Colorado Springs Gazette - September 12, 2004
OFF THE PRESS
host profiles Pike Place Market
CREATING A VITAL
By John Yokoyama
and Joseph Michelli
Genre: Nonfiction, business
Link to the Pikes Peak region: Co-author
Joseph Michelli is a fixture in the Colorado Springs community.
He’s a radio talkshow host 4-6 p.m. weekdays on KVOR (740 AM),
fielding conspiracy theories with aplomb.
Book signing: Noon Oct. 2, Poor
Richard’s Bookstore, 320 N. Tejon St.
How the book happened:
Michelli was working on a book about businesses that use humor
to expand profits.
He studied Southwest Airlines, Ben &
Jerry’s and then arrived at the World Famous Pike Place Fish
After interviewing market owner John
Yokoyama, the idea for a chapter became the idea for a book.
Michelli functioned as a super-scribe, interviewing Yokoyama for
hundreds of hours over the course of a year.
“My goal was just to listen and tell
Johnny’s story,” Michelli said.
The book was bought by the first
publisher to read it.
Literary models: “Nuts! Southwest
Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success,”
by Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg
Resumé: Although he’s best-known to
Colorado Springs residents as a radio personality, Michelli also
is a forensic psychologist, a speaker and comedian, and an
organizational consultant who specializes in encouraging more
“dynamic and playful corporate cultures.”
He also published the book “Humor,
Play and Laughter.”
Technology allows Michelli to travel the
nation and conduct his live show from hotel rooms anywhere.
Synopsis & Review: This is the story
of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. You know
these guys — the fishmongers who toss huge salmon to each
The market was an ordinary,
1,200-square-foot storefront for 20 years, until owner John
Yokoyama decided to create a “world famous” enterprise, a
place that happened to sell fish on the way to bringing joy to
its employees and customers.
This book is not a feel-good story, but
a practical guide for businesspeople.
A series of nine lessons walk the line
between psychology and management training: creating a vision,
forming a team, being rather than doing, managers changing
themselves first (“the fish stinks from the head”), the art
of listening and so on.
The ideas aren’t original, yet
they’re lent power by the concrete example of Pike Place. And
although Yokoyama’s philosophy may seem starry-eyed, his
profits say otherwise.
Michelli’s hand in writing is obvious,
as this book is far more clear and intelligent than business
philosophies such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
So far, Publisher’s Weekly and
Booklist have reviewed it positively.
Psychology and business:
Michelli says his psychology background dovetails well with his
study of organizations that work. He described the World Famous
Pike Place Fish Market as a “working lab” for many of the
psychological principles he tried to teach individuals.
“It’s a lot easier as a boss to just
tell people what to do,” Michelli said. But Yokoyama went from
a dictator to a boss who takes seriously employees’ ideas.
“It’s a harder system in some ways, but people feel more
alive. They truly do love what they do, and they just don’t
Vitals: Published by Hyperion, $19.95,
158 pages Where you can buy it: Major booksellers Listen
instead: “When Fish Fly” also is available on CD from Random
House. The abridged, two hour version packs in the core lessons
in a quick dose. What’s next? Michelli wants to write more
books about the great lessons of great businesses. His next
target is Starbucks Coffee Co.
BILL REED, THE GAZETTE
CONTACT US: If you are publishing a book soon, let Bill Reed
know at firstname.lastname@example.org or
THE AIR: Joseph Michelli hosts his KVOR 740 talk show last
month. In addition to his new book, Michelli penned “Humor,
Play and Laughter: Stress-Proofing Life With Your Kids.” BRYAN
OLLER, THE GAZETTE