- This is part of a series of profiles on faith and work initiatives from various faiths.
This talk was given on December 16, 2018, at Rissho Kosei-kai’s Great Sacred Hall at a gathering of more than 2,000 business owners and managers from across Japan seeking to apply Buddhism to business and management.
[Script of Mr. Hideaki Goto]
Hello everyone. My name is Hideaki Goto. I’m a member of Suginami Dharma Center. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share my story.
“I want to be my own boss!” That was what I was thinking about when I came out to Tokyo from Oita prefecture. As I was young, I worked feverishly and tried frantically to seize a chance. Since I was working for a newspaper company, I saw and heard many things and I set my eyes on health foods. I was confident that the health business would undoubtedly grow since Japan was becoming a super-aged society. So I established a health food company in 1994. I was 35 years old. Today, health food products can be found at any household. But 25 years ago, you rarely heard a word such as “health foods” or “supplement”.
During the first few years, I struggled very hard with my business. But aided by a health boom, sales increased and surpassed 100 million yen a month.
I achieved the success I wanted. Then, I became arrogant and skimped on my business. Instead, I played 100 rounds of golf a year.
In 2013, Rev. Kunitomi introduced me to Mr. Fukumori. The very first words he gave me was “Are you “earnestly” doing business?” I felt shocked at his harsh wards as if I was hit with a hammer.
Although I joined Rissho Kosei-kai when I was young, I wasn’t an active member. Although I didn’t listen to my wife’s suggestion of reading the sutra, when I heard Mr. Fukumori’s words, I felt that he was not an ordinary teacher.
Back then, I thought my company was performing well. But due to my sloppy business management, my company was collapsing from within. Our distributors colluded with each other and broke out of contracts. Sales went down 80% like a stone rolling downhill. Before I knew it, we were on the verge of bankruptcy. It was all because I didn’t try to grasp the essence of business management. I was selfish. I was only concerned about sales figures. I finally got what was coming to me for my mismanagement. The infighting was a lesson from the Buddha.
I sought for Rev. Kunitomi’s guidance and he suggested that I receive individual coaching from Mr. Fukunaga. Mr. Fukunaga said, “There are principles for business. You need to tap into them. In addition, if you have a philosophy, you will be able to survive difficult situations. Then, he taught me three basic principles.
The first one is “Do not give into emotions.” That is, never hold grudges, hates or regrets. I felt he said that because he could stay on the sideline. Remembering his words, I was upset and couldn’t sleep. I ended up drinking too much that night. But then, what hit home to me was that a company would collapse when its manager gave in. “Let the lawyer handle the traitors. What you have to do is to focus on the management of your company!” I decided to leave everything behind and consciously tried not to think about.
The second principle was that you must align the effort of everyone to reconstruct the company. He said, “No company will grow beyond the capacity of its manager.” In order to unite the minds of the remaining distributors, I gathered them and earnestly talked to them each about my desire, belief, and aspiration. Then, together we set higher goals and share the purpose of our business. Finally, we all came as one. I couldn’t pull this off without his tough coaching.
And the last thing—Elevating your mind. He said, “What’s happening is all a reflection of your mind. If you don’t polish your soul and change yourself, your business won’t grow. So change your mind by practicing the Six Perfections”. I have come to realize that what matters as a leader is character not talent, that it’s the humanity of a leader that influences and attracts people and win their cooperation.
I finally understood the meaning of his words. Until then, I thought that the teachings of the Lotus Sutra had nothing to do with management. Back then, my priority was all about making money and took a perfunctory attitude toward everything else. Instead of trying to change others, I was determined to change my way of thinking through the Six Perfections and applied it to my business.
In 2016, three years after the infighting of my company, I reported to Mr. Fukunaga, “Now I had prospects to achieve a recovery of my business. We are out of the red and sales bounced back by 14% last year.” Then, Mr. Fukunaga said to me, “Why don’t you put your gratitude into a concrete shape?” So, I made a donation of 10 million yen to show my heartfelt appreciation. Then, to my surprise, my mind began to change.
Previously, I was consumed by cash flow problems and payroll responsibilities, debt repayments. Those occupied 70% of my head. However, practicing generosity removed my attachment to money. I was able to let myself relax, thinking I just need to work hard and make money again. It gave a new perspective.
I learned how to maintain my own mental attitude. I realized that the growth of a company depends on its people and their minds, and that your mind will dictate the course of your business. If you keep striving to perfect your character, you will inevitably achieve the best results. My company’s mission is that “We provide opportunities for the material and intellectual growth of all our stakeholders.”
I’d like to close by praying for the repose of Mr. Fukunaga’s soul and by vowing to continue to practice the Six Perfections in order to grow my business and contribute to society.
Thank you for listening, everyone.