Meet the Owner of Mathnasium of Saskatoon, Nathan Windels

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At Refined, we recognize the importance of local businesses in our community. They are the engine that makes our economy run — employing people, taking risks, meeting market needs, and supporting important causes. So often, we only see the business — the storefront, the products, the services — and never really get to know the business owner behind the scenes making everything happen. Refined is proud to profile two business owners who are winning at their game, and help you get to know them better with some personal and fun questions.

Where did you grow up/what schools did you attend? I grew up in Saskatoon and received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. I completed my Masters in Electrical Engineering while earning my teaching certification.

What led you into this business/career? On my way to work one day, I was listening to a podcast and heard them briefly mention Mathnasium. I looked it up immediately because I thought it could help me teach math more effectively. Long story short —I flew to LA to attend their open house and started the business a few months later.

What do you love most about your business? I love the result of our work when a kid comes to us with a low self-confidence because of their struggles in math and through a process of time, patience and learning, they become confident and excited for their future.

What is your most important characteristic? Steady determination.

How do you support the community/social causes? We appreciate the amazing teachers in our schools and try our best to show them we recognize their hard work and care. A variety of ways we try to be involved in the community for kids includes collecting winter coats, disability fundraisers and hosting family fun nights in our schools. When time permits, l attend our students’ extracurricular events to support them in all areas where they show interest.

What do you value in your friends?  Energy, ambition and a growth mindset.

Who is the living person that you admire most? My dad.  He's given of himself more than anyone I know. His work has given hope and success to a greatly important cause. He laid the foundation in my life for me to be able to start Mathnasium in the first place.

What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?  Everything will be okay! Aim for something. You’ll likely miss, but don’t let that paralyze you from trying.

Illustration of mathematics symbols against grey background, courtesy Dreamstime

Let’s talk favourites:

Vacation - I have yet to find out! I’m sure one day yet I’ll have a great one.

Book - How To Win Friends And Influence People. It has changed how I interact with people for the better.

Movie - Megamind

Song - Thunder by Imagine Dragons

Food - My father-in-law’s prime rib

Dessert - Cheesecake

Vehicle - I would like to own a Tesla one day.

Way to relax - Hiking and mountain biking

Friday night - Family night!

What is your motto? “If you think you're beaten, you are. If you think you dare not, you don't. If you'd like to win, but think you can't, it's almost a cinch you won't.”

What talent would you like to have?  I think it would be fun to be a stunt driver!

What would your friends say are your best/worst traits?  Best: Putting people before policy, thinking outside the box, confident to try new things and not taking “no”' for an answer, willing to listen. Worst: Strengths overextended have put me into many difficult situations.

When did you make a difference?  I believe Mathnasium continually makes a difference in students’ lives. When a mom comes to me with tears in her eyes and says, "I don't know what you’re doing, but keep doing it.” That’s when you know you’ve made a difference. 

What brings you joy?  Something most teachers will identify with — when the lightbulb comes on for a student.

How did you know you were on the right path? When I went to visit the franchise and I saw not only their methods to teach math, but also what they stood for.

Do you ever consider closing your doors? What business advice would you give to others? I think everyone has self-doubt to some extent. But no, not unless I find something that can have a bigger impact than what I do now. Business advice?  I’m hardly the person to ask.