Learn from the School of Life


The founder of Panasonic Corporation, Konosuke Matsushita, was born in Japan on November 27, 1894. He was the youngest of eight children.  When he was very young, his family lost all its fortune because of a bad investment decision. The family was forced to move to a cramped three bedroom city apartment. There was always a lack of food, clothing, and medical care.  Three of his older siblings died due to infectious diseases.

When he was nine years old Matsushita was forced to leave school and go to Osaka to earn a living. He became an apprentice, first in a hibachi store, then in a bicycle store.  At that time the use of electricity was becoming more widespread in Japan and Matsushita felt that this discovery would be the dawn of a new era. Determined to be a part of this industry, he applied for a job with the Osaka Electric Light Company. Originally, he was hired to work as a wiring assistant but because of his willingness to learn, his position rose within the company. At the age of twenty-two, Matsushita was promoted to the prestigious position of an electrical inspector.

It was during this time that Matsushita attempted to introduce his boss to a new and improved light socket that he had perfected in his spare time. However, his boss was less than enthusiastic.

No longer feeling challenged in his career, Matsushita left Osaka Electric Light Company and  set up his own company: without capital, a formal education, and experience in manufacturing. In a shop in the basement of his tenement he began creating several samples of his product with his wife, brother-in-law, and several assistants. But when he attempted to sell his product to the wholesalers after several months, they told him he needed more than just one item. Eventually, Matsushita’s assistants left his company and he was left with only his wife and brother-in-law.

But Matsushita didn’t give up. He worked on. He improved the quality of his goods and decreased the price by 50%. He was the first to come up with the idea of advertising products in newspaper. His sales began to increase rapidly.

By 1922, Matsushita’s company was introducing new products to the market every month. He was also developing business strategies that made him stand out from his competitors. He learnt that a new product had to be 30% better and 30% less expensive than the one already on the market. He also pioneered an effective after sales program.

Matsushita treated his workers like family. When the Great Depression hit Japan, companies began to lay off their workers. But instead of laying off, Matsushita transferred his manufacturing employees to sales positions. He cut work hours by half, but continued to pay his employees full wages.

In return Matsushita was loved by his workers. After the Second World War, he was nearly removed from the leadership of the company he created because his company had produced war equipment for Japanese military. But his employees petioned the military government to allow him to stay.

Outside the office of the Matsushita company, engraved in stone, is the basic management objective of its creator. It says,
‘Recognizing out responsibilities as industrialists, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the well-being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world.’

You may wonder what Matsushita had left after so much of charity. Konisuke Matsushita died in 1989 at the age of 94. At that time, the amount of his personal property was three billion dollars. His company was the most profitable electrical company in the world, employing twenty thousands of workers.

At one point, an American shopping for a video cassette recorder might have looked at GE, RCA, Sylvania, Magnavox, Montgomery Ward, Quasar and Panasonic without the knowledge that every one of these models was made by Matsushita.

If you want to be successful in life, you can’t just rely on books. You have to be ready to learn from life itself. So try to be self reliant in every way. Be ready to learn something new from everything, everyday.


article source: Quantum Method

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