Mexican Fisherman Meets Harvard MBA

A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked.

"Oh, a few hours," the Mexican fisherman replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked.

The Mexican warmly replied, "With this I have more than enough to meet my family's needs."

The businessman then became serious, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, "I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs..."

The American businessman impatiently interrupted, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats."

Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, "Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you'll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise."

Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, "But how long will all this take?"

After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, "Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard."

"And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman.

"Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?" asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want."

I sat at Javarier's at the Irvine Spectrum having dinner with a bunch of very hard working and very educated business professionals. They were talking about how they wanted to travel more, spend more time with their families, and workout more. They were dead set on doing all that once they had enough money to retire. However, i was already doing all that, still in my 20s, and definitely don't have millions rolling into my account on the daily.

How?? Well, let me tell you another short story:

I had a really smart friend in college. He was super motivated, super smart, and in really good shape throughout our time at school. In fact, he went on to get a masters’ degree from an Ivy League school. Once he graduated, he started a job he loved. He worked crazy, long hours, but it was a new job and the projects were a lot of fun. He was always telling me how excited he was about every-thing, especially the pay. 

However, pretty soon the long hours and the stress started to get to him. He gradually stopped 

working out and stopped pursuing any hobbies, because his work was taking up more and more of his time. Although he was full of energy and excitement in college, he started to become lethargic and generally demotivated. He used to have an adventurous lifestyle, but now he found himself frequenting the same couple of clubs every weekend. He didn’t even like clubs, but had no time to pursue other adventures because of his demanding work schedule. His life became mediocre and he began to resent that. 

Two years after he started this job he once loved, he often complained about his long hours, lack of work/life balance, inability to find a romantic partner, and his general inability to live life to the fullest. Life was flying by at great speed and he could barely remember an existence that didn’t involve sitting behind a desk doing stressful work. However, instead of finding a way out of that lifestyle, he managed to chain himself down even further by buying stuff whenever he got a bonus or promotion. Any extra money he made was spent on expensive purchases that resulted in more bills and more expenses, which only locked him more firmly into a lifestyle he clearly didn’t enjoy. He would buy a brand new sports car, or a house, but this provided only a sugar high at best—while at the same time helping solidify his reliance on the very lifestyle he hated.

Nowadays, with so many bills coming in every month, he can’t afford to walk away: he has no choice but to continue to work longer and longer hours at a job he clearly stopped liking long ago.

A better strategy, in my opinion, is to continue to strive to make more money, but at the same time, aim to decrease your expenses as much as possible. This strategy will give you the luxury of free time which you can use to stay more physically and mentally healthy. It’ll also give you the funds you need to pursue an adventurous lifestyle and live life in general. In addition, you won’t have to feel rushed throughout the week or pressed for time. Your stress levels will be tremendously reduced. When you enjoy lower stress levels, you increase the quality of your everyday life experiences tremendously.

Anyways, what i stated here on financing a healthier and more balanced lifestyle is just scratching the surface. If you want to really go in depth on this subject, i would recommend reading the following books just to get started: