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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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Transcript

Ann Veneman: Well, many young women in particular but young people in general ask me, "How did you plan your career to get where you've gotten?"  And I've said oftentimes that I never would have imagined that I would end up in the cabinet of the U.S. or even the cabinet of the state or in the leadership position in the United Nations; but it was a matter of taking advantage of opportunities that were presented to me that I would not have necessarily thought about taking in my career.  

So when I was a young lawyer practicing law in California, the opportunity to first go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture was presented to me to work on trade issues and international issues. Had I said no to that, had I not taken that chance, taken that complete turn in my life, I would not have done any of the things I've ended up doing.  And so I often look back at my life and say it was not about having goals to do these things, but taking advantage of opportunities that came my way.  

I know that that's not the advice a lot of people give others.  They tell young people to have goals, to look to the future, to look at what—to imagine what you want to be, but I also think you can't be so goal-oriented that you say no to an opportunity that could lead you places you never imagined you could end up and opportunities that are a great possibility to impact the world.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

 

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