The Polar Bear Sisu at Ranua Zoo in Lapland (Image: Lehtikuva)

Finland in the world press

THIS WEEK IN THE WORLD PRESS, the US business magazine Forbes ran a lengthy editorial about the Finnish concept of ‘Sisu’, and how it can be compared to the “American Dream”.

Meanwhile, CBS News has been covering Finland’s social security system throughout the week as part of their World of Mothers series. Several articles have been penned covering the lower costs of childcare in Finland, discussing why such a situation does not exist in the United States.

In other news, lobbying efforts from Finnish gardeners to allow for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis for export purposes also made the splash in several international outlets, following the recent EU announcement that a universal definition for what constitutes “medicinal cannabis” will soon be published. 

The British tabloid Metro has been covering electronic music artist Darude’s progress through the Eurovision qualifiers, whilst the travel bible Lonely Planet ran a piece on Finland’s first “ice cream hotel room”, located at the Hotel Klaus K.


Why business leaders should follow ‘Sisu’. Finland’s equivalent of the American Dream


Finland punches above its weight within the global economy. How has a country with a population lower than that of Minnesota given the world companies like Nokia, Rovio (developer of Angry Birds), Supercell (Clash of Clans) and elevator manufacturer KONE? It’s not just innovation either; Finland is a leader when it comes to education and social progress too. There isn’t something in the water in Finland, but there’s something that runs through our blood: "sisu," a mindset that defines our national psyche and character. Think of it as Finland’s equivalent of the American dream.

It’s impossible to translate sisu into a single English word, but it loosely means strength of will, determination, perseverance, long-term thinking and acting rationally and with integrity in the face of adversity. It is about pushing your boundaries and approaching seemingly insurmountable challenges head-on, even if the odds appear firmly stacked against you.

Etymologically speaking, sisu comes from “sisus” which means "interior" and "entrails, guts”. This provides a glimpse into its true meaning, but it’s important to stress that there are differences between sisu and the likes of “guts” or even “grit”.

As Joanna Nylund, author of Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage puts it: “Grit is what people employ when they get started doing something – the strength you need to leave a bad relationship, decide to lose weight – but Sisu is the extra fuel tank you didn’t know you had. The one you tap into when you’re already on your way and the going gets really hard. What you call on when you’re struggling to reach your goal, that’s when Sisu comes in.”


Original article appeared in Forbes on 06/03/19 and can be found here.

It costs less than $60 to have a baby in Finland. How?

CBS News

Finland's healthcare system has helped give it the lowest maternal death rate in the world -- and it's available to everyone for next to nothing.

Dr. Aydin Tekay is the chief physician at a labor ward in Finland where every mother there gets a private room and even the option of a water birth. The cost? Less than $100 euros, and almost 50 percent of which they'll get back as reimbursement. That means it costs less than $60 to have a baby, compared with the U.S. where the average natural birth costs over $12,000 and insurance doesn't cover all of it. Tekay said there's no reason the U.S. can't replicate what Finland is doing. He blames U.S. politics.

The maternal death rate in the U.S. has nearly doubled over the last three decades; in Finland they've cut it in half.

At a play group in Helsinki, we met Laura Smith from Detroit who's living there with her Finnish husband and their 10-month-old baby Ella. Maternal death rates are even higher for African American women, one of the reasons Laura chose to have Ella in Finland instead of back home.

"My concerns mattered, my voice mattered. They saw me, they took care of me no matter what I look like and that's something I couldn't be certain about in the States," Smith said.

Mother and baby are also entitled to free check-ups and when Ella goes to day care, that'll cost less than $100 per week. It's all paid for with tax dollars. The wealthy hand over much more in Finland than the U.S. Annika Saarikko, the minister for family affairs in Finland, said the Finn's don't mind the high taxes, they're used to the system.


Original article appeared in CBS News on 05/03/19 and can be found here.

