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Menrva Labs

I'm Inspired by Kristiina Hiukka

It was one Thursday evening a couple years ago when fellow classmate Tauschia Copeland called me and asked if I would be able to record a panel discussion on Friday for a conference that would take place that weekend. In a time when it seemed as though every spare moment was spoken for, I happened to have a free Friday and weekend, so I agreed to help out. Besides, I'd come know that Tauschia has an uncanny ability to surround herself with really cool people, organiations, and initiatives. So when she called, I knew I had to answer.

The next day I showed up at the Pacific Science center accompanied with trusted friend and very talented photographer Andrew Vanasse to record both video and photography for the discussion. That's when I met Kristiina Hiukka. What I found in Kristiina was much more than somebody who decided to host just another conference. Her passion to increase access and literacy for women in innovation as well as supporting those already involved was, and remains, insatiable. She not only hopes to address the people involved, but the systems to create lasting, sustainable results. It was this passion and dedication to the human spirit that compelled me to volunteer a full day to provide photography services in order to help capture and share the story of the day and the mission of the conference.

Since then, I've had the pleasure of running into Hiukka all over Seattle, seemingly with boundless energy to live the change she wants to see in the world. A few weeks ago, Kristiina agreed to meet me at The Hub Seattle to share with me what inspires her to do what she does day in and day out with Women In Innovation.

Who Inspires You?

Right now…people who know how to collaborate. I believe that people who are masters of collaboration have a good sense of themselves. They do not think of life as a competition but an opportunity to share what they know so that others can benefit. Businesses that have a strong brand can afford to collaborate because they are not diminished but strengthened by collaboration.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I also serve as the Honorary Vice Consul for Finland in WA state…

If you removed all constraints how would you spend your time?

Watch movies, read, write, travel, love, laugh…

How did you get to where you are today?

With curiosity and courage

What can you do today to improve someone else’s life?

Work as a personal leadership coach—helping people to embrace their lives holistically, not just as compartments of work and “other life”

What do you think is the most fascinating subject/concept in the world?

Collaboration—why it is so hard (we have wars and conflict) and why do we assume it is a “soft skill?" I think it is the hard core human skill and we really don’t know it yet.

What makes you smile?

My son Markus (16) and my life partner Bob who bring humor to my life.

What projects are you currently working on?

Women in Innovation, WIN—The platform for women who innovate and those who support them. I’m also designing a Collaboration Lab for WIN, and looking for partners to create the next Women in Innovation Summit 2014.

Links From The Post:

Who Inspires You: Rosanne Jantzi

Who/what inspires you? I love asking this question to people. The answer is always a surprise. Always a gift. The responses are like snowflakes—all of them are a product of their unique journeys and no two are the same. The first time I met Rosanne, we had a conversation about stories, paths, histories, futures, inspiration, leadership, and art. Subsequent conversations with her have all taken divergent, yet relevant paths that leave me thinking about how I can take my passions, gifts, and talents to the next level as well as how to connect them with a larger framework. I asked here who or what inspires her. This is her response.

Announcing the 2013 #MenrvaLabsInspires Weekly Contest

Why A Contest? (It's Really More Like a Sweepstakes)

Like many people, I look up to some of the historical greats. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa, Gandhi—they all serve as role models, something to which I can aspire. However, where I find the inspirations that keeps me focused on where I want to go and what I want to accomplish is in the day-to-day interaction with people who are following their dreams, engaging in their communities, and/or making a positive difference. Friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, and complete strangers have all given me something to go home and think about.

That’s why I started interviewing people and asking them to share their stories. That’s why I’m starting this weekly contest. The goal of this exercise is to encourage people to give some intentional thought about the people, experiences, and things that bring out the best in us.

How To Enter:

At this time, to enter, you must be on Twitter. Once I see how the contest goes, I’ll look into expanding out to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and possibly LinkedIn. In the meantime, this is how to enter:

  • Step 1: If you do not already have a Twitter account, sign up for a free account at Twitter.
  • Step 2 (Optional): Follow Menrva Labs on Twitter.
  • Step 3: In your own words, imagery, video, or audio, tell us who and/or what inspires you. (Can be 140 characters of text, a photography, a video, or an audio submission - but must be your own work.)
  • Step 4: Include the hashtag #MenrvaLabsInspires. Without the hashtag, I will not be able to track your submission.


  • All submissions are due before 11:59 p.m. PST each Saturday.
  • An award recipient will be selected each Sunday at random.
  • Entries will reopen at 12:01 a.m. PST each Monday.

What you win:

Each week, one winner will receive the following:

  • An autographed original photography piece mounted on 12" x 12" canvas
  • Recognition as the winning entrant each Monday on my personal website, the Menrva Labs website, Twitter, and Facebook



The next50

Every once in a while I look up and find myself in a room full of innovative, inspiring, and interesting people. This is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago at The Next 50 and Startup Washington launch party. On Thursday, September 6, 2012, several socially, environmentally, and ecologically conscious entrepreneurs, researches, consultants, and other forward-thinking individuals gathered to celebrate the innovative nature and opportunities that exist right here in Washington. Below are some of the pictures (photographs provided courtesy of Andrew Vanasse of Vanasse Studios for Menrva Labs) and videos from that event.