Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Much is Enough

It's been a while since I've been to Mexico City (I went on several week-long "pilgrimages" with people from my church back in the mid-2000's).  These were fascinating experiences which gave me a sense of the similarities and differences between the United States and Mexico.  One aspect of Mexican culture that was most fascinating for me was the pace of life.  The people I met were non-anxious and laid-back.  (The start time of every meeting came with the suffix "-ish".)  It was a fascinating adjustment for the members of our time-obsessed group of Americans.

This story, which I noticed on the wall of Jimmy John's sandwich shop, reminded me of the contrast between lifestyles in our two countries:

The 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 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 a siesta with my wife, 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 out.  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.  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 NYC 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?" 
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?" asked the fisherman, "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 a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening, sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos!" 
Author Unknown

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