How Fishing Taught Me To Be Better At Business

August 11, 2019

I distinctly remember the day that my Dad bought me my first Zebco spinning reel for my birthday. It was a kid-sized pole and came with a tackle box full of bobbers, weights, lures and Eagle Claw hooks. Every chance I got I took my rod with me in search of Sunnies or the more elusive Catfish that lurked in the mud deep below the water’s surface. Very little now or since has captured my imagination more than the anticipation of catching a big fish or any fish for that fact.

As I look back I realized fishing has always been a part of my life. From my early Zebco days to fishing trips with my Dad to my newly discovered love of mimicking the behavior of flies on water. Fishing has always been there and I have enjoyed every moment of my time on the water.

What wasn’t as apparent to me is how much fishing had subconsciously prepared me for my career in business and sales.

Fishing requires patience, timing, skill, understanding and persistence. Just like fishing, business is a numbers game. You have to cast and keep casting if you hope to catch a fish. The more you cast the more you will catch. Even the worst fishermen can level the playing field by his or her’s sheer volume of casts. If you are to be successful you need to build up your intestinal fortitude because the overwhelming majority of the time you won’t catch anything, but you must keep trying.

The best fishermen I’ve ever encountered have a passion for the sport and an innate ability to see things from the fish’s point of view. Successful fishermen think in terms of “What the fish would want”. The best fly fishers think about how they can make the most authentic presentation while mending along the way to get the fish to bite.

Skilled fishermen leave very little to chance. They own the factors they can control and they don’t worry about the ones they cannot. They take time to study details like time of day, season, current, water temp, and a myriad of other factors that might influence whether the fish might take the bait. They study and hone their craft and find mentors who’s successes they hope to emulate.

Cast after cast you need to continually evolve your technique and be on the constant move to find your fish. You can be assured that any success you do have will be short lived if you don’t adapt as the fish get smarter and the competition moves in on prime fishing holes.

On a recent fly fishing trip to Oregon I witnessed first hand the importance of the relationship between the fisherman and the fish. It was the first time I had seen anything like it in all of my years of fishing. When I was young the only fate a caught fish had was a date with some Crisco, Panko and a frying pan. Now fishermen take real care when it comes to the fish. They strive to protect the fish at all costs. They respect the fish because the fishermen and guides understand their business and livelihoods are directly tied to the fish’s survival. Now, many fishermen do whatever it takes to keep the fish growing and thriving.

The parallels between fishing and business are prodigious.

Earlier in my career I focused on what was important to me and the companies that I worked for. I thought in terms of what would earn me the most money or accolades that would advance my career.

With maturity I have learned that any success gained is only achieved by helping others get what they want first. Just like fishing I think about what will keep clients growing and thriving first and my needs second. Now as Managing Partner of my own firm Juno Collective ( I focus on adding value, building sustainable relationships and surrounding myself with exceptional people who’s success I hope to emulate. More importantly fishing has taught me the importance of mental toughness, patience and persistence.

Ultimately the most successful fisherman and businessmen are the ones that love what they do. Joy and passion are the only things that will keep you motivated to do what is necessary when times are tough.

If you want to grow your business, go pick up a rod and start casting!