Victoria Brown is co-founder and chief executive officer of Big Think, the knowledge company that makes people and companies smarter, faster through efficient e-learning from world-renowned-experts.
Since founding Big Think in 2008 along with fellow Harvard alum Peter Hopkins, Brown has transformed the company from a thought leadership forum to the leading knowledge company for a competitive edge in the knowledge economy. She’s overseen the development of Big Think’s e-learning solutions to improve how people think and how companies perform through BigThink.com, its Mentor subscriptions for individuals, and its corporate e-learning solution, Edge.
As CEO, Brown directs Big Think’s strategic partnerships with Fortune 500 companies including initiatives with Shell, Intel, Mercer, Microsoft, HP and JP Morgan; co-branded content creation with MSNBC, The Washington Post and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; and licensing agreements with educational institutions and corporations including Harvard Business School, University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Pearson and McGraw Hill, among others.
A former business development executive and producer for the “Charlie Rose” show on PBS, Brown received an Emmy nomination for her work in 2005 featuring television mogul Ted Turner. After graduating from Montreal’s McGill University in 1997, Brown worked in film finance and production in Los Angeles before receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2003.
Question: What is Big Think?
Victoria Brown: Big Think, I would say in kind of a nutshell, is a place for ideas on the Internet. But it’s not just freestanding ideas. It’s ideas about important issues that people care about, and that they can talk about with experts in the field on specific subject areas.
In essence, we populate the site with thoughtful content by amazing people from every pursuit from business, to philosophy, to music, to arts. We hope to run the gamut, as time goes on. And then we let users participate at the same level. So if they have an idea about an important issue to them, they can either create an idea or ask a question. And so in essence, what we hope to do is catalyze a global conversation about what’s going on, what matters, and where we’re going.
Question: What is Big Think’s biggest strength?
Victoria Brown: I think that the strength right now has nothing to do with us. It has to do with the people who are on it at the moment and what they have to say, and that’s really interesting.
For many of these interviews, I was the interviewer, and I still could watch them and learn something. And for the ones that I didn’t interview, I’m just super-fascinated by what I can learn from the incredible roster of people on the site.
And we’re really only starting. We have, maybe 160 interviews completed, and we’re doing around five a week. So it’s kind of a never-ending cornucopia of insights.
I think the greatest weakness, but one that we will soon overcome, is the fact that there’s practically no user participation yet.
I think right now, I look and I think gosh, I don’t see what the sort of overarching purpose of the site has been is to catalyze this conversation, and that isn’t going on yet. So that’s the weakest portion, but one that I hope and believe will change soon.
Question: Who is your target audience?
Victoria Brown: The target audience, I couldn’t say, is a specific demographic. I think it’s more psychographic. And that’s people, anybody – child, adult, old person – who is interested in their world.
Recorded on: January 2, 2008