Fishes and Fishing

There’s this old saying that we’ve all heard.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach him to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Of course, we modify that last bit. Teach him to fish, and he’ll bitch that you didn’t give him that fish you promised. Teach him to fish, and he’ll ask for a refund because you can’t take it back. Teach him to fish, and you can’t sell him fish anymore.

But here’s the blunt reality, okay?

In the info product business, everything is both a fish and fishing.

If you just want a fish, whatever info product you buy is a fish. It’s a thing that you have which provides a certain value. It is something you can read. And they sold it to you by claiming it was a fish; nobody buys fishing lessons on the basis of “become a great fisherman.” They buy fish, on the basis of “have more fish than you will ever need.”

But it’s still an info product, so it’s actually fishing. It’s not really a fish, it’s teaching you how to go out and get a fish. You still have to go out and get the fish yourself. In fact, you probably need to buy some tools and equipment, too. You’ll probably need some practice. And your fish will probably not be as big as the teacher’s.

And anyone learning to fish will look at that and say “okay, sure; I’m cool with that.” Then he’ll go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on rods, reels, line, lures, flies, plugs, hooks, bait, a tackle box, maybe even a Goddamn boat. He’ll spend hours every day practicing, casting a fly into the middle of a hula hoop just to work on his accuracy. On the weekends, he’ll spend eight and ten hours honing his skills. He’ll subscribe to magazines. Read books. Talk to other fishermen. Watch shows on television. Study maps of fishing areas. Research the kind of fish he wants to catch, their habitat, their lifecycle, their routines.

And never once will he come home from a fishing trip saying “the people who sold me all this shit were lying.” He won’t storm into a shop and slam down something he bought last week, pointing at the Rapala logo and demanding his money back because he didn’t catch a fish that big over the weekend.

The same goes for pretty much anything. Horseback riding? You’re going to need a horse, and you’ll need to know how to take care of it, and you’ll need a place to keep it, and it needs to be fed and watered and groomed. And it will be a good long while before you’re any good. Computer programming? You’ll need a computer, the right software, the right training. And again, long time before you’re any good.

So why do people think running a business is going to be any different? It’s not fucking magic, people. It’s work.


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