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“You have to give a speech.”

First of all, I have anxiety.

And you know people think anxiety is a joke. This thing is real. I mean how do you explain how I poured myself hot water instead of tea for breakfast, how I almost served my brother with hot chilli instead of stew, how I made my entire family search for my lost cash that was just in my wallet even though I had rechecked almost ten times for the same money. Miscalculations, don’t blame me. Anxiety makes me forget passwords. On this day, somehow my watch was even one hour ahead which had me up and in town one hour earlier. I call two friends, my best friend tells me, ‘Woman relax. It’s not yet time.’ and another says,’Are you the one putting up the tents?’ All that for just a speech. Thank God I wasn’t born in a war-torn zone. We all know how that would have gone down.

For me, giving a speech is like making me in-charge of setting out a drone. It is pushing me off the cliff. It is asking me to confront a terrorist which in this case would be my anxiety. My best friend says I have to get out of my comfort zone. So I did give the speech after all. It was hilarious; okay maybe not exactly but I ashamed myself by breaking down in front of the tired crowd who had just returned from the ‘world Polio Day’ walk. I could hear them clapping for me perhaps pitying this small human in front of them or perhaps some could understand what it means to have your book published. I didn’t invite anyone because I wasn’t sure how friendly my anxiety would be that day. So y’all please save me the blame 🙂


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Nine years ago, at the age of fourteen when I started writing my first small book, I never thought this day would come. It has been a very long journey of repeated failure on my writing career. It was filled with criticisms and ‘not good enough’ statements over and over again. So when Nafisa (God bless her soul for this) trusted my ability and allowed me to write her story, I was moved. Of course it wasn’t the first book I expected to publish and perhaps its not my best work yet, it is a milestone for me alhamdulilah. And I keep sharing bits of my story on failure and triumph so that no one could ever think that achieving goals was ever going to be easy. Sometimes you’ll be pushed out of your comfort zone and you somehow have to learn how to do it well enough.

I wouldn’t be here hadn’t it been for God’s grace, for my own persistence, for the tremendous support from my family especially, from my close friends, for mama two; my mentor (may Allah rest her soul in peace), those who helped me a lot editing the pieces and all the readers who give me a reason to write every other day. This is me admitting that I am not yet where I want to be and that I won’t stop here. That i’ll keep pushing myself to face my fears and tackle them. Better things to come in shaa Allah.

I’ll also like to thank Mayfair Bank for sponsoring the publishing of the book.

To reserve your copy kindly contact me at: 0704 731 560. The book goes at 700. For those who want to know what the book is about, kindly search here in the blog for Unbroken Wings; the first three chapters are available. I will also appreciate any opinions and positive criticisms on the book once you’ve had your copy.

God bless you.

I present to you: Unbroken Wings


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In 2005, LEGO, the Danish toy maker, took the technology community by surprise when they cheered the hacking of its 3D modelling platform called LEGO Factory. Executives initially fancied the idea of legal action as an archetypal corporate reaction especially since the company still struggled to recuperate from near bankruptcy.

Yet, upon a closer look, it turned out that the hackers were part of a well-coordinated colony of dexterous LEGO aficionados. Discovering inefficiencies in the system brought out through the intrusion, the hackers sought to create a database that would optimize the number of exact bricks a consumer needed. The action would minimize the amount customers would spend, contrary to the original version of the software developed by LEGO whereby one had to purchase a whole bag with far more bricks than one required. Fleshing out the problem, LEGO put itself into the shoes of its ardent consumers. Instead of filing a law suit as originally intended, it switched gears and engaged the hackers.

Tormod Askildsen, LEGO’s Head of Community Development at the time was quoted saying “our lawyers were ready to go after these consumers and say, “you cannot do that.” But we also realized that there was a lot of talent and a lot of very great skills out there in the community. Yes, they are tinkering with our product, but they are improving it. So what happened was that we basically let consumers hack this, and that is the amazing thing. If you trust your consumers, then they may do something that is actually a benefit. The LEGO brand is not owned by us. It’s owned by the consumers. We own the trademark, yes, but the brand lives in the minds of the consumers.” What happened at LEGO was a classical performance of cognitive empathy in a corporate environment.

