The Real Stuff That Matters
Get to know Cassandra Walton...
Cassandra Walton of Australian I-Kiribati heritage, is the face behind the successful business, Real Stuff Matters Academy ~ an online education platform that helps students improve their English writing and communication skills.
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Cass is a qualified teacher, and has taught hundreds of students, particularly culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) children.
Cass talks about why she started Real Stuff Matters and how it’s based on her own experience of feeling overwhelmed by school growing up. She explains, “I suffered from so many loopholes in current systems such as school and it deterred at times. I have since looked and seen these gaps and thought, if I could do it the way I think is needed, it might help others.”
So what exactly is this real stuff? For Cass, it’s not just about teaching English, but everything that will make a real difference in her students’ lives.
Cass studied Human Rights and International Law at university and incorporates this global knowledge of world issues into the material she teaches in her English Curriculum. She says, “I always said to my students ‘I am here to teach you the real stuff, not the fluffy stuff; the Real stuff that matters’.”
Real Stuff Matters Academy is accessible to every student in mind, from primary school age all the way through to adults. The platform is intended to provide the necessary tools and strategies required to support a conscious and aware community of empowered, fearless learners and leaders.
Cass shares her journey, as we learn from her what it takes to be successful in your own business, overcome challenges, whilst balancing life between work and family.
What inspired you to set up your own business: I have always had a passion in education and particularly around the Human Rights component of education being a right of a child. There is a real need in inspiring and sparking curiosity in young minds as they are our future leaders. I feel called to help and support and pioneer this space.
Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit? Are your parent’s entrepreneurs? My father has an entrepreneurial spirit. He created and built the first private Radio station in Tarawa Kiribati and private newspaper back in the 90s in Kiribati. My older brother is also a successful entrepreneur with 2 podcasts that he created. He has been listed in the Wall Street Journal (U.S) for Health and Wellness for his sleep podcast. He’s one of my inspirations. Along with this, my mother has a fierce and kind heart who loves to take chances and has always encouraged her children to aim high and big. These people who have played a significant part in my life have always mentored me and allowed me to always follow through with what we start and always strive for excellence.
What was your key driving force in becoming an entrepreneur? I wanted change. I suffered from so many loopholes in current systems such as school and it deterred at times. I have since looked and seen these gaps and thought, if I could do it the way I think is needed, it might help others. After teaching over 100’s of students over the years, I have seen that sometimes improved and more innovative methods are required when tackling existential problems that we may not have control of at times. Being an entrepreneur came naturally when I realised, I was the only one in my domain doing what I was doing. Schools are still following old systems of learning and change hasn’t taken shape there yet. I have found moving with the times and making strong authentic relationships with those I work with to work the best. We are able to address and understand problems and work out ways to resolve them. I’m grateful that I’m laser focused on what I want to achieve and how to go about it as it can be overwhelming in the beginning where you just want to try and do it all. I have found, drilling down and staying in my lane of what I aim to achieve which is empowering and equipping the students I teach with important life skills: those being notably: writing and communication.
Where did the idea of your business derive from? I studied Human rights and International law at university and from that, I was exposed to a lot of world problems. I discovered that the United Nations has a list of unsolved world problems that today are still not solved. World poverty, hunger, climate change, slavery, and so much more were still not solved. I used these problems to form the basis of my English curriculum and started teaching English in the context of these issues. I always said to my students that I am here to teach you the real stuff not the fluffy stuff, the Real stuff that matters. Real Stuff Matters! 😊
Considering the competition in today’s business world, how would you highlight your Business competitive advantages? What makes it stand out of the others out there? My hour of power classes. I am able to get my students gravitate to a topic I am teaching my encapsulating them with interest and love. My character and delivery of classes has a way of connecting with my students and I believe my genuine interest and passion combined enable me to always and continue to connect with those who have not even met me in real life. Showing up for my business everyday and delivering on my promises and value have also built genuine relationships both online and at face-to-face events.
Who is the one entrepreneur to be your greatest example and inspiration? I don’t have a favourite, I really love looking at those who excel in their areas and applying what I could use or value from and how I can apply it to my business too.
What entrepreneurial tricks have you discovered to keep you focused and productive in your day-to-day busy schedule?
