Catch!: A Fishmonger's Guide to Greatness

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Seattle locals and tourists alike flock to Pike Place each day to watch the fish fly. But Pike Place Fish is about more than just crowd-pleasing entertainment --- there is an underlying philosophy at work that has made the market both wildly successful and internationally renowned. In an unusual combination of oral biography and practical business blueprint, Crother and the fishmongers take you behind the scenes at the famous market to illustrate the PPF philosophy and reveal the underlying assumptions that have made PPF the international phenomenon it is today. Catch! shows that to be "ordinary" is to be a victim of circumstances, responding to whatever comes one's way. To be "great" is to realize that anyone can live an extraordinary life. At Pike Place Fish, everyone is responsible for transforming themselves from ordinary to great by creating their own reality. The authors explore the issues of goals --- financial, personal and humanitarian --- and intention, showing how the crew itself creates these goals and works towards them in collaboration. Most importantly, Catch! examines the power of possibility and shows how you can achieve greatness in your own life. Catch! explores such guiding principles as coaching and acknowledgment that are lacking in many businesses, and shows that you, too, can be the prime mover in your own experience.

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1. A Day in the Life of World Famous Pike Place Fish

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Throughout this book, you will be reading stories from each of the fishmongers, so it might help to know a little bit about them. Johnny Yokoyama purchased Pike Place Fish in 1965 and used to work at the Market with the guys. These days the fishmongers pretty much keep the fish flying on their own; however, Johnny remains actively involved in coaching the crew and in leading them into an exciting and inspiring future.

Dicky Yokoyama, Johnny’s brother, started working at Pike Place Fish over twenty years ago and is presently one of the managers. Samuel “Sammy” Samson is the other manager, but you usually can’t see him because he’s moving so darn fast! Keith Bish, otherwise known as “Bear,” was the driver and utility person for years; now you can find him working at the king salmon display. Justin Hall has been working at Pike Place Fish since he was thirteen years old. He has been there for thirteen years, and his claim to fame is being in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most fish thrown in a minute.

 

2. Ordinary to Great

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People from all over the world visit World Famous Pike Place Fish to be jazzed up and to see the fishmongers throw fish. People will watch for hours in all weather, frigid or sunny (yes, it does get sunny in Seattle!). The fish market is a dynamic and exciting environment to visit, and while it is easy to see the fun, it is not as easy to see the philosophies behind the fun—the set of beliefs that the fishmongers live by to make it happen.

The intention of Catch! is to show you the workings of an organization that is different than most. The best part is that the fishmongers are ordinary people living extraordinary lives. The fishmongers offer you examples of how to put their beliefs into action in your own life—to unleash your own potential for greatness. There is a path to greatness; however, each person experiences it differently. The catch is that ordinary happens, but greatness is generated.

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Many people go through life reacting to circumstances and events rather than creating what happens. The vision of Pike Place Fish is to make a positive difference in people’s lives. By sharing their stories and insights, we hope to help you come one step closer to achieving greatness in your life. It is not so much that you follow the fishmongers’ process; rather, we want you to see that there is a place making a difference in the world, and that place is the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.

 

3. Intention and Commitment

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Have you ever thought about your intention in life? If you knew that a commitment to your intention would affect all of the relationships in your life, wouldn’t you take some time to think about it? One of the steps on the path to greatness is to live with a conscious purpose or intention. Unless you have been living your life with a conscious purpose or intention, you have to assume that, up to this point, your experiences are the result of an unconscious intention.

The fishmongers have each developed personal as well as collective intentions and commitments. We invite you to take a moment and think about the following questions:

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At Pike Place Fish, the fishmongers foster a collective intention to make a positive difference in people’s lives, and they are committed to one another’s greatness. Their commitment allows each fishmonger the opportunity to be great and to do amazing things. When you allow the people around you to know your intention and commitment, they will be equally committed to you—possibly even more committed. Intention and commitment often go hand in hand, as Andy’s story indicates.

