At a recent Future Fit San Diego event where we discussed the future of education, I met a lot of inspiring people – one of them was Alex Kajitani. Fifteen years ago, Alex was a struggling new teacher in one of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods. His students seemed unmotivated, unengaged and uninterested in what he was teaching. Demoralized and desperate, he set out on a journey to turn his class, and his life, around.  
Today, Alex holds the title of California Teacher of the Year and a Top-4 Finalist for National Teacher of the Year, 2009, and is a nationally renowned speaker, author and entrepreneur. 
Alex’s journey — from frustrated new teacher to being honored at The White House Rose Garden and featured on the CBS Evening News — is one he now shares with educators and leaders across the country, to inspire them to new heights and fresh ways of thinking, and to create the world as it can be.   
 I had a chance to catch up with Alex and ask him a few questions about his newest World Changing Formula!
1) What is your Passion + Purpose = World Change formula
I am on a mission, to help EVERY kid master their times tables, so that they can be confident in school, and in life! 
Over the past 15 years, I’ve found a way to combine my passion for helping kids learn (especially those who struggle in math) with the purpose of insuring that they learn the critical skills necessary in order to be successful in school, and go on to achieve their dreams and make our world a better place. So, for me, it’s Passion x Purpose = World Change Formula! 
2) How did you uncover your passion and purpose?
It was my first year of teaching, and I was sinking. My students seemed uninterested in the math I was teaching, and I couldn’t get them to pay attention. However, I noticed that they loved rap music, and could recite every word to the songs on the radio. So, I started creating rap songs about the math that I was teaching, and became The Rappin’ Mathematician. 
The songs were a hit, my students’ test scored skyrocketed, and now the songs and videos are being used all over the world to engage kids in math!
 3) What steps did you take to live your passion and purpose?
As an Algebra teacher for over 10 years, I taught so many kids who showed up on the first day of class not knowing their times tables. These students struggled all year long, unless we found a way to get them to master their math facts. 
In 2009, I was named California Teacher of the Year, and began traveling the country, speaking to teachers and school administrators. It turns out, educators everywhere are struggling with this same issue! 
I had to do something—so I created, the first-of-its-kind, online, interactive times tables training program, so that any kid, regardless of their age, family situation or special needs, can master their times tables in a fun and engaging way!
4) I talk a lot about putting together the pieces of your passion puzzle to create the life of your dreams. How do you feel that you have done this?
Knowing your times tables is a make-it-or-break-it skill for math success. Students who master them are much more likely to be successful in school, and those who don’t really struggle.
When a student masters this critical skill because of something I’ve created, I know I’m living my dreams. Every time a student raises their hand in class, when they might not have just a week earlier, I know the pieces are coming together for me, for our students, as well as their parents and teachers!
5) What advice do you have for others who are looking to uncover and live their passion and purpose?
I’ve never had a huge epiphany, or been suddenly struck by an amazing idea. Everything I’ve done is the result of paying attention to what people need, surrounding myself with people who encourage me, and making the decision to GO FOR IT and take action. You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great! 
For more of Alex’s inspiration and ideas, visit
If you have an inspiring story to share, please email me and for more inspiration and to join us our Passion + Purpose = World Change community, please visit my website at