As a general rule, even though I am an avid reader, I have never been much attracted to non-fiction. However, that changed for ever the day I took up reading Leaving Microsoft To Change The World by John Woods. The book not only instantly became my new all-time favourite, but the author became my role model long before I had even reached the end cover.
Leaving Microsoft To Change The World is John Wood’s life story, but no less than a modern day fairy tale. It all starts with a humble adventure trek in Nepal, where he came across a sadly-inadequately stocked children’s library and met a humble school teacher devoted to his work. On an impulse, he decided to stock the library by collecting books from his friends back home. It was going to be a one-time feel-good project. But once it was done, he couldn’t stop.
Helping children to grow intellectually became his new obsession and soon he was devoting more and more time in traversing the world seeking out children in need, offering them scholarships for education and stocking libraries as he went along. As this work took up more and more time, after a long inner turmoil, he finally left his cushy job at Microsoft, his luxurious apartment and his long-time girlfriend to dive headlong in changing the world, one book at a time.
As word spread, help started pouring in from all over the world. He travelled far and wide, bringing people closer with his impassioned speeches, spreading awareness about the importance of education among the masses. Well, of course, no road off the beaten track can be all rosy. He faced innumerable financial difficulties but came out of them all with sheer determination and driven by his love for children and education.
The book records this unbelievable journey of his, to the present time, when his effort has grown manifold and involves many thousands, having affected a few million lives, with countless books having changed lives. And to think, if he had been still working with Microsoft, he would have led a comfortable life, but the world would lose out on such an amazing story.
John Woods is an inspiration for the thousands of us who feel passionate about something but are too scared to give it our best shot. He shows us that it is OK to jump off the safety of a high bridge into the turbulent waters below if you have the determination to swim ashore to grab your dreams. And he subtly but very pointedly proves beyond a doubt that money isn’t all.