What is the Fish Philosophy?

What is the Fish Philosophy

The FISH! Philosophy is training that inspires workplaces and individuals to choose to create the kind of life they desire. It is a simple Way of Being that allows teams to come together and agree to enjoy work more.

It has been around for over 20 years and has gained global recognition as the number 1 culture training program in the world. In fact, 80% of Fortune 500 companies have used The FISH! Philosophy training.

Where does the fish philosophy come from?

The FISH! Philosophy video was inspired by the Fishmongers at Pike Place FISH! and it was John Christensen that decided to share their story to help other businesses learn from their success.

ChartHouse Learning

ChartHouse Learning is the official home of the FISH! Philosophy, offering a family of FISH! Philosophy learning products for people who want to build more effective teams and organisations. Founded by Ray Christensen over 50 years ago his son John, assumed leadership of ChartHouse Learning in 1998.

John Christensen

John CEO ChartHouse

John Christensen was fascinated by people who loved their work. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a filmmaker and natural storyteller. During a business trip to Seattle, he found himself with a free day and decided to check out the Pike Place Public Market.

This is where he came across the Pike Place Fish Market and he was captivated by what they were doing and how much they appeared to love their work.

John’s visit inspired him to make the video FISH!, which became a global phenomenon and the basis of the FISH! Philosophy training program.


fish market workplace fishmonger

The Fishmongers work in an extremely difficult job. They work 12-14 hours a day, in cold weather and deal with raw, stinky fish all day long.

They also have to sell the fish and deal with customers. But they realised that they wanted to enjoy their work more and not have it just be a JOB. So they came together and decided to become World Famous.

World Famous Pike Place

famous pike place fish

The concept of World Famous was actually brought up by one of the younger Fishmongers when they were having a team meeting to see how they could improve the business. He said, “What if we become World Famous?”

This then became their vision and they chose to look through the eyes of being World Famous. What would you do differently if you were World Famous? How would you treat your customers? or Each other?

What are the 4 principles of the Fish Philosophy?

This philosophy consists of four principles or practices that can be used to underpin an organisation’s values and mission statement.

Be There

be there - principle

Be There is the foundation practice of FISH! Even though we are all more distracted and busier than ever before and when we focus on actually Being There and living in the moment it allows us to connect with people on a whole new level.

When you are being there you are not living in the past or worried about the future you are just there in the present. When you go to work you can choose to leave your personal baggage at the door and really Be There.

You actually listen and then take new actions based on what you heard. Being There builds trust and creates respect. You can practice being there simply by acknowledging your customers with a smile or positive tone on the phone.

Focus on what you are doing and be surprised at how much more you can achieve when you learn to set aside distractions.

Choose Your Attitude

choose your attitude - principle

Choosing Your Attitude is something that is 100% in our control. We may not be able to control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. When you understand that they can choose to be positive, optimistic, or thoughtful during a stressful and challenging time, it has a massive positive impact on others around them.

Everyone knows that your point of view is contagious the question is do you have an attitude that others want to catch? It’s about waking up and consciously choosing your attitude for the day.

Make Their Day

make their day - principle

Make Their Day encourages people to be on the lookout for ways to create moments of happiness for people. It can be a little as a smile or as big as planning a surprise flash dance mob.

The goal is to invite your team to be on the lookout for people, whether that be colleagues or customers, that need their day made. The best way to understand how to actually Make Someone’s Day is to first Be There for them.

That way you know what they care about and your Make Their Day moment can have a personal connection with maximum reward outcome.


play principle

Play is a worrisome practice for some leaders since most people don’t know how to find appropriate fun that works for them.

Obviously, fun is not about throwing Fish. So how can you tell your team they are free to PLAY? Play is not what you do but rather How you do it!

When you create trust by Being There the Play starts to come naturally and that’s when innovation happens.

Why Businesses Use Fish Philosophy

fun ideas

From a fish market to Fortune 500 companies The FISH! Philosophy has many fans. Here are some insights as to why Apple, McDonald’s, Bunnings, HOTA, and even Harley Davidson use the fish philosophy.

Positive Workplace Culture

Positive company culture has values that every employee knows by heart. Workplace involvement: Great company cultures support involvement and provide fun ways for their employees to get together, both within the office during normal work hours as well as outside of it when they have time away from busy schedules.

Increased Employee Engagement

Employees crave feedback, and it influences their level of engagement. Fish promotes scheduling check-ins for each employee with their manager, then encourages middle management to establish regular review sessions with their team as an ongoing initiative in order to improve the employees’ comfort levels on a daily basis!

Improved Employee Retention

Staff turnover is expensive and can cost businesses 90 to 200 percent of the employee’s salary in lost productivity, ramp up through training, and often results in errors or mistakes that impact poor customer service. When you capture your employees’ hearts and they know you actually care about them they stay longer. Employee retention is one KPI that all managers are held accountable for and improving the overall culture is the key. Create an environment of trust and respect where you value and appreciate your team and watch your retention rates soar like never before.

Customer Service

Fish helps people become aware that they have the ability to choose consciously a positive attitude and let’s face it this is an essential step in any Customer Service Improvement program. If your customers are greeted with a warm and friendly smile you are off to a great start. Additionally, people like to be around people that are uplifting and make them feel good. If your team embraces Fish and learn how to make this a Way of Being it will come naturally and so will the increased sales and revenue as a result. Customers who are treated well are far more likely to be loyal to your brand and studies have found that these customers are worth up to 10X as much as the value of their initial purchase.

Bottom Line

Does Fish Philosophy Work?

fun co workers

We often hear stories from fellow FISH fans where they share the first time they were introduced to FISH and something about it just “stuck”.

They also say it is “life-changing”, honestly we are not making that up, we continue to hear this from our training participants. People absolutely LOVE this program.

What makes it so special? Is it the fact that this training program encourages you to be yourself and invites you to live your best life? Or is it that this training is fun and started because a group of guys trusted each other enough to throw FISH?

Imagine what would happen if people at your organisation felt comfortable to be themselves and throw their whole heart and soul into what they did every day. What kind of difference would that make to your organisation?

What we do know about this training program is that it sticks and anyone that is in learning and development knows that this is one of the most important things you can achieve with your training for it to be memorable and effective.

Learning Fish Philosophy Online


The FISH! award-winning online course is interactive, engaging, and effective. With more and more teams working remotely or apart sharing this philosophy online helps to bring teams closer together with a common language and encourages lighthearted interaction during the engagement.

The course only takes 45-60 minutes to complete and includes videos, interactive activities, action planning, and Digital Credentials being issued upon completion.

It shares practical examples of how individuals across various industries are living FISH each day.

Sign up for more information

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