Have you always wanted to change the world but still not sure how you could do it? At NurtUp we believe that everyone can create a positive impact in the world by being ambitious, caring and inspiring. To help you get started with your quest to change the world we decided to ask exceptional people who are already doing it!
Anne Badan is well known in the Helsinki Startup community as the driving force behind The Shortcut, and it was there that I caught up with her to talk about her quest to help foreigners in Finland build successful businesses.
What is your quest?
When I came to Finland my whole career was already planned; I had no intention of being an entrepreneur, but Finland turned me into one. I couldn’t find anything that matched my expectations, ambitions and motivation, so I thought “if I can’t find it, then let’s create it for myself!”
In my previous job I had been selling million Euro governmental contracts, but there was no particular meaning in it except the challenge of learning something new. Creating something for myself, I wanted to really shift my career and start focussing on bringing more meaning to my work; if I could turn it into high impact then maybe I could find that meaning that was lacking.
Anne started her first company, A2B Philanthropy, as a way to promote sustainable social impact and community support projects.
Even a drop in the ocean has an impact and causes ripples which affect other people. That’s where my quest comes from.
Anne’s work increasingly involved working with Finnish organisations like Aalto University, Naistenpankki and World Design Capital, taking a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder perspective.
If you want to find a solution to a problem, you can’t do it only from one angle.
The Shortcut was born out of a desire to help other foreigners in Finland to start their own businesses and build their skills and networks.
What are the key challenges you face?
Anne is very clear that she prefers to focus on the vision than on the obstacles. She doesn’t see challenges in a negative way, but rather as puzzles to be solved, and as one of the elements that make her work so enjoyable.
It’s like a computer game; you unlock the next challenge and you advance to the next level. It’s just part of the journey. That’s how I look at it.
What keeps you motivated?
For Anne, reaching the goal isn’t the reward, the journey itself is.
For me it’s the journey, the learning, the evolving. It’s not about where you end up, it’s how you end up there.
Who is with you in your quest?
A firm believer in the value of cultivating a large support network, Anne says that many of her friends and contacts grow out of chance meetings with strangers, both in her work and her personal life.
I’ve got different support. Obviously my husband, friends and family. My network in Finland is quite big; people I used to work with, for example. I end up continuing working with them but in different capacities.
I believe that this network is something you need to nurture; you never know when the people you meet are going to end up crossing your path again; how they are going to intertwine with your goals.
One of her goals in creating The Shortcut has been to engineer an environment where others can benefit from these random meetings that grow into friendships and business relationships.
It’s about the serendipitous encounters you have. Sometimes it takes a while before the connections between the dots happen, but these encounters are extremely valuable.
Who inspires you?
Anne says that often the people who inspire her do so without realising it.
I don’t know how to explain it.. Some people are just dynamos. They shine and give you a lot of energy, but you’re not asking anything. You’re not even asking to be inspired, but they’re inspiring you.
It’s not always about the people; it’s often the action behind the people that inspires me.
What is your advice to others?
Anne is very clear that in order to create positive change for others, you first need to understand your own purpose and drive.
You need to know why you do what you do. Some people will say “I want to help,” but they are lacking the inner motivation. If you know what you are after, I think that’s what matters the most.
If you find the things that are going to make you happy and use your skill in the right place, your enthusiasm will automatically bounce to others. It’s really about analysing why you do what you do, your motivation.
She also emphasises the value of persistence in the face of criticism.
If people don’t understand what you do, of course it is difficult for them. They will criticise or put you down, they will try to demotivate you. Don’t take no for an answer, push your boundaries!
Life is life, and challenges happen all the time. It’s not about changing that, it’s about how you face them. If you’re committed about what you do you’ll keep pushing.
Now it’s your turn
Creating positive change in the world doesn’t require money or status, it requires the confidence to try, and the determination to continue in the face of challenges.
Things to think about:
- What do you want to change?
- What is your inner motivation?
- How can you cultivate a network of supportive people around you?