And Then What?

One of my favorite stories.

There was once an American businessman who took a weekend vacation from his busy job to a small Mexican village. Continuing to work while he took conference calls and answered emails as he sat by the beach, he saw a local fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite a few fish.

The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.” The businessman was astonished. “Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” “Well this is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.

The businessman asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?” The  fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up, go out to sea and catch a few fish. Then I go back home and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and when evening comes I join my amigos in the village for a drink – we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”


The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I have a masters degree in business, a decade in the financial sector and I devote 80 hours a week to making sure I keep the money rolling in. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you’ve saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. The fisherman stopped and asked, “And then what señor?”

The businessman answered, “Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and start a distribution network.” The fisherman responded, “I see. And then what?”

“Well,” said the businessman, “By then, you will have moved out of this village and to a major city, where you can set up headquarters to manage your other  branches.” The fisherman pressed on, “And then what?”

The  businessman laughed heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.” The fisherman began to slowly grin. “And then what?”

The businessman said, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by your old fishing village where you wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with your kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your amigos for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”

The fisherman smiled. And with that he turned from the businessman and began the walk back to his home to play with his kids, take a nap with his wife, and plan an evening with his amigos.

This is one of my all time favorite stories. The meaning goes without saying. As you work each day, ask yourself why you’re doing it, what your goal is and what truly makes you happy. American culture tells us to work, work, work, THEN retire at 60 or 70 and THEN take a break to spend time with family and travel the world. Don’t get so caught up in the race to acquire money that you forget the reason you set out to acquire that money in the first place.


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  1. Sarah Brooks
    May 23, 2014 / 12:38 am

    I love this story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Steve Bierfeldt
    May 27, 2014 / 4:36 pm

    You bet. Thanks for reading.

  3. Brian
    May 30, 2014 / 11:23 am

    I LOVE this story, but you didn’t write it. It’s hanging in every Jimmy John’s in America. You should have attributed it to the author, even if the author is unknown.

    • Steve Bierfeldt
      May 30, 2014 / 1:06 pm

      Brian, who said I wrote it?

      • Brian
        May 30, 2014 / 1:57 pm

        You definitely didn’t write it, but you posted this on your blog, without quotation marks and without attribution, and with no lead-in of any sort.

  4. Jose
    August 10, 2014 / 10:47 am

    Good story. Keep sharing more.