The movie The Greatest Showman is a colorful, vibrant and thoroughly enjoyable musical that loosely tells the story of P.T. Barnum and the start of his circus. Barnum was an entrepreneur that pioneered modern marketing and the show highlights many of the positive aspects of his flawed life.

What intrigued me more than the Barnum story is the backstory about how the movie was made. The Greatest Showman was in development for seven and a half years as many people worked to get the studio to take the risk of green-lighting an original movie musical.

First-time director (Michael Gracey) wanted to hire composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, two unknowns then in their twenties with no film experience. Gracey “told a fib” about the composers’ credentials, leading a studio executive to believe that they had won a Tony for James and the Giant Peach – a show that has not been on Broadway. Fortunately, the executive was oblivious to the fabrication and gave his approval for the duo. Not only did Pasek and Paul write engaging music for the movie, during the long years of Greatest Showman development they also wrote the Oscar-winning score for La La Land and the Tony-winning music for Dear Evan Hansen!

P.T. Barnum would have been proud of the hutzpah and persistence the players took to get The Greatest Showman made. The studio took a chance, the director went out on a limb and the whole movie was built on faith. I recommend seeing it (in the theatre on a grand screen as it is meant to be viewed) – not just for the pure entertainment value, but also as a reminder that sometimes we all need to take risks and follow our dreams.

Learn more from Hugh Jackman’s interview:


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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