe the book in his own words in this short video:

Windows Media (6.94MB)

QuickTime (35.6MB, requires QuickTime Player)


Click here for a sneak peak of Chapter 1 (PDF, 118kB).


Praise for Leaving Microsoft

Publishers Weekly May 29, 2006 (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 . . . Wood endears himself to the reader with his introspection and honesty . . . Marked by sincerity and savvy, this is the kind of book that business colleagues will discuss with their acquaintances, spouses and friends."

Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm and Dealing with Darwin:

"In every life there are a handful of defining moments, junctures at which you and you alone define the person you become. So much of modern literature is an elegy of regret about failing to recognize these moments or lacking the courage to grasp them. John Wood did neither."

Seth Godin, Author, Purple Cow:

"Some people would have you believe that you can't change the world, especially all by yourself. John Wood is living proof that you can. This book will inspire you and challenge you to do something that matters."


Invite John to speak at one of your events!

Razor-sharp business acumen honed at Microsoft, combined with a passion to change the world makes John Wood a unique, inspiring and popular speaker with universal appeal. His charismatic presentations focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, business, education and literacy, philanthropy and women's empowerment, as well as motivational messages about finding your passion in life, thinking big, and proving that anyone, with focused vision and determination, can make a significant impact on the world.

Click here for John's speaker biography.

To arrange a speaking engagement with John, please contact Erin Hogan at Room to Read: erin.hogan@roomtoread.org or +1 (415) 839-4400.