The Story of the Fisherman and the Investment Banker

Updated: September 25, 2021

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 yellowfin 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, and 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 have an MBA from Harvard, and can help you,” he said. “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, and eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”


“Instead of selling your catch to a middle-man, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening up your own cannery. You could control the product, processing, and distribution,” the American continued.

“Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually to New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise,” the investment banker concluded.

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

To which the American replied, “Oh, 15 to 20 years or so.”

“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?” asked the fisherman.

The American said, “Then you could retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos.”

Original author unknown

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  1. I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now and this has been helpful in gaining financial knowledge.

    I have read or heard the story several times but still it amazes me. How people can make life complicated most of the time when everything you need is alreay in front of you.

    Thanks Fitz for the wonderful article. 🙂

  2. Hi Fitz, I first read this story in Tim Ferris’ book “The 4-Hour Work Week”. Very funny and eye opening story that can really give you a different perspective on the different means to a common end, which in this case is to “retire… move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings and sip wine and play guitar with your amigos…” 🙂

  3. Nice one. But these is the reality of our life Journey. After having everything in this world, we will opt to back simple living. 🙂 thanks bro.for this.

  4. The fisherman’s life ,doing the same routine everyday until he retires, is boring. The businessman will have more options when he retires. Both will enjoy life though.

  5. It’s a very nice story about contentment. I first read it from Tim Ferriss’ 4HWW. The short story changed me a lot esp. re contentment, simple living and surrounding yourself with people who matters the most. I actually included the story in the guidebook I created 3 months ago. 🙂

  6. Hi Sarah,

    For me, the clear moral of the story is to know and decide upon how you want to live your life – to realize what is truly important for you, and determine the things that give you true happiness and contentment.

    Because once you do, it will be much easier to design a plan towards making that a reality.

    If the fisherman’s dream, for example, is to be able to travel and see the world with his family – then doing what he currently does won’t make that happen.

    But alas, the fisherman has already found (in my opinion), his personal happiness, that’s why he is already content with his present life – which suggests that there is no real need to do anymore what the investment banker is suggesting.

  7. Sir Jay,

    Thank you for sharing that. I received this story through email and couldn’t pinpoint where I first read it… now I remember! Indeed, it’s in that book!

    Thank you also for taking the time to leave a comment here, I know you’re very busy building your “real estate empire” and educating people about real estate investments. Hope to attend one of your seminars soon. 😀

  8. Excellent story. I’ve heard a version involving a German banker visiting a Portuguese fisherman. Some people do stressful work for decades with the goal of retiring. Others do what they love and enjoy life.

  9. A wise man once told me this story. Makes me think I’m 34 and wants to go into farming. I have a high paying corp job that doesnt really make me want to wake up at 5 in the morning (farming does!) But a lot of people are telling me to wait for retirement then go into farming. I have to wait 26 long yrs to do what I want?!

  10. Hahaha, he already living the life which the baker wants him to have but in 15- 20 years. If he is thinking about himself only and his family, then he can dontinue what he is doing. But if he is thinking bigger, and help ther people not only thinking about himself, it is better to do it the banker way.

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