As a pharmacist in a management and leadership role, I’m always looking for books with ideas about how to lead better. l love books about creating a better working environment, and anything that may uncover some blindspots I may have about my own organization. When I stumbled across the book Fish! in a thrift store for a mere $2.00 it caught my eye. And when I saw the endorsements with a forward by Ken Blanchard (author of the book, The One Minute Manager), I knew I had to give it a read. What follows are my takeaways from the book Fish!

“Fish!” by Stephen Lundin is a motivational business parable. Fish! explores the secrets to creating a positive work environment and improving employee engagement. Inspired by the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, the book presents four key principles. These principles can transform any workplace into a vibrant and productive environment.

The story revolves around Mary Jane Ramirez, a newly appointed supervisor at First Guarantee Financial. Mary runs a troubled department of a large company. Faced with low morale, high turnover, and a culture of negativity, Mary Jane needs help. She seeks guidance from a remarkable fishmonger named Lonnie. Through their conversations, Lonnie reveals the secrets to his team’s incredible success at the Pike Place Fish Market.

Choose Your Attitude

The first principle highlighted in the book is “Choose Your Attitude.” Lonnie teaches Mary Jane that attitude is a choice and that it greatly influences the overall work environment. He encourages her to approach her work with enthusiasm, positivity, and a sense of fun. By adopting a positive attitude, employees become more engaged, creative, and willing to go the extra mile.


The second principle is “Play.” Lonnie emphasizes the importance of injecting playfulness into the workplace. He demonstrates this through the fishmongers’ entertaining interactions with customers, such as throwing fish through the air and engaging in friendly banter. By infusing play into their daily activities, employees can create a dynamic and enjoyable work atmosphere that fosters creativity and teamwork. I’m not sure how to do this in the pharmacy yet, but I’m thinking!

Make Their Day

The third principle is “Make Their Day.” Lonnie explains that by going the extra mile to make someone’s day, employees can create a sense of fulfillment and purpose. This includes bother internal and external customers. Whether it’s surprising a coworker with a small act of kindness or providing exceptional customer service, these gestures create a positive ripple effect throughout the organization, boosting morale and improving relationships.

Be Present

The final principle, and the last of my takeaways from the book Fish! is “Be Present.” Lonnie teaches Mary Jane the importance of being fully present in the moment and actively listening to others. He emphasizes the value of genuine human connections, where employees feel heard and understood. By practicing active listening and showing empathy, individuals can build stronger relationships, enhance collaboration, and create a more supportive work environment.

As Mary Jane embraces these principles, she witnesses a remarkable transformation in her team. Through teamwork, enthusiasm, and a renewed sense of purpose, her employees begin to take ownership of their work and find joy in their daily tasks. The positive changes ripple throughout the department, improving productivity, customer satisfaction, and overall performance.

“Fish!” provides practical and actionable insights to improve workplace culture and employee engagement. The book emphasizes the power of a positive attitude, playfulness, acts of kindness, and genuine connections. By implementing these principles, organizations can create an environment where employees thrive, resulting in improved morale, productivity, and ultimately, success.

Overall, “Fish!” is an inspiring and engaging read that illustrates the transformative power of simple yet impactful principles. It serves as a reminder that work can be enjoyable, fulfilling, and meaningful when individuals actively choose to create a positive and vibrant atmosphere. Through the story of the Pike Place Fish Market, Stephen Lundin presents a powerful message that has the potential to transform any workplace into a place where people truly love what they do.

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Last modified: May 27, 2023