A grandfather’s tale and the true value of time | Daryl Austin | The Guardian

The following parable I’ve paraphrased from the book The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss, transformed my views.

The story begins with an American businessman who, on doctor’s orders, takes a vacation in Mexico. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call he walks outside and encounters a local fisherman with a small boat and several large yellowfin tuna.

The American compliments the fisherman’s catch and asks “How long did it take you to catch them?” “Only a little while,” the fisherman replies, adding that he doesn’t stay out longer than he needs to once he has enough to support his family.

The fisherman then explains that he uses all his extra time so he can “sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos”.

“Sir, I’m a Harvard MBA and can help you,” the American responds. “You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.” He continued: “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.” The American then says that within “no more than 25 years” the fisherman could announce an IPO and sell his company stock to the public and “make millions”.

“Millions, señor? Then what?” The fisherman asks.

The American concludes: “Then you would retire and 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, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”


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