(2 minute read)

During 1997, after filming a documentary on Canada’s Vancouver Island, filmmaker John Christensen was shopping in Seattle when he heard cheering in the distance. Intrigued, he encountered a crowd surrounding a small fish market. Suddenly, a fishmonger tossed a large salmon to a co-worker behind the counter, who made a spectacular one-handed catch as the crowd applauded.

Christensen claimed the positive energy was electric, and hastily arranged for a camera crew to join him and spend time with the fishmongers, who seemed to have some secret ingredient to engage customers – and to sell fish!

The fishmongers treated any customers – and observers – as friends. Despite the idea that selling fish can be considered cold and tiring work, these fishmongers approached each day with energy and engagement.

In their analysis of the footage, and from first-hand observations, Christensen and his team identified four practises operating among the team at Pike Places Fish Market.

Be There

Be emotionally present for people. It’s a powerful message of respect that improves communication and strengthens relationships.


Tap into your natural way of being creative, enthusiastic, and having fun. Play is the spirit that drives the curious mind.

Make Their Day

Find simple ways to serve or delight people in a meaningful, memorable way. It’s about contributing to someone else’s life.

Choose Your Attitude

Take responsibility for how you respond to what life throws at you. Your choice affects others. Ask yourself: “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers?”

Known simply as ‘The FISH Philosophy’, the approach, engagement, and attitude of this group of fishmongers from Seattle has impacted workplaces worldwide, where managers and leaders have shared this messaging with their respective teams.


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