Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

Coincidently, I finished reading this book in the country where it all started. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood is essentially about the author’s personal experiences in his initial quest to help bring books to disadvantaged children around the world.

It all started in Nepal when he returned to a remote village he had previously visited during a trekking excursion a year ago and brought back books on a yak to the local school children. He was so moved and inspired by these children’s simple desire to read and learn (a privilege that we sometimes take for granted) that he decides to make a life changing decision, which includes leaving his lucrative career with Microsoft and start a new life ambition to help educate the children of the world. From that point on, the foundation of his charity organization Room to Read (www.roomtoread.org) was born.

Personally, I was quite amazed to read that there was so much disposable wealth available out there and more so that if only a fraction of it was redistributed to the poor in developing countries, it would certainly and easily make a difference (it’s so true as I can eat a whole day’s worth of meals for the price of a large-double-double cup of Tim Horton’s coffee). I always worry about how much of my money actually goes directly to the cause – you always here about a great deal of donated funds going towards administration and other operating costs. However, much of Wood’s story is about him staying true to his rule of directly donating to create a substantial result and have as little overhead costs as possible (John doesn’t even receive a salary).

The most interesting part of the book for me was Wood’s recollections of his first experiences in asking for donations. He had never worked in a donor-dependent organization before nor did he have a lot of help to begin with aside from his own personal savings. Wood’s simply had the desire and passion for what he believed in and in the end, it was enough to get him started and to pull him through some of the most successful (and not so successful) fund raising experiences.

Here was a potential opportunity to learn about the real Nepal, rather than the trekker’s version of the country.

I can sort of relate to Wood’s as I had used raw passion to get one of my online projects started up and likewise from essentially nothing (zero technical background or expertise). As well, friends and colleagues recognized the importance of what I was doing and supported me through my learning and growing pains. A dear friend of mine always said, “I always want to do something that I am passionate about and that makes me want to get out of bed every morning.” Heh, back in the days, thegreenpages also made me never want to go to bed either.

Some personal resonating quotes from the book…

I am immensely satisfied with how life has worked out. It seems hard to believe that I had ever worried about whether I would find “life after Microsoft.”….Rather than seeing a chasm between my old life and my new one, it now seems more of continuum.

Finally, Wood’s decision to leave his career and comfortable lifestyle in order to start a new chapter in his life for a noble cause also strikes a familiar cord. People always tell me that I must have a lot of courage to do what I am doing (leaving friends, family, a good job, and the comforts of wealthy country). It is then that I realize that my reasons for doing so, “sharing skills and changing lives”, helps lessens or eliminates the fears all together and powers me through the difficult and challenging times.

Hmmm… “Leaving Andornot to Change the World” sounds like a nice title.

For more information about his book, visit: http://www.leavingmicrosoftbook.com/.

Purchasing information from Amazon.ca