The 18th century British philosopher David Hume once remarked that “the minds of men are mirrors to one another”. In the early 1990’s, Italian researchers at Parma University made a riveting discovery. Through a series of experiments done on monkeys, they figured out that certain sets of neurons within the premotor cortex fired both when the monkey grabbed an object and also when it observed another primate grab the same object. These neurons were also recently found in human beings. They came to be known as mirror neurons. As such, they form the basis for understanding other individuals’ actions. The particular neurons facilitate empathy in that one experiences understanding of another person’s mental and emotional condition from their perspective. Thus human beings are naturally wired to empathize. Question is, why then should empathy take center stage in an organization’s efforts to turbocharge its performance?

Creativity and innovation have become the lifeblood of first-rate organizations like LEGO. Empathy serves as the engine of creativity and innovation. Business people often mistakenly think that empathy exists as a mere soft skill not taken seriously. However, empathy positively correlates with high performance. The Center for Creative Leadership analyzed data from 6,731 managers across 38 countries and found that empathy positively related to job performance. How does empathy specifically also promote creativity and innovation?

Researchers categorized empathy into cognitive and emotional empathy. Emotional empathy involves vicarious experiencing of another’s emotional state. Meanwhile, cognitive empathy entails the ability to accurately imagine another person’s feelings or thinking and even predict their subsequent behaviors. In the Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes Lincoln as a leader who possessed incredible levels of empathy. He held the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another to experience what they were feeling. It allowed him to discern their motives and desires. A contemporary of the day, Hellen Nicolay, observed directly that Lincoln’s consummate gift for “political diagnosis” that arose from his empathic nature gave him “the power to forecast with uncanny accuracy what his opponents were likely to do.” Inasmuch, it is quite evident that Abraham Lincoln’s empathic capacity gave him a competitive edge when appraising situations and people. It was a source of insights that culminated into fireballs of political and military strategy, hence his competence.

In the corporate world, cognitive empathy aids both organizational and individual competence through integration of knowledge. It helps to explain why LEGO’s executives chose to see the problem from the hacker’s well-intentioned perspective which, of course, involved suspending their own initial security and legal concerns to become open to new knowledge that enhanced LEGO’s innovation. Individuals like Steve Jobs intuitively understood the importance of empathy so much so that he suggested a single set of bathrooms in the central atrium of Pixar’s building to force more interaction amongst animators, computer scientists and creative directors, paving the way for integration of knowledge. Through cognitive empathy, cross-fertilization of knowledge took place between professionals of seemingly unrelated fields resulting in cascades of juicy innovative ideas within an organization.

Emotional empathy, on the other hand, provides fertile ground for trust to flourish amongst employees. Communication between individuals who understand each other at a visceral level is spontaneous in character. Consequently, individuals share ideas without fear of being judged or ridiculed thus encouraging creativity in solving problems. A study conducted, in a manufacturing firm, by the neuro-economist Paul Zak, found that those in the top quartile of colleague closeness were 22% better at solving a difficult problem with others. They also enjoyed working on the problem 10% more than those in the lowest quartile of closeness. Ostensibly, such closeness can only occur when an individual emotionally empathizes and therefore results in spontaneity and in turn creative problem solving.

From the Danish toy company to the Oval Office, empathy is undoubtedly an engine that powers creativity and innovation. It would help executives and businessmen in Kenya to rethink the role of empathy in their innovative endeavors.