- Learning and working in corporate has allowed me to see what processes are at a macro level especially for large global organisations. I love applying the Japanese style of business planning to my business. I am fortunate to work for a global automotive company as a project manager and the amount of knowledge I have learnt there is incredible.
- Working full time in corporate whilst developing my online business allows me to feel safe especially when you have family and various investment properties too so you can keep a steady income in.
- Microsoft skills: I love excel and know data is the new old. Using data to quantify things and streamline information has been a huge help especially when you are a sole trader or a one man show.
- Project mgt is really key. Thankfully, I do this full time where we analyse risk to delivery on certain things and work towards a strict timeline too.
What would your advice be to anyone thinking of starting up their own business? Just start: If you have a passion or better yet something you believe would be of value and has proven to do so, just start. I only just started a proper business model to my business this year and prior to that I was operating under no structure or no clue. All I knew was that I had a skill that I could offer which was English tutoring and that was it. I was good at what I did but didn’t know what steps to take. It has since taken 3 years for me to understand and know what it is I want to do.
Also, its’ important to know we are constantly evolving. We are changing always. For e.g. you might put a lot of effort into your brand colours but next month you might rethink and change it to something better that you know is more you and appealing. That’s fine and completely okay. We are always evolving as we come to learn and know new information.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in? Courses and personal development. I recently spent quite a large sum of money on completing a course and it has done wonders. It has elevated my confidence whilst increasing my knowledge and accreditation too.
What sacrifices have you had to make since becoming an entrepreneur? I wouldn’t say sacrifice, I have become more smarter in how I use time. Being a full-time corporate girl, running a successful online business where I teach 34 students weekly, studying my Teacher course, being a wife and mum has its challenges, but it comes down to being super strict with your time and what you do with it. I still have time to go out with friends, date night, attend important events etc. It’s all doable.
What do you enjoy most about what you do? I love when I envision the potential in students, and they become the pending testimonials their parents prayed for. I love seeing student break-throughs and seeing confidence levels shine.
The Global Covid19 Pandemic has affected Businesses across the globe. Has this affected your Business & How? Do you feel there is enough support out there for MSME’s in your region? What support do you think is needed & most important? I had a full in person tutoring studio before covid. This has then been closed down and I sold all my things. I have since pivoted and now teach online. I think support is there if you know what you are looking for or what is needed in your area. For me, I found local Facebook groups and other social media tutors who were all struggling, and it was about reaching out and sharing information with each other.
What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur? Having too many ideas come at me at once. I struggle to keep up with my thoughts so I have to remind myself to stick at what I can do and just focus on that. I am very structured with my goals. I won’t make a new goal until I have completed my current one. This in turn makes me hurry up and complete what I need to do in the right time.
What do you do on a daily basis to grow as an entrepreneur? I read and research a lot of things on topics I am interested in. I listen to teacherpreneur podcasts and do a lot of online research. I also do a lot of reflection planning which may be whilst im driving to get my coffee or when I’m trying to put my son to sleep. Moments like this allow me to compartmentalise the most.
What do you wish you knew before you started your business? I wish I started it when I said I would. Believing in yourself to start something and following through is probably the first hard step you gotta take. After that, you just become more tougher and willing to take the next step and the next.
What best motivates you? How have your entrepreneurial motivations changed since you first started? The reason for change and need. There are so many children out there requiring love and someone to look up. I really hope to help as many as I can. I never say no to my students I teach I always offer them an alternative whether that’s online resources or a phone call. The sense of urgency to eradicate educational poverty is my main concern and something that I wholeheartedly believe is my life mission in this life- time.
How Do You Manage Stress? Taking trips away or going for long drive far away from home. Checking out is a big problem I suffer from so I literally need to go somewhere where I can switch off. Camping is my favourite destresser. Also praying daily helps too and reciting scriptures I have memorised.
Do you have a favourite quote? “Desire your best to achieve your best” Cass Walton
Another great Business Story from an inspiring entrepreneur. We know with each of our ‘Spotlight’ features you will have some great ‘golden nuggets’ to take away & help you in your own business journey. These Amazing Stories shared with you would not be possible without the generous contribution, love and time given from our Business Owners
who want to help others in their Business Journey. Ko raba Cassandra.
We leave off with Cassandra’s Top 3 Apps that help her work more effectively every day
Gmail / Outlook, Social media apps, Canva