Last Winter, I went on vacation to Southeast Asia with my girlfriend, and one of our stops was Monkey Island, near Nha Trang, Vietnam. Apparently the island was used for laboratory research by Russians in the past, and at some point the labs were abandoned and the monkeys were left to roam free. They have since taken over the island.
Lesson 1: Attract customers by specializing and providing a unique product or service.
These monkeys can probably be found elsewhere, too, but the fact that they inhabit this island and that they were originally research animals makes these monkeys more interesting. These monkeys are right there, not behind cages or walls, and you can go right up to them and feed them. Location is also important: the island is only a short boat-ride from the shore.
Lesson 2: Without law, survival becomes solely about power. The strong survive at the expense of the weak.
I believe that good law and good incentives are very important to have a just and prosperous society. I am a big fan of competitive law, and allowing the free movement of people in order to allow the free choice of those systems which are best preferred by those people. However, monkeys don’t believe in law, choice nor free markets: it seems like the only law they accept is the law of size: Whoever is the biggest gets to eat and make the rules!
I remember seeing an example of this in action. As we fed the monkeys food from a cup that we had bought at the feeding station, it would often happen that the biggest monkey, or the “King”, would come and pick food out of our hands. If anyone got near his food, he would physically wrestle the other monkey down to the ground and tell them to get lost or else, in monkey terms! There were a lot of other monkeys and monkey babies around that we wanted to feed, too, but the big one kept getting in the way.
Lesson 3: Fortune favors the bold
When we saw the first monkeys shyly appearing out of the trees, I started to grab some Pringles out of my backpack so we could start feeding them. No sooner had I taken the can out of my backpack than a monkey had jumped on me and snatched that can of Pringles right out of my hands! I didn’t even see him coming.
That little monkey ran off so fast, perched himself, and started bashing at the center of the Pringles in order to open it (I guess he didn’t know he could just take the lid off). He defended his ill-gotten rewards by oppressing any other monkeys that dared to come have a bite. Maybe he would have been in a better mood had he gotten some birthday freebies!
At the time, I was too shocked to do anything other than laugh with amazement at the conniving ways of the monkeys. My girlfriend was a little freaked out at their aggressiveness, especially since all of the other monkeys were pissed at the first monkey and they were fighting and screaming amongst each other for a good minute or so. I also felt bad that he ate all those Pringles, as they are probably not the healthiest thing in the world for monkeys.
Monkeys around the web
- Getting that Debt Monkey Off Of Your Back
- Interning with the Gibbons
- Lessons Learned From Primates…
- Manage Your Finances Like a Monkey!
- Monkeys and Retirement Planning
- Monkey Cards
- Why Gorillas don’t have 401K plans
So, reader, what lessons have you learned from monkeys? I have learned a few valuable things from these monkeys: Provide a valuable service, be a little bold, and laws are necessary to proper trade and exchange and true free markets, otherwise, it becomes a free for all where only the big monkeys prosper and thrive!