One of the best birthday gifts my wife ever gave me was two days at the Orvis Fly Fishing School in Manchester, VT.
That was more than two decades ago, and I never took up the sport as I once hoped, but I do remember distinctly being taught how to "Think Like a Trout" by a red-flanneled outdoorsman whose name really was "Buck."
Speaking in a serious—almost solemn—voice, Buck explained that "brown trout were lazy, greedy opportunists" who would "never expend more calories than they expected to consume as a result of their effort."
Moreover, brown trout are paranoid fish, constantly looking skyward for shadows that might portend a hawk's sharp talons or a bear's voracious maw.
Buck could teach a marketing course at my university with much the same pitch, because consumers, like brown trout, have not only gotten "lazy and greedy" thanks to one-click ordering, free apps and perpetual sales, they've also become more "paranoid" about marketers stalking them, either in person or online.
"If you think you can outsmart a brown trout, you better think again," Buck told us, "because all you'll get is sunburned and a tackle box full of wet flies."
"It's his river, not yours. You gotta' think like a trout."
Buck, if you're out there, give me a call. I'm looking for guest lecturers for next semester. And be sure to wear your red-flannel shirt.