Fifty Years

Aki Kärkkäinen
2 min readMar 12, 2021


Today is my birthday. I’m fifty years old. Before the coronavirus pandemic, I had the wildest dreams on how to spend this day, such as trekking in the high Himalayas or exploring Hokkaido in Japan (to name a few). Instead, we’re in the woods in Sweden, which is more sustainable, and not so bad either. The Himalayas can wait.

For someone who has always had many interests in life, it’s interesting to reflect back on my (roughly) seven-year cycles of change. After the childhood/teenage years of drawing, skiing and listening to my sisters’ piano playing, I spent the next 14 years as a music student and then as a freelance musician and a drum teacher. The next 14 years I spent digging into art, design and technology, working mostly as a developer.

Finally, around 2013 I began transitioning into the “people and team development” cycle, picking up interest and passion in agile, mindfulness and servant leadership along the way. Fast forward to today, six countries and several languages later, I’m still on this journey of finding smarter ways of creating and delivering value together. Working with people is immensely rewarding, and in many ways more challenging than working directly with technology.

These phases may sound clean-cut, but they were anything but! Life is more messy than that. Most of these transitions weren’t without friction, and that’s the beauty of it. You can’t create new things, learn and improve without going through some pain, frustration and failures. Every cycle builds on the learnings of the previous one. It’s the transferable skills that matter. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without these very different cycles, experiences and the people I’ve met. Thank you everyone!

So what does it mean to be fifty years old? I don’t know, but I’ll find out. What I do know is that the world looks very different compared to only a few years ago. Today, fifty is just another number: the second year of the eighth life cycle. And I’m only getting started! But first, I’ll go to the sauna.

Originally published at on March 12, 2021.