The article was first published on: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Empathy-engine-powers-creativity-innovation/539444-3842124-vr7tow/index.html

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I dreamt about Maths today. And when you hear me talk about it you would think I am talking of a lover who broke my heart. The dream was dreadful that I had to force myself wake up 😃 The last time I had a Math exam was five years ago in high school because right after that I said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH Math. I am definitely breaking up with you for good.
But guess what? Foolish Math won’t leave me alone. I keep having disturbing dreams of me being in an exam room doing a Math exam and totally being blank. When it isn’t a Math paper it is Chemistry lol. Please don’t remind me of molecules right now. So back to last night’s dream. I was back in high school, doing a Math exam and I couldn’t even remember how to calculate perimeter. Was it Length plus Width? I leave the exam room to eat chocolate 😃 with my high school friend; we call her Ms Wheels 😃 Perhaps that was to make me calm down and remember a few things. When we come back people are done with the exam and guess what?! My paper is not on my desk anymore. I couldn’t find it. Oh now this was becoming depressing. So I decided to force myself wake up. I didn’t want to see the end of it 😣

Got me thinking, why do I still dream of Maths out of the MANY beautiful things in my life and in this world? It could be because I really struggled with Maths during my high school era and it was stressing that as much as I put in so much effort into it I barely improved. It was a major failure to me and perhaps that remains stuck in my sub-conscious to date and haunts me in terms of my dreams. It brings me back to the exam room where the failure happened over and over again like a nightmare. Funny thing though is that I never really assumed that the failures had such great impact on me without even noticing it. I wasn’t a complete idiot with zero but I also didn’t perform as I expected.

And I know for a fact that I am not the only one who is being haunted by a failure of the past.
Maybe you started dieting but never lost weight.
Maybe you had a business but never got profit.
Maybe you married but couldn’t save the marriage.
Maybe you didn’t win the competition.
Maybe you didn’t become a super cook as you wanted.
Maybe you didn’t make a change after all.
The maybe’s could go on and on…bottom line is: you feel you are a failure and that could be eating you up subconsciously.

One great lesson I learnt from my own experience is that: however poor you may be in one thing, you are amazingly superb in something else. Your brain can’t fail you entirely. Maybe you failed in being the master chef at your home but you could be the best teacher around.
You may not be the best footballer as you wished but you turned out to be a genius in mechanics.
You may be poor in academics but very intelligent in social and current affairs of the world.
You may have failed in being a powerful public speaker but you are too amazing as a writer.

You may not realize this immediately but failures are what make us better people in life. They make us pursue our strengths and our talents. They make us determined and passionate to be who we want to become.

When I think of my own example of Maths and Chemistry, I imagine how my life would be so different if I managed to succeed very well in them. I would have probably become a pediatrician. I wouldn’t have taken onto my dream journey of becoming a writer. I wouldn’t have explored my talents in Journalism class. I wouldn’t be having this website. You wouldn’t be reading this right now. Of course I would have found other good things on the other field but I would not be what I am today.

And you know one of the consoling things for me is that when you go into a Journalism class, 90% of us didn’t do so well in Maths and Sciences. Maybe just one or two B grades 😃 In my class we used to really laugh about it because even the lecturers know why we are there; one of the reasons is to totally AVOID Maths. So I learnt that it was okay to be a failure in Maths and sciences. I wasn’t alone so nothing was wrong with me after all. It IS okay. Yes we avoided what we are not good at to explore what is beyond amazing for us.

So whatever ‘failure’ you have gone through, it’s time to change the mentality. Well that includes me of course. Let’s change the name of ‘failure’ to ‘an eye-opener to my better potentials.’ Use all those low points in your life to discover what best suits you and what amazing things you can do with your brain or your hands. You are definitely not a failure. You are a genius still exploring your potentials. Keep going you will get there by God’s will.

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I was once interviewing one of the prominent and active Mombasa women who has led to development in her area and there was something she told me that I will never forget. ‘The problem with us (people of Mombasa) is that we have the PHD’s (Pull Her Down) certificate holders. People will try to bring you down at any cost. They never like the idea of anyone being more successful than them.’ We all laughed at this amusing yet very true statement. I know the PHD’s are obviously in all places in Kenya and in the whole world as well but unfortunately, Mombasa has greatly been characterized with this shameful behaviour.

I have never really understood why this is the case. Is it just a bad trend that eventually became part of the culture? It’s funny that in situations where you expect your own people to be happy that you are climbing up the ladder, their dark hearts will ache; ‘I was the one supposed to be owning that car or that house’ or ‘she doesn’t deserve her husband; he should have married me instead.’ It’s like something my father was telling me the other day, ‘why can’t people just share the happiness and joy of others even when it’s not personally their success?

