Life moves pretty fast...

One of the not so obvious and unfortunate aspects of moving house, is getting the TV sorted. I wouldn’t normally care as nobody in my family watches TV anymore, they’re all on Youtube, but with Christmas approaching I wanted to get in the mood by watching some of my favourite films. Home Alone, Scrooged, It’s a Wonderful Life etc.

But without any TV and truly terrible internet, it wasn’t looking good. Until I got a Chromecast and Netflix. This gadget is a lifesaver, well Christmas-saver in my case as I was able to catch up on some festive favourites.

Now, the thing I’d forgotten about Netflix is that it’s like going to an old videostore. Once you’ve seen all the the big blockbusters, there’s not much left, just a whole load of films that you’d forgotten even existed, let alone wanted to see - Just my luck with Linday Lohan and Home Alone 4 spring to mind.

Fortunately salvation arrived in the form of 80s classic ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ - not only one of my top 5 movies of all time, but a film that neither of my kids have seen. So after wrenching them away from their phones and we settled down to watch this classic.

Admittedly I was a little distracted. I’ve seen the film many times and as I was due to host an all day Branding Talk/Workshop in the New Year and it was on my mind. But this made me see the film in a whole new light and made me realise that there is hugely valuable lesson to be learned for improving company culture.

Let me explain.

It made me realise that we should all take a Ferris Bueller Day Off at least once a month. By this I mean take a day off from whatever you do, but don’t tell anyone.

By why would you do this?

Well, let’s have a look at what Ferris did on his ’Day off’ compared to staying in school:

  • Drove a classic 1961 Ferrari 250GT California.
  • Went to the top of the Sears Tower
  • Saw the Chicago Stock Exchange
  • Had lunch as Chez Quis
  • Caught a baseball game at Wrigley Field
  • Gazed at masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Sung in a parade

He well he sums it up beautifully whilst at the baseball game:

“Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we'd be in gym?“

There’s a huge difference is what was achieved from that 9am-3pm time period and more importantly, the lasting positive impact that experiencing great places, food and culture has on a person.

He knew this. That’s why he dragged his depressed best friend Cameron along with him. He knows it’s good for him as Cameron’s home life is awful. His father is cold and loves the car more than his own son.

Cameron: "The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.

Ferris: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.”

That’s the thing about Ferris, you root for him even though he’s breaking the rules. Everyone loves him, even his fed up sister sticks up for him in the end when he gets ‘caught’ by the exhausted principle Ed Rooney.

By why is he so popular?

“Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportsos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.” — Grace

Because he’s got a grown up point of view on life that bellies his years and inspires confidence in others that he knows what he’s doing.

This isn’t an accident.

His experiences outside a conventional classroom give him this wisdom and unique point of view.

And that is exactly why you should be taking a Ferris regularly. By getting away from what you always do, you get the chance to reflect and put things into perspective. That valuable time to yourself can be spent doing everything or nothing.

The benefit is in taking the break itself.

Go and see a film, have lunch somewhere new, start writing a novel, or even going home just to sleep.

It doesn’t matter.

I promise you will return to your work refreshed and energised. This means you will be a better person for your colleagues, clients and family.

But, there are a few keys to taking a successful Day Off.


Faking out the parents.

As Ferris mentions, they key is to not overdo it

“The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school.”

Whatever the reason for the day off, pick something that isn’t too serious, is over in around 24hrs and can’t be caught by others.


Timing is everything.

The other key to planning a Ferris is to make sure you respect those around you and take a day off that doesn’t jeopardise anything or anyone around you. Ferris isn’t missing something important like an exam, it’s just another standard and ultimately forgettable day at school.

Pick a day that doesn’t have anything in the diary. This takes planning, but to be sure, block that day off with a fictional event in advance so it can’t be booked up by anything else.


Who do you tell?

The key is to try and tell nobody, not even your partner or spouse. If you announce that you have a day off coming up, they’ll understandably want to spend time with you, which ultimately defeats the point of taking a secret day off.

The reason is so you to have time to yourself to do exactly want YOU want to do without having to consider anyone else’s feelings. Not being accountable is liberating and freeing. That’s half the fun, nobody knows.

That day off in Chicago would’ve been remembered for a lifetime by Ferris, Sloane and Cameron. I know this because it has been remembered by me and anyone else who has seen the movie.


How does this apply building company culture?

My philosophy is that any successful Brand excels in what I call the 5 keys areas of Branding:

1) Design - What is looks like
2) Emotion - Understanding the emotion of it’s customers
3) Experience - The experience the customer has of the Brand
4) Culture - The culture within Brand organisation
5) Communication - How the Brand communicates with the world.

Taking a 'Ferris Beuller' is all about improving the culture of a Brand. A relaxed and energised worker is a better worker when compared to someone who is tired, stressed and jaded.

Don’t look back in 10 years and wish you’d taken a Ferris, go and take one next week. You owe it to your work, your family and yourself.

Like the man himself says, life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Thad Cox2 Comments