If you’ve ever been to a Jimmy John’s sub shop you’ll likely have noticed a number of irreverent signs on the walls like “The Customer is Usually Right”, “Free Smells”, “Bread So French It Must Be Liberated”, etc. Just Google “Jimmy John’s signs“. Out of all the signs I do have a favorite. It doesn’t stand out like some of the others, but is a great story about a Mexican fisherman and an American investment banker. The author is unknown, but it’s a telling tale for “How Much Is Enough?”
I was talking to Steve Lefkovitz today and this story came to mind as we were discussing the Silicon Valley and large corp. obsession with scaling to the masses. Sure, we all would like to grow, but at what expense? There really is no cookie cutter approach to building businesses or tools. My conversation with Steve (and remembering this story) really helped me validate, in my mind, why The Resident Connection is great for people that want it and want to build their own unique personality into their brand and business. Being “you” does scale, and can appeal to a pretty sizable market. You don’t have to strive to appeal to everyone. Here’s the How Much is Enough story:
The American investment banker was 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 fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “but 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 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.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, 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 processor, eventually opening your own cannery. 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, how long will this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?”
The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions?” asked the fisherman, “Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos!”