The sad yet hilarious reality of Mombasa is like that one whereby in a small area where there has never been a graduate and some day there emerges one, the news will spread like fire. But these kind of news don’t always come with the jolly and merry as expected. You will hear women speaking in whispers as one cooks her mahamri and others wait to give their orders. They will talk of all kind of bizarre things; you will be amazed. They will talk of how the mother to the graduate went to a witch to make his son graduate, or of the loan they had to take from a bank so as he could complete his studies or of how her daughter allegedly slept around with her lecturers to get her the A’s. They will talk of everything and anything connected to the success but never about the success itself. Or in another scenario is of the men who will sit in the baraza busy chewing miraa, discussing this same graduate; ‘Ah yule hana mpango! I asked him to find me ways to get a scholarship like he did but he didn’t bother.’ And even interestingly, the rest will join in even when they know nothing much about the young man, ‘ah bro achana naye, ana maringo kama mwanamke!’ At this point you will hear all kind of insults, old stories, his/her past will all be undug from the earth at this stage. Just so as to prove one thing; he/she doesn’t deserve the blessings he/she is in.

I am assuming that this is mostly brought about by the high levels of idleness but on second thought, until when are we going to blame idleness for all our selfish, evil and dark souls? If we have nothing to do does it justify our envy and malice for others really? So now it’s all like a competition; today I wore a buibui from Dubai while you wore one from Markiti, My daughter is studying medicine while yours is sewing clothes. There’s that unsaid; unspoken competition going on. All this goes to the extent that when a person has a problem let’s say with their fridge, and the next door neighbour can repair it, she’d rather call someone else from very far to come over, do the work and pay him for it. The mentality is often, ‘my son here is jobless, why then should I give it to him?

This drama gets to the peak when it is in office whereby you have to rub shoulders with people every.single.day. Yes they will try to bring you down every.single.day. They will bring up all kind of drama and misunderstandings just to prove one thing; you don’t deserve the job or probably you don’t deserve the post that the boss is about to give you.

Oh, it’s so amusing how people think. It always gets me thinking like ‘really?!’ Is it really worth your energy, words, sweat, saliva, time and sometimes even money to try putting someone else down?! Why can’t we just for once be genuinely, whole-heartedly, purely feel happy when someone is able to achieve something that we haven’t? I actually feel like laughing at this; laughing not because it is a good thing but because it is hilarious how people are.

Please if you’ve never tried feeling happy for someone else then please do give it a try sooner than soon. I promise you it’s going to be an awesome feeling that you’ll never regret. Try doing so and see how your own doors will open up for you by God’s will for shunning away all that envy and malice.

As for you my dear friend, as you keep struggling your way to the top, do know that you will meet several people who have graduated with the PHD’s. Some will show it to you right on your face, some will act as your friends yet they are your biggest enemies in disguise while some will just whisper around all kind of bizarre things to break you to pieces. When you do meet them, I hope you neither give up nor lose hope. I hope you are able to hold your head high and fight your way through to the very top. I hope you succeed. Ameen to that 🙂

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The best thing about imperfections is that they make us who we are and they always make us stronger and braver than before. The silly mistakes we make at work, at school, at home or with our friends don’t mean we are stupid or useless as some of us may think. Man is to error and no one is perfect however successful or perfect they may look in your eyes.
Even the most successful and popular personalities, failed or had low points at some period. But what made them what they are today is their hard work and passion to go beyond those failures and imperfections. It is that effort they made to be better people that got them recognized as achievers.
Losing hope and giving up at the first sign of failure just shows how weak a person is. If everyone gave up at the first sign of hardship, then we definitely wouldn’t have achievers. Sometimes, failure tests our faith and amount of trust we have in ourselves. We have to be the kind of people who don’t have to regret later on that we didn’t work hard enough to get to our goals. We have to keep on trying again and again until we finally get to the peak of the mountain and we can finally shout “Yes! I am finally here.”
One may say to themselves “I tried and tried and tried, again and again, but I didn’t succeed, so what is the point?” The thing is, maybe you didn’t really try in the best way possible or maybe you gave up too early or maybe you were simply pursuing the wrong goal. Wanting to be a doctor while you are very poor in sciences, or going for an accountancy course while mathematics twists you upside down, or opening a new restaurant in an area where all hotels are closing, may be the reason why you failed.

