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Cast of Characters
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.
Jaison Scott was practically born at the Market, and he has worked at Pike Place Fish for seven years. He is well known as an outstanding drummer for Severhead, a hard-driving Seattle band. Darren Kilian has been with Pike Place Fish for five years; he can usually be found at the computer near the clam and mussel displays, putting together many of the Internet orders. Dan Bugge, known to everyone by just his last name, has been with Pike Place Fish for three years. He is best known for throwing a fish into a baby carriage—with the baby still in it! Don't worry; the baby was okay, if a bit startled.
Chris Bell currently is the utility person and driver. Every day he picks up the freshest fish available to mankind and keeps the rhythm going by making sure everything is well stocked. Andy Frigulietti came to Seattle from Boston and has worked with Pike Place Fish for nearly four years. He works in front of the crab and lobster displays with Erik Espinoza, who has worked at the Market for about two years. Erik has had the opportunity to travel to some interesting vacation destinations.
Ryan Dehn, also known as "Bison," has worked on and off with Pike Place Fish for about three years. Hard to track down, Bison's always on the go and keeps all the displays well stocked. Anders Miller has been with Pike Place Fish for about three years and spends most of his time behind the counter (also known as "up on top"), catching and filleting the fish thrown his way. He also delivers orders to the hotels after the shop closes in the evening. Usually behind the counter with Anders is Jeremy Ridgway, a self-proclaimed expert-in-training who has been with Pike Place Fish for about one year.
When he's not cruising around Seattle on his Harley, Russell Price works in front of the king salmon or crab displays and has been aboard for three years. Ben Bish, Bear's son, has been working part-time at Pike Place Fish since he was fifteen years old. He also generally works out in front, by the crab and shellfish displays or by the king salmon display.
Matt Lewis, Doug Strauss, Dave Brooks, and Ryan Kimura also worked at Pike Place Fish while I was compiling the stories for the book. Matt and Dave are now attending college, Doug teaches high school locally, and Ryan moved to Las Vegas for another job opportunity. Each of them visits Pike Place Fish regularly, so you might see them at the Market as well.
One thing to note is that each of the fishmongers is responsible for being able to do anything that is required —cross training at its finest! They each work up on top, answer the phones, work out in front, put together shipping orders, make deliveries—everything.
Other contributing members of the cast are longtime consultant Jim Bergquist and his team, who help facilitate the process of creating goals and solving problems at Pike Place Fish.
Catch! of the Day
If you have not had the opportunity to visit Pike Place Fish, it might be helpful to know what a normal day looks like. Every day except Sunday begins at 6:30 a.m. (Sunday begins at 7:00 a.m.), when the fishmongers get into a huddle to discuss the goals for the day. They talk about how much inventory of each type of fish they have on hand and about what they want to accomplish on that day. The huddle ends with a loud, ceremonial "Aayyyyeeee!"
After the huddle, each fishmonger sets up a different seafood display, called a "show." On a typical day, the shows include smoked, boxed, and king salmon, shellfish and crab, parrot fish and other exotic-looking fish, monkfish, clams and mussels, and oysters. While some of the fishmongers set up the displays in front of the counter, other fishmongers work behind the counter, cutting up the fillets and steaks for display behind the glass.
Once everything is set up, the fishmongers hose down the walkways, clean the display case glass, and hang labels to identify the different types of fish. Many of the fillets and steaks look quite similar, and it takes a keen eye to distinguish between them. All the while, early-bird customers are making purchases. In addition to the fish products, customers buy "World Famous Pike Place Fish" T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other goodies. As the day unfolds, increasing numbers of visitors and customers come to the Market, creating a lot of activity. The fishmongers move all day, taking orders off the phone and the Internet and shipping fish to every imaginable distant corner of the world.
If you want to see the action from your home, check out the Pike Place Fish website and select webcam. One of the things you will see is that any time a customer places an order, the fishmonger serving him or her literally throws the fish about ten to fifteen feet to another fishmonger, who catches it while standing behind the counter. There is not a lot of room for error, but the fishmongers have become quite skilled at throwing crab, salmon, and even bags of clams. It is a well-synchronized process, and no one throws a fish until the fishmonger taking the order calls out the specific order to the others. Once the order is yelled to the crew, the crew responds by repeating the order aloud. Then the fish fly! Because of their communication system, it is rare to see the fishmongers make a mistake.
