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.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


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

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


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.

Find out more

How Much Money Is Enough?

November 10, 2011, 12:00 AM

What's the Big Idea?

Last year, President Obama found himself on the receiving end of much indignation for saying in a speech in Quincy, Illinois, "I do think at a certain point, you've made enough money." It was the equivocal statement heard round the world - rarely has such weak language sparked so much outrage - and yet, neither Obama's hesitancy nor the media reaction was all that surprising. 

No one likes to talk about limitations. (Politicians, especially, have avoided the issue for decades with their own unique combination of delicacy, trembling, and feigned ignorance). To do so would forces us to reckon with the question, "how much is enough?" How much money does a single person - even a very smart person - deserve, and how much of a contribution should she make to society? Can one individual even make an impact?

"I am a great believer in... the individual’s impact on [a] system to change that system," says Mary Ellen Iskenderian, CEO of the Women's World Bank, the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks, which was founded during the first UN World Conference on Women in 1975. "There’s always an opportunity to give money, if that’s an option," she says. "But giving money is just not sufficient. You’ve got to really make sure that the people that you’re giving your money to are keeping their eyes on the things that really matter to you."

What's the Significance?

The most effective way to ensure that your contribution is meaningful, not just another tax-deductible donation, according to Iskenderian? Committing to specific goals. "What we found is, if you have explicitly in your mission statement that you want to serve low income women, it’s really quite remarkable the number of indicators that you hit right on the money as they pertain to women." The Women's World Bank is the only micro-finance organization, for instance, which has a explicit focus on women. 82 percent of their clients are poor women entrepreneurs.

"Everyone either want[s] to alleviate poverty or [have] lofty missions," she explains. "But it['s] the ones who specifically communicate, 'We’re about serving women,' that then when they measured themselves against it, really [are].  Philanthropy is wonderful... but being smart about what your money is actually out there doing... is [the] real responsibility."  

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.



How Much Money Is Enough?

Newsletter: Share: