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A lack of formal education in automotive mechanics brought Honda to the Hamamatsu School of Technology. Robert L. Shook, in his book Honda: An American Success Story, stated that Honda was a poor student in his school days. "Honda reluctantly attended classes while continuing to run his business. Honda stubbornly paid little attention to anything in class that did not relate directly to piston rings. He took no notes, nor did he bother to take written examinations. The head of the school told him he would not receive a diploma if he refused to be tested. With that, Honda retorted that a diploma had less value than a movie ticket. 'A ticket will get you a seat in a movie theater, but a diploma won't get you a job!'"
Honda learned to reach goals by breaking with tradition and accepted views that stood between himself and his goals. His novel way of seeing the world owed much to his playful sense of humor. Learning early and through hard apprenticeship that unconventional ideas could work, he applied this directness to everything in his life. He showed famous disrespect for status, believing that work dignifies the workman, and that therefore work clothes and cap were equally appropriate for financial meetings or shop visits. He expected to be judged by his actions, not by the cut of his suit, and applied the same standard to his associates.
Soichiro Honda had decided, in the beginning of the fifties, that one day he would compete in the famous TT of Man, and in 1954 a 220cc single cylinder prototype racer was developed
In that same year, Soichiro took a trip to Europe, watched the TT, and was very disappointed: the then European 250cc racing bikes had on average more than double the power of his prototype. He also used his trip to go on a buying spree; he bought rev counters, carburettors, rims, spark plugs and what have you. The story goes that, upon arrival at the airport for his return flight to Japan, his luggage was overweight and he was not allowed to check in. Honda opened his suitcases, took out all his clothing, put on as much as possible on top of each other, filled his pockets with parts, and that did the trick, whereupon he remarked to the airport personnel: "You are idiots! Now I'm allowed in, but the total weight in the plane is exactly the same!" He was quite right, of course; they should set a limit to the weight of passengers together with their luggage, not to luggage alone.
The Sayings Of Soichiro Honda
- "I've failed 99% of my trials, in order to succeed in the remaining 1%".
- "I've never refused competitors' visits to our factory. I've welcomed them at any time. Because I am willing to jump to new innovations when they try to follow us."
- "Honda has been choosing the hardest way, pursuing original technologies. I believe technologies borrowed from others will never become our flesh and blood".
- To engineers of a new concept car, "develop a car like motorbikes...a car, where drivers sense direct feelings of running, turning and stopping by the body".
- When the Emperor asked about innovation, "It is like falling in love. If you think it's distressing, it is unbearably distressing. If you think it is joyful, it is of supreme joy".
- "Honda's car must own a unique personality, which doesn't mean a car only for skilled drivers. It neither means a car anyone can drive with ease. We thoroughly peruse basic performance and safety, in order to create a car anyone can enjoy driving with comfort, but vividly reacts to drivers according to their skills".
- "Action without Philosophy is a lethal weapon; Philosophy without action is worthless"