Originally, the crew threw fish in order to avoid walking all the way to the counter to weigh a customer's order. However, customers and visitors got such a kick out of seeing fish fly that it has become a part of Pike Place Fish's culture. Sometimes customers even get in on the action, and while visiting the Market you might see someone try their hand at catching a flying fish. This usually gets many laughs from the watching crowd—those fish can be slippery!
At 5:45 p.m., sharp, one of the fishmongers yells "five forty-five" to initiate the closing process. It takes approximately forty-five minutes to break down the displays and put away all the fish for the night. By 6:30, everything is stowed, and the crew gets into another huddle. They talk about how the day went in relation to the goals that were set in the morning huddle. They divide the tips they earned throughout the course of the day, and then they close shop. One of the fishmongers will then deliver orders to customers who are guests staying at the various local hotels.
The Map and the Territory
One thing that you may notice as you read through the fishmongers' stories is that sometimes their language seems a little odd. While the terms and jargon are catchy, the power of the stories does not come from the specific terms; it comes from the attitude and mental framework reflected in the terms. The language is simply a reflection of the concepts and underlying Pike Place Fish principles. Stocked displays at the Pike Place Fish stall
The relationship between the language and the principles is analogous to a map and the territory a map depicts. A map is not exactly what the actual territory looks like, but it is nonetheless a depiction of the characteristics of the territory. The map represents a tool to help you understand what you might expect in the actual territory. The same is true of the language the fishmongers use: the language is simply a tool to understand the guiding principles that make the fishmongers effective in their lives and at work.
Before we get started, Russell and Anders have the following introduction for you:
Some of you may know who we are, and some of you may not. Whatever the case may be, we want to acknowledge you for supporting us and believing in what we stand for, for the commitment to yourself that led you to this book, and for your willingness to listen to some ideas that may be different from the ones you have now. We believe your willingness to be open to these ideas is the key to a future of infinite possibilities. Enjoy!
Russell and Anders
It's All over Here
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.
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.
There is an unspoken pattern within most of the stories—the underlying belief that "It's all over here." At Pike Place Fish, this simple statement refers to the principle that I am responsible for what I experience and how I react to what occurs in my life. The fishmongers' sense of responsibility for themselves and for others within their organization is demonstrated through their actions and language. Their stories reflect an underlying set of guiding questions, including:
* What is my intention?
* Are my behaviors aligned with my intention?
* Does what I am doing reflect my intention?
* What is the outcome that I am going to make happen?
The first story, told by Chris, not only reflects the pattern noted above but also depicts how ordinary happens and greatness is generated. Before working at Pike Place Fish, Chris worked at a customer service call center for a well-known phone company. At the time, he was unaware of the choices that could make his work and his life much more fulfilling. He had goals about what he wanted in life but he wasn't doing anything proactive to achieve them. He didn't feel like an integral part of a team at work, and more importantly, he didn't know that there was a possibility that it could be any different.
Before working at Pike Place Fish, I was going through the motions of work, just letting life happen. Things would come up and I'd deal with them. I had a vision of being financially successful but I wasn't doing any of the footwork to make it happen, nor was I really committed to making it happen.
Chris did not think of his job at the call center as a career. He never felt ownership of what occurred at work. He worked on the phone with a caller, fixed the caller's problem, and away they went. In his mind, anyone could replace him at his computer, doing his duties.
Since I've been working at Pike Place Fish, I've dedicated myself to the visions of "world famous" and making a difference in the world. I re-dedicate myself every day. Things still come up, but I've learned that I can choose to do a world famous job or just do it half-ass. I now know it's my choice. It feels like if I am not here, my contribution isn't either. While I could have had the same experience at the call center, I just didn't know at the time that it was a possibility.
If I went back to the call center now, work would be a world of difference. Every customer would feel they just experienced the best customer service they'd ever had and would feel I took care of them effectively. They would know I genuinely cared about how they felt about my service. And I wouldn't just keep it to myself. I'd show other people on my team how to create relationships and treat people like people, rather than somebody at the other end of the phone.