Finnish commercial gardeners seek legalisation of medicinal cannabis to make Finland a leading cannabis export hub

The Guardian Tribune

The Finnish Market Garden Association has expressed that many Finnish commercial florists are showing interest to grow medical cannabis in Finland so as to make it a Finnish export hit. The gardeners are seeking the legalization of medical cannabis which is currently not allowed in the country.

Finnish gardeners want to tap into this new export opportunity. The executive director at Market Garden Association Jyrki Jalkanen said that the export potential for this growing cannabis industry is worth billions of euros globally. He added that they want to explore whether commercial gardeners can tap into this huge export market.

Cannabis-based drugs have been found to be effective in the treatment of several serious disorders including multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.  The mouth spray Sativex based on cannabis was launched in Finland in 2012, which is now finding increased use in the treatment of chronic pain. The Sativex drug costs hundreds of euros to Finnish patients every month as the drug has not been covered by Finland’s Kela, the national health insurance agency.

In Finland, growing cannabis under any circumstances is considered illegal; however, recent polls have indicated that cannabis use in Finland is becoming increasingly common. The other Nordic country which recently legalized medicinal cannabis is Denmark, which prompted 20 Danish gardeners to switch to the production of medicinal cannabis. Jalkanen added that Finnish gardeners expect the same level of freedom to grow cannabis which is enjoyed by gardeners in the other EU countries.


Original article appeared in The Guardian Tribune on 05/03/19 and can be found here.

Sandstorm DJ Darude has chosen his Eurovision song to represent Finland so get ready to rave


Darude and Sebastian Rejman will take to the stage at Eurovision in Tel Aviv with the song Look Away. The song was the chosen one out three, with the other options being Superman and Release Me.

Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu viewers and an international jury made up of members from the UK, Ireland, Spain, Israel, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Czech Republic helped make the decision which was announced on Saturday night.

Look Away, written by Sebastian Rejman and Darude, was the clear winner, getting a full 12 points from each jury and the most votes from Finnish viewers. It bagged 244 points in total compared to Superman with 147 and Release Me with 89.

The DJ, real name Ville Virtanen is best known for his 2000 platinum-selling hit Sandstorm.

It was won by Michael Rice with Bigger Than Us, which will go straight through to the final as the United Kingdom is one of the ‘big five’ countries that sponsor the contest along with Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The entries from those four countries will also automatically enter the final.


Original article appeared in Metro on 03/03/19 and can be found here.

The world’s first ice cream hotel room in Helsinki

Lonely Planet

If you’re a fan of ice cream, you’ll be entranced by this sweet hotel room in Helsinki. Finnish dairy company, Valio, and hotel Klaus K Helsinki have collaborated to bring a delicious ice cream-themed room to travellers in the heart of the city.

While staying at the Valio Jäätelöfabriikki Sweet Suite, named after Valio’s ice cream brand, you can enjoy all the sweet treats you want thanks to a freezer in the room. You can sample Valio’s four new flavours  – a rich chocolate, tart and sweet lemon curd, passion fruit-coconut and apple-oat pie. The room features 1930s vintage furnishings and Nordic design by interior designers Anna Pirkola and Kirsikka Simberg.

It offers guests pretty pink decor, luxurious sheets and they can soak in a bubble bath in its pastel bathroom. There is also a swing in the room, which is a pretty unusual hotel room feature. Helsinki is a natural choice for an ice cream-themed suite, as Finns consume the most ice cream in Europe per capita.

The suite is available for reservation from March to September and sleeps two people. “Valio Jäätelöfabriikki aims to make you happy,” says Valio’s ice cream business manager, Tea Ijäs. “To many, ice cream is a break from the daily grind. We wanted to create a small, surprising experience around delicious ice cream. This luxurious hotel suite and our beloved ice creams are a match made in heaven.”


Original article appeared in Lonely Planet on 05/03/19 and can be found here.


Adam Oliver Smith - HT (@adamoliversmith)


Image Credit: Lehtikuva