 

4. Opportunities and Transformation

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The individuals that comprise Pike Place Fish’s world famous crew stand for and inspire the greatness of one another. Collectively, the crewmembers look each day for opportunities to make a powerful and positive difference in the lives of their customers. It is possible for one person to influence the way other people experience life. Collectively, that opens the door to many possibilities to make a difference. This is their commitment.

At various moments in all of the fishmongers’ careers, each has faced conflict, confrontation, an experience with an unhappy customer, or problems with a coworker. In those moments, the fishmongers have an opportunity to choose how they are going to participate in and experience the situation. The outcome is a direct result of the choices they make along the way. The good news is that at every moment there is an opportunity to change the course of the situation, and each situation is made up of hundreds or thousands of such opportunities.

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In the following story, Bugge faces an unhappy customer named Sarah. There are several times during Bugge’s story that could have gone many different directions. Because of his commitment to making a difference, however, Bugge chose to make this a positive and powerful experience. As you read his story, remember the fishmongers’ underlying belief that “it’s all over here.” Watch how that belief, combined with Bugge’s intention and commitment, affected the outcome of this situation.

 

5. Shaping Your Reality

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The fishmongers’ thoughts, words, and actions reflect the way they see the world and their reality. Language is the mechanism that the fishmongers use to connect them to their customers and to one another. Language is generally considered just a tool to communicate with others, but in a more powerful way, language connects you to your reality through your thought processes.

“Thinking” is how we talk to ourselves. The function of your mind is to process bits of information into other bits. It is like an internal feedback system, and things such as self-confidence, motivation, self-esteem, attitude, and achievement are internally based and are within each person’s own control. How you connect to your internal feedback system is through your thinking.

Pike Place Fish is no different from any other place when it comes to the concept of thinking. What is different is the awareness of thinking that goes along with the normal operations and physical aspects of their work. The fishmongers have realized that their personal thoughts and opinions shape the way they respond to everything in life; it also shapes how they see other people and how they think others see them. Thoughts and language shape how people view change and all of the opportunities and adversities that come with change.

 

6. Problems are a Good Thing

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At Pike Place Fish, the fishmongers view problems, conflict, or differences as a good thing. Creative conflict and problems are an opportunity for learning, growth, and transformation. It would be foolish to think that conflict does not occur at Pike Place Fish—it comes up every day, just as it occurs in every other company. The difference is the fishmongers’ commitment.

Each fishmonger at Pike Place Fish is committed to every other fishmonger’s greatness. Imagine how it would look if you knew the people in your life were committed to your success. How would things be different from how they are now? On the other hand, if all the people in your life knew that you were committed to their success, would anything change?

Problems force the fishmongers to deal with things out in the open, when they occur. The process allows them to solve a problem or to effectively deal with a situation. Coaching is one method the fishmongers use to communicate and solve problems. Their commitment to one another’s greatness alters the language they use and the tone of their voice when coaching, as well as the methods they use to convey information. Through coaching and problem-solving opportunities, the fishmongers recognize that they are each a part of something bigger, collectively, than each person is individually. These opportunities help the fishmongers stay on track toward accomplishing both personal goals and the collective goals of Pike Place Fish, as seen in Anders’s story.

 

7. Live what Inspires You

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The fishmongers believe that to live what inspires them requires expanding their focus and intention beyond themselves. The first step was for each person to take responsibility for their lives, including their thoughts, their words, and their actions. Once they began to inhabit a realm where “it’s all over here,” they transformed and expanded their focus beyond Pike Place Fish. Transformation occurred by creating an idea about what they would like to have in their lives and in their organization. Profound things happened when they did, and opportunities began to show up that they never could have imagined. At that moment, transformation was possible.

Anders shares how many people in organizations do not think about making a difference for their customers or clients. Business is simply business. He believes that people spend so much time focusing on making the sale that they lose sight of the person making the purchase. The irony is that focusing on the customer or client will generally lead to the initial desired outcome of making the sale.

 

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