Selling fish in Seattle – and having fun

I’ve never been to the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, but people who have describe it as a joyful chaos. The fishmongers throw the fish and crabs around, catch them one-handed, yell at and with the customers and generally have a great time.

But things weren’t always great. Yokoyama, the owner, describes himself as an ex-tyrant, who only recently learned to treat employees as peers in stead of peons. And the reward has been to see the company come to life, and the customers have followed.

Let me give you an example of what happens in a company, where people have this much fun.

Just last January, which is typically a slow month in the fish business, Yokoyama suggested cutting back on workers’ hours in order to cut costs. The fishmongers balked and took him to task — not just for threatening to cut their hours, but for thinking negatively. And then they got to work: They dug up the phone numbers of everyone who had mail-ordered fish last year from Pike Place and started telemarketing. Pike Place’s January sales hit a record high this year.

This is from an excellent article in Fast Company, which describes Pikes Place Fish.

From their own website comes this inspiring text:
A few years ago, we at Pike Place Fish committed ourselves to becoming “world famous”. We?ve accomplished this – not by spending any money on advertising (we?ve never spent a dime), but by being truly great with people. We interact with people with a strong desire to make a difference for them. We want to give each person the experience of having been served and appreciated, whether they buy fish or not. We love them.

You know, I truly believe I’d rather sell fish for these guys, than be the CEO of some stiff, boring, old-fashioned company.

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