Hack the Planet had a brief discussion about the 80% company where they mentioned the story about the Mexican Fisherman and the American MBA:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. “Not very long,” answered the man. “So, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was enough to meet his needs. The American asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?” “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go to the village to see my friends, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American interrupted: “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle-man, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican. “20, perhaps 25 years,” said the American. “And after that?” “Afterwards? That’s when it really gets interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions.” “Millions? Really? And after that?” “After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings playing the guitar and enjoying your friends.”

The joke is dated, though. From what I’ve heard, read, and seen, sustenance fishing is not possible in most parts of the world. See, for example, this PBS Special, Empty Oceans, Empty Nets.

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