FAILURE STORIES. EP. 02 HENRY FORD

Posted Leave a commentPosted in 5 minute read, FAILURE STORIES
FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 HENRY FORD

Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently – Henry Ford

We can all agree that Henry Ford is one of the world most famous entrepreneurs in history. We often think of him as an embodiment of success. People know him as a founder and leader of Ford Motor Company. He not only revolutionized transportation but also changed the United States forever. Ford Motor was one of the first companies to produce low-cost innovative manufacturing process, reliable vehicles, while simultaneously keeping its workers well-paid and loyal.

 

Bankruptcy

However, what people don’t know is that Ford launched two companies prior to Ford Motor Company. The Detroit Automobile Company and Henry Ford Company both gone bankrupt very quickly.  

Ford is no stranger to failures. But when we think about him, we don’t picture failures because all it took was just one massive success. Before his success, however, Ford encountered many failure during initial production of his first automobile.

 

1st Detroit Automobile Company

In 1899, at the age of 36 years old, Ford convinced William H. Murphy, a Detroit businessman, to back his automobile production and they formed his first company, the Detroit Automobile Company. Shortly after launching the company it turned out that one humongous problem was piling up.  Henry’s vision and strategy was not in line with shareholders plan. A year and a half after the company began operations, Murphy and the shareholders got restless and cold feet. Ford wanted to create the perfect automobile design, but the board saw it as paying way too much attention to details. They wanted quick results and in their eyes, he was simply not delivering. Soon after, that they dissolved the company and it went bankrupt.

 

2nd Henry Ford Company

After the first failure Ford changed his approach but stayed committed to his vision. He realized that he was trying to satisfy too many customer needs at once. Somehow, he to managed to convince Murphy to give him a second chance. In 1901 they made their second venture Henry Ford Company. This company also started on wrong foot. Ford felt Murphy’s expectations were unrealistic from the beginning. Murphy brought in an outside manager to supervise Ford and to have a finger on the pulse. This ended up with Henry leaving the company and leaving behind the rights to his name. That company was later renamed to the Cadillac Automobile Company.  

 

Still not the end

Two failures like that would be a carrier-ending moment for most people but not for Henry. By that time everyone already wrote him off but Ford recalibrated his efforts once again. He used the lessons from these failures to instruct his future success as an inventor and a businessman.

 

Ford Motor Company

It was Ford’s third try, the Ford Motor Company, that became a massive success over the years.  Few years after his second failure, Ford met Alexander Malcomson, a coal magnate with a risk-taking spirit like Ford. Malcomson gave Ford full control over his production, and in 1904 the company introduced the Model A.

 

Not a bed of roses

Do you think that after that it was a bed of roses?

Between 1903 and 1908 Ford produced the Models A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S, most of which sold in the hundreds or few thousands a year. Not impressive at all for an automobile company. It took another 5 years to 1908 before Ford introduced Model T. Ford’s Model T went on to sell over 17 million units. Simple to drive and cheap to repair, half of all cars in America in 1918 were Model T’s. Ford ended up revolutionizing the automobile industry, pioneering not only the Model T and the assembly line, but also the concept and notion of an automobile in every home.

 

Failure is an opportunity to begin again

For Henry Ford, failure did not hinder innovation, but served as the impetus to hone his vision for a technology that would ultimately transform the world. In his autobiography released in 1922, Ford outlined one of principles for his organization: An absence of fear of the future and of veneration for the past. One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities. Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to begin again. There is no disgrace in honest failure; there is disgrace in fearing to fail. What is past is useful only as it suggests ways and means for progress.

 

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FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 HENRY FORD

FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA

Posted Leave a commentPosted in 6 minute read, FAILURE STORIES
FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA

Many people dream of success. I believe that success can be achieved only through repeated failure and self-analysis. Success is only one percent of your work, and the rest – bold overcoming of obstacles. If you are not afraid of them, success will come to you itself - Soichiro Honda

Mr. Soichiro Honda is a founder of the Honda Motor Co. Honda Corporation, like many other, no matter how large, was built on top of passion, persistence and desire to produce a remarkable result, but this is not a story of success. This is a story of repeated failure.

