John Self is a Professor Emeritus in the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona (California State Polytechnic University, Pomona), located just east of Los Angeles. In the Fall of 2014, he spent 4 months as a Fulbright Scholar teaching at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. His research interests are the causes of restaurant failure and restaurant management turnover. After 16 years in restaurant management and owning restaurants, including a comedy club, he had a midlife crisis, went back to school for a master’s and PhD. Since then he has taught hospitality management at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide!), Golden Gate University, and, for the last 12 years, at Cal Poly Pomona. His personal interests are flying, (instrument rated), ham radio (K6VFR), flying radio control airplanes and helicopters, college football (American football–the kind with the funny looking ball), reading, hiking, travel, and all things trivia. He also suffers from an insatiable curiosity about, well, everything.
His wife, Debra, an attorney and artist, was able to connect into the intriguing world of Finnish artists and designers. As an artist, she is primarily a Chinese Brush Painter and amazingly, there was some Chinese brush painting being done in Helsinki. Who knew? She is also a very strong women’s advocate which Finland definitely embraces.
Debra and John live in Marin County, in the San Francisco Bay area with two intellectual cats, Moji and Chili, both rescues. Both Debra and John loved every second of their time in Finland, making new friends, and had many lively conversations. We soaked up everything Finnish; from food and drink (lots of research was required), art, culture, music, theater, the sauna experience (of course!), sports, nature, hikes, travel, customs and, dare I say it, Finnish humor.