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Junki Yoshida gives his take on what it means to be an entrepreneur

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May 17, 2012

UPDATE: KVAL was out at the event and put together a story and video which are now up at their website.

Junki Yoshida did not waste time explaining what his talk Thursday at Oregon State Universtiy’s LaSells Stewart Center would not cover.

“If you’re looking for the secret of succes, forget it,” said Yoshida, CEO of the Yoshida Group and face of the popular line of Mr. Yoshida’s sauces.

“You’re here to listen to a guy who almost bankrupted four times,” he said.

Yoshida, speaking as part of the College of Business Entrepreneur in Residence series, spelled out what being an entrepreneur has meant to him and the lessons he’s learned in a talk title “American Dream.”

“All entrepreneurs, they’re amateurs,” he said. “They don’t know zip. They have a dream.”

Despite his success, Yoshida said that if he knew what he was in store for at the beginning — when he started selling sauce out of the basement of his karate school after giving it away as gifts — he wouldn’t have continued.

Why did he do it in the first place?

“Because I was a stupid amatuer, that’s why,” Yoshida said to laughter.

Much of the afternoon was spent laughing, from Yoshida’s story of meeting his father in law (“Never call your girlfriend’s father ‘dad’ when you meet him”) to meeting his son in law (“I thought, I have 15 acres, no one will ever find him …”) and many other stories from the CEO’s life.

The energetic and irreverent talk did drive home some serious messages.

Yoshida said he wouldn’t have made it had the American system not allowed him to try and fail over and over again.

“In the US if you lose, you can come back and play again,” he said. “That’s a great country.”

Yoshida said the key is to “push your bus,” know your dream and keep after it no matter what.

“Once you’re moving you’re 60 percent to success, because most people are still standing in the same spot analyzing it,” Yoshida said. “When you believe in your dream, run.”

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