“Youth is not a time of your life. It is a state of mind’
Konosuke Matsushita (I894- I989)
One of the most amazing seniors in history is Konosuke Matsushita. Inspite of all the setbacks in his life, he has the incredible ability and perseverance to restart and rebound from his failures and setbacks. Find out how he did it.
Konosuke Matsushita was born in Wasa, a small Japanese village in Wakayama Prefecture. Rice speculation and poor family business decision forced him to go to Osaka to make his own fortune.
At 16, he worked for Osaka Electric Light Company as a wiring assistant which gave him the idea to invent a new light socket.
Working in long and cold winters sapped his strength and caused him to contract pneumonia.
At 23, he founded Matsushita Electric Appliance Factory which manufactured bullet-shaped lamps. Sales were so bad that his co-workers abandoned him in 1917.
But he persevered and by 1929, he managed to employ 900 staff. When the Great Depression hit Japan in the 1930s, half his business was gone. But Matsushita did not fire any staff. Instead, he re-invented products and reduced costs.
Over the years Matsushita’s company became the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical goods, sold under the brands National, Panasonic, Technics and JVS.
In 1939, Matsushita employed 7,000 staff. But World War II wiped out his entire business.
Matsushita started the path to the invention of many innovative telecommunications consumer electronic products such as answering machines, fax machines and telephones.
The company is now among the world’s 50 largest companies. When asked by a reporter what his inspiration was, Matsushita pointed to a poem written by Samuel Ullman, an European Jew.
The poem, which is below, hanged in his office until his death.
“Youth is not a time of your life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; It is matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, it is the freshness of the deep springs of life…This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty.
“When the aerials are down and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.”
Samuel Ullman, an European Jew
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