 

Piston Rings

Mr. Honda took everything he owned and began to develop his concept of a piston ring. Literally living in his workshop, working day and night, sleeping in the machine shop. He was convinced that he can produce the desired result. Honda even pawned his wife's jewels to stay in business. At that time, he was racing in Japanese high-speed rallies and almost died in his last race. Honda crashed into a different car at the finish line. Leaving his left arm fractured, his shoulder dislocated and his face damaged. He spent three months at a hospital. The road to the sport was closed forever for him. While still being in hospital he received an answer from the Toyota Corporation about his newly finished piston rings. Unfortunately, out of 30,000 rings he delivered to Toyota only 3 passed the quality test and he didn’t receive any contract.

 

Going back to school

He was so determined that after this, he was even able to changed his attitude toward education and went back to school for two more years. He didn’t change his goal, he only changed his approach. After going back to school, he heard the mocking laughter of his instructors and other students. Everybody saw his as a total failure. But that’s not how he saw himself.

 

The contract

He didn’t focus on the pain of that failure and decided to continue to focus on his vision. Finally, after two more years, Toyota granted him the contract he had dreamed of. Thanks to his passion and persistence he took the necessary actions and was able adjust his approach very quickly.  His belief and stubbornness was paid off but the closer he was getting the harder it was getting. Now there was even a bigger problem.

 

The war

Due to national preparation for the war the Japanese government refused to give him the concrete that was needed to build his factory. This seem like something that would make everybody quit, but not Mr. Honda. He didn’t quit there. He didn’t give up. He didn’t cry about it. For most of us this would mean that our dreams are crushed but absolutely not for him.

 

Bombs and earthquakes

Taking everything he could out of such situation Mr. Honda and his team build the factory thanks to their own inventions and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, the factory was bombarded twice during the war and after that destroyed even more by an earthquake. Honda assumed that the country is entering into a period of poverty and decided to sell his piston operation to Toyota. How many of us would have quit right there? But Mr. Honda was different. He was determined to succeed. He made all the necessary decisions, had the right strategy, took massive actions, had passion and belief in his vision, kept changing his approach but still couldn’t get the outcome he was after. But he didn’t give up.

 

Bicycle

After the war, due gasoline shortage in Japan Mr. Honda couldn't even drive his car to get food for his family. Again, he did what he was best at. He used the resources he had around him. Attaching a small motor to his bicycle and using a fir oil that was very popular in the countryside of Japan in those times. This newly developed bike became very trendy along his neighbors and quickly he ran out of motors. He wanted to build a factory but he didn't have the necessary capital.

 

“Overnight success”

Do you think this could stop him? Of course, not. He was determined to follow through with his vision. By sending a personal letter to the 18,000 bicycle shop owners in Japan he had raised the capital he needed. This makes his kind of a present-day pioneer of crowd founding. It took him another few years and quite a few major changes but his motorbike called "The Super Cub" became an "overnight" success in the eyes of the public. This even earning him the Emperor's award. By 1958, when “Super Cub” model came to the U.S., Honda was already the largest Japanese manufacturer of motorcycles.

 

Trials and errors

Honda succeeded because he understood the power of a truly committed decision and acted upon the conditions he was presented to. His secret lies in the fact that he was guided by his trials and errors, and was always ready to fail. In Mr. Honda’s eyes one of the essential quality of a great businessman, is the ability to take risks. He did not admit defeat and was willing to risk everything for his beliefs and ideas, in order to achieve a goal. All his life Mr. Honda was fighting with adversities, disadvantages, traditional thinking and principals. Later in life he said: “Looking back on my work, I feel that I was doing nothing more than mistakes, blunders and serious omissions. But I am proud of the achievements. Although I did one mistake after another, my mistakes and failures never occurred to the same reasons”.

 

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FAILURE STORIES. EP. 01 MR. HONDA