What is Asuntoyhtymä's reason to exist?

Antti Niskanen
Antti Niskanen

It's said that every athlete dies twice. But what's that got to do with sustainable development or Asuntoyhtymä's reason to exists? Our Head of Sustainability Antti Niskanen answers these questions in his blog post.

Every athlete dies twice is indeed a common saying. It's also said that, when the end is near, people look back and assess how they've lived and the choices they've made. Only then do many realise that their life didn't go quite right – and that's another common saying.

Dying twice may sound like a trial, but it's actually a blessing. The good thing is, you'll still get up from your first death bed, accompanied by all the experiences of your first life and the visions of your death experience.

I ended my days as an athlete – if you count bouncing a basketball as being an athlete – last spring. A moment ago I was seen as the wise old sage, older than my coaches, and now I'm suddenly young again. That wise old sage might not be able to teach a youngster the principles of circular economy or the details of property automation, but what he can do is ponder what basketball can teach us about life – human life and the life of company.

Photo: Erkki Hautaviita

Why do we do what we do?

Giving up something I love once and for all was tough to start with, but little by little, the grief was replaced by relief and wonder: how on earth did I play so long and so hard? It was absolutely exhausting! Only from a distance could I see the taxing side of basketball – and there was plenty to that, too. Until then, I'd just considered it all a part of normal life.

The wonder subsided once I understood the reason why I used to be able to do it. It was the passion within me – I loved playing and getting the best out of myself and genuine team play. It was my thing, the best way for me to spend my time. When you love something, nothing is too taxing, but when you don't, everything is. That's the greatest lesson of all.

Team athletes often comment in interviews that what they'll miss most after retirement is the dressing room, the friends and the ambience there rather than the game itself. I don't doubt or belittle this, but my experience is completely the opposite.

I already knew while playing that I would specifically miss the game. Those moments when you find something within yourself or your team that you didn't know existed – or maybe you did, but you also knew that it would only come out in those precious moments when your skills and passion are in perfect flow, the entire team becomes a single organism, and even the opponent in the same space contributes to making everything exactly right.

Even then I realised that playing good basketball represents a higher state of being, which I'll probably never reach again after ending my career. It used to make me sad, but now I'm happy to be aware of such a state and the fact that I had the chance to experience it.

Now that it's all in the past, what do I do instead? Well, I continue to try and find myself and perhaps even personal fulfilment. It's time to focus on the other things I love. The question of what sustainable development can mean in a company has fascinated me for a while already, so I'm not at all lost. I'm actually very lucky, I know and admit it. But enough about me. Where's the connection to Asuntoyhtymä?

Why do we do what we do at Asuntoyhtymä?

Different people are interested in different things. Since they were young, the founders of Asuntoyhtymä, Jaakko Niskanen and Erik Selin have each been fascinated by the property business, keen to understand it as well as to use that understanding to find a balance between property business and other things in life. To focus as fully as possible on what they love. That, in a nutshell, is Asuntoyhtymä's reason to exist.

Of course a company shouldn't just exist to enable its owners or directors to mess around doing whatever they like without a care for the rest of the world. A company like that wouldn't stay afloat very long. When you invest in property, you must not only look after the property itself but also the people who use it. Suddenly, you have plenty of things on your plate and you need people with plenty of different skills. What begins with property ends with people.

After and in the midst of big life changes we should always remember this: people need to do what they love. Enabling that for employees, both at work and at leisure, leads to the best possible results, and not only for them but also for their customers and other people. Here would be a great opportunity for me to digress and discuss the Joo Kodit promise of carefree rental living and their many ambitious objectives, but let's leave that to another time. There's no shortage of objectives and our to-do list is long.

Instead, I will add one final thought. Even though I've been saying we should try to find ourselves and do what we love, we can't just turn our gaze inwards. The real reason for us to exist, the true meaning, is found our connection to other people and perhaps even this world at large. This connection, however, is a great way to fulfil our own passions, too!

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Photos: Erkki Hautaviita