Would You Be An Investment Banker or A Fisherman?

October 11, 2007

I received an email from Xiaowen recently, but I didn’t bother to read it because well, the subject title made the look like just an ordinary forwarded mail. But I finally read it because I was clearing all the mails in my inbox and to my surprise, it made me start thinking..

Well, here’s the mail:

An investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The banker complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The fisherman replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The fisherman said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

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

The fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, go for walks with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my friends. As you can see, I have a full and busy life.”

The banker scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat! 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 the capital city. After that, who knows, maybe you could take on the world!”

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

To which the banker replied, “I’d say about 15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the fisherman.

The Banker 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?…Then what?” the fisherman continued prodding.

The banker said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, go for romantic walks with your wife, and in the evenings you could sip wine, play guitar and sing songs with your friends!”

To which the fisherman mused, “Now isn’t that strange… Isn’t that what I’m doing now?”


A couple of points that I pondered over:

1. Sometimes, we always tend to think that we have the right perspective of things and that just because we think that we are in the best position to make a judgment, we tend to belittle other people around us and their opinions. When in fact, they may already be on their way to achieving what they are looking for.

2. Being contented with the little things that you have may actually bring you greater happiness. Though no doubt, being able to earn millions by expanding the Fisherman’s fishing business can bring him greater luxuries in life however, it’s a matter of being contented with what he already had that matters.

3. Is the story just making fun of the people who are busy in the rat race, chasing for between 15-20 years after what they felt for could bring them happiness? Or is it if we were to just slow down, take things easy and being content with life like the Fisherman that we’ll be able to enjoy life and happiness easily and earlier?

4. Can anyone ever be content with what they have? Will the Fisherman eventually think that the banker is right about making investments in his business? Because only then, can he afford entertainment, to build a house for his family, bring them to the city or on vacations, provide them with good food and clothing. Will he be contented forever with his life where he just sleeps late, fishes a little, plays with his children, goes for walks with his wife, stroll into the village each evening where he sips wine and plays guitar with his friends?

5. Sometimes, we all just need to rethink what are the things we are chasing for. Are they just going to bring us back one full circle? Like how the investment banker suggested the fisherman invest in his fishing business and eventually earn millions, only to be able to enjoy a life which he already is leading now. Are we in a rat race to riches that will only bring us back to the point if we just stop to ‘smell the roses’?

Certainly, the lesson to learn is – never listen to other people’s advice blindly.

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  • Reply Calvin October 11, 2007 at 12:52 AM

    hey dear!

    interesting story…

    and interesting points you brought up too!

    let me comment on your pts ehz…

    1) this ties in with our goal in life. true enough, everyone have different values & goals in life. and our actions are normally in tandem with it.

    some people are simply contented with leading a sinmple life and care for their own happiness. some people will do all they can to make a difference in others’ lives. and some are obsessed about wealth for their own enjoyment. the list goes on…

    there’s no right and wrong goal… but this explains the stark difference in actions taken by each individual.

    ultimately, the most impt thing is to have a clear goal in mind and work towards that goal. the worst thing that can happen is leading a life without any direction at all. life will simply become meaningless.

    2) yes excellent pt. it’s really impt to learn to be contented with what you have. if you’re not happy when you are poor, you’ll find it difficult to be happy when you’re rich either as you prolly will nv be satisfied. so learn to show gratitude and give thanks for all good and even bad things that happen in our life.

    3) when you’re in the rat race, you’re simply trading your time for an imaginary security. time is the most valuable asset, so one should really strive to not let someone else control their time.

    bottomline, nv enter the rat race. and we all have more time to achieve the greater things in life and fulfil our life purpose.

  • Reply -:-queen_pat-:- October 11, 2007 at 1:20 AM

    hi dear! I think you raised many gd points in your comment and I believe that it’s the importance that people place on the things that they desire to have in life that is going to lead them to make decisions to where they want to be.

    And I believe that if everyone were to be in the rat race in order to attain happiness, financial freedome etc.. well, I think they’ll never be able to attain that. we need to make use of the time that we have and maximize it to help us to fully achieve what we want rather than being at the beck and call of their superiors/company etc. 😀

    It’s something that is hard for many people to accept. They think we’re idealists but I’m sure our efforts will pay off to show them our point one day. hopefully soon.. 😉

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