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Thursday morning(March 4) , we had a special session of Global Agenda Seminar with John Wood, founder and executive chairman of Room to Read. Among many events that happened this past week, this event with John (and the one the night before) was a most memorable event for me.

John Wood started the movement called Room to Read.  They are now celebrating the 10th anniversary.  As I found out that I would have an opportunity to meet with John, I started reading his book “Leaving Microsoft to change the world”.  While reading, I felt like crying many times.  So when I found out that he would be the Author of “Meet the Author” program at the Tokyo American Club on March 3,  I called (though it was past deadline) and signed up.

His talk at the Tokyo American Club was a lot of fun. (He talked about Oprah and Bill Clinton as Tipping Point.) As I found out how casual, informal and fun person he is, I decided to make the special session the next morning very informal and interactive.

On Thursday, he started with the updates of the Room to Read (it was amazing how much of a growth they have accomplished in a decade!) and the Q & A session began. I wanted as many participants as possible to ask questions directly, so I kept my mouth shut (except giving a bit of background of GAS.)  There were many questions and his responses were very insightful and informative.

What I really liked  among his remarks are:

“Education is the biggest overlooked issue in the world.  Every child should be able to get education no matter where they are, when they are born, who their parents are.” (I am not sure whether theses are exact words of him, but the spirit is there.)

“We need to make a MOVEMENT.”   The idea of “global network” to make it happen that he talked the night before.  If it stays as an individual effort, it will not change the world.

“You need to involve the local community.  We need BUY-IN of the people there.”  Unless they DO something themselves, they do not feel they own it. So the parents and others in the community provide labor, materials or whatever to build the school, library etc.

“You need to walk away from it when you find out that things cannot be changed.”  The idea is that you cannot do everything.  When you try many times to convince them, but people there do not agree or are not willing to give it a try, you need to walk away from it.  I thought this is so true, but so difficult to do. We  become so stubborn when we are dedicated to the cause. You have to be cool.

Above all, what I liked best is, “Bold goals attract bold people.”–They set up such a “high” target without knowing whether they can do it or not. But you need to set a high, ambitious goal, then people are motivated to make it happen.

I always liked big picture and ambitious, bold goal, but have never thought its function of attracting “bold, ambitious, big picture and Doers.”

Now it is my turn how I can make it happen. What an inspiring event!

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