Lessons From a Fisherman

Thank you to everyone who sent such kind thoughts on my first blog entry. 

My favorite  -- “Such beautiful writing from such a beautiful girl”  (Aww, thanks Mom!) 

When I first started my business, my brother Adam asked me about my goals.  “Grow, grow, grow, I want the business to grow!” I said.  “Well, why is growth so important?” he asked.  I thought, isn’t it obvious?  But then, he shared a parable that got me thinking: 

The Fisherman’s Story

A banker was taking a much needed vacation in a small coastal village.  One afternoon, while walking on the beach, he came across a fisherman docking his small boat, full of the day’s haul.

The banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “a few hours.” The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.

The fisherman replied that he had enough to support his family’s needs.

The banker inquired “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The fisherman replied, “I take a nap, play with my children, read, watch the sunset while sipping wine with my wife.”

The banker scoffed, “I have an Ivy League MBA, and I can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the extra proceeds buy a bigger boat.  Over time, with the increased catch from the bigger boat you could buy several boats and hire fishermen to work for you.  Eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the people in your village, you could own your own cannery and grow an enterprise.”

The fisherman asked, “How long will this all take?”

To which the banker replied, “15-20 years.  It will take some sacrifice… late nights, borrowed money, risk along the way.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions? Then what?”

“Why then you could retire. You could fish for a few hours, take a nap, play with your children and grandchildren, read, watch the sunset while sipping wine with your wife”, replied the banker.

“But aren’t I doing that now?”

A smart fisherman indeed. 

As for me, well, I’m grateful that my business has grown - but over time I’ve come to realize that growth was not the number one goal for starting my own business.  It was all about helping people.

I love to see the stress leave people’s faces as we organize their financial lives.  I want to help people - as many as I can, either directly or through others as our team grows.   

So, I continue with late nights and work on the weekends.  But it doesn’t seem like work, I truly enjoy it.  I’m blessed, also, by the support of my family, friends, clients and colleagues...

Let’s begin

So let’s start down the path to identifying your core values, and create a framework for spending your time and money.   Over the months ahead, I will outline a series of exercises that will help accomplish this goal.

For these exercises to have the most impact, I suggest you invest in a journal to record your thoughts.  It doesn’t need to be fancy… it’s just for your eyes only.  My hope is that these exercises will allow you to learn a little about yourself and have fun along the way.

When recording your journal entries, you should find a quiet place, no cell phone (no, really turn it off...), and maybe light a candle to set the mood.

Getting Started!

Exercise No. 1 starts with the big picture.  Take some time to think about your life.  The fisherman had taken time to think about his - and he was content.  Think about the lessons you can learn from the fisherman.

How would you like to spend your time and money over the next 5 years, 10 years and 20 years? 

Maybe in the short run your choices are limited.  We all have bills to pay…  But still, ask yourself…  Are there changes you would like to make?  Are you happy with your life, but still push yourself to keep reaching for more?  If so, why are these goals important to you?  Think about what you want, not what is expected of you.  Talk it over with a friend, family member or significant other. 

Don’t make this question complicated.  Just jot down whatever comes to mind. 

Clarity around what is truly important is critical to aligning your values with your resources.  It can be a very powerful experience.

It’s ok if you don’t know the answer now.  You may learn along the way.  We will revisit your entry as we continue with the journey.  Label this entry: Lessons From a Fisherman.

We will continue this process with the next blog.  If you have comments or insights please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .