What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

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Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

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So, Why Should I Care About Your Big Idea?

August 21, 2013, 1:00 PM

There is nothing more mind-numbing than reading in someone’s bio or profile a list of things they are “passionate” about, in a sentence that goes: “I am passionate about x, y, and z.” When you say it that way, we just don’t believe you. Why? Because if you’re really passionate about something, you gush about the thing itself – about how it makes you feel and why.

John Butman, who advises “idea entrepreneurs” for a living, would agree. The best ideas, he has observed, start from something that fascinates their creators. But they catch on only when the creator is able to pinpoint and express that fascination. “I love cars!” just won’t cut it. “I live for cars!” Nope. Sorry. We don’t get it. “A great car should feel like an exoskeleton – a sleeker, more powerful extension of your body.” Now we’re getting somewhere.

If you’re a budding or nascent idea entrepreneur, you need to get excruciatingly specific about your passions. The easiest way, says Butman, is to talk through specific memories – moments when you were immersed in a favorite activity, fully alive and energized. And if you can find a trusted friend to listen, all the better.

Video: Pinpoint Your Fascination, with John Butman (free preview: full video available with subscription to Big Think Mentor).


In the knowledge economy, ideas are the new widgets. John Butman has been helping people develop and express great ideas for decades, but in recent years, he observes, something has changed. He calls it the rise of the Idea Entrepreneur, as evidenced by the proliferation of authors like Malcolm Gladwell, conferences like TED and Aspen Institute, and websites like Big Think. The idea entrepreneur, says Butman, is motivated primarily by a passion for the idea itself, and a desire to spread its influence. With so many ideas competing for attention, however, a few succeed while a great many fail. In How to Succeed as an Idea Entrepreneur, his workshop for Big Think Mentor, Butman teaches you why.

In this workshop, you’ll learn to:

  • Understand idea entrepreneurship and recognize its stirrings in yourself.

  • Isolate the ideas that fascinate you most.

  • Express the passion you feel for an idea, not just its content.

  • Let your idea “respire” as others adapt it to their own needs.

  • Build an organizational culture to sustain your idea

  • Transition your idea from a personal vision to an other-centered enterprise.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com




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