The Business Man and the Fisherman (repost)

I did a talk yesterday to a group of business people. It was mainly about customer service, but there was some stuff in there about Slow working practices too.

We talked a bit about success and ambition and it made me recall one of my favourite stories, so I thought I would tell it again here:

There was once an American businessman who had finally taken some time off work to go on holiday with his family (after his wife nagged him and nagged him), whilst taking a walk on the beach one day he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore and noticed that the fisherman has caught quite a number of big fishes that is known to be a delicacy. The American was really impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fishes?”

The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”

“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and you could catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.

The fisherman simply does not agree. “This is enough to feed my whole family,” he says

The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day then?”

The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fishes, then I would go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I will take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I will join my friends in the village for a drink, we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman does not agree with his way of life and offered a suggestion to the fisherman.

“I am a PhD holder graduated from Harvard University, specialising in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fishes as possible. And when you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fishes. As you go on, you will be able to afford to buy more boats, recruit more fishermen and lead a team of your own. Soon you will be able to set up your own company, your very own production plant for canned food and do direct selling to your distributors. At that time, you will have moved out of this village and to the City, and then expand your operation to around the world, and finally you can set up your HQ to manage all your other branches.”

The fisherman asks, “So, how long would that take?”

The businessman reply, “About 15 to 20 years.

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”

The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, by then you will be rich, your income will be coming in by the millions!”

The fisherman asks, “And after that?”

The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning and catch a few fishes, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”

Have a good weekend

Matt