Fishing for Whales

Mark D. Rosalbo
3 min readAug 11, 2020

Call me Ishmael … or maybe Ahab

There are no whales in fresh water, but, alas, that self-evident truth, doesn’t preclude us from trying our damnedest to catch the big fish regardless of the circumstance.

Anchored deeply within the many misguided notions that come with client whale hunting is the idea that a newly captured whale proves to the world, and maybe the boss (at least temporarily), that you’re a juggernaut. The whale means you’re now a powerful player to be reckoned with! Right?

Oh sure, it’s the stuff of legends and the driving narrative for many novels, but the harsh reality is, more often than not, such fishing expeditions, when they’re your primary focus, result in professional failure — whether you’re casting aimlessly in freshwater or deep in the oceans that contain the big ones.

A touch of madness can be a driving force, within reason, but if it’s the elusive whale you seek, you will most likely end up in an endless loop of financial struggle. You’ll live in the emotional extremes rather than a state of equilibrium. Even worse, in my opinion, you will be missing the joy that comes in the journey of developing a rich, diverse book of business that will stand the test of time. One client at a time — some small, some bigger, but all part of your story.

The Joy is in the Journey

I recently read Willpower Doesn’t Work by Dr. Benjamin Hardy. In it he basically states that our level of conviction in life “determines our trajectory.” By getting into our “peak state” we can both reshape our environment (to the one we see ourselves living in, not the existing one filled with bad habits and addictions) and gain the emotional clarity needed to achieve what we set our minds to achieve.

One way Hardy suggests getting to a peak state is by focusing on the important stuff instead of urgent needs, whenever humanly possible, so we can get beyond “survival mode.”

To tie this into our industry, the ongoing agency consolidation trends have created many large agencies that offer almost any service a business could possibly need … and a few that they don’t. These broker behemoths tend to focus a rather large amount of time fishing for whales. They have made, and must honor, promises to their investors. And that means they need to make money, lots of it. These lofty promises often can mean a short-term focus, which emphasizes immediate results where checking off the to-do lists is prioritized over relationships.

I believe Hardy sees the importance of having a long-term orientation, which values the big picture. The long-term benefits of prioritizing relationships over tasks are critical. Deadlines are seen in the context of the overarching goals of doing what’s best for your clients and those with whom you aspire to work. In doing so, you’re making a shift into the higher self you are aspiring to be.

Focusing on small wins, while helping more businesses and people, builds your confidence and creates a positive feedback loop of success. Chalking up daily wins, even small wins, early in your day, creates the momentum for a healthy journey — one far more rewarding than obsessing over the next Tesla or opening a relationship with a prospect that’s being pursued by every competitor in the industry.

If we go deep within ourselves, rather than shallow, we may just find the greatest catch possible — a stronger sense of who we are and a renewed sense of joy in the sacred journey we all have embarked.



Mark D. Rosalbo

Barnstormer. Father of five. Re-examiner of the American Dream.