Forget your MBAs, executive retreats and coaches.   In business, the only mentor you need is Ferris Bueller.   Simply consider WWFD—What Would Ferris Do—to reach dizzying heights of business success.    Don’t laugh! Think about it…


1.       Cultivate relationships


Grace: The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.


Ferris is the master networker and few are immune to his charms. His popularity even transcends teenage cliques.   He’s generous to his fellow students, especially Cameron.

I’ve known many business leaders who’ve shown similar kindness to a lowly PR girl whose only meeting contribution was writing the minutes; just like Ferris they knew the value of cultivating a relationship.


Ferris also cleverly cashes in on those relationships when he’s in a spot. It’s Cameron’s impression of Mr Peterson that gets him off the hook with Rooney. Ferris calls on help and expertise; successful business leaders do the same.

 2.       Be persistent, and clear


Cameron: He’ll keep calling me, he’ll keep calling me until I come over. He’ll make me feel guilty. This is… this is ridiculous. Ok. I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go, I’ll go!


Ferris doesn’t take no for an answer.


Furthermore, Ferris makes it clear what he wants.  Do the same in business and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  One PR agency I worked for needed everyone to hit the decks for a big pitch.  The boss made it clear we were to work our butts off.  Late nights quickly became standard practice – and we won the pitch.  My boss made us very aware of her expectations, and she worked even harder herself.  Like Ferris, she was a fine leader.

3.       Be Confident


Ferris: Four thousand restaurants in the downtown area, I pick the one my father goes to.

Cameron: We’re pinched, for sure.

Ferris: Only the meek get pinched. The bold survive.


That’s right Ferris. You must be bold in business.  In 2012, researchers at the University of Melbourne found that self confidence is the key to workplace success.   Ferris knows no fear, from bluffing his way into the fanciest restaurant in Chicago to commandeering a street parade float.


So make like Ferris and go for it!  No one is going to hand you the keys to the executive toilets or invest in your business if you don’t demonstrate self confidence.


I once landed a job as Marketing Manager for a publisher, despite having absolutely zero publishing experience.  I later learned it was my enthusiasm that landed me the role, despite my lack of credentials.  (Thanks Ferris.)

4.       Don’t get obsessed with the competition


Boy in Cop Waiting Room: Your problem is you.

Jeannie: Excuse me?

Boy: Excuse you.  You oughtta spend a little more time dealing with yourself; a little less time worrying about what your brother does.


This gem is technically not from Ferris, but the unnamed character played by Charlie Sheen who transforms Jeannie from revenge seeking obsessive to Ferris’s co-conspirator.


When it comes to the competition, it’s tempting to fret about how you compare.   As a small business owner, I’m very often guilty of this myself.   If you have Ferris worthy levels of confidence in your business, you need not worry. Focus on your own business goals.


So next time you’re feeling in need of business advice, don’t download the latest business tome on your kindle or waste money on career coaching.  Just dust off your old VHS copy of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and soak up the wisdom.


I’ll leave you with the final word from Ferris himself:


Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.