Steps On Starting A Business
Kyocera's management rationale is "to provide opportunities for the material and intellectual growth of all our employees and, through our joint efforts, contribute to the advancement of society and humankind." The goal of business management is first and foremost to provide a livelihood and ensure the well-being of the company's employees. However, if a company aspires to benefit only its employees, its pursuit of profit is destined to become selfish. A business is a public institution, and as such it has a responsibility to serve others and society. It was my sense of obligation to humankind that inspired me to add the second phrase to Kyocera's mission statement: It extends our management rationale from egocentric to altruistic.
I worked hard to create managerial altruism when I established Kyocera. Several years after the company's formation, as I handed my employees their year-end bonuses, I suggested that they contribute some of the money to society. I proposed that Kyocera would match the total amount of their donations and use the sum to buy food for people who could not afford to celebrate the new year. Our employees greeted my suggestion enthusiastically, marking the start of Kyocera's many subsequent charitable projects. Thus, from the very beginning, Kyocera has practiced and continues to maintain a spirit of service to others, contributing the fruits of our labor to the benefit of society.
On a personal level, in 1985 I contributed a total of $20 billion yen from my shares in Kyocera and other assets to establish the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prize, an award that recognizes outstanding achievements in advanced technology, basic sciences, and arts and philosophy. I was motivated by my belief that the greatest human act is to contribute to society. The Kyoto Prize is widely recognized as an international honor, and in Japan it is equivalent to the Nobel Prize.
Although Kyocera's development brought me unexpected wealth, I knew my bounty was achieved only through the dedicated efforts and support of many people. Therefore, I did not consider these profits my private property. Rather, it seemed right to me to use the wealth given or, more accurately, entrusted to me to give back to society. The Kyoto Prize is thus my way of contributing to the world and at the same time an expression of my philosophy of service to others.
In 2003, the Carnegie Foundation presented me with the Andrew Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of my charitable activities. Past recipients included notable philanthropists such as Bill Gates, George Soros, and Ted Turner, but I was the first Japanese person to receive the medal. During my acceptance speech, I explained that Kyocera and KDDI, the two enterprises I had built from the ground up, had achieved unimaginable growth, resulting in a large fortune. Because I shared Andrew Carnegie's belief that private wealth should be used for the public good, I explained in my speech, I felt compelled to use the wealth entrusted to me by Providence for the betterment of others and the world. The betterment of others is why I have promoted many social and philanthropic works during my lifetime.
Earlier I mentioned that the pursuit of profit must be fair, and I think that fairness should also be the basis for how we spread wealth. It is far more difficult to use wealth than it is to make it. Money made through a spirit of selfless service to others should be used in the same spirit, and it is only by spreading my wealth in the right way that I can effectively contribute to society.
Make Virtue-Based Wealth National Policy
Our attitude toward the events in our lives – whether we approach them with good intentions or bad – will determine the course our lives take. If, for example, you argue with someone about a problem with the intention of making the other person admit that the predicament is his fault, you will reach a very different conclusion than if you approached the other person with the desire to solve the problem and argued with him under the assumption that he must be struggling too. Your results are dependent upon whether you care about the person with whom you're arguing.
In the late 1990s, when trade restrictions were straining Japan's relations with the United States, I promoted the establishment of the U.S.-Japan 21st Century Committee, a bilateral forum in which people predominantly from the private sector could engage in frank discussions to improve the prospects for cooperation between the two nations. At the time, I proposed that participants from both sides of the divide refrain from antagonistic criticism and accusations.
I knew that the forum would accomplish nothing if people insisted on blaming one another or demanding that the other party make concessions. Discussions that are conducted with selfish motives, the desire to win, or disregard of the other person's position or background are fruitless and only deepen mutual distrust. I therefore suggested that the forum members respect each person's position and listen with consideration to everyone's point of view without clinging to their own opinions, that we conduct our discussions with an attitude of selfless consideration for others.
I also suggested that if necessary, Japan should take the lead in making concessions because the United States had been very generous to Japan in the aftermath of World War II. The Americans ungrudgingly provided Japan with food and technology and opened their extensive market to Japanese products, allowing Japan to rebuild and grow. Even if their postwar actions were part of the United States' global strategy, the fact remained that they had treated us with extreme generosity, so it was Japan's turn to reciprocate. It was, I felt, Japan's duty as a major economic nation to acquire the spirit of selflessness and generosity that is needed to reach a compromise.
The U.S.-Japan 21st Century Committee carried out discussions over a two-year period and submitted a final report on its conclusions to the governments of both countries. The forum's results indicate that the keys to the future design of Japan are the spirit of consideration for others and the cultivation of virtue. Heita Kawakatsu (1948-), a professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, has proposed that a prosperous nation such as Japan should be founded on virtue, not wealth, and that a country's wealth should be utilized in ethical way to contribute to other people and nations. By using good deeds instead of military might or economic power, we gain the trust and respect of other nations.
I agree. Virtue should be the basis of national policy. Japan has experienced the aftermath that results from selfishly pursuing domestic profit alone. We therefore should take the lead and think of the welfare of other nations first, providing an example to others. Rather than trying to become an economic or military superpower, we should aspire to virtue-based nation building. Instead of excelling in mathematical calculations or busying ourselves with flaunting our military strength, we should build a firm foundation of national ethics that reflects the noble spirit of human virtues. It is from this standpoint that we should interact with the world.
If we base our national policy on virtue above all else, Japan truly will be needed and respected in international society. It is also very unlikely that any country will want to invade us, which makes virtue the ultimate security policy. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. At mean time, you can find out more at Steps On Starting A Business.