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The Non-Provocative Reflection on “Finland is not for the ambitious”.


Hey guys!

This is so exciting, the Economic post “Finland is not for the ambitious” turned viral and the comments made to the posts are interesting!! Kiitos, kiitos! The total reads were 12,000 views over Saturday and Sunday, as of 11.15pm now. I hope the comments made here, in forums, on reddit, etc make you think a little more about Suomi and IF change is indeed possible. Thank you for being so big-hearted in sharing your experiences, folks!

Now, I am going to do a reflections post that is 100% non-provocative, since I’d gotten your attention with the first post. This relatively-boring post is divided into two parts: 1. Motivation behind the post; 2. A regurgitation of what I mean and don’t mean in the original post.

  • Exactly what inspired “Finland is not for the ambitious”?


In my original post, I also did not define what it is meant by “ambition”. I read some comments on the forums scolding me, saying that “is ambition all about money and luxury stuffs to you? etc…how proud!”

Actually, I don’t define ambition like that–the people who scolded me did. Yet, okay, granted, most people would define ambition in terms of climbing the career ladder, which @juhamac shared. I define ambition as challenging boundaries, personal growth, and value-adding the people around you in good spirit. By my very definition, the opposite of ambition would then be if you were stuck in your comfort zone. So I’m indeed sorry if I have provoked you without defining the very term ambition–I should have!

Reading disparaging comments of yourself on forums is indeed humbling. Let me share with you two quotes that came to mind after I read those unflattering comments, by the late Professor Osmo Wiio, a Finnish communications expert:

  1. “If a message can be interpreted in several ways, it will be interpreted in a manner that maximizes the damage;
  2. There is always someone who knows better than you what you mean with your message.”

The late professor Wiio was wise, wasn’t he.🙂 #Finnishwisdom

  • A regurgitation of what I mean and don’t mean in the original post.

I had been provocative, but I mean every message. The intention is not to insult anyone, but to push my points across such that YOU remember them, without compromising on accuracy.

If you read very, very carefully, my whole post is on systems–not human beings. You can have the most motivated human beings!! But the system can force these most motivated human beings into being average-ly motivated, because they want to be socially accepted.

Let me ask you this: Which is easier to change, the system, or the human being? Think carefully.

I’m basically saying, albeit in a provocative manner, that it is the Finnish stable welfare system that creates this mentality of being average. This has benefits and it also has cons. And if you read other posts on this blog, you’d realise that I have nothing but praise for the Finnish system. Read this, this and this.

The issue with my post admittedly is tone, haha. I do admit that I might have come across as condescending about the concept of “being average”.  This is why I edited for tone eventually, on my original article.

Why did I allow myself to be provocative? It’s simple, isn’t it. I write to express myself AND to be read. How else can I get your attention if I weren’t provocative over such an important issue? For example, if you want me to type a long 2000 word essay on Singapore right now, obviously I won’t. I’d just eat my cookie and watch a movie with The Boyfriend happily. But if you write a bait click title like “Only lazy people stay in Singapore”–I’d type this 2000-word in 15minutes, and I will probably smear your name in online forums and put 1001 un-glamorous pictures of you too.

I deviate. Essentially, the post had these points:

