Hidden Heroes — Hero #1 (John Wood)

If you missed the INTRODUCTION to our Hidden Heroes series, you can read it by clicking here. Otherwise, continue below to read about Hero #1…

He had a corporate job many people would have envied — good salary, great benefits, working for one of the richest men in the world at Microsoft.

But he followed the true Hero’s Journey — not the one you read about in myths and storybooks, but the one that countless former lawyers, accountants, bankers, CEOs and other people (who were doing what people told them they “should” be doing) have taken when breaking away from “the American Dream” to live their own Personal Dream.

I’ve interviewed several of them.

And I’ve noticed a few surprising patterns that recur again and again: like Lawyer to Actor/Comedian, Lawyer to Motivational Speaker, and Accountant to Personal Development Author.

But this guy — our first Hero in our Hidden Heroes series — didn’t just uncover his purpose and follow his true passion.  He’s not just helping people by entertaining or teaching them.

He took on a hugely monumental task…

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John Wood had an almost decade-long fast-paced and distinguished career at Microsoft, during the peak growth years from 1991-1999. He used to be in charge of marketing and business development teams throughout Asia… and now he’s in charge of a different kind of development there.

See, one day John decided to take a vacation from his high-profile, high-stress job. What was going to be a trek through Nepal turned into a spiritual journey, and then a mission:

To change the world one book and one child at a time, by setting up libraries in the developing world.

This hits home for us, because many years ago Barry and I (separately, before we even met each other) each stated our mission in life as:

To change the world for the better, one person at a time, by empowering them to live the life they want.

When we first learned that we both had the same vision as change-makers and value-givers, we were flabbergasted. Talk about synchronicity gone wild!

And that’s still our mission at LWL Worldwide.

In fact, the kinship I feel with John Wood goes another level deep, as well.

Two years ago, I was also working a cool job for good money and great benefits in the technology industry — as an Account Rep for Nokia mobile phones. John worked for an American company and had a territory in Asia; I worked for a Finnish company and had a territory in Canada.

But as fun as the job was, for a J.O.B., I was becoming severely disenchanted with it after three years. I felt like training salespeople on the features and benefits of cell phones was incredibly superficial compared to the life-changing teaching that I really wanted to be doing in my heart.

Sure, I was doing what I wanted to do after work and on weekends — first launching Success Unwrapped, then Internet Marketing Unwrapped, then hooking up with Barry for Masters of the Secret — and all these projects allowed me to interview people, create valuable life-changing content, make money and have fun.

But I was scared to leave the safety net of the full-time gig.

One weekend I went to Dr. John F. Demartini’s Breakthrough Experience workshop as his personal guest, after interviewing him twice for Masters of the Secret.

And during each break, I would phone Barry — who, at the time, was just my best friend and business partner — to tell him what I was learning and, yes, the breakthroughs I was experiencing (appropriately enough for a workshop called The Breakthrough Experience!)

Barry asked me several times during those calls to quit my job the following Monday and work full-time with him on ramping up Masters of the Secret and some other LWL projects.

And I kept telling him no, I wasn’t ready to quit — and even if I did, I would have to give two weeks notice, since it was in my contract… but that the conversation was moot because it wasn’t going to happen anyhow, as much as I wanted it to.

So what happens Monday morning?

In the most amazing fast-turnaround manifestation I had ever witnessed up to that point, I got laid off!

John Wood didn’t wait for that to happen though.

His vacation-cum-spiritual journey through Nepal brought him into a library that had no books… and face-to-face with a man who unknowingly issued him a challenge.

So with just a loose vision of the change he wanted to bring to the world, he was soon driven to leave his career voluntarily.

But, like most visionaries who ditch a career for a dream, he used the best of what he already knew to further that dream.

In John’s case, he brought Microsoft business practices to the world of non-profits to create Room to Read, an organization that has spawned a network of over 5,500 schools and libraries throughout rural and poor communities in Asia and Africa.

The organization is now one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. John has been recognized in the worldwide media as a “21st century Andrew Carnegie,” building a public library infrastructure to help the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education.

As the Founder and Executive Chairman of Room to Read, John brings a vision for a scalable solution to educational problems in developing countries. He has an intense focus on results, an ability to attract world-class helpers, and a knack for long-term strategy that have all allowed him to achieve the seemingly impossible.

John was selected as the second recipient of the Draper Richards Fellowship, has twice been chosen for the Skoll Foundation award for social entrepreneurship, and has led Room to Read to three consecutive selections for the prestigious “Social Capitalist” by Fast Company magazine and the Monitor Group. In 2004, he was named as one of Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” — the only non-Asian ever selected to receive this award.

