John Wood

Speaker John Wood Leadership and education keynotes

John Wood

Speaker John Wood Leadership and education keynotes

Speaker: John Wood

Founder and Board Co-Chairman Room to Read

Speech Topics Include:

  • Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
  • Re-Imagining Leadership
  • Scaling Success

At age 35, keynote speaker John Wood left an executive career track at Microsoft Corporation to form Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that “combines the heart of Mother Theresa with the scalability of Starbucks” to help children across the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the power of education. Razor-sharp business acumen honed at Microsoft, combined with a passion to change the world makes John Wood a unique, inspiring and popular speaker with universal appeal.

Since its start in 2000, Room to Read has sponsored the opening of 1,556 schools and more than 13,000 multi-lingual libraries across the developing world. The organization has distributed over 11 million children’s books in multiple languages and supports 16,879 girls with long-term scholarships. John describes these results as “total tip of the iceberg” as Room to Read plans to increase this literacy network to 20,000 libraries and schools serving at least 10 million children by the year 2015.

In his award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World (Collins, 2006), John tells the story of how he raised over $125 million of financial commitments from a “standing start” to develop one of the fastest-growing non-profits in history.  The book was described by Publishers’ Weekly in a starred review as “an infectiously inspiring read.” Translated into 21 languages, it is popular with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, educators, and internationalists alike, and was selected by as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006 and voted by Hudson Booksellers as a Top Ten Nonfiction title of 2006. The book was also featured during John’s appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the resulting “Oprah’s Book Drive” with Room to Read raised over $3 million from viewers.

Speaker John Wood holds a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, a B.S. in Finance from the University of Colorado, and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco.  He also serves on the Advisory Board for the Clinton Global Initiative. He is currently working with Viking Penguin on his second book to be published in late 2012.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Wood first delivered this speech at a Microsoft sales conference. With sales reps facing an increasingly competitive and ever-changing economy, Microsoft’s sales leadership team requested that Wood speak about “what’s possible when a committed person dares to take risks and leave their comfort zone.” At the conclusion of the talk, Woods will lead audience members through a short exercise with a big impact. As a result, hundreds will leave the room with a commitment to breaking old habits, innovating, and taking risks in a way that will drive progress in their teams, their divisions, and their company.


Re-Imagining Leadership

Eager to implement his own vision at age 35, John Wood left an executive career track at Microsoft to build a new kind of non-profit – one founded on the principles of ROI maximization, massive scalability and absolute uncompromis-ing transparency. The result is one of the fastest-growing non-profits in history.

Now, Wood teaches managerial courage in classrooms and business conferences around the globe. Speaking to MBA students and executives alike, he inspires audiences to think differently and more boldly about what they can accomplish as leaders. He insists that audacious goals attract audacious people, and that when they work together in an organization that inspires and recognizes innovation, there are no problems they can’t solve.


Scaling Success

In this presentation, Wood shares his model for massively scalable growth with business, university, and non-profit audiences around the world. His experience has made him an authority on overcoming the obstacles of culture, language, geography, and technology. Wood’s insights on the promises and pitfalls of rapid expansion – gleaned through experience, intuition, and trial and error – are sought by leaders everywhere. Key points in this talk include bold goals attract bold people, the war for talent, and doing more with less.


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