Tuesday, June 2, 2009
You say you want a revolution 

An excerpt from "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" by John Wood-

Stop Talking, Start Acting

If you are thinking of making some adjustments in your life to allow you to help change the world, my heartfelt recommendation is not to spend too much time thinking about it. Just dive in.

I know that all kinds of practical considerations make this advice difficult to embrace. There might be student loans to be repaid, the need for advice from friends and family, and the desire to write a serious business plan. I am not saying that you should not do any of these things- just that you should not spend too much time on them or you will lose momentum.

The biggest risk is that a lot of people will try to talk you out of pursuing your dream. The world has too many people who are happy to discuss why something might not work, and too few people who will cheer you on and say, "I'm there for you." The moretime you spend navel-gazing, the longer time you give those negative gravitational forces to keep you in their tether.


Sometimes,it's really important to move with all deliberate speed. If there is something out there that you want to do to make the world a better place, don't focus on the obstacles. Don't ask for permission. Just dive in. Don't let the naysayers get you down.

My mum tells me that I was born a bookworm.

While other kids played with action figures, trading cards and dolls, I used to sit in a corner with my head buried in a book. My favourites as a child were Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. I would ask my mum for permission to go out with the girl who lived above us, and our trips involved spending the afternoon at the library picking out new books and then grabbing an ice-cream cone before heading home.

I know the amazing opportunities I have had thus far are a result of the education I have received, and who I am today is largely shaped by the hundreds of books I have read in my life.

When we were travelling around Southeast Asia, E and I picked up copies of Stay Another Day, a booklet that informs tourists about organizations that give back to the local communities and we made it a point to visit some of them, so that we could make a small difference when we were there.

So we went to orphanages that ran schools, dined at cafes that gave youngsters a chance to gain some practical skills, bought fair-trade products, went on a eco-tourism trek and visited hilltribe villages. But the place that impressed me the most was Big Brother Mouse, a non-profit organization that aimed at promoting literacy in Laos, and for kids to enjoy reading. More than just having people donate random used books that were irrelevant to the Lao culture, they began to write and publish stories in their native tongue and hired local artists to illustrate.

E and I went down to their centre in Luang Prabang and bought 4 sets of bilingual books, and on our trek to the villages we donated 1 set to each school that we were visiting. Some schools had empty bookshelves made of rotting wood, and if they did have books, the titles and contents were pathetically outdated. It was a very small gesture from us, but you should have seen the way the children's eyes lit up at the bundle of 10 books that were presented to their teachers. It made me wish we had bought a lot more.

I have talked about going to teach in Thailand, Cambodia or Laos for the longest time. But I keep shelving my plans because I've been thinking only about myself, but I know in my heart that I will have to go back someday and contribute in a more tangible way and for a longer period of time.

Who knows, after I finish my post-graduate in Education, I might find some way to give back to the world what has been given me.

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Female. Singaporean
Traveller. Bookworm.
Coffee Addict.
Amateur Photographer.
Wannabe Fashionista.
Museum Geek.

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