A Tour of the Aalto Centre, Seinäjoki pt.1

Episode 7 – Marianne’s Guided Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki, part 1

Episode 7 – Marianne’s Guided Tour of the Alvar Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki, part 1

Season 1 Episode 7: Part 1 of 2.
Marianne takes me on a guided tour of the Alvar Aalto centre, in Seinäjoki, a cluster of six, civic buildings that form its iconic centrepiece. Alvar and Aino Aalto are arguably Finland’s greatest designers and, in part 1, you can hear Marianne describe the Town Hall and Lakeuden Risti Church.

Guest: Marianne Holma, Seinäjoki City Guide

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of this episode here

Read the Show Notes

Just Why Is The Sauna So Important To Finns?

Sauna Collage lg

Season 1 Episode 6
In this episode I speak to Jaakko and Martti Koskenkorva about the most recognisable Finnish word in the world, Sauna. I visited them at Koskenkorva Trahteeri to talk about the history, the traditions and why the sauna is so important to the Finns.

Guests: Jaakko & Martti Koskenkorva

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of this episode

Read the Show Notes

Buying & Selling in Finland’s Flea-Markets


Season 1 Episode 5
I speak to Henna about the significance of the Kirppis in Finland. We attend an event to sell some clothes and I then visit a few other types of Kirpputorit in Seinäjoki to compare & contrast.

Guest: Henna Rantasaari

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of this episode

Read the Show Notes

Softengine, Luritus Choir & Alvar Aalto. In concert.

Many of you outside of Europe may not fully understand the Eurovision Song Contest, not everyone inside Europe takes it that seriously, and the recent balkanisation of European counties has led to countries ‘voting for their neighbours hasn’t helped that, but the viewing figures are huge and many a star has been born at Eurovision.

In 2014, Finland was represented by Softengine, a rock band consisting of five young guys from Seinäjoki and their debut tune Something Better. They managed an impressive 11th place and, in the process, amassed Finland’s second best-ever score of 72 points (heavy metal monsters Lordi actually won  the competition in 2006 with 292 points) Following this performance, Softengine’s profile in Finland has risen pretty high and late last year they released their debut album, We Created the World; Caleb Followill’s roaring vocals, the melodies of Coldplay and fashionable, rave-synths are pretty good signposts to the album’s sound.

There was a story in Ilkka, the regional, daily newspaper, on Sunday 11.1.2015 about a slightly different gig for Softengine, one that covers a few local touchstones; rock music, choir-singing and Alvar Aalto!

On 15th March 2015, Softengine will be playing a concert in Seinäjoki at the iconic Lakeuden Risti church, which was designed by the iconic Alvar Aalto. At this show, the band will be backed by a local youth choir, Luritus, with whom Softengine have a longstanding connection.

Luritus is not a traditional, church choir, they describe themselves on Facebook as a choir for ‘…both boys and girls – children and teenagers. Luritus isn’t a traditional choir. Besides singing, the performances include varied instruments, body percussion, drama, poetry and dance.’ The YouTube video below gives a good idea of what that invloves.

Full disclosure, my son Olli is a member of Luritus, and the Choir Leader, Hanne Orrenmaa, really has them well-drilled both with their singing and their movement. Every performance is different and well worth your time. I have my ticket, and I’m already counting the days. See you there?

◊◊◊ Mark ◊◊◊

The Veikkausliiga season gets started…

Well, in a manner of speaking.

Seinäjoen Jalkapallokerho (SJK) have a had a busy week, that culminated with the (now traditional) match between the first team and the supporters club (Klopit), who hold the honourary position of 12th man at SJK.

The match was played in a friendly, light-hearted atmosphere, indoors at the excellent Wallsport Areena in Seinäjoki, and although SJK are clearly the stronger team, the inclusion of a few SJK ‘old boys’ playing for Klopit evened things up and added a little frisson. The match ended 5-4 which was suspiciously close, and on investigation, it was discovered that the Klopit ended the game with 15 players on the pitch, a tactical innovation that Klopit ‘head coach’ Lari Paski should be proud of 🙂

This kind of activity only helps to cement the strong bond between the club and the supporters, so a big thank you from the Klopit to everyone at SJK.