My customer service ratings at the call center were high, and I felt like I did a good job. But knowing what I know now, I wouldn't just do a good job—I'd be doing a world-class job and getting everyone around me to be doing it, too.
From Human Doers to Human Beings
While selling fish is the primary focus of Pike Place Fish, it is only part of the equation. One guiding principle that makes Pike Place Fish so unique is the fishmongers' awareness of doing and being. It is ironic that we call ourselves human beings, because we tend to be far more concerned with what we are doing. As human doers go, we can do some pretty amazing things; however, the fishmongers realize that awareness of who they are being is just as important, if not more important, than an awareness of what they are doing.
Being is not exactly a new concept, but there seems to be a shift in thinking taking place; people are increasingly concerned with the quality of their life experience. It is important to realize that your experience and your achievements are the result of what you do, of your actions and behaviors. What you do results from your being, your essence, or what makes you uniquely you. The process is depicted in the following diagram:
Being -> Doing -> Having
Being includes your core beliefs or underlying assumptions. Your essence and underlying assumptions drive what you do. Doing refers to the act of performing your actions and your observable behaviors. Ultimately, who you are being and what you are doing leads to outcomes. Having reflects a natural occurrence, a result or consequence of one's attitudes, understanding, and behaviors.
So, what does this mean to the fishmongers?
The fishmongers have fun at Pike Place Fish, but the fun is not simply a result of throwing fish. They have fun at work because each fishmonger takes personal responsibility for the fulfillment of the Pike Place Fish vision of "world famous" and for making a positive difference in people's lives.
In the following story, Dicky recollects Pike Place Fish's process of transformation. Dicky has worked with many different fishmongers over twenty years, and he believes that the current crew's greatness is a result of an awareness of who they are being. He believes the first step to understanding being is to recognize one's intention.
There was a lot more to our transformation to greatness than what we were doing. We used to be like most fish markets, but then we started having meetings in the back room. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time. We'd have beer, sit there for hours, and create financial goals for the month—after working all day. It was a start.
Excerpted from Catch! by Cyndi Crother Copyright © 2004 by Cyndi Crother and Fish Boys LLC. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 12, 2004
'Catch! A Fishmonger¿s Guide to Greatness' effectively teaches one how to put the fishmonger¿s beliefs into actions in one¿s life or at work. The lifestyles and lessons of the fishmonger can be taken back to the office, school or life in general. The humor, real life stories and great advice make it a fast and enjoyable read. One really learns how to see the good in everything for ¿problems are a good thing¿. After reading 'Catch' one realizes that he is responsible for his own actions. Catch outlines how one should react to a bad situation, and proves that its all in one¿s head. Nothing happens to someone, things do happen but it matters how that person responds to the situation. Putting the beliefs of the fishmonger into action is all in the readers hands after perusing this book. One will know if they got anything out of the book, by just making the choice to read and react right away to it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 2, 2004
While author Cyndi Crother acknowledges that another wildly successful business book about this fish market preceded her, she has insights to offer based on time she spent with the free-wheeling, fish-throwing denizens of Seattle's World Famous Pike Place Fish. Her book picks up on the spirit of past coverage, but she adds the fishmongers' philosophical ruminations to her own slightly mushy, eclectic New Age managerial wisdom. This is not for strictly business readers, but it will ring a chord with those who seek to balance life and work. It's about warmth, and treating people with sensitivity, and creating your own reality by aligning your thoughts and actions with your intentions. It is also about workplace comradeship, customer service and how to sell the heck out of fish all day long. It's all pretty entertaining, given the lively background of the fish market. We suggest you throw a line in the water; you might just hook something you can really use.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2004
'Catch!' exemplifies more than just training jargon. It purports much more. Cyndi Crother was able to show that one's success is contingent on the attitude of that individual. There exists no quick remedy, no fast money making scheme, and certainly no magic tricks to become successful. The 'it's all over here' motto throughout the book means just that. People must stop squabbling about the state of their affairs and learn to do something for themselves. We all control our own destiny, Cyndi just happens to be one of the few who recognized the simple, but very powerful concept!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 27, 2008
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