John Wood was a corporate warrior who caught the rising tide that was Microsoft in the 1990s. By the time he was in his early 30s, he was jetsetting between Beijing, Seattle and Sydney in Microsoft's solemn quest to plant their digital flag on every continent. Then he went to Nepal for a vacation.
He saw school 'libraries' which consisted of backpacker castoffs kept under lock and key. As a lifelong bookworm, he was horrified. So he had an slow-motion epiphany, eventually jumped ship at Microsoft, and attacked his newfound ambition with the same vim and vigor that he sold Windows 98.
The result is Room to Read. The premise is simple: build libraries and schools, and put books into the hands of children across the developing world. Given the chance, children can put adults to shame. This goes double for those children who have never had chances to spare.
It's inspirational as hell. And yet, it's amazing how cliché his adventures can sound. Wood has been so lucky - by the standards of the developed world, let alone developing ones - that his successes seem almost unreal. Think about how many of us would gladly do as much good in the world as Wood did, if we only had enough savings to take five years off without a salary, or could bend the ears of do-gooding CEOs. I don't begrudge the man a thing, but be forewarned about some frustration.
But most important of all, the project is fantastic. Find or start your local chapter and do something.