Guest Blogger: Alexandra Alexis, an American/Finnish Electro-pop artist residing in NYC
Everyone knows the famous line in the song New York New York, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” This line rings true to me, but funnily enough it rings true to me in Finland. In this series of mini-posts I’ll study the experiences that I have learned as a multi-cultural recording artist; these are the musings of an American-Finn!
Before I start elaborating on the arbitrary trails that have led me to this point in my life, I want to start from the beginning. I’m a true American/Finn split right down the center. I spent most of my early childhood and teen years learning about life’s hardships and how to solve and overcome problems in NYC and then spent my early adult years in Finland re-learning how to solve and overcome problems. There was something that struck me as very peculiar upon moving to Finland. Although I was in the same industry, I had sort of experienced early success in NYC wearing kid gloves. People wanted to hear my ideas, they took my excitement for my work as sheer passion and drive; they understood my vision and they wanted to be a part of it. Then upon moving to Finland, after the summer haze had worn off and winter struck big so did the reality check of succeeding in Finland which at the time felt like a foreign country. I spoke the language but I didn’t comprehend the business etiquette. It was the land of Nokia, but I couldn’t get people on the phone, let alone call them after 6pm or sometimes even 4pm. I made a lot of mistakes because everything was new to me. The American business rules did not apply in Finland.
I finally got the hang of things. If you want to be in the game, you have to play by the rules right. The thing that set Finland’s business behavior apart from the ones I experienced in NYC was simply the fact that people had a life outside of work; they had plans or they had a family. They wanted to work hard but once that Friday clock struck 4pm, it was time to take a break and go reap the benefits of their hard work through the week. I didn’t understand this at first for quite some time. In America we LIVE for our work, we do everything that it takes, we don’t STOP working because we have a dinner or a personal engagement and we certainly never leave work at 4 pm. Don’t get me wrong, Finns are extremely hard working but that urgent, coffee chugging, heart attack inducing, ring the alarm before you miss your chance sense of “seizing every single opportunity every single time” was replaced with, focus, precision and well thought out decision making when it came to doing business. This type of healthy structure was eye-opening. Could it be that in NYC we had overlooked the great stability that taking-breaks gives? I know from personal songwriting experiences that when I hit a wall of writer’s block, I do not keep sitting at my desk hitting the same wall; I go for a walk, I go get some coffee and I go soak up the wonderful city of New York. Then I come back with less stress, more focus and a better understanding of the project in front of me.
Sometimes in Finland, I still cringe when I can’t call people after 4pm, I still hate waiting around for people to answer emails in a week instead of the American ASAP and I still run into cultural differences when doing business, but now I apply the lessons learned, and try my best to merge the business cultures of MY two cultures. Finns may have a different take on things, but brilliance can be achieved with time, patience and drive, this is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in Finland. Stay tuned for more next week!
Alexandra Alexis, an American/Finnish Electro-pop artist residing in NYC