In Helsinki, people often ask when Director Kyösti Kakkonen will move his permanent address to Helsinki from Joensuu. He won’t. He is a North Karelian chap, and he will pay his taxes to Joensuu in the future, too. There is a demand for this achiever’s opinions and advice: here are the most central theories of kauppaneuvos (Finnish honorary title) Kakkonen.

North Karelia has a wide variety of expertise and committed people.

Kyösti Kakkonen is a farmer’s son from Kiihtelysvaara in North Karelia. He had altogether five siblings, and everyday life was tough and laborious. People started working at such an early age, it would now be regarded as child labour. Kakkonen was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth – in fact, he did not have a spoon of any sort. Instead, he had a strong Lutheran upbringing which provided him with values, and an appreciation for industriousness and diligence.

“All work is valuable”

– Unfortunately our culture talks disparagingly about shitty jobs. There are no shitty jobs, all work is valuable. We are all needed in order to make the society function.

“Training is always worthwhile”

– In Finland, everyone has a chance to study, train and go as far in their career as they want. Education also has a crucial effect on the level of your work tasks later in life. If you decide not to study, you have to accept the consequences. I would like to encourage people to study in order to work towards achieving a better life.

“Personal responsibility”

– The idea of a ‘take it easy society’ stems from old left-wing thinking. Nobody should rest on their laurels and be a burden on society. Citizens cannot simply have rights, they also have to have societal responsibilities. Everyone makes their own luck, and we all should take personal responsibility.

“Diligence is a virtue”

– An entrepreneur needs confidence, courage, resilience and will. Diligence is a virtue. You have to devote yourself to your business idea. I have started from nothing and spent my 40-year career in a parasitic symbiosis with the world of enterprise. When I established Tokmanni in 1989, I remember being simultaneously a managing director, head of personnel, marketing director and head of procurement. I did not wash the company toilets, but I made my own coffee.

“Another person’s success is not your failure”

– So, how can you recognise when someone has schadenfreude, that is, when someone rejoices over your failure? You recognise it because it is real joy… I wish we could learn to rejoice over someone else’s success, as the other person’s success is not your failure. On the contrary, we need to know how to succeed together, to strengthen the atmosphere of success. Let’s give entrepreneurs a chance to succeed. It generates necessary risk capital and new businesses. It results in new jobs and tax payers and more cake to share, so to speak.

“Towards international business”

– I am involved in dozens of companies with the focus on the international market. At the moment, I am delighted by the success of companies such as Revenio, Incap, Aspocomp, and the North Karelian companies Nanocomp and Valamis. As an investor, I am not interested in a company unless it can be cloned and made international. You can make money in the domestic market within the USA, but not in Finland. If you are based in Finland, it takes a lot of work to search for business partners, network and find routes to the world.

“Too narrow a field”

– I am very well connected and can see the entire entrepreneurial material in Finland very well. I socialise with investment bankers every week. My wife Julianna Borsos is a venture capital investor behind two Bocap equity companies. Through her, I see what is happening in the SME sector. I hold a front row seat as one of Capman’s biggest shareholders. In other words, I have a very good overview of the whole sector. Unfortunately the Finnish business field is very narrow, and we need more diversity.

“The value of this operational environment will go up”

– North Karelian culture, great people, clean nature, values, safety. All these are the strengths of the region which has a wide variety of expertise and committed people. The importance of all this will be underlined by climate change and other threats. In Southern Finland, they already burn cars.

“Art is part of a company’s social conscience”

Kyösti Kakkonen is also well known for his art collection of international importance. To him, art is not just an investment, or a bit of beauty and sensuality in the surroundings. To kauppaneuvos Kakkonen, art is part of a company’s social conscience. An interview published in Talouselämä in 2004, gives a glimpse into Kakkonen’s inner life, as he talks about selfishness as a growing phenomenon: “It is part of a societal phenomenon involving the growth of selfishness, and inability to put yourself in someone else’s position. There is less wisdom about. If a successful business does not have any interest in culture, what kind of values is its leadership based on?”