• Bill Petrie

A Big Mac Moment

What will you choose?

I did something a few weeks ago that I hadn’t done in almost five years: I ate a Big Mac from McDonald’s. If I’m being honest, it was more of a devouring than a mere consumption, and it brought me back to the first time I enjoyed the magic of “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, all on a sesame seed bun” – something I still remember in vivid detail.

Having my first Big Mac was a huge deal for me. I was with my dad in his sweet Cadillac Coupe de Ville after picking me up from a youth event at our church. As my mom was out of town visiting her sister (my aunt), he suggested we hit the Golden Arches for dinner, and, being about 13, I eagerly agreed. As he was piloting his 8,000-pound land-yacht, he asked me if I would get my “usual,” which sadly consisted of a plain hamburger - no cheese, no veggies, or ketchup – just meat and bread. I’m not sure why, but at that moment, I felt that ordering my “usual” kept me viewed firmly as a kid and not the young adult I saw myself as.

Mustering all the courage I had, I firmly stated that I would order a Big Mac – and immediately regretted it. As a boy, I was a picky eater: I didn’t like foods touching each other, hated anything that included the word “casserole,” and eschewed anything with “sauce.” The thought of consuming a hamburger (which I loved) that had been bastardized with lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles, and some goo called “special sauce” made me regret my bold choice of ordering a Big Mac.

As soon as I shared that a Big Mac was in my immediate future, I opened my mouth to bail out. However, my dad was just a bit quicker on the verbal draw that day by saying how impressed he was with my choice, which meant there was no way I could escape now without looking like the scared little boy I was. So we went into the restaurant, ordered our food, and casually sat down in one of those horrifically orange and taupe-colored plastic booths. As he handed me the Styrofoam package containing the main course of my meal, I knew my moment of truth was at hand: do I go through with it and eat the double-decker burger – special sauce and all – or do I try and fill up on French fries?

Looking across the table, I could sense my father was wondering the same thing. I took a deep breath, flipped open the container, grabbed the burger, and took as big of a bite as I could muster while bracing for my taste buds to revolt in disgust. Much to my surprise, my taste buds didn’t form any sort of mutiny at all. Instead, my mouth was treated to a symphony of flavor that I had never dreamed possible, let alone experienced.

I made quick work of that Big Mac, rendering my usually coveted fries as a mere starchy afterthought. Looking back, I’ve always felt that was a big moment for me – and maybe even my dad. I confronted my fear (irrational as it may have been) and conquered it. Since then, I’ve had plenty of what I call Big Mac Moments:

  • Asking someone out on a date

  • Picking which car will be your first

  • Choosing which path to take after high school graduation

  • Determining where to live after you move away from home

  • Deciding between two job offers

Throughout life, we all have Big Mac Moments – moments where you have to decide whether to do something that’s a little uncomfortable, that allows you to grow, and forces you to do something different than you always have or continue to do what you’ve always done and yield the same results. Perhaps it’s starting a blog to showcase your business expertise, expanding your marketing to increase your business reach, or even pulling the trigger on hiring that agency that you know, deep down, will help your business stand apart in a crowded marketplace.

My most recent Big Mac Moment was starting brandivate with my business partner Kelsey Cunningham. While launching a marketing, advertising, and branding agency in the middle of a global pandemic was daunting and scary, we simply couldn’t continue eating those plain burgers any longer. And, after eighteen months, we know we made the right decision when confronted with that Big Mac Moment.

As the year winds down, it’s a perfect time to think about your Big Mac Moments and how you historically approach them. Are you content eating the same meat and bun combination only to endure the same bland flavor, or do you boldly experience all the flavor a Big Mac Moment can deliciously deliver? That’s only a question you can answer.

The Roman poet Virgil had a saying that has endured the test of time: “fortune favors the bold.” That day, I decided to be bold and not only order but also enthusiastically eat, that Big Mac in front of my dad was, indeed, bold. Big Mac Moments offer the choice of the comfort of safety or the promise of the unknown. In my experience, the promise of the unknown is a far more delicious and enjoyable meal.

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