Born in 1906, Soichiro Honda was a Japanese inventor and industrialist who created the automotive empire by his namesake — Honda Motor Company. However, while Honda’s company has certainly grown to rival even that of Toyota, Honda’s earliest days were anything but easy. Yet, it was his perseverance and his tenacity to never give up that kept him going and helped him to ultimately succeed.
Without any formal education to his name, at the age of 15-years old, Honda left home to head for Tokyo to search for work, which he later found at an auto repair shop where he apprenticed and worked for the next 6 years before returning home to open up his own automotive shop.
During the Great Depression, in 1937, at the age of 31-years old, he founded, Tōkai Seiki to create piston rings for Toyota. He toiled and labored night and day to create these, but to no avail. With little cash and bleak chances for survival, he had to pawn his wife’s ring just to make ends meet. He failed ultimately, and was told that the rings didn’t meet Toyota’s specifications.
However, he refused to give up. He went back to school and continued to search for ways to improve upon his prior designs. Eventually, after two more years of designing and trying, he succeeded and successfully secured a contract with Toyota to create the piston rings.
But shortly thereafter, his factory that he built to build the products was hit by a bomb during WWII when a B-29 bomber run carpeted the area. After he rebuilt the factory a second time, an earthquake leveled it. But he refused to give up. Instead, he created a motorized bicycle that would become the start of the Honda motorcycle.