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Speaking of Financial Planning there is one short story which, for me, sums up exactly what Financial Planning is all about, and the part it plays (or not!) in people's lives. I first read it about 3 years ago and have often thought about sharing it here, but perhaps felt it wasn't 'financy' enough. That view changed when I was working with a really motivated and hard-working person recently, who was really consumed and motivated by growing her business (which she loved in fairness!) and making sure she made the most of the financial situation she finds herself in. I shared this story with her, and it really resonated with her. I am not going to pretend that it changed her life dramatically over-night but she did say that it gave her a little perspective on what is real importance to her both now and into the future....I hope you enjoy it!
An American businessman was holidaying in a small coastal village in Mexico in Spring. He went for an afternoon stroll on the beautiful sandy beach when a small wooden boat with just one fisherman inside pulled up onto the shore. Inside the small boat at the fisherman's feet were several large Yellowfin tuna fish. The American complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and wondered at their size.
“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.
“Only a little while, maybe 2 hours.” The Mexican replied with a smile.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough. I will sell most of these which will help pay for my family's immediate needs, and we will eat the rest!” The Mexican said.
“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep till about 11pm, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play cards with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you be much more successful. If you can catch that many fish in a couple of hours you should spend more time fishing maybe 8-10 hours per day and catch 5 times as many fish. With the proceeds you 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 and have many people working for you directly.”
“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually we could grow it so that you have your own processing plant. You would control the product, processing and distribution, meaning you take huge margins. 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 senor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then, senor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”
“Millions, senor? Then what?”
The American said slowly, “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 evenings where you could sip wine and play cards with your amigos…”
The Mexican fisherman looks at him, smiles knowingly and goes about his business!
If you dissect it you could probably pull several meanings from this but at the risk of stating the obvious I guess it screams of the value of knowing what is important to you as an individual, and that for many of us, irrespective of money/pensions/investments, we probably are quite lucky to have much of what is dear to us already!
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