Short Books club: FISH ! Book review and takeaways

Title of the book: Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results

Author: Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

The genre of the book: Self-help

Why was this title selected: John Christensen observed fish sellers at Pike Place Fish Market throwing fish in the air and it brought in high energy to the whole market including customers. He noticed the actual work of selling fish was repetitive and exhausting and how these fishmongers approached the way this boring repetitive task of selling fish was brought to life. He asked the fishmongers if he could film them and they agreed. From this film, the book Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results was then written. The concepts learned at this Fishmarket is now known as FISH philosophy.

Key Characters of the book: Mary Jane Ramirez, a manager from First Guarantee Financial, and Lonnie, a fishmonger from Seattle’s world-famous Pike Place Fish Market

The setting of the book: First Guarantee Office where Jane works especially the Third floor of the office which they call ” The Toxic Energy dump” and Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market

A short plot summary of the book: Following the death of her husband, Mary Jane accepts the promotion offer in the same office at the third floor where no one wants to work. The third floor is a place where there is no excitement in work, employees there feel bored if a new employee joins that employee loses spark due to the depressing culture, employees don’t use computers but use the old way to work and the employees at third floor are not aware of the market reality. That is why it is called “The Toxic Energy Dump” of the office. The challenge for Jane was to change this Third floor into an effective workplace. Jane was lost in thought of how to make this place into an energetic workplace when she stumbles upon the Pike Place Fish Market during her lunchtime. She immediately notices the energy, enthusiasm, and interaction the market fishmongers and customers had. There she meets Looney who listens to her problems and promises to help her and her staff learn the secrets of success of the Fishmarket. The first secret which Looney reveals to Jane is “Choose your attitude”. “There is always a choice about the way you do your work even if there is no choice about the work itself.” We can choose the attitude we bring to work”. The same philosophy is well narrated by Wolf one of the employees at the Fishmarket through his story. Jane understands the first secret and takes it back to her office which takes time but is then internalized by the Third-floor employees. Looking at how the employees have accepted the first secret she takes her children with her to the Fish marked to learn more. Looney involves her son in the fish work and through his son, he introduces Jane to the second and third secret which is “Play” and “Make their Day”. Fun turns things creative so it is important to play while you work. It is important to make a difference for everyone around you. A smile or a helping hand or lending an ear can make someone’s day. The fourth secret was” Focus on the customer in front of you and be tuned in to opportunities to be there for people.” So “Be Present”. Become engaged with all your heart in whatever you do. Jane after learning all these secrets brings her team for a field trip to this place and self-observation brings a change in the employees of the Third floor. Later, all the Third-floor employees divide them into four teams representing four-ingredient learned from the FISH market. The team brings in their team reports in presents it in a creative way in front of the employees, Jane, Looney, and Jane’s boss Bill. The Play team uses a game to come up with some great ideas to implement more fun with a happier atmosphere. The Make Their Day Team uses a survey to understand what others thought of them and came up with a list of strategies to implement. The Present Moment Team members relate personal stories on the importance of being present for people and identify how to be fully present for one another and their customers. The Choose Your Attitude Team report directs to the point, listing the benefits of choosing your attitude.

The book finishes with a look at life a year later where the “Third-floor” employees receive awards. The company entry has a board that outlines the four secrets and the new challenge for Jane who is now engaged to Looney is that the “Third floor” is a place now where everyone wants to work.

Your personal opinion about the book: It teaches the steps to take to learn to love what you do, and make your workplace an energetic, enthusiastic, and wonderful place to be. In fact, not only the workplace, the same philosophy can be applied in personal life.

Have you read something like this before? Can you talk about that experience ?: I have read many motivational books which touch these topics but this is very different. The storytelling with the message in this book is awesome. There are 107 pages to read but each page has something to say. If you pick it up you won’t feel like leaving it.

Should people read this book ?: A must-read for everyone.

Takeaways: All the four FISH philosophies.

  1. Choose your attitude
  2. Play
  3. Make someone’s day
  4. Be There

I liked the lines of the book and while reading philosophy one, I felt that this was also one of my feelings for a year and as a book the says as a student I was ready so this book came as a teacher to me through this book club.


The articles were also interesting to read. I would personally focus on “Choose your attitude” and work upon it. I would also apply my learning from the article which are the lines from the article itself.

  1. One thing at a time
  2. Put your distractions “away”: Decluttering your space and mind
  3. Take a break
  4. Choose your attitude and these can be constructive, optimistic, affirmative, and effective.


Article links:


-Bhargavi Bergi

Leave a Reply