I will be the first to admit that I absolutely love cartoons. I have always been a Scooby-Doo fan and generally find that the cartoon-like characters of today aren’t really geared towards children as much as they are towards adults in a “tongue-in-cheek” fashion. That was until a few years ago when I stumbled upon Phineas and Ferb™, a Disney channel cartoon. The show is about 2 young boys that aim to get the most out of their summer vacation, often with the help of their friends. As the title sequence explains, “There’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. So the annual problem for our generation is finding a good way to spend it…” then the lyrics go on to list the various ways in which the kids spend their summer.
What does this have to do with business you ask? An excellent question! I think that Phineas and Ferb are very enterprising, and it is the definition of that very word that I will use to provide you with the lessons I’ve learned from them.
Lesson 1: Maximize your time. Every morning, Phineas and Ferb™ wake up and they normally go outside (although sometimes you can catch them still in the house) and brainstorm about what it is they would like to do to get the most out of the day. Once a decision is made, Phineas gives his tagline “I know what we’re gonna do today.” How many days do you spend where you drag out of the bed, or drag to work with no real direction for what it is that you want to get accomplished in that particular day? Try jotting down some ideas or creating plans in your head so that you, too, can declare each day, “I know what we’re gonna do today!”
Lesson 2: Be imaginative. Phineas and Ferb™ have a tendency to think outside the box. They always challenge themselves to be creative in the things that they decide to build or do. In not one single episode will you see them doing something that is considered “normal” for children to do, like reading a book or watching TV. For example, in “Atlantis,” the boys decide to spice up a family trip to the beach, by going into the ocean with their friends and looking for the Lost City of Atlantis. Sure, you can do something average and ordinary each day with your business, but wouldn’t things be more fun and exciting if you allowed yourself to be imaginative and think up new ideas?
Lesson 3: Take initiative. In the episode “Gaming the System” Buford, a friend of the boys (and the neighborhood bully) came over with his new video game and gave Phineas and Ferb™ an opportunity to play it. For kids that are as creative as Phineas and Ferb™, playing the game simply wasn’t enough. They wanted to BE the game. So they built a device that would scan them and insert their bodies as actual characters in the game. Of course, you can wait for someone to create an idea that you can use or give you an assignment, or you can take the initiative to be creative and come up with new ways to make your business successful.
Lesson 4: Be innovative. In “Swiss Family Phineas,” the family (Phineas, Ferb, their sister Candace and their parents) gets marooned on an island after a storm. Phineas and Ferb™ are put in charge of creating shelter for the family while the parents try to figure out how they are going to get back home. Charged with such a task, they maximize their time, use their imagination, and take initiative to create an elaborate hut/penthouse/condo with an elevator, family room, game room, kitchen, etc. I am sure they could have done something simple with four walls and a roof, but, that would be too easy. Don’t take the easy way out. In business, it’s important to be forward-thinking and be creative. You don’t always have to create new ideas, but you can expand on ideas that already exist. Learning to take the road less traveled can pay off really big in your business.
Lesson 5: Embark on Bold New (Ad)Ventures. I start off by saying I didn’t make that up at all, except the “ad” part in parenthesis. Take a look here at the definition for enterprising. From looking for Atlantis, to finding a mummy, to creating a platypus-themed restaurant in the backyard, Phineas and Ferb™ show no fear when it comes to doing something different. These are the same kids that threw a concert to raise awareness for the aglet and created a lemonade stand with franchise opportunities. In business, fear will bury you. The risk-takers that think outside the box are the people that are successful. It doesn’t help you to be afraid of something just because it hasn’t been done before.
No matter what it is that your business is trying to accomplish, the 5 lessons above can apply to you and help you go far, and if you get discouraged or run out of ideas, you can always tune it to an episode of Phineas and Ferb™ for motivation. As the theme song ends “So stick with us cuz Phineas and Ferb™ are gonna do it all!” (Check your local listings)