Who is Frank?


What are we supposed to do with this thing called life we’ve been thrown into?

Frank Martela, PhD, is a philosopher and researcher of psychology specialized in the question of meaning in life. His is a quest to understand what to do, value, and aim for in this unfolding experience called human life. He aims to investigate the fundamentals of happiness, meaningfulness, human basic needs, and good life to deliver insights that can help each of us to live a slightly better and more self-chosen life.

Frank is a University Lecturer at Aalto University, Finland, and has spoken to more than one hundred audiences worldwide, with invited lectures in universities on four continents, including Stanford University and Harvard University. He’s been interviewed for the New York Times, Times, Discover Magazine, Le Monde, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, Vice News, Wired Japan, and Monocle Observer among others. His articles have appeared in Scientific American Mind, Harvard Business Review, Philosophy Now, TED Ideas, and Salon and his work has been featured on BBC, The Telegraph, Quartz and on the BBC. He is based at Aalto University in Helsinki.

Frank is also a key expert on happiness of nations and why Finland and other Nordic countries are so happy, having written about the topic for both Scientific American Observer and for the World Happiness Report 2020, and – since Finland was ranked the happiest country in the world in 2018, 2019, and 2020 – been interviewed by journalists from countries ranging from US, Germany and France to Greece, Spain and Brazil, including, e.g. New York Times and Vice News.

Human psychological needs and ultimate motivations is Frank’s third research interest. He has done research on prosocial motivation and why humans help other people, having been a visiting scholar at the Human Motivation Research Group of University of Rochester, and delivering a keynote speech at the 2019 Self-determination theory conference.

Frank is a cross-disciplinary researcher with PhDs in both philosophy (University of Helsinki) and organizational research (Aalto University) as well as being a docent of well-being psychology (University of Tampere). His research has been published in numerous academic journals within psychology (Journal of Personality, Journal of Positive Psychology, Journal of Happiness Studies, Review of General Psychology), philosophy (Metaphilosophy, Southern Journal of Philosophy), and organizational research (Organization Studies, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Organization Design). Despite sounding like an academic geek, Frank is quite a decent guy to hang out with and able to communicate his message with a gusto and without academic jargon.

Frank is also one of the co-founders and current chairman of the board of Filosofian Akatemia Oy, a company with 16 employees that is specialized in measuring engagement, motivation and meaningfulness at work, and consulting organizations on how to make worklife better.

Outside of work, Frank is a father to three lovely children (currently 10, 7, and 5 years old), an amateur-level soccer player, with an occasional skiing trip in the winters. He is made in Green Bay, so Packers holds a special place in his heart.

Mjelkefellet, Narvik, Norway 2011. Photo: Emma Autio

Traversing up Mjelkefellet in Narvik, Norway 2011. Photo: Emma Autio