What i had to offer could make a difference?

When I moved to Helsinki I was on a quest to change my life. I left behind the land where I grew up in and a career in psychiatry that had drained me. I wanted change and my beautiful Finnish girlfriend offered that in the way of providing me of a new home.


I had saved as much money as I could and made a leap of faith. Not only did I wanted to change career my diploma is not valid in Finland anyway. So I set off, as so many before me, to find work since the rent needed to be paid and food needs to be on the table.


CV’s where written with accompanying cover letters and I scoured the internet for work. Since I did (and do) not speak any Finnish it was hard to find options besides a Mexican restaurant and cleaning. Very quickly I noticed that this would not cut it. It is no longer as it was with my parents generation that making a CV was enough. I needed a different strategy.


At that time I had found the institute of Luckan. At Luckan they provide you with a space (or living room) from where you can integrate. They also offer workshops to help you find your place in the work market in Helsinki. As I was sitting there I made a decision. I would teach myself for two months on how to find work. During this time I would not look for work, only learn.


So I set out to collect data, read books, watched hours and hours of Youtube, attended workshops and practiced what I had found. All of this I put in a file I called ‘Joppe’s Plan to Happiness. I followed my own findings and advice that I found and one thing kept popping up, you should network. Network this, network that and it became a big part of my strategy.


Through this strategy I eventually got hired by the company where I now work as the Chief Of Happiness. I was ecstatic when I had a job since it meant I could stay Finland and I went to tell the people of Luckan and they were very happy for me.


Only a few months later the people of Luckan asked me if I could and come tell my story to the next generation of expats at the peer support group. Not simply wanting to motivate but give practical tips I presented them with parts of my ‘Joppe’s Plan To Happiness’ and my very first workshop on networking was born.


Back then I did I did not give it a lot of thought nor did I think I could ask money for it. But every few months they kept asking me back, then a panel, than other institutions started asking me to do the workshop and finally Haaga-Helia bought two workshops. Only then did I realize that there was and is a need for this type of workshops. I started to develop different workshops on communication. Non Violent communication, Experience How to Listen and team building to name a few.
This whole process took 4 years and only two weeks ago I created a website and bought business cards since I never would have thought four years ago that what i had to offer could make a difference.

Joppe Quaedvlieg


The Startup As a (dys)functional Family

Love at first sight

It begins when the CEO (mother) meets the co founder (father). A love around an idea binds them to the point where they decide to spend the most time with each other compared to any relationship in our current western culture (marriage). They share their hopes and dreams and move in together into their first home (office). It is not much at first. A basement, a windowless room, but it does not matter, because they are happy. Then at a networking event after party, they meet their first employee (child). This employee is attracted, maybe because in het previous job she was stuck in a cubicle doing non creative things, and now these two parents promise a free world full of wonder and joy and say ‘join us, not as a number on a sheet, but as a member of our family’. This is how she got adopted.


They are poor but they are happy. Everyday they decide how to live their own lives. ‘We are going to do it differently’ they say. Not like our previous jobs (grandparents). So the journey starts. They adopt two more children in the next year and an uncle (freelancer). They have chosen each other based on values and a need for freedom. They are happy, or… are they?


Bonded by blood

We do not choose our parents, siblings or aunts and uncles. I feel like in this modern life there is an ongoing complaint that we just have to do with the family we get at birth. Having said that I also see a trend where people try and find their own, non blood related, family. This to make sure that Christmas is spend with your friends with whom you have a deep connection instead of with your relatives that may have annoyed you since birth. A place where the trend to replace family by blood with an artificial one seems particularly strong in the startup world.


CEO’s all around the world talk about their startup family where contracts are based on trust, work hours on honesty and pay on fairness.The startup CEO tries to do something more humane. He or she treats the employees as family. He knows their hobbies and together they participate in the survival that is growing a startup. This as a counter culture also to the big corporations who sometimes have reduced their employees to numbers on a sheet.


In the end

In the end it is very possible that the same problems start to arise as in a usual family. Specifically since the same behaviour is set at the beginning. A few key promises or values seem to be: honesty, safety, loyalty and trust. Words that are often used to describe the ‘perfect’ family. The reason I use quotes on the work perfect is because a lot of families like to believe they have these values but in reality it might be different. Why does this happen? Why do we set out to create something ‘better’ only to create a paradox where eventually the opposite happens. So yes, you can walk around in the office and express your emotions but it might hinder action since you are given a freebee to not ‘feel’ like working. This can be good in certain situations to lower stress but in others there is a deadline that is coming up and that ‘thing’ needs to happen right now. Also, fully expressing and attaching yourself seems to work best in an environment that is made safe. Safety does not come into existence simply because one preaches ‘you can express yourself here’. Creating security for exploration in a family happens by attention as a parent. In Mary Ainsworth’s (1971, 1978) ‘observational study of individual differences in attachment’ it clearly shows how children respond to an unsafe environment. In the experiment a mother leaves the child alone or with a stranger and creates an unsafe environment and the baby starts crying immediately only to be consolidated by the mother.


I feel that one of the reasons why creating a family environment is followed by the same challenges as a family by blood is… drumroll please… because we are humans. Yes yes, I know that seems like a cliche but that might be why at companies we tend to digress from what is human. Sometimes with a positive outcome where conflict is deflected since people understand that it is important to be professional and sometimes with a negative outcome where employees feel like there is no opportunity to be themselves.


But what is your point Joppe?

My point is that, while I believe it is important to create a safe space at work for people to express themselves it is equally important to know when to be professional. As a ex sociotherapist I also think this is a great way on how to improve actual family life (bonded by blood). Being human, seems to me, is as much about expressing yourself fully as it is at maintaining control.  Expressing yourself fully is creative, fun and passionate and controlling yourself is safety, long term planning and investment.


I would not argue for a company that mimics a family nor would I argue for a company that mimics the opposite. To be sustainable and innovative in the future we need both. As with all things in life, in the end, it is about perfect balance.




I have linked here the  Mary Ainsworth’s (1971, 1978) observational study of individual differences in attachment: https://www.simplypsychology.org/mary-ainsworth.html

The Finnish army knife for employment called MEGE

Looking for employment opportunities or the possibility to start your own business as an immigrant in Finland?


In MEGE I have found it. I wish this program would have been here already when I came here three and a half year ago. It would have made things simpler. Not easier, but simpler.


My story starts out as a cliche. I came to Finland for a beautiful Finnish lady and after a long distance relationship for far too long I moved to the magical realm that is Finland, the actual land of opportunities. To stay with my loved one I needed money. However my diploma in Social work is not valid in this country and my skills always have been all over the place. I can do lots of things a little but no expert in anything. What kind of employment fits with that?


First I tried to send out resumes like I was shooting them out of a machine gun. RATATATATATATATATA!! No luck, none other than a mexican restaurant hat asked me the question ‘do you know the difference between Tex-mex and mexican food?’ I did not. I was manically looking for opportunities. Went to the TE office who did not want to help me since I was not a residence yet, wanted a entrepreneurship training at NewCo which was not in English, went to IESAF meetups which brought me friendships but no contact for employment, talked with Ne-RA, Luckan, several facebooks groups and the list goes on and on. All of this combined gave me certain tools, contacts and there were lessons that I learned.


Eventually the combination of all of these tools and the journey is what led me to employment. It was journey of seven months. It took another three years to figure out my business idea. All in all it took a lot of searching, connecting dots and creating a network. What if all of this would have come together in one program?


A program free of charge with the promise of having an own business signed up at the end of it. A program where you learn soft skills & hard skills. A program with teachers, mentors and peers. The benefits of learning without having to be an official student. Using the english language while creating a tangible business. Being able to participate without a resident permit and the possibility to apply for a startup VISA  after having established a company. Even if the program would not end in a successful company it would mean having been busy with real results which sounds much better than sitting at home and sending resumes to future employers. All in one tool, all in one Finnish army knife.


A program with a simple signup, one click away. I would have signed up immediately.


Don’t take the long road like I did, take the direct road:

Click here mege.fi to learn more about the program.


Joppe Quaedvlieg

The Power Of Being Genuine At Work


ˈ dʒɛnjʊɪn/ adjective

truly what something is said to be; authentic.

“genuine 24-carat gold”

I will try and explain my vision, you do not have to agree with me merely see if anything in this article is useful for you.

There are two parts to this.

  1. How does being genuine work?
  2. Why should it matter if you are genuine?


How does being genuine work?

Being genuine is about expressing yourself honestly. In order to know if we are expressing ourselves honestly we must figure out if it is ourselves that is expressing (the ego) or if it is ‘others’ expressing themselves using our voice (super ego). The ego is who we are. Let me break it down. Imagine a seed. This seed is you, your love, your hopes and dreams, your fears, braveness and mistakes. It is your identity. The seed is covered with layers. These layers are added by our parents, teachers, culture and society. These layers were opinions, rules and guidelines taught by others. As a child you needed these because your own opinions have not formed yet. These layers are what we call the superego. The superego is NOT you. Now, if we could easily differentiate when our superego or our own ego is giving its opinion, it would be easy to express oneself honestly, to be genuine. But, here is where a challenge starts. When we get older we start to identify ourselves with our superego. We make the opinion of our teachers, parents, society and culture our own and they blur into one big onion that we think is us. The reason why we don’t notice this is because it goes extremely slowly and takes many years to settle in.


Why being genuine matters?

I believe that in the end of the day it does not matter if you are genuine or not. Life will unfold itself either way. There are benefits to being genuine and there are benefits to not being genuine. Today I am not talking about the benefits of NOT being genuine. In this case we are talking of what being genuine brings and how it can deepen your experience.


By peeling off the layers of opinions that make our superego, our ego will reveal itself. If the seed is covered in layers of onions knowing what it wants will be difficult. It will be hard to know what dreams and hopes you have, and without dreams and hopes it will be difficult to get what you want.


If we don’t peel back the layers there’s a chance that we will be following the dreams and hopes of our teachers or parents. We might end up with an expensive car, thinking that was all we wanted, when in reality our ego wanted us to help saving the planet. Maybe we end up working as a designer but in reality we would have been interested in programming.


Being genuine, peeling back the layers in an attempt to come to a naked seed will lead you to hearing your own voice. Then, you will learn to express that voice and guide it towards your dream. I am not saying this is easy. Like going to the gym to strengthen your body, you will have to train your mind to express oneself. You will have to challenge yourself time and time again. You will have to go through inner dialogues that question what you believe is your opinion. ‘Is this me talking or my father?’, ‘Do I believe that or has our culture forced that upon me?’ This will take weeks, months, probably years. The point is to keep going. It will get easier.


Dream, peel, express, and create your own future.





On 17.8.2018 we at ArcticStartup, together with the city of Tuusula will try to prevent an apocalypse at the horizon. We will do this by bringing together motivated participants who will come to solve real problems. I believe that being genuine is the key to success. At the hackathon I will hold an interactive discussion on the topic.


You can sign up here: https://ti.to/arcticstartup/tuusula-cityhack-power-people