Instead of giving up hope, sometimes you just need to refocus. After you’ve tried your level best and still haven’t succeeded, why not focus on your strengths or review your game-plan? Everyone is good at something and even if you haven’t realized then do know you have a gift. You just have to discover it.

To minimize the risk of failure it is important to carefully consider your goals and plans. Think long and hard before undertaking any major project. Consider the following questions: ‘do I have what I need to make it?’, ‘Is this what I really want?’, and ‘Is this the best use of my skills and resources?’ but most importantly, ‘am I being realistic?’ after you’ve sat down and asked yourself such questions, then this is where you bring in all your effort, passion, hard work, zeal and focus to make your dreams and goals come true.

But remember; don’t mind the mistakes or failures. Learn from them and make yourself a better person from your imperfections. As the famous American author, Zig Ziglar once said, if you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.

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“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life,” the words of the great boxer Mohammed Ali, the champion that lived. A person’s thinking is what defines them. Is the glass half full or half empty? It’s all upon you to decide. Life has never been easy on anyone and a problem is always what you make out of it. A problem is never a problem until you decide to make it one. Many lack the positivity in life and quit at the smallest test.

Mohammed Ali once more said, “I never ask ‘why me?’ for no condition. There’s so much good, I’ve been so blessed. God tries you. Some things are good. Some are bad. All of them are trials.”

Two people may be faced with the same challenge but one will take that to be a mere challenge for them and work it out as they can while the other will grow depressed over the ‘problem’ in hand, complaining gloomily and hoping that the problem will take a different turn itself. All champions started somewhere but definitely not in the spot light. Some of the greatest scientists and personalities were dyslexic, with very poor ability to read or write but they turned out smarter than those who were the ‘geniuses’ of the society.

Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” You have to be smart and if you can’t be then act like one. Be optimistic and you’ll conquer the unconquered.

Albert once more said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it” and “a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Whatever could be bothering you now, whether it’s the failure in school work or the incapability to cope with the job work or the money that you so direly need or the big blunder you made, don’t give up now. Have faith in God and in yourself; trust that you have all the strength in the world to overcome what seems to be a problem to you.

The late Malcolm X said, “Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, then they are doing something you aren’t!” so have time with yourself and think. Take a look at your glass of life. Look at the half filled water in it. Is the glass half full or half empty??  If you still call it ‘the half-empty’ glass then you are still living in your old pessimism but if you can now call it ‘the half full glass’ then, hurray! Way to go pal!

SO, IS THE GLASS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY??

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When I first came across the names of the most inspiring failures, I immediately wanted to share it to all the readers who are facing failure at the moment. Whenever I came across hardships and failed miserably in achieving what I want, I always remembered these great personalities. It is inspiring to know that the most famous successful personalities in the world are yet the most famous failures, but what makes them outstanding is how they tackled their failure to become very successful. These are just some among’st many other achievers in the world and who knows; maybe you and I could be the next people in the world charts?? Let us have the will power and confidence that we can get there someday.

 

