APB is a Global Speaker, Celebrity & Entertainment Agency

Speaking to the World

Menu
John  Wood

John Wood

Founder and CEO, Room to Read

Biography

John Wood is the founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children.® Room to Read seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of nearly nine million children by providing increased access to high-quality educational opportunities through its network of libraries and schools, local language children’s books and its girls’ education program. Read More >

At age 35, Wood left his position as Director of Business Development for Microsoft Greater China region to form Room to Read. The business acumen honed there, combined with his passion and an unparalleled track record at changing the world, makes Wood a unique and inspiring speaker with universal appeal. 

Wood’s award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children (Harper Collins, 2006), tells how he raised over $350 million from a “standing start” to develop one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in history. The book was described by Publishers’ Weekly in a starred review as “an infectiously inspiring read.” Translated into 20 languages, it is popular with entrepreneurs, philanthropists and educators alike, and was selected by Amazon.com as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006 and voted a Top Ten Nonfiction title of 2006 by Hudson Booksellers. The book was also featured during Wood’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the resulting “Oprah’s Book Drive” with Room to Read raised over $3 million from viewers.

Wood’s follow up book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy (Viking Penguin, 2013), tells the story of how the organization successfully tackled the next steps of scaling beyond his wildest dreams while maintaining integrity and raising money in a collapsing economy.

Wood has been named by Goldman Sachs as one of the world’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, has been a three-time speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative and is a five-time winner of Fast Company Magazine’s Social Capitalist Award. He has been honored by Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” Award, selected as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He was selected by Barron’s as one of the “25 Best Givers” in 2009 and 2010, ranking 11th and 9th on the list, respectively. In 2014, Wood won the World’s Children’s Honorary Award Laureate through the World’s Children’s Prize, the annual educational program for the rights of the child and democracy — often called the Children’s Nobel Prize. In recognition of his passion to open libraries for the most under-served populations, he was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world.”

John Wood holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado, and honorary doctorates from McGill University and the University of San Francisco. He also serves on the advisory board of the Clinton Global Initiative and is a frequent lecturer at Harvard Business School and at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Policy. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Spreading Education

Speech Topics

10 Lessons Learned On the Way to Helping Ten Million Children

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Re-Imagining Leadership

Scaling Success

PURPOSE: The New Competitive Advantage