Ishmael Mustapha is a seasoned mathematics educator with over 25 years of experience, currently teaching in China. Born in Treherne, Manitoba, and raised in Winnipeg, he has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba. Ishmael has a deep passion for coaching soccer and basketball, having coached youth teams for over two decades. His teaching journey has taken him from Canada to the UAE and now to China, where he continues to inspire and educate students through the power of mathematics and sports.

Ishmael Mustapha body

How did you get started in this business?

My journey in education began with a deep love for mathematics and a desire to make a difference in young people’s lives. After completing my degrees in mathematics and education from the University of Manitoba, I started teaching high school math. Coaching sports was a natural extension of my passion for teamwork and youth development. Combining these two fields allowed me to foster both intellectual and physical growth in my students.

How do you make money?

As a professional educator, my primary source of income comes from teaching mathematics at a high school level. Additionally, I have been involved in coaching sports teams, which sometimes includes organizing and running youth camps and tournaments. In recent years, teaching internationally has provided additional opportunities and financial stability.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

In education, profitability isn’t measured in the same way as in traditional businesses. However, from a financial perspective, I reached a comfortable and stable income level within a few years of starting my teaching career. Teaching overseas has further enhanced my earning potential and allowed me to save and invest more effectively.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work?

Absolutely. There were times when the challenges of managing classrooms, creating engaging lesson plans, and balancing coaching responsibilities felt overwhelming. Moving to teach internationally also brought its own set of uncertainties. However, my passion for teaching and coaching always helped me push through those doubts and focus on the positive impact I could have on my students’ lives.

Ishmael Mustapha outdoors

How did you get your first customer?

In education, my “customers” are my students and their families. My first teaching position was at Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg, where I began by teaching mathematics. The transition into coaching was facilitated by my involvement in the school community and my eagerness to support student activities beyond the classroom.

What is one marketing strategy that works well to generate new business?

For me, word-of-mouth has been incredibly powerful. Building strong relationships with students, parents, and colleagues creates a network of trust and respect. Additionally, demonstrating my commitment to both academics and athletics through community involvement has helped establish my reputation and attract new opportunities.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?

The toughest decision recently was choosing whether to return to Canada or continue teaching abroad amidst global uncertainties. Balancing professional growth opportunities with family commitments and personal well-being is always challenging. Ultimately, I decided to stay in China for the time being, continuing to adapt and thrive in this unique teaching environment.

What do you think makes you successful?

Success in my field comes from a genuine passion for teaching and a commitment to lifelong learning. Being adaptable and open to new teaching methods and technologies has also been crucial. Additionally, the relationships I build with my students, encouraging them to excel both academically and athletically, play a significant role in my success.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

One of the most satisfying moments was seeing a student I coached and taught in mathematics receive a scholarship to a prestigious university. Knowing that I played a part in their academic and personal development is incredibly rewarding. It’s moments like these that remind me of the impact educators can have on their students’ futures.

What does the future hold for your business?

I see myself continuing to explore innovative teaching methods, integrating technology more deeply into my curriculum to enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I also aim to expand my coaching endeavors, possibly establishing a comprehensive sports program that combines academic tutoring with athletic training.

What business books have inspired you?

While my primary focus is on education, books like “Drive” by Daniel H. Pink, which explores what motivates us, and “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck, about the psychology of success, have been incredibly inspiring. They provide valuable insights into human behavior and motivation, which are applicable in both teaching and coaching.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to be patient and persistent. Success doesn’t come overnight, and there will be challenges along the way. Embrace every experience as a learning opportunity and remain passionate about your work. Most importantly, never underestimate the impact you can have on your students’ lives.

Are you willing to be a mentor?

Absolutely. Mentoring is a crucial aspect of professional growth, both for the mentor and the mentee. I’ve benefited greatly from the guidance of experienced educators and coaches throughout my career, and I’m eager to offer the same support to others. Sharing knowledge, experiences, and insights is essential for the continued improvement and inspiration of future educators and coaches.

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