And along the way he wrote a book called Leaving Microsoft to Change the World (Harper Collins; September, 2006).

He might not fit the standard definition of a “renegade”, but we feel anyone who bucks the system to do things their own way is deserving of the Renegade title — including John.

In fact, it’s to inspire his kind of thinking and action-taking — against all odds, despite what anyone says — that we created our Renegade Growth Pak.

Our mission to change the world for the better, one person at a time, is coming true with every Renegade Growth Pak we sell.

And, like the many top-rate media outlets that have profiled John, we believe in his mission too.

So what better way to prove that we stand behind him, every step of the way?

See, we want to help him change the world.

How about you?

We’re re-opening Renegade Growth Pak, at 20% off the price we’ve been selling it for, exclusively to our in-house list (that’s you!) until March 27, 2009.

And we’re giving 20% of the profits to John’s non-profit, Room to Read.  At the end of March, we’ll upload a SCREEN SHOT of our Paypal donation for all to see.

Once you’re at the site, click on the link inside the dashed red table titled “Details On Our ‘Room To Read’ Donation Offer“. We’ve ADDED some content, including TRANSCRIPTS of all interviews and made it as enticing as possible for you to take advantage of this incredible learning package, while supporting John at the same time.

Watch John’s story in his own words ( 3 1/2 minute video ):


And then grab your copy of the Renegade Growth Pak here to help fuel his mission too.

Your Partner in the Quest For
Living a Life Without Limits

Filed under: Hidden Heroes

7 Responses to “Hidden Heroes — Hero #1 (John Wood)”

  1. You don’t have to be a Knight in Shining Armour on a White Charger to be a hero. Men like John have their own brand of shining armour, and I think it may be termed “Conviction-cum-Compassion”, and their White Charger could well be “Desire to make this so!!”

    It’s people like that who go on my Hero’s List as opposed to those who are well-known for being well-known thanks to the press, and who offer zero percent of nothing to the world’s well-being.

    More of this type of Human, PLEASE!! Luv Ya All, Justin.

  2. John’s story should be emulated by the corporate giants of this world, and maybe his story will push them to emulate John’ efforts. There is so much money being wasted on consumer products that, once bought on the spur of the moment, are usually thrown aside and forgotten, when these same few dollars could have made a world of difference to the poor and under nourished children of the inder-developed countries of our world. Good on ya, John, God will surely bless you!

  3. By watching John’s video., I can see the sparkling of Passion through his eyes..it’s so touching and inspiring!! Thank you John!

    warmest blessing with love and ligt to you and your family
    Wanda Lai
    Hong Kong

  4. Heather, nice that you conveyed this story about John

    This is mankind evolving right before our eyes. It’s people like John who follow the urgings of their heart, without regard to what’s considered normal, that continue to expand the realm of possibility.

    It takes a deep knowing and trust that because you think of it, it is possible and what you should be doing. Which becomes the reason why you choose pursue it.

    I wonder if this shake up of the economy is but a stage for more people to choose to follow their inner callings than ever before. The more people become disenchanted with what they are accustomed to, the easier it becomes for them to step inot the unknown.


  5. Really Heart opening!! and teaching that we have unlimited ways to manifest abundance-abundance of the HEART, actually!!!!Thanks a lot


  6. I just wnated to share my sincere gratitude for your inspiration. I am in the business of fitness and personal development and have been successfully doing so for many years. I have since joined a group to help others achieve their dream using a unique mind, body and spirit approach. My desire is to share and teach the power of positive thought and the attitude of gratitude with love and compassion. I am now one of your soulders of the light spreading peace and harmony to anyone that will listen. I know that we can change one thought and one day at a time. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Johnny O

  7. This is a story, one of many, that inspires and encourages us to see with the eyes of the heart the greater possibility that lies in the beauty of who we are and what we are here to do.

    Many of us are at the turning point of our lives where we are seeing the future in one of two ways either we are seeing the futility of playing safe and small or we are seeing the possibility of being all that we can be, in the context of our greater family.

    Everything we do and the way and spirt that we do it in has a profound effect on our collective vision of who we are. Success does leave clues Our bodies are learning information systems with highly connected feedback loops, ever evolving our ability to cooperate in a sustainable way.

    All the natural systems that have survived have survived because they collectively served a need in a system that rewards unification of its diverse parts, to create a network of learning, progressing, and evolving into what we are meant to be.

    The key to solving many of our problems often lies in a single solution. When we do the right thing for the right reason, often unforeseen advantages emerge. Thanks for sharing this beautiful success story and how we can all be a part of it if we simply choose to.

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