Insight from an industry-leading executive who is always on the move.
As a founder and CEO, Cindy Mi’s life is best described as one of high-energy, action, continued learning, and dedication to online education. She is always on the move and challenging herself, whether that’s pursuing the company’s mission at work or reaching her latest personal fitness goals at home.
With her incredible vision, tenacity, and drive, it is unsurprising that Cindy was recently named EdTech CEO of the Year by the 2020 EdTech Breakthrough Awards. This honor recognizes her continued work as a leader in the education technology industry and her efforts in pursuing VIPKid’s mission of building a global classroom that inspires and empowers every child for the future.
Many who know VIPKid are familiar with the story of Cindy’s personal education background, and how those experiences led her to create a global learning platform. Even more interesting is the full picture of who Cindy is and what motivates her every day. We hope readers enjoy learning more about Cindy in the Q&A below.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: While no two days are the same, nearly all have a similar framework. I get up at 6 am to get my body moving into gear – lately, I’ve really enjoyed high-intensity interval workouts or stretching my legs during a 5K run. After breakfast, around 8 or 9 am, I kick-off my VIPKid workday. It’s hard to say what a “typical” day is like because every day is really different. My day usually ends pretty late in the evening, and by that point, I like to have some relaxation time before I go to bed and get ready to do it all over again the next day.
Q: While you may not have a lot of “free time,” how do you like to spend it?
A: I love finding different ways to stay active. In my free time, I try new sports – recently that’s been trying a new high-intensity interval training regimen.
Q: What are some things people may not know about you that might surprise them?
A: I can do 100 push-ups! My friends and I like to get competitive with our exercise.
Q: What is one thing on your bucket list?
A: I have always dreamed of completing the Prague Marathon. I look forward to traveling internationally again and if all goes according to plan, my hope is that I’ll take part in 2021.
Q: Do you have a favorite movie, book, or TV show?
A: My favorite TV show is Silicon Valley.
I also love books and movies that inspire big ideas. One of my favorite movies, adapted from a book, is Ready Player One. Part of this inspires my dreams of the global, multi-dimensional, interactive classroom where you can have a vivid, virtual world that allows real people from around the world to communicate with and learn from one another. The movie paints a picture of future possibilities – imagine, students from different parts of the world all virtually gathered around the pyramids while learning about them.
Q: Outside the office, where do you spend most of your time?
A: As some of you will have guessed by now – the gym!
Q: What’s your favorite meal?
A: I love Italian food.
Q: What was your favorite subject in school?
A: English, of course!
Q: Do you have a favorite word in the dictionary?
A: The word Surprise. It evokes a sensation of astonishment and the unexpected – and, life is full of them.
Q: If there was a soundtrack to your life, what would it be?
A: Top of the World by The Carpenters. It was one of the first songs I learned in English and it reminds me of my personal journey learning a new language. The uplifting imagery in the lyrics of the song never ceases to inspire me.
Q: What’s your favorite quality in a teammate/colleague, why?
A: Passion. People who are passionate bring certain care and positive energy to their work that makes it deeply motivating to work alongside them.
Q: If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes, who would it be?
A: In my case, it wouldn’t be someone’s shoes but rather, my adorable cat QiQi’s paws. I would love to spend the day seeing the world from his perspective, and it would be great fun to spend a day living his care-free life, relaxing and playing. QiQi is a comforting presence in my life and even spends time with me in the office.
Q: How do you measure success? In yourself? Among your teams?
A: In measuring my own success, I constantly reflect on our commitment to the company’s mission—to inspire and empower every child for the future—while also looking at the outcomes of the students who learn on our platform.
Among VIPKid teams, I like to look at how each functions exclusively, and how those independent efforts help all of us work together to build a global classroom that enables both student success and teacher success.
Q: What’s one mistake you made early on that you’ve learned from?
A: I could have spent more time with my parents. Family is so important.
Q: What have you learned about yourself running your business?
A: If you remain open to learning and growing, the sky’s the limit.
Q: What’s your proudest accomplishment in your business?
A: Seeing the happy faces of the students that learn on the platform. Thinking of my past experience as a young and discouraged student really made me want to create a space for students that would bring joy and personalization to learning. It brings me so much joy to see the excitement of students on the platform, and know that our teachers are creating an environment that will lead to a lifelong passion for learning.
Q: What about VIPKid makes you most excited about the future?
A: A REAL global classroom. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.