What does it take for an organization to become “World Famous”? I found out this week while spending some time in Seattle with the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market.

This team is all in and passionate about their vision of “Being World Famous”, and “World Peace, an idea whose time is come”. It was very clear that leaders at Pike Place Fish Market were extremely intentional about building:

  • Shared Vision
  • Energy with their team
  • Performance
  • Relationships
  • Personal Character

Fishmongers, Anders Miller, Yori Oyloe, and Taho Kakutani spent all the time I wanted in talking to them about their company and culture. They are 3 of the 16 fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market. The average tenure of their team is between 15 – 16 years with the company.

World Famous Fishmonger Taho

These guys regularly put in 12-hour days. Additionally, 2x/month they have an all-team meeting after their day is completed over dinner with the owner. That meeting took place during my visit in Seattle. Even though these meetings add 3 more hours to their already long days, they all look forward to these meetings.

They said these meetings are where they build their teamwork, camaraderie, and relationships with each other. At these meetings they discuss not only how well they are doing at advancing their vision of “Becoming World Famous” and most recently “World Peace, an idea whose time has come”, but also how each of them are doing at advancing their own Personal Vision. They review progress on goals, talk about current issues like how to deal with the media, and end each meeting with a time of acknowledgement, where each person takes a turn at acknowledging another for what they really appreciate about him. How great is that! What a commitment from leadership and team members alike.

These meetings of intention did not surprise me. People don’t work at jobs for 15 – 40 years where they are doing physically demanding work for 12 hours a day in the public’s eye, if they did not feel valued by the organization, and if they were not able to live their own personal purpose and values.

They shared with me how they “LOVE” their teammates, and they would do whatever it takes to help each other achieve their dreams.  When asked what “Being World Famous” means to them they shared that it means making a positive difference with everyone they come into contact with, and being the very best they can be! Wow!!

One quote from Anders really stood out for me when he said “This is a way of being for us, both in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. I want to be adding value to people’s lives wherever I am”. Taho said “It is very important for us to be vulnerable and open to learning from everyone. We all have so much to learn by truly being present with people on a daily basis.”

World Famous Fish Monger Anders

Isn’t that what God asks us to do? Whether you are a fishmonger, a cashier, an accountant, a doctor, a CEO, or whatever profession you are in, God wants us to be there for people, and add value to their lives by loving them. What a spectacular model of servant leadership these fishmongers are for all of us.

There have been 4 books written about the culture at Pike Place Fish Market. “Fish!” was a bestseller. I was able to see first hand by talking to their team that this is real, it is not a fictitious story. As Taho said “It would be much harder to have to come to work and fake it each day! We just come to work and live our values, in an effort to spread this Peace and culture throughout the world”.

My key learning’s from spending time with Anders, Yori, and Taho were:

  • Shared vision is extremely powerful and leads to significant passion in the workplace!
  • A team that is aligned with an organization’s vision and values will have a huge amount of energy!
  • Alignment doesn’t happen by accident. You have to build intentional communication, discussion, and training (in this case 2 All Employee Meetings / Month) into your routine.
  • When an organization truly values it’s team members (fishmongers in this case) it will lead to loyalty, competency, and a high performing team.
  • Being present in people’s lives (employees, customers, and vendors) and looking to add value to them will build relationships and lead to being “World Famous”!
  • This is an organization of high character team members that have built trust with everyone they interact with, which has made them “World Famous”.

If you ever get to Seattle, be sure to stop by and meet the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market. It will be well worth your time. Until then, let’s learn from them on how to become World Famous, by making a positive difference in every person’s life that you come into contact with.

Servant Leadership & “World Peace, an idea whose time has come”!!

Mark Deterding

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.    Ephesians 4:29