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

Nice Girls (and Boys) Don’t Get The Corner Office

October 5, 2012, 12:00 AM

What’s the Big Idea? 

Full disclosure: I’m a guy writing this, and a temperamentally polite guy at that. While it is undoubtedly true, as psychologists and sociologists seem to concur, that women in America are culturally trained to be less aggressive than men, it is also the case that Gallagher’s advice as shared herein is relevant to my demographic – that subclass of guys who are not stereotyped in films like The Boiler Room.  The Mark Ratners of this world (for all the Fast Times at Ridgemont High fans out there), not the Jeff Spicolis. So polite people of every age, gender, race, and creed, this one’s for you. 

Leigh Gallagher is a force in the business magazine publishing industry. An alumna of SmartMoney and Forbes, she’s the Assistant Managing Editor at Fortune Magazine in charge of 40 Under 40 and Best Companies to Work For. And she has some tough advice for her own, younger self: Be more aggressive. Pay attention to your career, not just your to-do list. And ask for what you want. 

Gallagher admits that it’s tough to sort out which traits are culturally conditioned and which are a matter of temperament, but to the extent that women tend to work in diligent silence, expecting recognition somewhere down the line for their valiant efforts, while their male counterparts roam around the office in search of pay raises and career advancement, she advises them to go against the grain. 

VIDEO: Leigh Gallagher: Nice Women Vs. The Corner Office

What’s the Significance? 

Let's be clear: almost a century since they won the right to vote in the US, women still face active discrimination and barriers to advancement in the workplace, the issue of aggressiveness vs. passivity aside.

That said, the question of whether and to what extent women tend to be less aggressive than men may ultimately be of more value to lawmakers, educators, and parents than it is to the individual careerist, male or female. If it is generally true that polite, passive reliability is less likely than pushiness to advance your career, then whatever gender you are it behooves you to take a more active approach.

Taking a cue from cognitive psychology, one good way to change your behavior is simply to change it and to build new habits through repetition. 

So ask yourself this: when was the last time I asked for a raise? How often am I actively in search of opportunities to develop new skills or expand my professional role? How often to I take “no” for an answer? If the answers are a. I can’t remember, b. Rarely, and c. All the time, then pick just one of those areas to work on. The raise, maybe. Force yourself, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, to pursue that raise with diligence and confidence in the fact that you’ve earned it. Once that dragon’s slain, move on to the next.  

I’m not just blowing smoke here. A couple of decades out of college, I’m still working on all three of Gallagher’s suggestions. The good news is it gets easier. And for that awkward period until it does, I have always found Peter O’Toole’s advice as Lawrence of Arabia helpful: “Of course it hurts. The trick . . . is not minding that it hurts.”  

Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter

Image credit: Shutterstock.com



Nice Girls (and Boys) Don’t...

Newsletter: Share: