In 1938 Mr Honda was a broke student who had only one dream. To design a piston ring that he would sell to Toyota. He would go to school and then work at his idea at night, covered up to his elbows in grease. After years of spending time, effort and money when he thought it was perfect, he took it to Toyota and they rejected it. He was ridiculed by friends, teachers and family for designing such a stupid gadget that nobody would want.
Instead of giving up, he spent another 2 years making the design even better and then Toyota finally bought it.
Happy ending right? Wrong.
Mr Honda needed to build a factory to build the piston rings and needed concrete, but Japan was getting ready for WW2 and so none was available. You’d think he would quit, but not Mr Honda, he actually went and found a new way to manufacture concrete! He built his factory and was finally able to produce his piston rings.
If you thinks the story ends there you’d be dead wrong. Look what happens next…
During the war, the United States bombed his factory. Instead of feeling defeated, Mr Honda told his employees to “Quickly run outside and gather the fuel cans that the American planes are dropping, we need these raw materials for our manufacturing process!” These were materials they could not get anywhere in Japan (Mr Honda found an opportunity even after being bombed!). Mr Honda took anything life gave him and found a positive use for it. After his factory had been bombed, to make matters worse, an earthquake hit Mr Honda’s factory and leveled it totally. What a stroke of bad luck.
Now Mr Honda had no money, no permanent place to live and couldn’t even afford the gas to go to the grocers to buy food for his family.
Mr Honda made a very powerful decision. He asked himself, “How else can I feed my family?” Mr Honda wanted a better lifestyle for himself and his family, he was not going to just settle like so many others do. Having no money and very few resources, he asked himself another question, “How can I use the things I already have to get to where I want to be?”
Mr Honda, thinking like this and looking for whatever he had, one day found a motor, a small motor that would be used to drive a lawnmower. This is when he got the idea of hooking it up to his bicycle. In that moment, the world’s first motorized Honda bike was created. He rode it everywhere and his friends and neighbours saw him and asked him to make them one. Pretty soon Mr Honda had created so many bikes, he had run out of motors, so he decided to build a factory. But…Yes there’s a big BUT, Japan was torn apart economically by winds of change and he had no money.
Not wanting to give up and saying, “There’s no way,” Mr Honda came up with a great idea. He decided to write letters to all the bicycle owners in Japan, telling them that he had thought of a solution for getting Japan moving again and help people get to where they need to go cheaply. Then he asked them for an investment. Of the 18,000 shop owners who he wrote to, 3000 gave him money. He then went on to build the factory and manufacture his first shipment. Now you’d think he’s a success right? Nope.
The bike was too bulky and very few people bought. Again, instead of giving up, Mr Honda stripped the bike down to bear essentials, making it lighter and smaller and he named it the “CUB” and now finally this creation became an “overnight success” winning the Emperor’s Award. Everyone looked at him and was thinking how “lucky” he was to have come up with such a great idea. Little did they know that luck had nothing to do with it unless you count bad luck, then luck had lots to do with it, but Mr Honda’s perseverance is what finally paid off. Today Mr Honda’s company, The Honda Corporation is one of the most successful in the world and outsells every car in America except Toyota.
The Lesson: Mr Honda came up against problem after problem, but he never let his problems or even uncontrollable circumstances get in his way. He decided that there is always a way to succeed if you’re committed enough.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, but more importantly, I hope you gained something from it. Feel free to post your thoughts.