Founder and Executive Chairman, Room to Read; Award-Winning Author, Leaving 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. Since its inception in 2000, Room to Read has become one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. Described by Fast Company as “all heart, all business,” selected by PBS as one of “America’s Great Leaders” and named as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, John’s accolades are numerous and notable.
Razor-sharp business acumen honed at Microsoft, combined with a passion to change the world makes John a unique, inspiring and popular speaker with universal appeal including at such influential forums as the Clinton Global Initiative, TED conferences and Aspen Ideas Festival. His charismatic presentations focus on leadership, entrepreneurship, business, education and literacy, philanthropy and women's empowerment, as well as motivational messages about finding one’s passion in life, thinking big, and proving that anyone, with focused vision and determination, can make a significant impact on the world.
- Leaving Microsoft to Change the World
- Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
- Leadership Lessons from the Front Lines of Social Change
ABOUT John Wood (+/-)
Effectively Applying Intelligent Business Strategies to the World of Non-Profits
John 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. Since its founding, Room to Read has sponsored the opening of more than 750 schools and 7,000 multi-lingual libraries across the developing world, distributed over 5 million children’s books in multiple languages and supports nearly 7,000 girls with long-term scholarships. The organization currently operates in nine countries in Asia and Africa, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia.
Honored Author, Dedicated Philanthropist
In his award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, John tells the story of how he raised over $80 million of financial commitments from a “standing start” to develop one of the fastest-growing non-profits in history. The book was described by Publishers’ Weekly in a starred review as “an infectiously inspiring read.” Now in its 14th printing and translated into 20 languages, it is embraced by entrepreneurs, philanthropists, educators, and internationalists alike, and was selected by Amazon.com as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006 and voted by Hudson Booksellers as a Top Ten Nonfiction title of 2006. The book was also featured during John’s appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and the resulting “Oprah’s Book Drive” with Room to Read raised over $1 million from viewers.
SPEAKER TOPIC DESCRIPTIONS (+/-)
John’s first-person account of following his passion, and the lessons learned in doing so. It is a popular “inspiring close” or “bring people to their feet” dinner speech at corporate, industry, and education conferences.
John first delivered this presentation at a Microsoft sales conference based on a request from Microsoft’s sales leadership team whose sales reps faced an increasingly competitive and ever-changing economy: “what’s possible when a committed person dares to take risks and leave their comfort zone”. Needless to say, his message immediately resonated with his audience and continues to remain more relevant than ever as companies and their employees struggle to not only survive but thrive in dynamic market and industry conditions.
Leadership is a subject on which John lectures at leading business schools, including University of Chicago, Harvard, Kellogg, Wharton and Stanford. In this presentation, John highlights the leadership lessons that can be learned from the front lines of social change. This is an increasingly popular topic amongst corporations, universities, and membership organizations.