Monday, November 27, 2006

Room to Read: Must Read

I love books which reveal the spirit of the protagonist. Not moral tales or "You have it in you" self-help books (check out the book called SHAM and relate it to a post I wrote earlier). I am far away from romance, horror and sci-fi. So, when I pick a book, I usually do my research. Here is a book (and the protagonist is .. well, real) which I have been waiting for (without knowing that it was going to be written/published) ever since I read about Room To Read (from my favourite Fast Company website). John sure is a driven person and I simply enjoy reading about the passion he pours into his calling. I like the fact that he doesn't gloss over the tribulations of making the shift.

So what is this book about? Its about a man following his calling. It's not about a man doing something and then preaching that to be the right thing to do in this world. It's not about judging other people's lives or one's own and feeling a pseudo-motivation to mimic such things. It's about a John Wood, who left Microsoft (and that is not such a big deal; there are many of them) because he wanted to create and be part of a revolution to bring education to the young children of this world. It's about a man utilising his Kellogg MBA for something other than investment banking and directing his years of education (in the classroom and on the field) towards education where it was needed the most. It's about a man doing something which he feels passionately about, the results and effects of which will be known only after several years/decades. That is a tough thing. Many people might jump into something whole-heartedly but are disappointed when they don't see results quickly. Undoubtedly, he had several contacts in the big-money world and it helped, but he will still have to wait to know the full impact of his passionate journey (beyond the peace it brings to him). Nope, you aren't going to get a book review here. You might have to wait for an issue of Alvibest in the future!! :-)

I also love the management nuggets he carried with himself from Microsoft. I had the great fortune of working with wonderful people while I was at Computer Associates, and they helped give me words to what I believed in. Together, we had realised several truths about organisations which we had distilled into nuggets and I had them burnt in my mind. It was a pleasure to read some of them in this book.

So here is my request to you:

Buy this book (and you can find this in your local bookstore), read it. If you do not feel his passion and do not feel like working with John and his team at Room to Read, let me know. If I find your stance valid (I will only be listening to you and not debating with you), send me your bank wiring details, and I will refund the cost you incurred on this book (and I want you to send me the bill and other details). I mean it.
While you wait for the weekend to arrive to go shopping for this book, please do take out some time from your schedule to read about Room to Read, and if you find them to be a motivated organisation and on the right track, please spread the word. Feel free to spread word about this post and the offer I have to make.

We aren't in a country which can match the dollar and the euro, but this is the least we can do.

Think about this:
If every employee in your organisation contributes Re. 1 (that's 0.0224291 USD) per day, then it goes away unnoticed (it's less than the money you lose haggling with an auto-rickshaw driver, or the gum you spat out on the road). That's about Rs. 30 a month. In a 5000 person organisation, that's a sizeable contribution per month. Do the 'rithmetic for a year and that is about $40,000 or about 160 girl children getting to learn on a scholarship per year. Now span this across the several organisations in India and you can slowly pull that jaw back up and smile. This is just one of the many ways to get money (and this idea was inspired by my work in end-user computing and recalling a dialogue from the movie Entrapment) and I would love to brainstorm with people about other ways to raise money without having to make people frown.

A rupee a day is nothing. We only note stimulating sums of money (and that amount changes according to your earning capacity) and a rupee is usually nothing to people reading this post. Now, when you know exactly how that rupee gets translated (construction, books, overheads, etc.) then there is a greater relief than simply throwing the money into some charity organisation. I have always wanted charity orgs to send me their quarterly report with their expense report published online or sent out to contributors who contribute more than X amount. Well, I don't know any other place that does that. Room To Read does that.


  1. Thanks for this captivating post on this topic.

    Looks like great efforts are being put in over here

    Am really surprised at the wonderful offer that was made by you!!
    ["I will refund the cost you incurred on this book "]



  2. Dear U,
    My offer is nothing compared to what John has to offer to this world, but one thing common is neither of them is a gimmick. :-) I'll stand by my word, even if it takes the last penny I have.