Fly fishing and jumping to solutions….

valuable lessons for our business livesOne of my favorite pastimes is to enjoy the serenity and beauty of fly fishing for trout.   Sometimes it feels a bit odd to try and outsmart a fish after working in high powered intellectual environment. Hard to believe for some that it is such a worthy adversary. Once in a while the mighty trout can help teach us valuable lessons for our business lives…


It was a warm day in central Pennsylvania and I was very excited to be going out on the stream with a guide who I used before. His name was Jack — about 80 years old with the vigor of a person far less in years. We made our way through the woods to our destination and the excitement of the chase was starting to get very strong.


I had pre rigged my fly rod with a fly that I thought would work. Once we reached the stream I started to enter the water. Jack was furious with me. He asked me what I was doing (not that nicely).  I told him I was getting ready to cast to a likely spot across the stream. He made me exit the water, sit on a log and observe. He wanted me to keep looking at the water to try and better understand what the trout were feeding on. Were they rising or eating below the surface? Sipping or splashing when they ate? While it was hard to sit and observe, I learned valuable information on what would make my day much more successful. If I had jumped to it as I wanted to, I would’ve been using the wrong fly, and potentially lose my shot at the fish.


Wow – too often in our sales meetings we jump to solutions the first chance we get. We don’t take the time to fully understand our clients’ behaviors and needs. We don’t prepare properly. Worst of all, we can get lazy because we’ve been doing this a long time. Often that rush to solution will hamper our ability to be successful further down the road. Take the time to prepare, ask the right questions and listen to what is being told to you.


What kind of fisherman are you?   The one the jumps into the stream with a pre set fly or the one who can battle the wary trout because you understand their feeding activities?

3 responses to “Fly fishing and jumping to solutions….

  1. Excellent article David. I believe taking the time to prepare for client meetings and listening to clients are crucial for success.

  2. Great blog- premature presentation. We see this often with new AND tenured sales reps. They get so excited they uncover a need that they rush to solution. Problem is, the competition uncovers the same need because that was the easy one. Puts the customer in the position to chose a provider based on price. How do you get them to keep discipline in the qualify phase to uncover more needs?

  3. David, David, David, too many years jumping into the salt blind-casting to stripers and blues I guess. A good book on this topic is: “The Rise: Streamside Observations on Trout, Flies and Fly Fishing” by Paul Schullery. It is one of the few books I kept when we downsized our lives before moving to Florida last summer.

    Seriously, last week I spoke to 60 of our junior advisors and made a similar observation: What do you do when you first walk into a prospective client’s home or office, observe or start talking? My point was that those who observe their surroundings might have a better idea of what “fly” to use to “attract” a new client. As second point I made was to listen, and specifically hear, what the prospective client was saying, rather than resorting to the canned pitch or the fat Powerpoint some use as a script. I recall Dan W and his “thin to win” mantra.

    Hope all is well. Tight line,

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