Remarks by Akio Toyoda

Transcript

Thank you President Emeritus Sorenson
for that kind introduction...
and thank you to Babson
for inviting me here today.

President Healey…
Chair Capozzi…
Provost Rice…
Dean Rolleg…
Members of the governing boards…
parents, spouses, friends…
and my fellow graduates…

It is my extreme honor
to speak to you today
as Babson College
celebrates its
100th anniversary…

And may I be among
the first to congratulate
this very special
class of 2019!

So…
let me get right
to the point….

I know that some of you
may be sitting there…
stressed out about
where you will work
after graduation…

you may be wondering
what company
will offer you a job…

Well…
let me take that worry
off the table for you
right now…

and offer each
and every one of you…
a job at Toyota!

I haven’t actually
cleared that with my
HR department yet…
but I’m sure it will be ok.

So now that the
employment issue
has been solved…
let’s talk about more important things…

Like how you plan
to celebrate this momentous occasion…

I mean, how wild
is tonight’s party
going to get?

And more importantly,
can I come?

But I can't stay out too
late because tomorrow
is the fin-aley
of Game of Thrones.

I have to tell you…
when I was at Babson,
I had no social life.

For me, taking classes
in English was a real challenge.

It took all of my focus
and free time.

I never went to parties…
I never went to a hockey
game.

I just went from
my dorm… to class…
to the library…
to my dorm… to class…
to the library.

So when I attended
Babson, I was,
in a word… boring.

But once I graduated,
I went to work
in New York…
where I immediately
made up for lost time…
and became
“king of the night”!

Now I’m not suggesting
you do the same…
I can tell…
just by looking at you…
that none of you are
boring.

I’m sure you have
enjoyed a very active
social life
while you were here.

But since I’m here to
offer you words of
advice….
let the first be this…
don’t be boring…
have fun.

Really figure out what
makes you happy in
life…
what brings you joy.

When I was a student
here, I found joy…
in donuts.

American donuts were
a joyful, astonishing
discovery.

I want to encourage all
of you to find your own
donut.

Find what makes
you happy…
and don’t let go.

You should know I didn't
come here to tell you
the usual stories about
the mountains you may
have to climb…
or the challenges
you’ll have to meet.

No!

Because I think we
should just go ahead
and assume everything
is going to work out
great!

I think all of you
are going to be
a big success!
I really do.

And that’s
where it gets tricky.

Because you are
going to be successful.

You are going to
climb that ladder…
and make that money.

But will it be doing something that is fun?

Something that
you really love?

Because when you are
as talented as I know
all of you are…

it is so easy
to wake up one day
and find yourself
in golden handcuffs…

with a mortgage…
and three kids that you need to put through Babson.

So whether you’re
entering
a family business or not…

now’s the time to figure
out what speaks to your
heart the most.

The beginning of your
career is really the best
part…. because you
have the freedom
to try different things
before the inevitable
responsibilities of life
pile up.

So use this time…
this freedom
that your youth
provides…
to find your happy world.

And don’t be afraid
if it’s not what’s
“expected”.

I’m lucky in some
respects, because
I knew what I wanted
to do at a very early age.

When I was a little boy…
I knew for sure
that I wanted to be…
a taxi driver.

It didn’t completely work
out, but it’s pretty close.

I get to drive cars…
and be around cars…
all the time.

And if there’s one thing
I love more than donuts…
it’s cars.

Toyota has been building
cars for over 80 years
now… but we actually
started out
in the weaving loom
business.

My great grandfather invented the automatic weaving loom…

But It was my grandfather, Kiichiro, who took us
from making fabric…
to making cars…
and created the company
we have today.

I’m actually the third generation Toyoda
to run our company…

and perhaps you have heard the saying…

the third generation knows no hardship…
or the third generation
ruins everything.

Well hopefully that will not be the case.

I mean, I did graduate from Babson after all!

As luck would have it though... as soon as I became CEO…

we had the great recession...
an earthquake and tsunami…

and a recall that meant
I had to testify
to congress
in Washington D.C.

At that moment…
I really did want to take
a job as a taxi driver!

But I’m happy to say,
we’re doing fine now…
partly because I use
what I learned here
at Babson…
every day at Toyota.

Perhaps the greatest
lesson of all…
was the sense of
entrepreneurship…
that was instilled in me
here.

Even with a company
as big as Toyota…
I still try to think of it…
as a start-up company.

In fact, one of the
challenges of running
a business that’s been
in your family for decades…

is how willing are you
to make dramatic
change when it’s called
for?

How do you look at
things objectively…
and not hang on
to something…
for sentimental reasons?

How do you take the risk
of making fabric one
day… and cars, the
next?

Our industry is
undergoing revolutionary
change today…
as are many others.

Even I can’t predict
what kind of car
we will be driving
20 years from now….

but my time at Babson taught me
to embrace change…
rather than run from it…

and I urge all of you
to do the same.

I am often asked
whether I am burdened
by having the name
Toyoda…

and when I was
your age…
I might have said yes.

But today, I’m very proud
of what the name
represents… and the
hundreds of thousands
of people it supports
around the world.

So let’s fast forward…
and assume you have become successful
doing what you really love…

now let me give you
some advice…
from one CEO
to another:

Don’t screw it up.

Don’t take it for granted.

Do the right thing.

Because if you
do the right thing…
the money will follow.

Try new things…
even if you’re old.

When I became CEO of
Toyota 10 years ago…
I was told by one
of my mentors
that I couldn’t expect
to be taken seriously
by our engineers….

unless I really knew
how to drive…
at the highest level.

So at the age of 52…
I took on the challenge
of training to become
a master driver.

Not just so I could drive
our racecars…
which I do…
much to my father’s dismay…

but so I could communicate how I think
our cars should drive…
with our engineers.

The point is…
you’ve always got to be
learning something
new…

no matter how old
you are.

Never give up being
a student…
because being a student
is the best job…
you will ever have.

Find people that
inspire you…

-Oprah…
-Yoda…
-Tom Brady…
-your parents…
-your friends…

Feed off their energy!

Be a person
that inspires others.

Be a good global citizen.
Care about
the environment,
the planet…
about what’s happening
in other parts
of the world.

Don’t worry about
being cool…
be warm.

Decide what you stand
for.

At Toyota...
we have a set of values
that include
Integrity…
humility…
and respect for others.

We call it...
the Toyota Way.

And it gives our company
a north star…

a guiding light.

Find your own guiding
light… and let it inform
every decision
you make.

Let it help you make
the world…
a better place.

Ladies and gentlemen….
fellow students…

today is where it ends…

and today is where
it all begins…

In Japan, every time
a new emperor
ascends to the throne…
a new era begins.

And the calendar starts over at year one.

We just had a new era begin in Japan
on May 1st.

Every era has its own name...
and this one is called Reiwa, which means…
“beautiful harmony”.

In many respects all of you are beginning
a new era of your own…

where the clock
is set back to one…
and the possibilities
are endless.

I hope your era
is one filled with
beautiful harmony…

much success…

and many, many donuts.

Thank you very much.