I had a very special encounter with some quite amazing people not so long ago. You may recall I wrote about the inevitability of death on All Saints Day. In part that post was inspired by the man behind Yobot, Tom Beidler. On my Heather’s Helsinki I tried to write an obituary. You be the judge of whether I succeeded or not. Anyway, obviously as today’s post indicates, I was not the only person inspired or touched by Tom.
One night two separate friends on Facebook invited me to a brainstorming at Yobot. I tentatively RSVP’d knowing that the date in question was already double booked. Tom’s ex-wife Jaana (and in his own words), number one supporter also contacted me and asked if I would be interested in joining a brain storming session to discuss the next steps for Yobot. A second date was proposed that I could more easily attend and my tentative became a definite.
What happened next is really quite incredible and just goes to show how much the world hasn’t changed *. We were a very eclectic group: artists; ballerinas; entrepreneurs; expats; family; Finns; food lovers; immigrants from every continent; local residents; not so local residents; restauranteurs; students and teens – all brought to this one little cafe in Töölö to discuss the next step; the next chapter of the Yobot story.
Check out all those little post-its in the shot above! After we’d gone through the whole let’s introduce ourselves to each other, we had a quick 5 minute session of jotting down all the important Yobot things. Each person announced their jottings and we started mapping the wall. Plenty of points overlapped and it very quickly became obvious that the attraction was far more than just the frozen yoghurt. Two hours rushed by and I for one, left feeling that it while it would be challenging for Tom’s kids, Emma and Max to continue the business as Tom had expressly wished, it would not be impossible.
For me the most amazing part was that so many different people were willing to come out in the middle of a snow storm to discuss the continuation of somebody else’s business. How great is that? How often do you hear about that happening in a place like Helsinki? A place where so many of us are trying to fit in and carve a little niche for ourselves, to be accepted for who we are. Let me repeat that: somebody else’s business! As Jaana mentioned to me later, this is not the way of the corporate world. Perhaps it should be. It probably isn’t what you would expect in a big city either. While Helsinki is far from being a big city, it’s big enough. The spirit of Yobot was very much based around Tom’s personality and attitude. While it can’t be bottled, it can be regenerated. While Yobot is for the locals in Töölö one of their local coffee shops, for many others it’s a home away from home.
Starting a new business is harrowing enough; losing the owner and the driving force so soon after opening might be just too much for some. Not this time. It makes me really proud to be involved with a group of like-minded individuals who say, no, the show must go on – there is a Finnish term called sisu that springs to mind about now!
The opening party is just around the corner. This weekend business resumes as normal. I’ll be there and looking forward to meeting old and new friends alike. When things like this happen, it reminds me that really, Helsinki is a pretty cool place to live. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
By the way, I’ve made a new word: Yobotian. Definition: Friend and fan of Yobot Frozen Yoghurt Café, Töölö, Helsinki, Finland (planet earth!) pl: Yobotians.
* I grew up in a small community that looked out for each other. All the time. There was never a question of not helping, rather how much to help. My helping out and volunteering philosophy is much the same: each person puts in as much or as little as they can at the time.