Project FallUp — getting into this weird community and what I’ve learned from it

Aaltoes annual ball “Himmeli” 2017

Aaltoes is surely one of the most interesting and fascinating communities in which I’ve ever been involved. To be honest, my journey as a main organizer of FallUp has been one heck of a ride; still, I’ve enjoyed (almost) every moment. Furthermore, by organizing this event, I’ve gained valuable experience in various fields and learned a great number of new skills. However, despite of all this, if someone had told me only two years ago about my upcoming volunteering career, that would have just amused me. “Why would anyone want to waste their time in volunteering?” would probably have been my answer.

Getting into the community

To fully understand my story, we have to go back in time. Two years ago, I was a national-level junior ice hockey player — and a bit arrogant, that’s for sure. I cared neither about extra-curricular activities nor pretty much anything else; if you find yourself a bit smarter than anyone, you wouldn’t think you had to.

Luckily, during my orientation week in Business School, I realized I may want to give student life a shot. At the end of the day, I needed to gain some volunteering experience for my résumé. Pretending to be a highly rational person, I wanted to get involved in a society that would have the highest return on my invested time. Hence, I joined Aaltoes: it seemed to be a cool, perhaps even useful, association for my future.

Little by little, I got to know the community and the values behind it. And my first feeling about this loudly-hyped startup buzz? Terrified. There were many things that I just couldn’t understand. How could these people be so ambitious? In particular, didn’t they know how to be afraid of failing? What’s more: aren’t they ever serious, instead of having fun?

In spite of these difficulties, I strove to get some responsibility and a real opportunity to do something big (remember, it’s nothing less than my CV that we’re talking about!). Thus, I played a part in a couple of small projects before I finally got my chance: FallUp.

FallUp — a project that changed me

In the beginning of January, my teammates and I started to organize FallUp. What it really meant was that I needed to step out of my comfort zone, and big time. On one hand, I got surrounded by people who were very different from me and, hence, with whom I disagreed quite often. On the other hand, however, I got closer and closer to the values I first found terrifying. The more I spent time in Aaltoes, the better I understood how valuable an asset one’s mindset could be. I saw how inspiring all the people around me were; how much diversity could improve team’s functioning; how much I had to learn about all this.

Actually, our team and I found the mindset such an inspiring that we felt almost obliged to highlight it in FallUp. Thus, it was quite easy to decide it to be the main theme of our event. Therefore, in this year’s FallUp, we want every participant to get inspired to develop themselves further every day; to understand the importance of embracing failures; to begin solving their problems proactively; and to feel the sense of accountability in all the fields of their life.

However, I have to admit that FallUp is the first project which has really forced me to reflect my mindset by throwing me a thousand miles away from my comfort zone. Closing tricky partner deals is one thing, marketing and communicating effectively is another; also new, enthusiastic team members should be recruited and the budget be kept on surplus… The list goes on and on. The only connecting aspect is the fact that I couldn’t have succeeded in any of these things without thinking in an entrepreneurial way or without the help of my great teammates.

Little by little, I’ve seen why Aaltoes is sometimes called a human accelerator: in this community, you can have large responsibilities without any relevant experience. It can easily be said that preparing an event like this is a bit like building a real company and, thus, it can be an ultimate learning experience. At least for me, this is true.

That being said, I tried to sum up all my learnings in three main points to give some insights about what can an individual concretely learn from this kind of a project.

My three learnings from FallUp

1. You can achieve almost anything but you need to have courage to do that.

FallUp team is a great example of people whose level of ambition is almost insane. Who would really get an idea to gather students to the most prestigious event venue in Finland without even making profit? Well, that’s what entrepreneurial people do; they just need to think it’s cool. Nevertheless, this kind of things won’t happen without the entrepreneurial mindset. You have to deal with a possibility of failure and push your limits further and further to achieve your goals. Yet, great results will follow your courageous efforts. It has been seen many times and, hopefully, once again in a few weeks.

2. Failures are the best possible lessons.

I don’t like to fail. Still, one of my key lessons from this year is as follows: try to put yourself in the edge of failing as often as possible. That makes you develop new skills and challenge your way of thinking. The results of all this? Usually you will thrive, thanks to your big effort and getting out of your comfort zone. However, time to time, you may fail, and you should be thankful every time it happens: as cliché as it sounds, every failure is the best lesson you can have. Enjoy every moment of failing by making sure you will never fail in the same way again.

3. Your teammates are your greatest asset.

I believe that the importance of a good team is still underestimated and, earlier, I really did believe that I could handle everything on my own, no matter the task. FallUp has, luckily, proved me wrong. In fact, I have concretely seen how the end results would have been way worse without my amazing teammates. At the same time, however, I’ve noticed that the concept of good teammates is often misunderstood. It’s important to notice that a good teammate isn’t necessarily your best friend; still, he or she is a person you can heavily rely on. What’s more, this person has an ability to challenge your ideas and bring some diversity to your own bubble. Finally, a good team member can show loyalty towards your common project and really strive to create value, even if that would mean uncomfortable or hard work. These persons are, surely, hard to find but when you do find them, you will understand why they are such a huge asset.

It’s finally here!

After all the work and many valuable lessons, it’s only nine days to FallUp! I’m already excited about the event day: it’s going to be something unique that I’ll remember all my life. I wish it already was October 10th!