  • If we want to change Finnish “mediocrity”, it’s a system’s problem, NOT human. Is mediocrity a problem? NO! But it IS a problem if you want to encourage entrepreneurship at the same time. In Slush last year, I remember former Prime Minister Alex Stubb saying that given the prolonged recession, “Finland has no choice but to encourage entrepreneurship”. If you want to seriously do entrepreneurship, you cannot have the average mentality in all of your citizens. You have to be ambitious, to want to challenge your boundaries to make a huge, huge difference via your start-up, your baby!
  • So, IF you want to do entrepreneurship in Finland, IF you want Slush 2015, 2016, 2017 to be more successful than the past years, IF you want to use Slush to place Suomi firmly on the world map–you HAVE to challenge the system. Some commenters do see this point, but some others unfortunately confuse a systems issue with the human issue. And I guess this is why people take my provocation personally, due to this confusion.
  • Why did I talk about the foreigner’s role in Suomi? Because my HEART is for EVERYONE in Finland, as many as possible, to EMBRACE multiculturalism. EMBRACE IT! Not to dilly-dally decisions on “Oh, these refugees are a leech to our systems!” OR be excessively suspicious about immigration for instance.
  • Remember this rant, written in English by our dear Olli Immonen?”I’m dreaming of a strong, brave nation that will defeat this nightmare called multiculturalism. This ugly bubble that our enemies live in, will soon enough burst into a million little pieces. Our lives are entwined in a very harsh times. These are the days, that will forever leave a mark on our nations future. I have strong belief in my fellow fighters. We will fight until the end for our homeland and one true Finnish nation. The victory will be ours.”

I beseech you to remember, please, that it is only humane to work towards multiculturalism. My friend Dexter phrased it very well in his facebook post here. If you agree with him, please share it.

  • Aalto University and English test for all Asians: Well this is just personal, I can’t stand any form of institutionalized discrimination, unintended or otherwise. I do take it personally, and unapologetically so. It’s a FACT that countries that are previous British colonies adopt English as a native language, and since US, Canadian, UK, Norwegian and Swedish schools acknowledge even that, why can’t Aalto adhere to the world’s standards too? I told myself that before I graduate, I will make sure the people who can indeed make decisions on this language matter will know for sure that there is this concern.
  • SO thank you folks for making this post viral–from the comments, I see that there are some fellow Aalto folks who have taken note of this issue. So, I can finally move on from this annoyance. I honestly won’t care now if Aalto University does eventually change the test to one that is finally fair to all Asians according to their country’s historical background. Since–well, the whole world can judge its decision, or lackthereof, as a proclaimed “global” school. Feel free to inform me when the rule is finally made right, please, if it ever will be. :p
  • By the way, I AM really leaving for Singapore in four months’ time. But does that mean I’m not coming back to Finland ever again, or “deserting Finland”? Definitely untrue. Let me elaborate more on this point.

Late last year and earlier this year, some really rich Finns and retirees  left for Portugal due to Portugal tax-free status in pension and inheritance taxes. I personally feel that these folks have been demonised by the Finnish media. When I first read the news on that last December, I was thinking to myself–Is it necessarily true that when you leave Finland, you are a–and I quote– “douchebag” or “traitor”?

I think both are unfair labels, because even as you leave for another country to avoid taxes or otherwise, surely some part of your soul, your heart, part of you is in Finland. It doesn’t matter WHY you leave–by choice, by no choice, for a better future, because you are going crazy and depressed in Finland, etc.

If I were the retiree, I would definitely return to Finland on a regular basis and continue my contribution to Suomi. Be it to visit my friends, care for the forests, or volunteer. Why? Because this is home and this is where I have family ties. I would imagine the rich Finns who have moved with their entire family to Portugal to return to Finland frequently too.

Likewise, if I leave for Singapore, if any of my friends leave for Vietnam, Korea, France, Canada, UK, US after their studies in Aalto, can we be considered leeches? Because we took the free education and we didn’t work in Suomi, arghhhhh what traitors and leeches on the social welfare system!!

No–we are not leechers. Because we generate a lot of positive impact for Finland. A part of us will still be in Suomi no matter where we are AND for my case, HELLO my boyfriend is a Finn, so what do you want me to do? haha.

Do you see my point now my friend? I believe that every single person who has returned to his or her country, or to any other countries in the world, has the ability to contribute back to Finland. Globalization and migration is the norm these days!

In concrete terms, any global citizen with ties to Finland can:

  1. Sell Finland to her home country;
  2. Sell her home country to Finland.

On this point, I agree with commenter Joseann FL: Ambition need not be “fought” for. QUOTE:

 “Those people who are ambitious, but don’t “fight” and instead see clearly how they can benefit from the Finnish system and the Finnish way of doing things, will benefit from Finland and find support and promotion.”

