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
With rendition switcher


Donald Rumsfeld: People in the military end up having a set of skills and characteristics often that are not well understood in the private sector.  I've served in the private sector in corporations as well as in the government and as well as in the military, and these young men and women who leave the military come out having served, number one they have initiative.  They're the ones who volunteered.  They self-selected.  No one forced them to do it, so we know right off the bat that they're the kind of an individual, male or female, who said, “I want to serve and I'm willing to go do that.  And I know it's hard, but I'm willing to do that.”  

Second, in the military they are given a lot of responsibility at very young ages.  The equipment is complicated.  The risks are there.  The problem of, at each level, leading people who are at a lower level and then moving up to the next level gives them a sense of responsibility and a set of experiences and maturity that most people, young people their ages, simply do not have.  And they gain that experience not in a benign environment, but often in a dangerous environment, whether in combat zones or whether in training.

Third and much more obvious, they come out with a set of technical skills.  These people know how to do things that they learn in the military.  It might be very technical things or computer skills or aviation skills, engineering skills.  And so they bring something very important that a lot of people who haven't served really haven't had a chance to develop and experience themselves.  

One of the problems however is that the value of these people and what they can bring to the private sector isn’t well understood because the people in the private sector haven't had that experience often.  The other problem is the people in the military talk often in acronyms, in jargon, and you look at their resumes and they're almost unintelligible to a civilian.  I've had so many people in the military come to me and say, “I'm making this transition.  I'm leaving the military and I'm going to go into the private sector.  What advice do you have?  You've done this yourself.”  And I'll sit down, “Well, show me your background sheet,” and I'll look at it, and even I having been secretary of defense and in the military can't understand what it is they've done.  So we have to first get them to rewrite that in a way that it's intelligible to the average citizen. 

But it is a thrill to work with them.  It's an honor to work with them, and I know that people in the private sector will do themselves proud by bringing them onboard and bringing into their private institutions and organizations and businesses people with those skill sets.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd


Donald Rumsfeld: Support th...

Newsletter: Share: