Monthly Archives: March 2015

6 Brands That Symbolise Finland

I’ve been in various parts of Finland for the past couple of weeks. Here’s my take on the key brands that I came across most often during my travels.

1 Nokia

Born in the town of Nokia, nearly 150 years ago, it started off selling paper products then rubber boots and throughout it’s history has continued to re-invent itself. Best known as a mobile phone brand, it sold the mobiles business to Microsoft in 2013 and is about to go through another phase of re-juvenation.

2 Finlandia Vodka

Finlandia is the national vodka and according to the people I met in Finland, the purest vodka you can buy. The most distinctive element of the brand is it’s beautifully designed bottle. I also really like the ‘Life Less Ordinary‘ Comms Campaign. Very quirky, outdoorsy and a little bit scary/

3 Karl Fazer Chocolate

I have to say, I got quite hooked on Fazer milk chocolate. It’s like Finland’s version of Cadbury’s. Founded over a hundred years ago, Fazer chocolate is everywhere. They even hand them out free at the Finnair Lounge in Helsinki airport. There’s loads of different flavours and various sub-brands, but the classic chocolate is the blue pack is the one for me. I always stock up at Duty Free.

4 Marimekko

Marimekko is a Finnish design company, renowned for it’s distinctive bold prints and bright colours which you soon begin to recognise. It sells a range of clothing, accessories and home decor items. Founded in 1951, you can find Marimekko items all over world. Very stylish

5 The Moomins

The Moomins are hippo-like creatures which appeared originally as a series of cartoons and comic strips. Since then, they’ve come to life in tv series, films and even as a theme park – although not quite on the scale of Disneyland. In Finland, the Moomins are hard to avoid – mugs, fridge magnets, tea towels – you can find them all with Moomin characters

6 Stockmann

Stockmann is Finand’s best known department store. There’s a huge one in the centre of Helsinki, but they’re in other cities. It’s a fairly upmarket store, i guess equivalent to John Lewis, but maybe not quite as upmarket as Selfridges. Had a wander around one when I had a bit of spare time – nice.

I really enjoyed Finland. Full of nice people, beautiful scenery and lovely restaurants. I look forward to returning.


7 Ways Facilitators Can Build Rapport in Workshops


As a facilitator, your primary goal early in the sessions to build a powerful rapport with the people in the room to get them on your side and ensure you have a successful outcome. Here’s a few tips on how you can do this.

1 Create a Relaxed Informal Environment

Be laid back, no matter how serious or important the session is. It immediately sets the right tone and eases the tension in the room. A few light hearted gags and anecdotes – usually at your own expense – goes down well. If you’re aloof or stressed, it will immediately show.

2 Naming

Focus on remembering and calling out people by their name. It really helps make a connection with everyone in the room and demonstrates that you’re fully attentive. It also shows that we’re all friends together and allows you assert control.

3 Actively Listening

It’s easy to listen in a half hearted manner, particularly when you have a lot on your mind. However, it’s crucial to demonstrate you’ve taken in what people say. The key tricks are: focus on eye-contact, play back what they say, refer back to what people said earlier in the day, avoid cutting people off.

4 Great questioning

The flip-side of great listening is great questioning. Use a range of questioning techniques that allow people to connect with you. Ask lots of questions, notably questions that are open and exploratory. This also demonstrates that you’re listening

5 Remember – its all about them not you

Don’t grandstand or try to appear ‘impressive’ or brag about your achievements. People hate a show off and resent being talked down to. Don’t make jokes at other people’s expense – no matter how funny you think you are. Instead, celebrate other people’s success and make sure the people in the room become the centre of attention – not you

5 Trade stories

Demonstrate you know how they feel by referring back to your own personal experiences to reinforce a point you want to make or to show empathy with someone else’s stories i.e. ‘the same thing happened to me…’

6 Be Responsive

If they ask a question – don’t ignore them. Try and respond. If you can’t, ask for help. This extends to broader questions. If they make a request for more coffee, the temperature of the room to be changed or a wireless code do your best to be accommodating

7 Give Feedback

People love to know how well they’re doing. Have they done a good job or not? Focus on the good stuff, not the bad stuff and if you’re going to criticize or judge them, do so with a positive and constructive mindset. This also demonstrates that you’re really listening and have internalised what’s been discussed