Cai Shaoyang is helping Singapore students score A’s in their studies, with minimal stress and maximum confidence.
What’s your story?
After 4 years of self-learning, and frustration with the guitar, I decided to join Cristofori Music School in 2006 to broaden my knowledge and mastery of the guitar. It was also in this school that I met my current teacher, Mr Erwin, one of the most patient teachers I have met. I rose from a rookie guitarist (who didn’t know how to tune a guitar) to passing the Level 6 London College of Music (guitar) exams, performed at my music school concert in 2013 and won the 2017 Cristofori Star Student Award.
What excites you most about your industry?
Many countries ranging from the U.S, U.K, Peru and Ghana as well as Indonesia and the Philippines are interested to learn how Singapore gets to the top of international studies. Having gone through 12 years of the Singapore education system as a student and another 12 years of teaching maths to students as a primary school teacher, I have a good grasp on the education system in Singapore. These are exciting times for education, because there are more opportunities to help students and teachers become proficient and confident in the teaching and learning of maths.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Food! I love Japanese food. My favourite is the charcoal grilled eel or unagi for short. I love it for its smoky taste and the soft texture of the meat of the eel.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, because I can easily travel from one point to another with its efficient public transport system to tutor my students in their homes. It only takes 40 minutes to travel from Sengkang to the Orchard area via the MRT. Buses are like mobile, air-conditioned fridges with cushion seats that make you feel relaxed and comfortable.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My mother gave me some advice just before I got married, “no one is perfect.” What she meant by this was, the differences between husbands and wives are fairly common and can usually be resolved with patience and understanding.
Who inspires you?
My father inspires me. In 2015, when Singapore experienced the haze from forest fires, he calmly closed the windows in the house, turned on the fans so that the air in the house was circulating well and put on his N95 mask to buy groceries. I was stunned by his courage to get things done in spite of the haze.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learnt from Brian Tracy’s book “Master your Time, Master your Life” that it is important to schedule time to work and play so that we have time to accomplish both without feeling guilty about sacrificing either. For example, I block off one and a half to two hours in the morning during weekdays to work on my maths tutoring business so that I can serve my students to the best of my ability and I block off two hours in the evening to spend time with my family. What is scheduled gets done.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently because I would miss out on meeting my family and friends who have been supportive of what I do all this time if any tiny detail was done differently. I prefer to take on the challenges life throws at me and turn them it into my strengths. I resonate with what the late Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius mentioned in his meditations, “the obstacle is the way.”
How do you unwind?
A good cup of espresso from Costa Coffee, Devil’s Brew (long black) from Rocky Master and sleeping for 8 hours daily.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Seoul in July. The weather is absolutely cooling, like air-con! I hardly broke a sweat over there.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Brian Tracy’s book “Master your Time, Master your Life.”
Shameless plug for your business:
I am a former Ministry of Education (Singapore) primary school teacher with over 12 years teaching experience in maths, helping 7 to 12 year old students get an A on their maths exams. I use simple hands-on activities such as counting the total number of butterfly-shaped confetti in a bottle in 10 different ways and guiding students how to schedule their activities in a calendar so that they score an A with minimal stress and maximum confidence.
How can people connect with you?
They can contact me at [email protected]
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.