Why Fish Philosophy Works

Pikes Place, a fish market in Seattle, is known for its fun style of business. They toss fish around as if they were footballs.

They have a sign that says, “Caution: Low Flying Fish.” Any business that has a sign about low flying product must be having fun. The employees love working there because they are engaged and willing to “ham” it up. The allow people to have fun and hire people according to their superpowers. They make sure that their employees are excited about creating a great experience.

People from all over visit this historic place to buy fish and watch the show. So it also attracts customers who are looking to buy quality fish and have a fun experience.

Do you want to retain your best employees and have more fun at work? You should probably check out the first 6 modules of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit. It has three main sections: team building ideas, games you can play with your co-workers, and how to create a more positive attitude.


Everybody wins!

John Christensen noticed the magic at Pike’s Place and created a documentary called “Fish!” which then spawned the book Fish Philosophy. There are four main concepts that Fish Philosophy focuses on. They are…

Be There

An employee who is engaged in his/her work isn’t concerned about anything, but the job at hand. They are there to do good work. It’s hard to put ourselves in the moment, but the more we can get lost in the work the more fun it is.

“It means getting out of your own ‘world’ so you can BE THERE for someone else. It means setting aside emotional baggage from the past, and worries about the future in order to appreciate the opportunities you have available to you, right now.”

- Fish Philosophy handout

Choose Your Attitude

What we choose to focus on will determine how we feel. If all we do is complain about making more money or wanting a better boss, we are creating a negative mindset. If we choose to focus on our wonderful co-workers and how we enjoy the work that we do, we are choosing to see the positive in our situation.

“Most of us believe our attitudes are caused directly by outside influences like unpleasant experiences or negative people. But while external pressures may trigger our feelings, we are the ones wearing those feelings like a suit of clothes. We can either be subservient to external events, few of which we have any control over, or we can take charge of our own response.”

- Fish Philosophy website

Make Their Day

We talk about the importance of gratitude on this site, specifically giving gratitude to others. Gratitude makes the giver feel good as well as the person who receives the compliment. When we stop worrying about how we are going to be happy at work and focus on helping others be happy, the byproduct is that our happiness increases.

“At a deeper level, “make their day” means taking a genuine interest in the unique gifts of others. Spontaneous or planned, when you make the effort to brighten someone’s day—not because you want a reward, but because that’s the person you want to be—you receive an internal gift that makes life even more meaningful as well. No matter what, making someone’s day is a win-win. Every single time.”

- Fish Philosophy website


Having fun at work is a must. If all a company does is make products and push them down people’s throats then work is a drag.

“An ‘all-business’ approach has a human cost: It’s not inspiring. We shut down emotionally and many who might make creative contributions keep that part of themselves at home.”

- Fish Philosophy handout

Fish Philosophy and Work Happiness Go Hand in Hand

When we work in the now (Be There), stop complaining and start noticing the good in our lives (Choose Attitude), recognize the importance of giving gratitude (Make their Day), and have fun at work (Play), then we are creating a work life that makes us happy.

And we all know happy employees give the best results.


As you know employee engagement is so important to creating an environment that supports employees emotional needs, so check out David Zinger's blog that focuses on creating more engaged employees.


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