Finland new-boy Johnny Laaksonen (right) and Mikael Muurimäki, SJKs record goalscorer Picture: Antti Huhtamäki

In other news, earlier this week SJK announced a partnership agreement with FC Jazz from Pori, which will involve structured loaning of players between the clubs from the youth development through to first team squads. This will give players at both clubs the opportunity to progress and find their level as SJK are in the Veikkausliiga (Premier), FC Jazz are in Ykkonen (1st Division) and SJK ’07, the reserve team, play in Kakkonen )2nd Division.) This will support SJK’s future policy to develop more Finnish players.

It was also announced that Johnny Laaksonen, SJK’s midfield playmaker has been selected to join the Finnish National sqaud that is travelling to the UAE next week to play Sweden in Abu Dhabi and Sudan in Dubai. This is a well deserved reward for Johnny who was voted the Players Player of the Year in the Veikkauliiga 2014.

SJK have also been busy in the transfer market signing Jussi Vasara​, attacking midfielder and former captain at FC Honka​​ in the Veikkausliiga, Cameroonian ​goalscorer ​Ariel “Tuco” Ngueukam​ and​, announced today that, subject to a couple of contractual matters, Mehmet Hetemaj who is returining to Finland after ​several years playing in ​the ​Ital​ian lower leagues for ​AlbinoLeffe, ​Reggina​ & Monza, he is a tough-tackling, ​defensive ​midfielder who ​has play​ed for the Finnish National team and should fit in nicely alongside Laaksonen ​at SJK.

If you want to do some homework on the new players, then what better way than a YouTube highlights video;

The club has promised there will be additional, strong signings later in January, and based on the​i​r actions so far this winter, who would doubt them. SJK aims to offer a real challenge to HJK Helsinki in 2015 and give a decent account of themselves in their first Europa League campaign, in which SJK will play their home games in Helsinki, at HJK’s Sonera Stadium – a return trip of 710km, 8 hours, from Keskuskenttä, SJK’s home ground!

If you want to learn more about SJK, listen to my podcast episode 3 where Lari tells me about the history of the club and Finnish football culture.

Evie Goes to Restaurant Day in Vaasa

Restaurant Day

Season 1 Episode 4
Restaurant Day (Ravintolapäivä) originated in Helsinki, so I travel to nearby Vaasa, with my daughter Evie, to visit some of the pop-up restaurants and speak to some of the restaurant organisers about their experiences.

Guests: Heimo Oksanen, Walter Syö, Malin Holm and Evie Wiltshear

Listen to the show  on your preferred podcast player  – iTunes or Stitcher radio or Feedburner

Download an MP3 file of this episode

Read the Show Notes

5 Steps to ensure you see what you want on Social Media

How to take control of what content you see using Google+

We all take time to decide who to follow, now you can take control over what you actually see! I’ve recently learned a little more about Google+, which allows you to prioritise what you see and notifies you when new content is available. The following steps are not difficult or time-consuming, but not everyone knows how Google+ works, even those that already have a G+ profile!

1. Click here to find Explore Finland Radio Show on Google+.

2. Click ‘Follow’ to add to a circle. On the pop-up box, you have two options;

  • Click on ‘Following’ to my page to the others that you follow, or
  • Click  ‘Create new circle’. Give it a name, e.g ‘Explore Finland’ (I’ll also add you to my circle ‘Explore Finland Followers’)
Add to a Circle. Name this Circle.

Add to a Circle.

3. Click on the drop-down menu on the left hand side. Select ‘Home’ this will take you to your home page or ‘stream’.

Select 'Home' from the drop-down menu.

Select ‘Home’ from the drop-down menu.

4. On the options bar (of your Home stream) click on ‘More’ then click ‘Explore Finland’ this will show you the content posted by anyone in this circle. Tip – if you find the G+ stream looks confusing, you can also change the layout of your stream here.

