Growth Mindset Podcast

49: Stoic Determination and Tenacity, 'Sisu' - Mike Follett, CEO Lumens Research

March 10th, 2019

Mike Follett is the CEO of Lumens Research. They create eye-tracking software to understand human behaviour and intent.

Mike is full of fascinating insights on life and business. He has some fantastic stories where he used 'Sisu', a Finnish ideology of grit and bravery, to get himself out of sticky situations.


My name is Sam Harris. I am a British entrepreneur, investor and explorer. From hitchhiking across Kazakstan to programming AI doctors I am always pushing myself in the spirit of curiosity and Growth. My background is in Biology and Psychology with a passion for improving the world and human behaviour. I have built and sold companies from an early age and love coming up with unique ways to make life more enjoyable and meaningful.



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The Finish word for stoic determination and tenacity and a great word. One of my new favourites.

Sometimes we need to show some grit and determination. To be the David against Goliath and do the scary things. Mikes example of taking on a bigger business trying to shut him down is a perfect example of realising when you need to just step up your game.


We are the result of the stories we tell ourselves and so it’s very important what stories we use to explain what happens in our lives. We covered two very important points around this to ensure that you encourage the best activities from the stories you tell and learn the most you can.

    - 1 - Try to frame them positively so you can see the best in a situation and not give up. When Mike nearly lost the entire business instead of explaining themselves as incapable idiots who certainly shouldn’t be running a business, they explained it as a big lesson and an example where a plucky young company managed to overcome the big bad guys

    - 2 - On the flipside. Don’t blind yourself from your problems by telling yourself things too positively and believing your own hype. When Mike was struggling with traction and thought his business idea was the answer to everything it took his marketing director to explain that realistically not everyone in the world will need this or be amazed by it and you need to really know who gets exactly what value from it.


This nicely summarises the last two tips. Mike boxed himself into thinking he needed to use a specific piece of equipment from one supplier. This was a stupid story to tell himself and nearly cost the business. It required ‘Sisu’ to overcome this toxic mindset and open the business to other ways of operating.

The reason this is a third tip is that before you even start telling yourself stories or need ‘Sisu’ to get out of a sticky situation you can avoid this by not boxing yourself in in the first place and planning out a business that isn’t reliant on a single break point, whether it is one customer or one supplier or one piece of technology it is always really key to not have all your eggs in one basket that you don’t have control of.


Get any of the books free on audible

Diffusion of Innovations - Everett M. Rogers

How new ideas spread via communication channels over time. Such innovations are initially perceived as uncertain and even risky.

To overcome this uncertainty, most people seek out others like themselves who have already adopted the new idea. Thus the diffusion process consists of a few individuals who first adopt an innovation, then spread the word among their circle of acquaintances--a process which typically takes months or years. But there are exceptions: use of the Internet in the 1990s, for example, may have spread more rapidly than any other innovation in the history of humankind.

The Imitation of Christ - Thomas Akempis

Only the Bible has been more influential as a source of Christian devotional reading than The Imitation of Christ. This meditation on the spiritual life has inspired readers from Thomas More and St. Ignatius Loyola to Thomas Merton and Pope John Paul I.

Written by the Augustinian monk Thomas à Kempis between 1420 and 1427, it contains clear instructions for renouncing wordly vanities and locating eternal truths.

The Chimp Paradox - Steve Peters

Leading consultant psychiatrist Steve Peters knows more than anyone how impulsive behaviour or nagging self-doubt can impact negatively on our professional and personal lives.

n this, his first book, Steve shares his phenomenally successful mind-management programme that has been used to help elite athletes and senior managers alike to conquer their fears and operate with greater control, focus and confidence.


Mike gives some fantastic lessons in marketing from his deep insight in the industry and scientifically analysing human behaviour. If you’re in the slightest bit interested in business, human behaviour or how the world works you should give this episode a listen!

Get Attention in the Age of Distraction


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