Once upon a time there was an investment banker. He lived in New York City, was phenomenally successful, and made a ton of money. But his life was busy, noisy, and very stressful.
So, once a year, he would leave the city and go down to a small coastal village in Mexico. For two weeks he would rest, relax, and allow himself to be rejuvenated.
One day he was standing on the pier just before lunch, looking out to sea, when he noticed a small ﬁshing boat coming in to dock. He thought this was a little strange because most of the ﬁshermen stayed out late into the afternoon so they could catch as many ﬁsh as possible before coming in and preparing the ﬁsh for market.
Curiosity overcame him. So he walked over to where the ﬁshing boat was about to dock. Looking into the boat, he saw just one ﬁsherman and several large yellowﬁn tuna.
“How long did it take you to catch those ﬁsh?” he said to the ﬁsherman.
“Not very long,” the ﬁsherman replied with a smile.
“Is there something wrong with your boat?” the American asked.
“Oh, no,” the ﬁsherman said. “In thirteen years I have never had a problem with the boat.”
The American was a little perplexed, so he asked the ﬁsher-man, “Why don’t you stay out there longer and catch more ﬁsh?”
The ﬁsherman smiled again and said, “This is plenty here for my family right now. Some of the ﬁsh we can eat, and the oth-ers we can sell or trade for the other things we need.”
“But it’s not even lunchtime. What do you do with the rest of your time?”
“In the morning,” the ﬁsherman explained, “I like to sleep late. When I wake I ﬁsh a little, mostly just for the pleasure of ﬁshing. In the afternoon I play with my children and take siesta with my wife. In the evenings I have dinner with my family. And then, when my children are sleeping, I stroll into the village, where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends.”
The American scoﬀed and said, “I’m a Harvard MBA and I can help you.”
The ﬁsherman was a little skeptical, but nonetheless he obliged and asked, “How?”
“You should ﬁsh longer every day,” the American counseled, “late into the afternoon. This way you will catch more ﬁsh and make more money, and you can buy a bigger boat. With the bigger boat you will catch even more ﬁsh and make even more money, and then you can buy another boat and hire another man to work the second boat.”
“But what then?” the ﬁsherman inquired.
“Oh, we are just getting started! With two boats you’ll catch even more ﬁsh and make even more money, and before you know it, you’ll have a whole ﬂeet of boats and every man in the village looking for work will come to you.”
“But what then?” the ﬁsherman asked.
“Before too long, you can cut out the middleman, sell your ﬁsh direct to the cannery, and make more money. As your ﬂeet of boats continues to expand, you can build your own can-nery. And before you know it, you’ll be able to leave this small coastal village, move to Mexico City, and manage your expand-ing enterprise.”
“But what then?” the ﬁsherman persisted.
“Well, then you can begin to ship your ﬁsh to diﬀerent parts of the world. Down into Asia and Australia and up into North America. And as demand grows for your ﬁsh, you can leave Mexico City, move to Los Angeles, open a distribution plant there, and begin to ship your ﬁsh to Europe and every corner of the globe.”
“But what then?” the ﬁsherman asked again.
The American continued, “By then your business will be one of the great ventures of the industry. You can move to New York City and manage your empire from the epicenter of the business world.”
“How long will all this take?” the ﬁsherman asked.
“Twenty- ﬁve, maybe thirty years,” the banker explained.
“But what will I do then?” the ﬁsherman asked.
The American’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s the best part,” he said. “When the time is just right, you can go down to Wall Street, list your business as a public company, oﬀer an IPO, and make millions and millions of dollars.”
“Millions?” the ﬁsherman asked.
“More money than you ever dreamed you could earn in ten lifetimes,” the American explained.
“But what then?” the ﬁsherman asked.
The American didn’t know what to say. He had reached his climax. He was stumped. But then a thought crossed his mind and triggered an idea, and he turned once more to the ﬁsher-man and spoke.
“Well, then you could move to a small coastal village. . . . You could sleep late. . . . You could ﬁsh just for the pleasure of ﬁshing. . . . I n the afternoons you could take siesta with your wife. . . . In the evenings you could have dinner with your family . . . and then you could stroll into the village and sip wine and play guitar with your friends. . . .”