During the Winter in Finland the ocean freezes over. Highways that normally twist around the lakes in the warmer months are re-routed to cut straight across, efficiently. GPS vendors offer Winter Packs to take advantage of these new routes, cutting Winter travel times considerably.

But this is Finland. Not only do they keep driving at normal speeds, studded tires helping keep traction on icy roads, they also have world records to break. Which brings me to today’s headline.

I didn’t know much about tires to begin with, nor anything about Nokian Tyres except that they are one of the original business lines for the company I work for, Nokia. The news story was interesting, bits of trivia on the challenges of designing tires for sub-zero temperatures, but what was really interesting was the section on the Nokian site which described their working spirit.

Nokian Tyres employs over 3700 people, who have their own joys and sorrows, dreams and values. These is something that we all share: solid faith in our competence and skills, confidence in finding answers together, respect for hands-on hard work. We are there for those in need, and we never give up. This is what we call the Hakkapeliitta Spirit. it is something very tangible yet difficult to define, still natural, genuine, real. Frighteningly simple. And impossible to imitate.

“Joys and sorrows?” This passage seemed so utterly Finnish. What American company would admit their employees are anything but joyful? My Finnish colleagues here at Nokia have tried to describe to me this acknowledgement that an honest life is a struggle.

This is something that existed in the early days of Nokia when young Finnish engineers were sent to Singapore with a suitcase of phones and a bag of cash and asked to “set something up.”  The goal of work, for these Nokia old timers, was less about waving your flag at the top of some mountain and more about the struggle (sisu) it took to get there and how that struggle brings people together.

Broken out into sections, the Nokian site goes on to give you a little thumbnail what it’s like to work at Nokian. Sections are titled things like, Together we can achieve more and include phrases such as, “We support each other and never leave a colleague in a pinch.” All of this comes under the header, the Hakkapeliitta spirit.

Wikipedia gives some background on Hakkapeliitta.

The Hakkapeliitta were well-trained Finnish light cavalrymen who excelled in sudden and savage attacks, raiding and reconnaissance. The greatest advantage of the fast and lightly-armored Hakkapeliitta cavalry was its charge. They typically had a sword, a helmet, and leather armor or a breastplate of steel. They would attack at a full gallop, fire the first pistol at twenty paces and the second at five paces, and then draw the sword. The horse itself was used like another weapon, as it was used to trample enemy infantry.


If I’m going to be driving at top speeds on the ice, I know who I want making my tires!