Michael Hebb

For the past 20 years Michael has been working to understand the secrets of human connection. His projects have turned into international movements and impacted millions. His second book "Let's Talk About Death" published by Hachette/Da Capo will be available in the U.S., U.K., and Australia in October of 2018. Michael recently became a Partner at RoundGlass to further expand his efforts to impact global well being.

Michael is the Founder of Deathoverdinner.org, Drugsoverdinner.org, EarthtoDinner.org, WomenTeachMen.org and The Living Wake. He currently serves as a Board Advisor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts; and in the recent past as Senior Advisor to Summit Series, Theo Chocolate, Learnist, Caffe Vita, CreativeLive, Architecture For Humanity, ONETASTE and Mosaic Voices Foundation.

In 1997 Hebb co-founded City Repair and Communitecture with architect Mark Lakeman, winning the AIA People's Choice Award for the Intersection Repair Project. In 1999 Michael and Naomi Pomeroy co-founded Family Supper in Portland, a supper club that is credited with starting the pop-up restaurant movement. In the years following they opened the restaurants clarklewis and Gotham Bldg Tavern, garnering international acclaim.

After leaving Portland, Hebb built Convivium/One Pot, a creative agency that specialized in the ability to shift culture through the use of thoughtful food and discourse based gatherings. Convivium's client list includes: The Obama Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, TEDMED, The World Economic Forum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, X Prize Foundation, The Nature Conservancy.

Michael is the founding Creative Director of The City Arts Festival, the founder of Night School @ The Sorrento Hotel, the founder of www.seder.today and the founding Creative Director at the Cloud Room. He served as a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Communication at University of Washington. His writings have appeared in GQ, Food and Wine, Food Arts, ARCADE, Seattle Magazine and City Arts. Michael can often be found speaking at universities and conferences, here is his TEDMED talk.

3 words to describe Nature?

 Life, life, life…

 3 things Nature taught you?

Human connection is the electricity we need to light up the human forest.

I don’t make a distinction between the “natural” world and the “human-built” world. So in essence nature has taught me everything I know. I do acknowledge the difference between high frequency, rich environments, and low-vibrational places and communities. I learn equally from both, but the lessons are different. A healthy forest is a perfect example of high vibration, high connection, forest's speak to each other, the forest community transmits information about threats and opportunities across miles in seconds. They speak across species, across class, even animal to plant. We are suffering from a crisis of connection- human connection - which is just a subset of nature connection. I believe that living a meaningful life will elude us until we build networks of higher connection, not just via digital networks, but inclusive of the “natural” world. Our culture is toxic, and I don’t mean that as a judgement, I just mean it is working against human vitality. Connection is the cure, forests and mountains and oceans need to be interwoven powerfully into the center of our lives.

Our lives will continue to be bereft of meaning if our connection patterns look like the electrical grid and not an ancient forest. Every indigenous culture has revealed wisdom that mesmerizes us with its modernity, timelessness and clarity, this is not on the shoulders of a personality, an exceptional genius, but exceptional insight within a forest of vitality. We can’t begin to answer life’s important questions until we are living in a deeply connected ecosystem.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

The Olympic National Forest, all of it.

The Oregon Coast, almost all of it.

Any glacial lake, anywhere.

 When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Like we are more than just thoughts and things, the ocean makes me feel expansive.

 When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

If it is a vital, alive, thriving forest, I feel a deep sense of love.

 When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?


 When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Sometimes sad, sometimes peaceful, sometimes excited.

 When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Powerful, connected to the earth and sky.

 When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

A sense of the wild.

 Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

All four. They all align with different parts of me.

 On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


 Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I spent much of my childhood in the woods, alone, building forts out of fallen branches and whatever I could find. It was a way of self-medication. There was heartache, pain and drama in my house and I was far too sensitive to be around it. I needed the woods, I needed to re-create a womb-like environment (the fort) because I wasn’t getting the nourishment I needed from my family. Later when I was a teenager and dealing with many existential crises, I climbed trees, massive Douglas Fir trees, 40, 50, 80 feet into the air. I would sit up in the trees for hours, and the pain would stop.

John Wood

JOHN WOOD is the founder of Room to Read, an organization that believes World Change Starts with Educated Children. Room to Read envisions a world in which all children can pursue a quality education that enables them to reach their full potential and contribute to their communities and the world.

At age 35, John left his position as Director of Business Development for Microsoft’s Greater China region to found Room to Read.

John’s award-winning memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children tells how he raised millions from a “standing start” to develop one of the fastest-growing nonprofits in history. The book was described by Publishers’ Weekly in a starred review as “an infectiously inspiring read.” Translated into 20 languages, it is popular with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and educators alike, and was selected by Amazon.com as one of the Top Ten Business Narratives of 2006 and voted a Top Ten Nonfiction title of 2006 by Hudson Booksellers. 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.

John’s follow up book, Creating Room to Read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy, tells the story of how the organization successfully tackled the next steps of scaling beyond his wildest dreams while maintaining integrity and raising money in a collapsing economy.

John has been named by Goldman Sachs as one of the world’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs, has been a three-time speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative and is a five-time winner of Fast Company Magazine’s Social Capitalist Award. He has been honored by Time Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” Award, selected as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, is a Lifetime Achievement Honoree of the Tribeca Film Festival’s Disruptive Innovation Awards, and is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He was selected by Barron’s as one of the “25 Best Givers” in 2009 and 2010, ranking 11th and 9th on the list, respectively. In 2014, John won the World’s Children’s Honorary Award Laureate through the World’s Children’s Prize, the annual educational program for the rights of the child and democracy—often called the Children’s Nobel Prize. In recognition of his passion to open libraries for the most under-served populations, he was described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world.”

John also serves on the advisory board of the Clinton Global Initiative and New Story.

Since 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of ten million children across Asia and Africa through its programs in Literacy and Girls’ Education. It aims to reach 15 million children by 2020.

3 words to describe Nature?

Best. Thing. Ever.

3 things Nature taught you?

Take time from work to enjoy it.

Breathe deep

Stay in shape, stay young.

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Annapurna Circuit of Nepal, because a hike there inspired the formation of Room to Read

Sand dunes of Namibia

Any hiking trail in my adopted home city of Hong Kong

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?

Grateful to live near it.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?

Like I need to put on my hiking or running shoes, grab my wife Amy, and get out there!

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?

Assuming it’s dormant, like climbing to the top.   If active, then reminds me that I need to update my will    ☺

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?

I’m hugely nocturnal, so sunrises not happening for me.  Sunset makes me do a reality check on whether I’ve accomplished all the work goals I’ve had that day, and if not, to get on it.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?

Like I need to grab a good book, lie on the sofa, and enjoy the warmth and security

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?

Like I should be out hiking

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

The latter 3, impossible to decide

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10.  I globe-trot constantly for Room to Read, and in every city I always try to find Nature, and of course build my holidays in places like the Dolomites and Namibia and Nepal so that I can over-dose on it.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

The first time I skied in Colorado I knew that I needed to abandon dreams of university on the east coast, and so I ended up having four very happy years at the University of Colorado in Boulder.