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Mexican Fisherman and the Harvard MBA

Mexican Fisherman and the Harvard MBA

By Courtney Carver


This is the story that started the “be more with less” movement for me. While I knew all work and no play wasn’t the way, I thought I would forever be stuck in the cycle of working to live. I thought I would always have a car payment, credit card debt and not enough month at the end of the money. I thought I had to work harder to make more, buy more and have more. At one time, I really thought that would make me better somehow.

This story is my inspiration to slow down, reassess, and get real about how I want to live life.

An 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 yellow-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 didn’t he 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 siestas 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. 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 New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

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

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

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 – 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 siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

The moral of the story is:

Life is Simple. Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.

Possible conclusions:

a) MBA is useless
b) Enjoy life right now
c) Don’t go on a wild goose chase
d) Goals are absurd
Many more……




Before joining the Bank in 1980 I had worked in M/S JYOTI LTD BARODA for 7 years from 1973 to 1980 where I had learnt a lot.

The recent issue of BUSINESS TODAY Dated 22nd June 2014 has an interesting snippet on the similarities between Manufacturing and Pizza Making. Here is the article for you to read and respond:


Everybody loves a pizza, including the honchos running manufacturing companies. But is there something the manufacturing sector can learn from pizza makers?

It would seem there is little in common between manufacturing companies and the quick-service restaurant industry, particularly Jubilant FoodWorks that holds the master franchise for Domino’s Pizza in India. Think again.

In both sectors, the nature of work is repetitive, operating procedures are standardized, and precise output and timing are critical. Both also need just-in-time inventory management, offer a tough physical work environment and hire workers with moderate education levels. Sure, there are differences as well. Baking a pizza is simpler than operating a furnace; and the pizza delivery boy is more empowered than a factory worker. If he delivers the pizza late, he can decide whether to make it free. Nevertheless, there is a lot manufacturing companies can learn from Domino’s management practices.

Domino’s employs more than 20,000 people – all directly. But it is easier to manage them because they are all split into smaller groups – one store typically has 25 employees. This, according to Venkatraman Girish, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Jubilant Food Works, emphasizes the importance of operating in smaller units. Manufacturing companies, he says, perhaps, need to organize workers in smaller work groups where employees realize output, success and failure.

The second lesson is related to identity. All Domino’s employees have a uniform that gives them recognition among their peer groups. That cannot be said of many workers in the manufacturing sector, particularly contract employees. But the most important lesson is perhaps how Domino’s has limited class conflicts within its ranks. This is Domino’s 19th year in India and many of its senior leaders joined the company at low ranks.
“People at the level of deputy general managers have risen from low ranks, like delivering the pizza. There is no class barrier because a big chunk of managers have come from within and rose up the ranks. Roughly half the manager level staff has risen up the ranks within the company,” says Girish.

Everybody in the company is trained to deliver a pizza. Every new employee, whatever level he joins, trains for five days in a restaurant, from taking orders to baking the pizza. The senior management works in a restaurant once a quarter, taking calls from customers and calling them back. On high volume days like December 31, when the highest numbers of pizzas are sold, everybody in the company holes up in restaurants, from morning until close.

If top executives of manufacturing companies dirty their fingers working on machines even once a quarter, that could go a long way in bridging the divide with the “labor class”.


My views on Vishal Sikka being appointed as new CEO of Infosys

My views on Vishal Sikka being appointed as new CEO of Infosys

Today’s newspapers were full of this interesting piece of news. Here is what I wrote to Financial Express, Business Standard, Business Today and Economic Times:

Passing the Infosys CEO baton

Dear Sir, Yes indeed, passing the CEO baton to a rank outsider and ex-SAP director Vishal Sikka, seems to be a smart strategy on part of Mr. Murthy, to pull the company out of the morass and pave the way to a comeback and regain its earlier mojo.

Bringing in an outsider will have a double fold impact on the fluctuating fortunes of Infosys:

a)  It will put to rest the internal bickering which marked the entry of Murthy’s son Rohan into the company hinting that perhaps he was to be groomed as the heir to the empire in near future.

b)  Sikka will bring in a fresh perspective and an un- biased look into the power politics that had hitherto plagued the company’s performance and sullied its market image to some extent.

Moreover, Sikka being younger (just 47) and having solid educational and experience credentials, will be able to successfully command respect from the young professionals and lead the company to better heights of performance in these stiff competitive times.

Interestingly, in spite of heading a large company, Mr. Murthy still doesn’t know how to drive a car and on Saturdays, his driver’s weekly off, he is driven to the bus-stop by his wife, from where he boards a company bus to work! Hope his company now literarily finds another expert driver in Mr.Sikka.

BTW, “Sikka“ in Hindi means “a coin”. Let us hope and pray that Infosys has now tossed a genuine coin and will soon win back its leadership crown!