Marketing Mondays: The Fisherman And Businessman And The Power of Storytelling for Consultants

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

Do you see how that story engaged you?

If I would have simply told you that “working yourself too hard instead of focusing on what you really want in life” is important, it would have been much less effective. Don’t you think?

Gerry Spence, the famous trial lawyer, in his book How to Argue and Win Every Time says that we as people are open to stories because we’ve always been interested in them since we were young.

One of the most famous direct mail letters that ever ran was a Wall Street Journal piece that compared two very similar people with almost exact backgrounds and history. One become successful, and the other one didn’t. The difference was that one of them read the WSJ regularly. Again, it was the story that got people’s attention and made the point.

Think about how you can use stories more often? In your letters, emails and communications with clients.

In your ads, brochures, websites, and marketing pieces.

Stories sell.


Develop a predictable
pipeline of clients.

Please Share This Article If You Enjoyed It:

  • Njaujg

    What an inspiring story

  • Manlio Correa

    “Moraleja”, bottom line, is that when some of us are working hard to achieve a dream life, others are already living it with too much!!! So, what’s your opinion, should we go for the Harvard MBA or Mexican?

    • Audrey Lucas

      I take from this- it’s great if you already have a job you enjoy and it meets your current needs, whilst still enjoying life. For some of us we see that we have to strive and work hard to get that ‘dream life’, however when we do we still need to take the time out in our journey to enjoy life – because who knows how we will be at the end of that journey.

    • Do what makes you the most excited in your heart.

  • OMG The best parable/story ever told in the business world..

  • Chuck

    Great Story, Thanks!

  • Valavan

    Very good story. Many are not enjoying their time during young age and spending their time with physician during their old age with the money they have earned

  • Excellent story, thank you very much for your help!

  • J V

    What a silly, stupidly-over-simplified tale with little basis in reality. Nonsense like this belongs in a Sunday church bulletin not a serious business info site.

    • JV – Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. In this case I disagree with yours. I think there is a lot of truth and a great lesson in this story.

  • JV–It actually has solid basis in reality. Perhaps not your reality at the moment, but it wouldn’t be a bad thing to expand your view a bit. Here are a few points that came to mind about this article.
    1) The point was not this particular story, but that stories are a great way to effectively draw attention to a marketing item. The fact that you had such a strong reaction (albeit a negative one) proves the point. It got your attention.

    2) In research I have seen about people’s thoughts on their death bed, the most common regret, BY FAR, was not spending enough time with family, friends and enjoying their life. In the end, money carries far less importance.

    3) Good business and good life can both be accomplished by choosing a business you enjoy building and educating ourselves on how to build business well in a manner balanced enough to enjoy the most important things in life.