1. How would you describe your political/leadership style in three words?
Understand your opponents.
2. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
My mother became a convert to Roman Catholicism when I was under the age of 12. According to Finnish law I became a convert automatically. Being in a profoundly Protestant country, that led to situations where I had to fist fight for my right to be different. I became an altar boy and still know the Latin mass by heart.
3. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
Standing under the burning World Trade Center on September 11, hearing the rumble when the buildings came down, understanding that innocent people were killed in those seconds and despite it all keeping my mind concentrated on reporting for Finnish radio and television. It’s more than 20 years ago, but I still get goosebumps as soon as I mention it.
4. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I’m not sure if I’m capable of unwinding, but I go to my island in the Finnish archipelago and I build something, like a solar power station. I do something where I see the result and get physically exhausted.
5. What books are on your nightstand right now?
[There’s] always a heap or a mess. For the moment a lot about Ukrainian history (Orest Subtelny, Andreas Kappeler), Dietrich Geyer’s Das russische Imperium, the Philosophical Works of Piotr Chaadaev.
BONUS QUESTION: What’s a book that influenced or inspired you, and why?
I think it was Karl Marx’s Das Kapital in three parts. That led me to Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism and to Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”. And then you understand the intellectual link between Marx and Schumpeter.