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


Question: What’s the best advice you ever received?


Chip Conley: I think, the best business advice that I ever received was from Dr. Timothy Leary. This famous Harvard trained psychologist-psychiatrist who actually gave his students at Harvard LSD back in the late sixties. He gave me advice when he was staying at my first hotel, The Phoenix, this rock and roll hotel. He didn’t fit the profile of the demographic of the Phoenix which were all young rock and rollers but he fit the psychographic of the Phoenix. And what he said to me was what woke me up to Maslow again.

Now I learned about Maslow again a few years later during the dot com crash but years before that Dr. Timothy Leary asked me, do I know who Abraham Maslow is, and I said yes. And he said well, he’s no longer living but he would’ve admired how you’ve created your hotel because I see you out there hugging the housekeepers and I see you talking with them and I never met Dr. Timothy Leary; he was sitting by the pool of my hotel, he was watching me in the courtyard do this and he just asked me to come over and talk to him.

And what he said is, help everyone feel like what they do is important; and when people feel like what they do is important, they put more energy into it. So it’s a very simple concept and it came from not a business leader. It came from someone who grow and understand psychology. But I think the idea that people feel like they’re important, Mary Kay Ash we know Mary Kay Cosmetics and she likes to drive around her pink Cadillac.

Well, Mary Kay Ash said that one of the things that she loves about what she did in creating an empire is she thinks that everyone of her employees wears a sign around their neck with a sign that’s facing out that says, make me feel important. And I think that that’s a good advice whether it’s Mary Kay Ash or that’s Dr. Timothy Leary which is wow, that’s an interesting combination, the two of them. The fact that making people feel important in what they do is what takes something from being the drudgery of the job to feeling like this is something that’s part of my life’s work and so I think that’s probably the best advice I’ve ever received. And it’s funny that it came from, didn’t come from Stanford Business School where I went to get my MBA.


Recorded on: April 14, 2009




What Companies Can Learn Fr...

Newsletter: Share: