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Ng Rong Xin, Co-Founder of Explorer Junior, Turned to Books for Drive, Inspiration, Support

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Ng Rong Xin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Explorer Junior, a startup based in Singapore with a unique perspective on the education system.

Founded in the National University of Singapore by three friends who share common interest in early childhood education, Explorer Junior is a service provider specialized in experiential learning for young children.

They believe that every child is a curious explorer, unique in their own way, and should be given the tools, opportunity and environment to learn. However, the mainstream one-size-fits-all, outcome driven, education system does not optimize the individual’s potential.

Together with her team, Rong Xin went on to design and create a set of pedagogy and monitoring methodology to nurture the curiosity of every child. Since the launch of Explorer Junior, Rong Xin has led it to grow from a small team of 3 to a 15 member-team today.

Prior to her current role in Explorer Junior, Rong Xin has held multiple roles during stints in American Express and Ministry of Education, primarily in Human Resource Partnerships and Education Management.

She graduated from National University of Singapore Business School with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), double specializing in Finance and Management.

From our interview you’ll learn more about her favorite books, the ones she could relate to as an entrepreneur, and her reading habits.

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

Business – The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
I think this is the ABC for budding entrepreneurs. It is easy to read, covers many useful techniques and models for entrepreneurs. A classic.

Non-business – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I’ve read this book more than 3 times at different stages of life and in different languages (English and Chinese Mandarin). I love it, it’s remarkable! One of my favourite quote from the book: “It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes just before the dawn.”

Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

Many times. I often resort to reading for wisdom and emotional support. The recent episode was when I read Hard Things about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers a couple of years back. There were so many personal stories that he shared (particularly the one he shared about how he had spent so much time on his business, he almost destroyed his family) that I could relate to as an entrepreneur. Reading it gave some kind of moral and emotional support – it’s kinda good to know that you are not the only one going through the same difficult journey!

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What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson – I read this book the year I graduated from college and was in my first job. It was a game-changer because it was after I read the book that I decided to take a plunge to start Explorer Junior, my start-up.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson – a book for educator or edu-preneur or anyone who wants to make a change in the education realm.

The Importance of being Little: What Young Children Really Need from Grownups by Erika Christakis – It’s a good read for anyone who wants to be a educator.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sandra Sandberg – Inspiring read for aspiring young women.

I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read everyday, mostly when I am commuting. I read on my Kindle app (phone and iPad).

How do you make time for reading?

I read when I am travelling on public transport. There’s really nothing much to do when you are commuting & that’s the best time for me to read. Sometimes I will also spend 20 – 30 minutes before I sleep to read.

Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

Yes, I will highlight sentences/paragraphs and bookmark the page on my books and copy them into my Google Keep note-taking app.

How do you choose what books to read next?

If there’s a certain topic that I am keen on, example communications, I will do a quick Google search. I will also look at the recommended books on Kindle and

There are some personnels whom I looked up to, for instance Sir Ken Robinson & Sandra Sandberg & usually I will keep a look out for their new publications or what they are reading.

Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

Not in particular except Sir Ken Robinson & Sandra Sandberg. I will take a look at any list that I chance upon.

Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

I’m actually reading a non-business book now, its called Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. The author challenges that skin in the game is necessary for fairness, risk management and important for us to understand the world. I’m just hoping to be intellectually stimulated after reading this. 🙂

Links where you can follow Ng Rong Xin or find out more about her projects:

All books mentioned by Ng Rong Xin in this interview:

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