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Finding Passion on the Fly

At Think Brilliant we constantly work towards achieving a healthy work/life balance. It is a fundamental characteristic baked into the culture of the company, and it makes working here a true joy.

Outside of work my personal passion is fly-fishing. Having been fortunate enough to experience tremendous fly-fishing around the world, there are some key similarities between how I approach the sport and how I approach my professional life.

Whether it is a personal characteristic, functional hardware, software or organizational skills, you need the right tools to get the job done well. I strive to do whatever I can to acquire the very best tools to not only make my job easier, but also more efficient and profitable. From fly-rods to computers, there is a huge difference between capable and outstanding. That is why I fish the rods, reels and lines that I do. It’s also why I bought an Apple Macbook Pro, because performance matters.

I won’t go too far into the tangible hardware and software that is necessary for me to excel in both fly-fishing and business, because I want to share the intangible characteristics of what I feel I have learned from fishing that I see in successful business people across the globe.


If you are not inspired by what you do or the people you do it with, you should analyze what it is that you do. There is a big difference between complacency and inspirational actions.


As the famous quote goes “If you don’t succeed, try again.” I can’t tell you how many days I have sat in a cold river without catching or even seeing a fish! It’s frustrating, but by no means is it an indication of what can happen the next time you go out. If anything it’s a learning experience, and you have to take any good out of it that you can. Mastering tasks/programs and being successful in business doesn’t happen overnight.


You aren’t perfect, face it. Fish-less days happen and so do sub-par work days. If you can’t accept when you aren’t perfect, you most certainly can’t handle the repercussions. Taking constructive criticism is a very big part of advancing in your career and is something that you need to learn how to deal with.


As with fishing, folks generally look down on the person who not-so-subtly embellishes the size and number of fish they catch. I respect the person who can give you a fair diagnosis of their situation and say that it will only improve tomorrow.


This goes without question and is the most obvious when you talk about fishing. Good things take time. Don’t jump to conclusions and don’t do anything without taking the time to look at every single aspect. You have to be nimble and flexible on the spot. Jumping into decisions without any background knowledge normally brings on a whole new set of problems. Do your due diligence and make the best decision you possibly can given the amount of time you have.


No matter what is thrown your way, address it with a clear mind and remember the basics. The fundamental reason you catch fish is something you can take into your business dealings. What I learned here is to never stray too far from your core morals and stay true to the ‘real’ reason you are in business.


Listen to your gut. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and follow the advice of others. One of the best things I have done in my young career is to align myself with a select group of mentors that I can rely on for advice and inspiration. Do I always listen? Nope. The key is to have have an open ear, but also learn to trust your gut and do what you think is right.

Creativity and the ability to adapt:

For me, this is one of my favorite parts about fly-fishing. As I stated before, there are numerous obstacles and opportunities that can effect the outcome of your experience. Without the ability to quickly adapt to the varying situations, you can go from a promising day to one that isn’t very productive. Creativity is not only a must on the water, but also in the process of fly tying itself. Being able to just tie a similar looking fly works in some situations, but not all. You have to be able to adapt your methods and patterns accordingly in order to create something fresh and worthy to catch a fish.

To succeed in a business sense you must be able to thoughtfully take a look at the current situation and see a variety of creative solutions. Not all of them will work, but you have to be open-minded and see all the possibilities. Whether it is processes, marketing, design or organization, there is no one right way. If you want to excel, be the one that always looks for better and more effective solutions.


With fly-fishing, there are so many variables to take into account: fly selection, hatches, time of day, river level, proper tippet size, approach . . . the list goes on and on. That being said, don’t pull a “BP” and draw a blank when it’s time for the contingency plan. You have to prepare yourself to operate on the highest level possible at all times, taking into account every single variable that may throw you a curve ball.

While dissecting these different characteristics, one theme kept creeping into my mind… after all, you just need to have fun. Everything in life has its pluses and minuses, but you have to be happy with yourself and what you are doing. Add up all of your personal characteristics and talents to make the best of your situation. Business and fly fishing aren’t easy and can seem overwhelmingly tough at times, but neither are worth your time if you aren’t enjoying yourself.

Charles F. Orvis, 1886

“Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loses much real pleasure. More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done.”

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