Have you ever wished you could leave the drudgery of your day job and really make a difference in this big crazy world of ours?
Maybe you’d love to help those less fortunate than yourself but can’t seem to find the time to make it happen. If you answered ‘yes’ you’ll empathize with John Wood’s story in his book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children.
John recounts his transition from a super busy Microsoft executive in the late 1990’s to the founder of Room to Read, a non-profit organization that helps educate children around the world. Realizing that his career was consuming his entire life, John took a vacation to the mountains of Nepal to get away from it all. While hiking in the peaks of the Himalayas, the author had an encounter with a local educator. He visited a school that had only a handful of books in its non-existent library.
That eye-opening visit prompted John to rally friends and family to gather books to donate to this school. This first successful book collection lead to others and the eventual formation of Room to Read. John’s non-profit then expanded to several other countries, including Vietnam, India, and Cambodia. He focused on building schools, computer labs, libraries, and funding scholarships for children.
The author reviews the inspiration for his non-profit’s formation and the amazing sequence of events that marked its initial growth and success.
Lessons from Microsoft
Wood takes a chapter to outline the guiding principles he learned during his time at Microsoft that he wanted to emulate in his ventures. He jumps into the details of how he came to understand these principles and why they really mattered. His list included:
- Maintain an intense focus on results.
- Treat others with respect and tact: “You cannot attack a person, but you can attack an idea.”
- Be data driven. Everything can be measured and should be metered against past performance or relative benchmarks.
- How much you know about the business will show how much you really care.
- Be loyal to your people.
Throughout this book, the author shares his organization’s successes and failures that provide very valuable business insights. The overarching message I got was that you have to be passionate about your work. It may be thought that heading a non-profit organization would be an easy job after the rigors of a high pressure Microsoft position. However, John Wood still worked insane hours and traveled all over the world to make his Room to Read organization a well-respected and successful non-profit.
The principles and concepts taught through his narrative can be applied to your business.
You need to be passionate about your work. If you’re not, maybe it is time for a change. You’d be amazed just how much you can do when your heart is into something. This book is a stimulating read that will inspire you to take action. You’ll probably visit Room to Read’s website. You may even make a donation to them or your favorite charity. You could even give of your time in doing some service locally.
No matter what service you are inspired to perform, the lessons learned and the principles discussed in this book will make you want to be a better person both in society and business.
Buy a Copy – This book is inspirational and definitely worth the read. I don’t think it makes a good reference book to put on the shelf but you’ll get some value out of just one reading.
Have you read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World? Tell us what you thought of the book in the comments below.