It was perhaps 10 years ago that I saw the images on television of a SpaceX rocket exploding. That was the first launch attempt by SpaceX, and subsequently there was an ongoing series of news events about continued failures and explosions.
It seems that when Elon Musk founded SpaceX, many people told him that he was crazy. One of his friends collected a number of video clips of rocket explosions, in an attempt to convince him of how risky a rocket business would be. Musk went ahead and founded SpaceX anyway. Ordinary people were not the only ones predicting the demise of SpaceX. Even astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human being ever to land on the surface of the moon, was predicting Musk’s failure. And in fact, he did rack up a number of failures, big and small. The first three rocket launches all failed.
Musk is said to have various faults. Somewhat impetuous, he is known to have fired employees on the spot when they did not conform to his expectations. Normally, that is not the kind of corporate leader that people rally around. Musk may well be a genius, but there are also plenty of geniuses who have failed at business management. Even Steve Jobs was once dismissed from Apple. They succeeded nonetheless. For a long time I marveled at how that could have been possible.
About two years ago something made me watch an interview with Musk and, when I saw the trajectory traced by that successful fourth launch, I came to understand his conviction. “Being multi-planet species, being among the stars, is important for the long-term survival of humanity.” Musk’s conviction wasn’t about founding SpaceX and taking a huge paycheck. It was a belief in the importance of heading out into space for the development of humanity’s future. When he heard that Armstrong didn’t support his plan, Musk insisted with tears in his eyes, “I never give up.” Even with his hero against him, he pushed on anyway and succeeded on his fourth rocket launch.
I realized that the scale and intensity of his dreams were what enabled Musk to make things happen. Then two years ago, I started looking harder at myself. I had told my employees that my dreams were to empower people and companies, and to create the best accounting firm to work for in the world. For years I had always wanted my employees to grow and provide values to our clients. However, at that time, our company was not cohesive, rather, employees appeared demotivated. I knew it had to change. I knew I had to share my dreams with employees and make it a company where employees can have dreams themselves. I decided to spend the rest of my life for that dream. I quit my hobby of playing baseball on weekends and golf lessons that I had started, and continued to think about what I should do to make my employees grow and feel successful. I kept telling my employees over and over again that I want them to grow and feel joy in their growth. We recruited volunteers and talked about what the company should be like over a drink on Friday nights, summarizing what we talked about there on the weekend alone, and continuing to talk to employees.
It’s not a matter of “what” we do, but “why” we work. I sincerely hope that people and companies around us grow, work lively, and achieve their goals. Doing accounting is just a “mean” to help us achieve that. Many people think accounting is a matter of putting numbers together to prepare financial statements. While it’s true that’s what we do, but the purpose of doing so is to understand the state of the company, identify where they are wasting resources, and understand what they want to accomplish, then we must continue to think how to enable them. The most important thing is to keep our aspiration to support our clients accomplish their dreams. The pain I experienced in my early career, was the pain coming from having no vision or dreams. That is why I keep telling my employees about my dreams. I have strong desire to create a company where employees can empower people, empower companies, and create an environment where everyone can grow lively and feel joy in their growth.
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, there are clients who not only lost large volume of sales, but they also lost their company. I am sure there are corporate leaders who have anxieties from poor financial performance, or employees who are worried about losing their job. When you face the most difficult challenges, even when you lose your beloved company, I want you to remember “why” you have been working. I have experienced setbacks over and over. There were times I felt I could not move on. But I still kept on working for my employees and for my clients, because I had a dream. If you have a dream, you can bring out more than imaginable. Even if you lose everything, you can rise and defy if you keep your dream.
My dream is to see people and companies around me succeed in the U.S. and worldwide. I sincerely desire for my employees to believe this dream in their own hearts; for them to grow and develop; for our clients to thrive in the U.S. and around the world; and as the realization of that dream, for us to be able to contribute to the growth and advancement of human society as a whole. Essentially, that’s the axis that we revolve around: “Grow with Your Dreams.”