Let the adventure begin

Kuvankaappaus 2013-1-13 kello 11.36.29 PM

Yesterday was the day – the day I left home for a 68-day adventure in Southeast Asia. Last week was extremely busy and I did not have too much time to even think about my getaway.  I mostly pulled off twelve-hour days in order to get everything arranged for the trip, sending applications to few US master programs, applying scholarships and meeting friends I will not see in a while.

I got almost stuck in Stockholm due some Visa related issues in Philippines. Luckily, I figured my way out and got on a plane that head to Doha, Qatar. It seems that people in Qatar are extremely friendly. Furthermore, I was quite surprised of the fact that they offer a free meal for everybody that has over a five-hour layover here. Finally, I arrived to Manila few hours ago and I started my trip of by heading a friend’s place I met in a one-week course in Luzerne, Switzerland, last spring. At the moment, I¨m at his cozy place in downtown Manila. Tomorrow I¨m going to check out the city and the day after tomorrow I¨m heading to Mt. Pinatubo, an active stratovolcano - exiting!

I was in Southeast Asia roughly two years ago with one of my friends and we knew basically nobody who was travelling at the same time. Additionally, we did not have smartphones/computers or even credit cards with us. This time I have some gadgets and a credit card with me and I’m probably going to do most of the bookings in advance online. Now, I know roughly ten people or groups that are traveling in the same area during the two months and.

Let the adventure begin.

Intern at a startup and grow!

I just finished my 4-month internship at a state of the art diabetes technology startup, Mendor, and I can honestly say that it was one most valuable learning experiences in my life so far. Now, I want to share four key lessons I learned during the Summer.

1) Ask feedback

You can learn so much from yourself and the way you operate when you ask feedback constantly. However, I want to point out that you do not probably get the most honest and direct feedback when you ask for it directly. That is why I suggest using a service like SurveyMonkey for asking anonymous feedback.

2) Do not send emails, Call!

I can not emphasise this enough. Email is probably one of the most inefficient ways of communicating in an environment where things need get done fast. If you really want to get things done and you are not able to have meeting with a guy or a gal in person, call them. The busier the person you are trying to reach is, the more important this is.

3) Be proactive, take responsibility

Most startups have do not have enough resources and your co-workers do not have time to look after you. That is why it is as of extreme importance to be proactive and take responsibility. At first, it might be scary to say that I will personally take responsibility on reaching the goal. When you are not working in your own comfort zone that is when you learn the most. Do not be afraid of failing every now and then. Learn from your mistakes!

4) Focus on what is important and say NO more often than YES.

As mentioned earlier, startups have lack of resources. That is why, you, your team and the company as a whole to have an extremely clear picture about the goals. I promise that you will have too many things on your table and it is your responsibility to say no and focus on the things that are really important. Ask yourself, what the most important battles to win are today , this week and during next month. Furthermore,  know the things that you are good at and Delegate things that somebody else can do 20% better or faster than you.

5) Offer solutions instead of problems 

I can not over emphasise the importance of offering solutions over problems. In an startup, everybody is wearing many hats and working a lot, so they do not have time to think solutions to the problems you tell them. Instead, you should offer solutions to the challenges you have faced or noticed. It shows that you have though about the issues and not just wondering round all the time telling what is wrong. Solutions, not the problems, drive the company forward.

Hopefully you found these tips useful. Now, it is your turn make things happen!

Make a difference, work for a startup!

It was about time to get hands dirty! This spring, I got a great chance to work for Mendor, a second generation diabetes technology company from Finland. Mendor’s vision is to make the every day lives of people touched by diabetes significantly easier and more enjoyable by providing discreet, easy to use and all-in-one blood glucose meters and smart analysis software for blood glucose monitoring.

At the moment, Mendor is offering two products: Mendor Discreet blood glucose meter and Balance glucose analysis software. So, if you have friends who are living with diabetes you should encourage them to check them out! (For now, the products are available in Scandinavia, Baltic Region, United Kingdom and Qatar)

I have been working at Mendor since late April and based on that experience I want to list four reasons, why YOU should work for a startup over a big corporation.

1) Responsibility

At a startup you get to do a great variety of things and people will give you responsibility. By myself, I have worked on our presence in social media, production, sales forecasts etc. Be proactive!

2) Make a difference

There is a famous saying: “Life is too short to work at a boring company”. I totally agree. Why would you do something boring while you can work on really big ideas that can change the way people operate?

3) Learn by doing

Do not be afraid of mistakes! At a startup environment people understand the value of failed experiments. However, you must be able to learn from them!

4) People care about what you have done, not what you have studied

At startups the most important thing is execution. That is why, startups want to hire people who get stuff done, not people who know schoolbooks by heart. DO IT!

Are you ready for the ride of your life?

Follow me on Twitter @RikuLindholm

What I wish I knew when I was 15

Seven years ago I was just finishing of my studies at upper secondary school. Even though the school system in Finland is among the best ones in the whole world, I feel there is a lot of room for improvements. In Finland, you can do extremely well in school, if you just stay quiet, listen to the teacher and do everything by the book. You are programmed to solve predefined problems and there is not too much room for creativity. In addition, I think that we should encourage the most talented students a lot more. I figured this all out just a few years ago and I hope somebody had told me the following lessons when I was 15.

1. Fail and learn. It is really important to understand failing is fine. You can learn a lot more from your failures than from things that work out. If you are trying to hide your failures, it is likely that you are not able to learn from your mistakes. Furthermore, no one else can learn from your mistakes. Check out The National Day of Failure (In Finnish), I co-organized with other Entrepreneurship Society actives last fall. 

2. Hang out with people who are smarter than you. When you are in a situation where people around you are better, faster and smarter than you must push yourself a lot more. And when you are pushing yourself you learn the most.

3. Do not listen what people around you say listen to yourself! I have been in a situation where my parent/relatives/friends have said to me that I should not do anything risky or things that differ from the status quo. If you do things the same everyone else does, you will never end up doing anything spectacular.

4. Get really good at something. It might be coding, ice hockey, poker, maths or something else, but pick up only one thing you want to get really good at. It is hard to figure out the one thing you want to nail, but you should try to find out as early as possible. When you are young, you do not have much to loose. If you fail, you can go back to school.

5. Try out many things. You do not probably know what you want. When I was 18 years old, I though I knew what I wanted to study. Few years later I figured out that my assumptions were wrong.

6. Do not focus on school, if you have found something you like and you have proven yourself that you are really good at it.  It is a lot harder to try out new things, if you have a family and car & house loans already.

If you are in your twenties already, you should check out Tina Seelig’s book: What I wish I knew when I was 20

Start it up!

I have planned to start a blog for some time. Finally, I took the time to set one up and here we go!

There are few things I will emphasize on this blog:

- I want to share my insights about the emerging startup scene in Northern Europe.

-I want to help out ambitious university and high school students to think outside the box. The reason behing this is that I have always been really ambitious and I have tried out few things that have been different from status quo. From my own experience I can say that, if  you are not following the “normal” path people around you try to guide you back to it. However, I believe you have to diverge from the normal path in order to do something extraordinary.

In addition, there are also few personal reason I wanted to start blogging. Firstly, I want to enhance my writing skills andI want to learn by doing. So, if you have any comments or feedback do not hesitate to share them with me. Secondly, I want to write down my goals. I have figured out it is a lot easier to achieve goals, when you write them down.

So, get ready and Stay Tuned!