A Review: Why the FISH! Philosophy Works and Other Stories

This guy (pictured above). Is it an act? I met the fishmonger a few weeks ago in Seattle at the Pike Place Market. I wish I could tell you his name, but I wasn’t in a journalistic mood at the time (I forgot it). After reading FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results recently for work, it was interesting to see how the employees actually were. He was dynamic, engaged and happy to tell me and the gathering crowd some fun story about their last staff meeting.

Shhhh! The Council wrapped filming last night on a special video for the brand … Stay tuned! 🤔 #rethinkcouncil #seattle

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If you’re not familiar with this common best practices business book … it’s basically about how one struggling manager in finance learns from those very fish market employees how to create a successful workplace with four simple concepts:

  1. Make their day
  2. Be there
  3. Play
  4. Choose your attitude

“We took a stand that we were going to become world famous. We just said it and it became so.”

How did the FISH! Philosophy come into play? It started when the fish market owner, John Yokoyama, was nearing bankruptcy in the late 1980s. He and his team consulted a business coach and changed their ways completely to start focusing on those four aspects. They introduced flying fish, interactive games and customer performances. In an interview Yokoyama said: “We took a stand that we were going to become world famous. We just said it and it became so.” So the guy in the picture above isn’t an act. He loves what he does.

Well-known businessman and hospitality expert Jon Taffer hit the concept on the head. “When my company does a good job, we make people happy,” he said. “They laugh, they smile, they have a good time – that’s what we do for a living. Any business doing that is making a noble effort.” He probably read the book.

It’s important to try to simplify the problem as much as you can, but I recognize it’s also very hard. The FISH! culture teaches you to think about creating the kind of workplace ethos you want to succeed. Even if you love your job, you probably don’t love every single thing about it but the point is to bring joy to how you approach it. And because of that, I think it’s more important than anything to choose your attitude.


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