Not many know about the CreativeMornings concept, especially here in Finland. When the topic was brought to my attention I had no idea what this event was all about. But, as I got to read more about it, I became more intrigued and decided to participate in a CreativeMornings speech in Helsinki. There, I got the chance to have a small talk with the mastermind that brought the concept here, Johannes Romppanen.
CreativeMornings was created in 2008 by Tina Eisenberg who desired a frequent and accessible event for New York’s creative community. The concept followed a simple idea: select a theme and a speaker one Friday morning a month and invite spectators for a small breakfast and short talk, free of charge. These events were not only meant to bring friendly, international-minded people together, but also to promote a city’s creative talent. And you will be surprised to see how much creativity exists even in the most unexpected places! Now, six year later, CreativeMornings is bringing people together in almost 100 cities spread across the globe, and it is accumulating an impressive collection of business talks.
Even though this is an event dedicated to creativity, it applies to the business world in many ways, since it follows almost the same patterns as a start-up company. And let us not forget that a drop of creativity is required in most fields, no matter how mundane they might sound like. We wanted to know how the concept was brought to Finland, how the organizers got (and stayed) together, and how they managed to gather sponsors for the CreativeMornings/Helsinki talks (as this is a non-profit organization after all), amongst others. Johannes Romppanen, a graduate of Hyper Island University in Karlskrona, Sweden and a photographer at heart, attended a Helsinki Design Lab event by Sitra and, impressed with he had heard and seen there, wondered if Helsinki could host any other similar events. It was there that he met someone who had heard about CreativeMornings and he encouraged Johannes to bring the concept to Finland.
With the help of his friend Maria Taari and together with the creative video agency KLOK, Johannes sent the application video in September 2013, through which he had to prove that Helsinki was a worthy candidate for these events. This was followed by a Skype interview with the CM headquarters in New York in December, in order for the team to get to know him. He remembers that taking over this felt very overwhelming in the beginning, like it was a project that is simply just too complex as a one man job. He then contacted Sannaliina Mononen who was an old friend of his, and she became CreativeMornings/Helsinki’s project manager. Together, they formed a small team of eleven and they set on finding a location and sponsorship for the events. Whereas in most cases the location of each CM talk changes regularly, Johannes wanted to keep it simple and have a fixed venue to start with. This is where Design Museo stepped in with their building in downtown Helsinki.
Soon after, small businesses such as Théhuone and SIS. Deli+Café, and Kaffecentralen joined the sponsors list and the first two CreativeMornings/Helsinki speeches successfully took place in August and September, on the topics of “Failure” and “Color”, respectively. Since mingling with others plays such an important role here and this project is so similar to a start-up, I asked Johannes if networking was the most crucial element in starting such a project. “Not really”, he says “the most important thing is to get out of your comfort zone and just do things”.
Many of us start networking during our university years. For Johannes who studied in Karlskrona, this was clearly not the case upon his return to Finland. He did find the right people for CreativeMornings/Helsinki in the end, but, before that, he had to manage with what little he had. He realized immediately that this is going to be an important project which would involve leading others, and most of all, speak in front of an audience. These fears however managed to motivate him rather than intimidate him. The most surprising thing that Johannes learned through this experience is how much energy, enthusiasm, and motivation people are willing to invest, just for the sole purpose of creating something great.
This is yet another proof of the fact that the Western world is more and more chasing intrinsic motivators, such as engaging in meaningful and enjoyable work, and less and less monetary rewards. It has also reinforced his belief that we often tend to over-complicate our lives and hover over problems that are usually solvable. Whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee, you need to remember to simplify, to pursue long term goals, and, most of all, to take on new challenges, no matter how scary they might appear.
CreativeMornings/ Helsinki is constantly interested in collaborating with both companies and start-ups. Volunteers (either Finnish or foreigners) with a creative and international mind set are also more than welcome to join the team of volunteers. For more information visit https://creativemornings.com/cities/hel