Grow Your Business!: most of us as chairs have at some time participated in the exercise of considering the several perspectives, rationales – and pushes – for growing your business:

  • If you do not grow, you shrink and die.
  • You need to grow the business in order to provide career paths for your employees.
  • Growing your business keeps the energy high – and you need high energy in order to keep fresh thinking about your products and/or services.
  • Growing keeps you from becoming complacent.
  • Growing continues to provide jobs for our economy.

And many more.

As I recently went through the same exercise with our Convene Team I was reminded of a story I heard some years ago about growing the American Dream: it provides a light hearted – though not to be ignored – touch to the discussions about growth for growths sake.

Read and Smile!

The American businessman 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 siesta 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, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Wharton MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several 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 village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually to NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will that take?”

To which the American replied, “15 or 20 years”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said that would be 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!

“Then what?”

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