Say Hello To Sisu: An AI Project Helps People Discover Their Finnish Sense Of Inner Strength

After a pandemic put a damper on hygge culture, companies Neste and Ponsse teamed up with hasan & partners to introduce the world to the Finnish concept of sisu

Forget about hygge. While that Danish-inspired coziness captured the hearts of a pre- and even early-pandemic world, we have evolved into a global community that compliments self care with a sense of grit. Determination. The spirit needed to face the lingering challenges of the pandemic years. And, of course, leave it to the Scandinavians to have a word for that sense of inner-strength as well.
It is time for us all to embrace the Finish concept of sisu. (Pronounced “see-soo.”)

But since sisu doesn’t have a literal English translation — even Wikipedia can’t find an equivalent —  Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, and Ponsse, a maker of construction equipment, have used AI to inspire people to find their inner sisu and develop their strengths in a post-pandemic world.

By visiting, visitors can take a quiz to determine what type of sisu they identify with — the passionate ROIHU SISU, the honest KUURA SISU, the determined PERKELE SISU, and the intuitive VAISTO SISU — and how it can be applied to enhance their everyday lives. 

The concept and execution of the project was created by hasan & partners. And to ensure an accurate reading, technology partner Kasvu Labs used AI to analyze and interpret 500,000 quotations or speeches and 5,000 TED Talks, as well as dozens of personal interviews, from various perspectives. In the project, a diverse group of people from various sectors of society were invited to share their stories about overcoming challenging situations and succeeding as an entrepreneur. Among these people were Lasse Virén, an iconic Finnish long-distance runner, Topi Manner, president and CEO of Finnair, Juho Kemppainen, a 12-year-old entrepreneur, and entrepreneur Kamilla Sultanova. A thorough AI analysis of these interviews and other related texts determined that the four main characteristics of sisu in the 2020’s are: passion, honesty, determination, and intuition.

“During the global pandemic, there has been a great deal of talk about sisu and determination that help people overcome difficult times,” says Heidi Peltonen, Team Lead of Sustainable Partnerships for Neste’s Marketing & Services. “In a survey targeted at young Finnish entrepreneurs, 47.5% of the respondents felt that their entrepreneurial spirit had increased during the pandemic, and as many as 96.7% of the respondents felt that attitude played at least a moderate role in withstanding the Coronavirus crisis.”

Since sisu has been an integral part of Neste and Ponsse’s practices, the two companies wanted to come together to better understand their inner resources while helping support others in their entrepreneurship, success, and sustained growth.

“As far as we know, Finnish sisu has never been analyzed and examined so widely before,” says Juho NummelaPonsse’s President and CEO. “The concept of sisu is linked with various images, attitudes, and observations that we wanted to study in more detail with Neste. In my opinion, it’s great that passion is one of the cornerstones of sisu in the 2020s. Based on our AI analysis, passion is also often associated with softer values.”
The website is currently live and offers visitors an opportunity to examine their strengths, learn something new, and be inspired by the stories of well-known Finns in situations where they have needed sisu.

Sourcehasan & partners & MarComm News

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