Do You Want

To Be Big or Great?

What we can do to keep us happy and being true on what we believe.


Watch again an old movie from my childhood is one of the things I like to do the most. When you’re a child, your references and your points of view are completely different. I remember when The Simpsons began on TV, my favorite character was Bart, but over the years I began to understand the jokes and I realized that Homer is the coolest character.

This week we watched again “Big” or in the Brazilian version, “I Want To Be Big.” It is one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies, which are not few. This movie marked my childhood as Goonies, Robocop or Back to the Future and it was very fun to watch it again.

Even as a super funny movie, on the comedy genre, there are several subtle moments during the movie that makes it very modern. I will talk a little bit about my understandings and how this suits into the world of advertising.

If you have never seen the movie, know that CONTAINS SPOILERS!

The film is basically the story of a boy called Josh Baskin, with its famous “first world problems”. He is a 12 year old child who faces the “problems” of being “new” and in a Theme Park he makes a wish for a magical machine called “Zoltar” that he wish to be big.

In the next day he wakes up and he is 30 years old and then starts to live many adventures. Along with his best friend Billy, they try to find again the Zoltar machine to reverse the wish and become a child again. During this search, Josh starts to work in a toy brand and ends up as vice president of toys development.

He falls in love and the work is going well. In the end, he doesn’t care anymore about going back to his childhood, but after some happenings he realizes he needs to come back to be a kid. His friend Billy finds where the Zoltar machine is and it ends up reversing the wish and he comes back home.

What can we learn from Big?

1 — I Want to Be Great

Some youngsters want to skip steps. They want to get into on the bus and sit in the window. I think youth should be youth. You only have the chance to be young once, so enjoy the ride. We need to live it and learn from each and every moment. Do not skip it. Go out with your friends, have fun, say whatever you think, don’t care about the consequences. You don’t have to worry about nothing more than being yourself.

There is no pressure to be the best, you just have to be you. Show your talent and do not step over anyone. Everyone has something to teach you and you have a lot to teach to the people. Live every second. In advertising it is important to know how to do the basics. In my opinion, no one can point out the finger on your screen and ask you to you change everything, without knowing how to do it or why to do it. Today we have bosses, but we need more leaders and to be a good leader you have to guide people and not ask them to do this or that. There is a huge difference between the creative director that asks “Are you happy?” And the one who says “Hum .. I don’t know…”.

2 — Enthusiasm

In the movie, Josh with his computer skills (he grows using one) gets a job in the data department at the headquarters of MacMillan Toys. He is very enthused from the beginning to do the job well done, but is repressed by a co-worker who speaks to him: “Hey! Do you want to break us? You should make your work more slowly. If you finish up everything fast, everyone will have to work harder.”

It seems incredible, but this is real life. If you stand out, someone will try to pull you down, of course they don’t want to look bad in the big picture. That’s one of the things that I have more laziness about the corporate world. Often, the guilt of long hours and late work are laziness and bad management. An entrepreneur friend use to say: “Some people want a job, but don’t want to work.”

Back to the movie, Josh, on his day off, decides to go to the legendary FAO Schwarz Toys store in New York and spends the day playing and having fun. At the store he meets Mr. MacMillan, owner of the company he works for. While talking, Mr. MacMillan tells Josh that every Saturday he goes to the store to see what the marketing reports do not show and Josh asks what are marketing reports and Mr. MacMillan answer: “Exactly! What are marketing reports?”

Remember, this movie is from 1988. It recognizes the pattern? The big data is going around forever. It’s our job as advertising and marketing communication people to find the right questions on the numbers but not the truth. The truth is in the people.

After the classic piano scene, Josh is promoted by Mr. MacMillan to be the new vice president of product development. How come? Because he is young inside and he tells the truth. Josh tells the truth in a meeting when he says that he didn’t get why a toy is like this and not like that. He question the questions. He’s young and true on what he says and thinks, while other employees are trying to prove things with numbers, info-graphics and so.

3 — Working for the Cause

When trying to find where the Zoltar machine is, Billy and Josh go to the city hall to find the files where the machine could be, but the city hall employee says that the search could take around six weeks, so that’s why Josh needs to find a job.

When he stumbles upon a successful career, living in a super nice apartment in Manhattan and in love with his co-worker, he ends up forgetting his own cause. He was so involved in the development of new products with his views that he just ignored his friend Billy and his desperate mother, being selfish. The success was so important that he ended up forgetting why he had been promoted in the first place.

Where are all that enthusiasm? Where are the truth? Was hidden behind his ego. The cause was no longer important, it was not funny anymore. Lost its meaning.

I think about that every time I feel discouraged or demotivated. Why do I do this? After all, I’m here to solve business problems using my creativity, and the most importantly is to have fun. Happy people produce more.

When Josh remembers who he really is, he tells the whole truth to his new passion and finds Zoltar machine to reverse the wish and come back home.

Of course, everything is based on my personal opinions and beliefs and I’m not saying that I’m right or wrong, but I’m very open to listen and talk about anything. So if you want to chat, just let me know. And of course, watch the movie again.

In the end what I’m trying to say is: Keep doing what you believe, be exactly as you are and most importantly, don’t forget why you are doing this in the first place and always have fun. ☺

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