  1. Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft, has literally changed the work culture of the world in the 21st century, by simplifying the way computer is being used. He happens to be the world’s richest man for the last one decade. However, in the 70’s before starting out, he was a Harvard University dropout. The most ironic part is that, he started a software company (that was soon to become Microsoft) by purchasing the software technology from “someone” for only $US50 back then.
  1. Abraham Lincoln, received no more than 5 years of formal education throughout his lifetime. When he grew up, he joined politics and had 12 major failures before he was elected the 16th President of the United States of America.
  1. Isaac Newtonwas the greatest English mathematician of his generation. His work on optics and gravitation made him one of the greatest scientists the world has even known. Many thought that Isaac was born a genius, but he wasn’t! When he was young, he did very poorly in grade school, so poor that his teachers became clueless in improving his grades.
  1. Ludwig van Beethoven,a German composer of classical music, is widely regarded as one of history’s supreme composers. His reputation has inspired – and in many cases intimidated – composers, musicians, and audiences who were to come after him. Before the start of his career, Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him “as a composer, he is hopeless”. And during his career, he lost his hearing yet he managed to produce great music – a deaf man composing music, ironic isn’t!
  1. Thomas Edison who developed many devices which greatly influenced life in the 20th century. Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S patents to his name. When he was a boy his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. When he set out on his own, he tried more than 9,000 experiments before he created the first successful light bulb.
  1. The Woolworth Company was a retail company that was one of the original five-and-ten-cent stores. The first Woolworth’s store was founded in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth and soon grew to become one of the largest retail chains in the world in the 20th century. Before starting his own business, Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21. But his employer would not let him serve any customer because he concluded that Frank “didn’t have enough common sense to serve the customers”.
  1. By acclamation, Michael Jordon is the greatest basketball player of all time. A phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire. Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar. Before joining NBA, Jordan was just an ordinary person, so ordinary that was cut from high school basketball team because of his “lack of skill”.
  1. Walter Disney was American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, and animator. One of the most well-known motion picture producers in the world, Disney founded a production company. The corporation, now known as The Walt Disney company, makes average revenue of US $30 billion annually. Disney started his own business from his home garage and his very first cartoon production went bankrupt. During his first press conference, a newspaper editor ridiculed Walt Disney because he had no good ideas in film production.
  1. Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade. However, that never stopped him to work harder! He strived and eventually became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Churchill is generally regarded as one of the most important leaders in Britain and world history. In a poll conducted by the BBC in 2002 to identify the “100 Greatest Britons”, participants voted Churchill as the most important of all.
  1. Steven Spielberg is an American film director. He has won 3 Academy Awards and ranks among the most successful filmmakers in history. Most of all, Steven was recognized as the financially most successful motion picture director of all time. During his childhood, Spielberg dropped out of junior high school. He was persuaded to come back and was placed in a learning-disabled class. He only lasted a month and then dropped out of school forever.
  2. Akio Morita is the founder of giant electric household products, Sony Corporation. First product was an electric rice cooker but it became a fail since it burned rice rather than cooking. Today, Sony is generating US$66 billion in revenue and ranked as the world’s 6th largest electronic and electrical company.
  3. Albert Einstein, when he was young; his parents thought he was mentally retarded. His grades in school were so poor and he even considered himself stupid. However, he became a theoretical physicist widely regarded as the most important scientist of the 20th century. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and “for his services to Theoretical Physics”.
  4. John Grisham‘s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses. He kept on practicing the art of writing until he became best known as a novelist and author for his works of modern legal drama. The media has coined him as one of the best novel authors even alive in the 21st century and his books are read worldwide.
  5. Marilyn Monroe was dropped by 20th Century-Fox, one year into her contract, because her producer thought she was unattractive and cannot act. She didn’t give up on her dreams and eventually she was recognized by the public as the 20th century’s most famous movie star and pop icon.
  6. Henry Ford not only revolutionized industrial production in the United States and Europe, but also had such influence over the 20th century economy and society yet his first two automobile companies failed. His first failure did not stop him from incorporating Ford Motor Company and being the first to apply assembly line manufacturing to the production of affordable automobiles in the world. His combination of mass production, high wages and low prices to consumers has initiated a management school known as “Fordism”. He became one of the three most famous and richest men in the world during his time.
  7. Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation during a job interview as engineer after World War Two. He continued to be jobless and soon, his neighbors started buying his home-made scooters.  He set out on his own to start his own company, Honda. Today, the Company has grown to become the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and one of the most profitable automakers. With a global network of 437 subsidiaries, Honda develops, manufactures, and markets a wide variety of products ranging from small general-purpose engines and scooters to specialty sports cars.