Even if a foreign student returns to his or her country, the possibilities of raising Finland’s profile is endless, precisely because the student has valuable contacts on both sides. The foreigner with ties to Finland at any stage of his/her life therefore, can only be an asset to Finland. For instance, if I choose to stay in Finland, I can find jobs that can increase service/product exports of Finland to my home country. Likewise, if I were to go back to my home country, I can find jobs that increase service/products to Finland. This is a very positive contribution both to Finland and your home country.

And how about networks?  Foreigners are bridges for Finland culturally, politically and economically, just by having a simple connection of having once stayed in Finland.🙂

So yes, I’m indeed leaving for a career where I probably have to work long hours, but I do this with a vision and ambition. But in the first place, where did I learn vision? It’s from Finland.🙂

I never knew vision in Singapore–all I knew was how to make tons of money, haha. But after spending some time in Finland with Finns and getting used to the way of life, I realised that one should always do things for a larger, more meaningful vision. So yes, I learnt vision in Finland, so to speak.🙂 And once you learn vision you will never want to compete again.

So–don’t you dare say that people who “just leave” are traitors, because their personal alternative of “just stay and fight” isn’t efficient, effective, or even a logical/sound decision. You people who stay, don’t you dare judge people who leave–especially if staying isn’t a good alternative for them at all.

Because, if you leave and still tell many nice and good things about Finland to your friends sincerely, it will raise Finland’s profile and it’s a very good thing to do. I wrote about the Finnish Marketing Problem, and since Finns are shy, foreigners can help do the Public Relations, hehe!

Again, I do understand that it is the framing and provocation of my original post that leads a person to come to this sort of defensive statements and conclusion. But I hope you now think hard about what it means to stay, what it means to leave, what it means to be a Finn, what it means to be a non-Finn.

Seriously, why care about those man-made categories? We are ALL for Finland.

I want to highlight Markus (Instagram: @markusandreaz) HK’s comments, which I’m concur strongly with:

“I think discrimination is not anymore based on your ethnic background, color or on any other easily detectable physical traits. In Finland different mindsets are discriminated. Your mindset has to fit in the box, after that you will be accepted…For ambitious people there is very little room to move in Finland. It starts from primary school where talented students are ignored because “they will do great anyways”. As a kid I even used to deliberately give wrong answers to some of the exam questions just to get the same marks as my friends, so that I could be accepted.”

Discrimination of the MIND! Dear lord. But can we un-discriminate our minds, as a solution to changing the system too?🙂 The simple act of just deciding to be more open minded, to listen, to be random, to “anyhow”, to not be so judgey, to laugh at stupid things instead of frown.🙂

Last but not least–This is the important part:

I want you to remember all the complicated feelings, anger, passion and disgruntlement you felt towards my provocative post.

Then I want you to think hard–think really hard–about how to channel all these intense, strong feelings towards an action that would be positive for Finland, no matter how small.

It could be a simple action of donating some clothes to refugees tomorrow. It could be another simple action of sharing Dexter’s post. It could be a big action of deciding to make a leap of faith to expand your business based in Finland to another city as a form of “fighting” and doing good to the economy.

Shall we create change, my dear friends?🙂 There is no such thing as “traitors who leave”. This is my personal blog and I obviously say what I want; there is no monetary incentive involved. There only exist people who have their hearts for Suomi–no matter where they might be in the world. And no–let’s not judge each other.

We all have ONE COMMON larger vision: A better Finland.

And for me, a better Singapore, too.

Don’t forget that. Well, I still feel strongly ambivalent towards Finland. Feel free to comment, I’d probably be busy since the work day starts, but I’d reply to interesting ones for sure–it’s great for open discussion! Special thanks to @akshaynotes for summarizing some of my points + readers’ comments on the original article.🙂

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