Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Leaving Microsoft to Change The World


Book Review: Ever since my trip to India and volunteer for Dakshinayan I never stop feeling that there is a destiny in my life that I need to go out and find. Sure it is not just me, everyone has a dream but not everyone dares to chase it. Though I am surrounded by brave people who dares to take on their dreams. My girlfriend Martina has decided to set up her own fashion label. Ahdont has decided to take up pilot as his career. The joy he experienced through the school kids who endorsed the books as great treasure lead him to think what is more important to him in this life.The story of this book is about another brave person who takes on his dream and happily found his role in this universe. John Woods was a high flying executive of Microsoft in 1998, over his trekking holiday in Nepal, he met a government education officer who gave him a tour to a local school along the Annapurna Circuit. After seeing the school's lack of resources, especially the lack of books, he made a promised to the headmaster to come back one day to deliver some books to the children. The next trekking season, he came back to Nepal to fulfilled his promise with few hundered books, it was a decision that changed his life. The joy he experienced through the school kids who endorsed the books as great treasure lead him to think what is more important to him in this life. Swiftly but also painfully he left his successful career, comfortable life as an expat in Beijing, his girlfriend and devote his energy to make this book delivery to third world school thing as big as possible. He ended up establishing Room to Read a non-profit organisation which now build schools, library, providing books and scholarship to children in developing countries. Though in this book, you are not gonna find too many stories of touchy moments of setting up libaries in a third world countries but about a entreprenur exerting his energy and management skill to build a "Microsoft of Non Profit". Right from the start he decided to think bold and vowed to bring education to multiple countires, though he hasn't got a clue how this will be done, but his heart and passion earned him the support of a venture capitalist as one of the first donors. In latter stage he ran his organisation with a "result focus" culture, always chasing numbers, how many new libary built, how many girls on scholarship etc. This impressed many in the business communities who like to see their donation turning into tangible result. We also we re-lived two turing points in the last decade, 911 and Tsunami, how they have ceased the opportunities to expand their organisation during those turbulence time. Though behind all this aggressiveness of a typical American businessman, John Woods still has a great heart and his desire to bring universal education to the world is much admired. And I am so happy for him to hear him said in the ending pages "Having discover my true life path, I am more ready than ever to embrace it. I feel lucky to know who I am, what I want to focus on, and the yardstick by which I will measure myself." Friends if you have a dream out there somewhere, Chase It, Embrace It.