Jack Uldrich
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A Fishy Tale: Less is More

Posted in Books, Less is More

(This wonderful story was taken from Garr Reynolds’ excellent book, Presentation Zen. It is a story of simplicity.)

When Vijay opened his store he put up a sign that said “We Sell Fresh Fish Here.”

His father stopped by and said that the word “We” suggests an emphasis on the seller rather than the customer, and is really not needed. So the sign was changed to “Fresh Fish Sold Here.”

His brother came by and suggested that the word “here” could be done away with — it was superfluous. Vijay agreed and changed the sign to “Fresh Fish Sold.”

Next, his sister came along and said the sign should just say “Fresh Fish.” Clearly, it is being sold; what else could you be doing?

Later, his neighbor stopped by to congratulate him. Then he mentioned that all passers-by could easily tell that the fish was really fresh. Mentioning the word fresh actually made it sound defensive as though there was room for doubt about the freshness. Now the sign just read: “FISH.”

As Vijay was walking back to his shop after a break he noticed that one could identify the fish from its smell from very far, at a distance from which one could barely read the sign. He knew there was no need for the word “FISH.”

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