On Entrepreneurship, Sisu and a Post-Nokia Finland

Entrepreneurship is all about being bold and badass enough to traverse unknown terrain, to see beyond one’s perceived capacities and to take risks, all while being flexible and tolerating uncertainty. It is about bending but not breaking. All these are also qualities of sisu (which is an age-old Finnish term for indomitable will, determination, resoluteness and rationality in the face of adversity). Sisu begins where your perseverance ends. Furthermore, it is a universal quality which we all share.

Sisu Emilia Lahti IPPA 2013

Depending on the individual´s mindset, any event can be seen either as an opportunity or an obstacle, and the person’s attitude greatly influences the actions taken as a result. I think that cultivating sisu, at its deepest level, is about awakening potential and igniting hope. It is about seeing into what might be, beyond what Aristotle describes as our actual reality and its limitations. Instead of stopping where we feel our abilities end, we push through the pain barrier. This barrier might be fear, uncertainty, physical pain or lack of trust in oneself, among many other such limits.

Sisu and rock cl

As we step past this boundary, we redefine it as a frontier –what could have been the end has become the beginning. In this way, sisu serves as a hugely empowering tool with the potential to create massive change. This is something that is in the heart of every new, bold act, and is also what entrepreneurship is all about.

How far are we capable of going? We simply do not know before we are stretched a bit. Challenges and adversities act as a catalyst for growth and change while more comfortable times are conducive to healing and restoring balance. Our biologically programmed tendency to preserve energy leads to a bias for stability at the expense of exploring opportunities to develop ourselves, to expand and stretch our action repertoire. An adversity or challenge interrupts our usual routine and propels us to seek out new solutions. As a matter of fact, although the recent Nokia deal may come as a shock to some, it also offers tremendous opportunity for Finland. It is even said to be one of the best things that has happened to the country in a long time.


The age-old strength capacity of sisu can power us to transform challenges into opportunities, turn barriers into frontiers – therefore building a bridge toward our best future self; as individuals as well as a nation. Dr. Lauri Järvilehto wrote in his recent blog post (just days before the Nokia bomb), that it is time to turn Finland into an exemplar of ‘engagement economy‘ [innostustalous], which means to be driven by passion, purpose and meaning for tasks which are personally significant. This then contributes to the economic well-being of the whole of society. Aspiring toward such future requires serious efforts in creating an environment where it is safe to experiment (and fail), and where curiosity, vision and ideas are encouraged, welcomed and nurtured. A place where entrepreneurialism is held in reverence along with qualities such as integrity, valor, determination and courage, which are all constituents of sisu.

Wishing us all happy Finnish Entrepreneurship Day (it is still Friday the 5th where I am typing)! Curious to see what bold acts we take, now that we can’t rely on Nokia’s economic safety net. Exciting times ahead, now let’s rock it!

7 thoughts on “On Entrepreneurship, Sisu and a Post-Nokia Finland

  1. Finland is in the crossroads. Maybe whole Europe is. Or even whole world. News haven’t been very encouraging lately, or maybe it is, that it is easier to pay attention to gloomy than upbeat news.

    I would really much like to see, that people would go back to basics. This means thinking about what is essential. What is important now? What is important for our children? What kind of world are we building and in what kind of world we would like to live in?

    And at the same time, there is so much superficiality. Consciousness of people is filled partly with entertainment. It is work and entertainment and shutting down. Bread and circus for the people. There has to be a better way. There needs to be a better way.

    It’s like people need the guiding light and hope and the path on which to talk on.


    1. Dearest Mörri, Indeed, we need a guiding light. I believe the key is people like yourself who send off empowering, inspiring ripples of hope, and that way, instigate positive change.

      Absolutely love your nickname! It kind of translates to ´grumpy´ but at the same time it has a upbeat ring to it. Are you a realistic optimist by any chance? ; )

      Enjoy your weekend, my friend!


      1. Ah, I didn’t pick that nick so consciously, but surely you are right, it has certain grumpiness in it :) And deservedly so!

        At the same time I think kindness is kinda cool, and I try to make advancements also on this ground.

        It would be a difficult pick between realism and optimism. People need to know where they are standing, and people need to have that feeling of positive meaning in their lives. It is pure wizardry to achieve both.


  2. We live in the time of interdisciplinity… People with sisu and enthusiasm from different domains move and make new connections on the intersectional fields of knowledge. Together we can reach new perspectives and sometimes we can fly even to lands where no one has ever before visited :D. At the moment I look quite positively to the future. Have a nice week!


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