Select the 'Explore Finland' stream

Select the ‘Explore Finland’ stream

5. Above any posts, there is a box called ‘In this Circle’ where you will find a grey bell icon. Click on this so it becomes red.

In This Circle

In This Circle

Notifictaions off.

Notifictaions off.

Notifications ON!

Notifications ON!

That’s it! You will now receive notifications when Explore Finland posts new content on Google+.

Let me know how you get on by adding me to a Circle and keeping up-to-date on Google+.

◊◊◊ Mark ◊◊◊

What I Learned at #slush14

Although I risk ‘crossing the streams’ with this post – brining my day job into the Explore Finland world – this article is about an event in Finland, so it’s not completely off-topic.

Slush is a fast-growing ‘trade show’ in Helsinki for Investors and Companies to meet, talk business and party a little. Below is a post that I recently shared on LinkedIn…


2014 was my first time at the Slush event. I’d been to several trade shows in the past and this couldn’t be so different, could it? Below are a few observations and lessons-learned at Slush 2014.

Arrange investor meetings in advance

Even if you only want a brief catch-up meeting or conversation. There were over 10,000 tickets sold, the chances of bumping into the right person are small, and the chance of them having time to see you at the last minute, smaller still. I tried for two days to meet with a friend, we both wanted to, we tried, but it just didn’t happen. I’m sure we’ll get-together someday soon Berit!

Don’t expect to close a deal

Slush is a dark, noisy event. a brilliant atmosphere but maybe not the place to discuss the minutiae of your business, so probably not the place to seal a deal. Use it as an opportunity to initiate a new business relationship, or to nurture an existing one.

Prepare your pitch

Whether you are in the competition, meeting a potential investor or exhibiting on a booth, make time in advance to prepare your presentation, so you’re ready to answer the question ‘Tell me about your company.’ Also, ensure everyone in your company is telling the same story, you don’t need a rigid script more like a structure, so that everyone tells the same story. Visit www.xport.fi to learn more about our new service, in partnership with PNP Crossing Borders, which will help you develop your performance at all types of exhibition & trade shows

Be clear about the amount you want to raise and how you will use it.

Or don’t.

Contrary advice and contrary examples were in effect at Slush. One investor said he wanted to know what the money would be used for, someone else said they’d been advised ‘Ask for help and you will get money, ask for money and you will get advice.’ Many of the early Slush100 pitches didn’t mention how much they wanted raise, some of those in the later rounds did.

So that’s clear then!

Minimalist booths

There is less structure to the booths than a traditional show. As befits an event that attracts a great number of start-ups, they were mostly simple roll-up signs and a table. There are a few different ‘exhibition areas’ where the booths are located, and they are positioned side-by-side, close together. This created a real buzz around these areas, but it’s not always easy to get close to the booth although it does ensure no-one hides behind a table – there is nowhere TO hide!

Make the most of the Keynote speakers and product presentations

Take the opportunity to watch some of the different presentations. Learn, be inspired, be entertained;

  • Slush 100 competition: see how they are structured, learn from the mistakes you see
  • Guest speakers: covering every possible industry as well as investors explaining what they want/expect to hear in a pitch
  • Product/service launches: Nokia N1, Jolla tablet

Remember the #Hashtag

The idea of using #hashtags to promote your live event (see my previous article) was in full effect at Slush. We were encouraged to use the hashtag #slush14 before the event started and there were signs all over Messukeskus reminding you. If you search #slush14 on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ you’ll find that it was well-used.

Xport & Jakamo in action at #slush14

Xport & Jakamo in action at #slush14

What an atmosphere!

Slush is unlike any event you’ve ever been to, darkly lit, dry ice and energy drinks – and that’s during the day. At night they simply replace the speakers with live music! Oh yeah, and the evening party included beer for the duration of the night.

Many thanks to the organisers at http://www.slush.org/ see you next year.

◊◊◊ Mark ◊◊◊