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The Next Big Idea

Author: Next Big Idea Club

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The Next Big Idea is a weekly series of in-depth interviews with the world’s leading thinkers. Join our host, Rufus Griscom — along with our curators, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink — for conversations that might just change the way you see the world. New episodes every Thursday.

187 Episodes
This week, journalist and podcaster Jessi Hempel joins us to discuss her recent memoir, “The Family Outing,” which tells the remarkable story of how every member of her immediate family came out: Jessi and her father as gay, her sister as bisexual, her brother as transgender, and her mother as the survivor of a traumatic encounter with a man who may have been a serial killer. It’s a dramatic setup, to be sure, but as the book unfolds, it grows into something else — a powerful and thought-provoking meditation on what it means to live authentically.
A lot of us run away from tough conversations. Anna Sale runs toward them. For nearly a decade, as the host of the podcast “Death, Sex & Money,” she has been having searching conversations about “the things we think about a lot and need to talk about more.” Today, Anna reminds us — with her trademark warmth, curiosity, and candor — how to have those difficult conversations. (This episode originally aired in July 2021.) --- • Looking for a holiday gift for the most curious person in your life? How about a Next Big Idea Club membership! Use the code GIFT75 at for $75 off a gift subscription.
It's no secret that we live in a ferociously competitive world. But what is the drive to always be the best doing to our kids? That's what journalist Jennifer Breheny Wallace wanted to know when she set out to write her new book, "Never Enough." The kids, she discovered, are not alright. Teenagers are battling burnout, depression, and anxiety at alarming rates. How did we let this happen, and what can we do to fix it? To answer these vexing but vital questions, we invited Jennifer to chat with Daniel Markovits. He's the author of "The Meritocracy Trap" and a professor at Yale Law School, where he's seen toxic achievement culture up close. In this episode, recorded live at Betaworks in New York City, Jennifer, Daniel, and Rufus discuss why our kids are under such unrelenting pressure, what we can do to give them some relief, and the potential role of new technologies, like AI, in creating positive solutions. --- Host: Rufus Griscom Guests: Jennifer Breheny Wallace & Daniel Markovits • Click here to hear Daniel's previous appearance on the show. • Want the best non-fiction books of the year delivered to your doorstep? Sign up for a Next Big Idea Club subscription at, and use the code PODCAST to get 20% off and a free copy of Adam Grant's new book, "Hidden Potential"!
Failure is inevitable. How we respond to it makes all the difference. Today, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson joins us to discuss the critical distinction between destructive failures and intelligent mistakes that drive innovation.
For the past four years, New York Times columnist and acclaimed author David Brooks has been trying to learn the skills that go into seeing others, understanding others, making other people feel respected, valued, and safe. Such social skills may sound trifling, but mastering them, David believes, could help us all make better decisions, enhance our creativity, and maybe even repair our nation’s fraying social fabric. • David's new book is How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen • Learn more about Weave: The Social Fabric Project at • Sign up for a Next Big Idea Club membership today and get 20% off when you use the code PODCAST
We live in a world that worships talent, a world that cheers natural athletes, exalts child prodigies, and venerates virtuosos. But admiring people who are blessed with innate abilities can lead us to underestimate the range of skills that we can learn and how good we can become. As Adam Grant explains in his new book, “Hidden Potential,” growth is not about the genius you possess — it’s about the character you develop. Adam joins us today to talk about developing the character skills, motivational tools, and learning systems that can help ordinary people achieve extraordinary things. • Want 20% off a Next Big Idea Club membership? Sign up today at and use the code PODCAST
When tech journalist Kashmir Hill got a tip about a mysterious app, Clearview AI, that claimed it could identify anyone based on just one photo, she was skeptical. But when she found out the app was for real, she quickly realized it could lead to a dystopian future where privacy is a thing of the past. Guest: Kashmir Hill Book: "Your Face Belongs to Us: A Secretive Startup's Quest to End Privacy as We Know It" Host: Panio Gianopoulos
Daniel Pink is going through an existential crisis. The culprit? A new book by Stanford professor Brian Lowery. --- If you want to attend our November 1st event with Daniel Markovits and Jennifer Breheny Wallace, head to our Eventbrite page. And if you want early invitations to upcoming events, sign up for one of our new Next Big Idea Club memberships.
Have you ever been brought to tears by a TV commercial? Do you relish rainy days? Are your favorite songs sad ones? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you, dear listener, know the power of the bittersweet. It’s a feeling, an emotion, a way of being that Susan Cain explored in her #1 New York Times bestseller “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole.” She spoke with Rufus about the book in April 2022, and it remains one of our favorite conversations — certainly one of the most moving — so today we’re sharing it again. We hope it gives you goosebumps.
Stuart Russell wrote the book on artificial intelligence. Literally. Today, he sits down with Rufus to discuss the promise — and potential peril — of the technology he's been studying for the past 40 years. --- Book: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control” Host: Rufus Griscom Guest: Stuart Russell
When he was 26, Will Guidara took the helm of a middling brasserie in New York City called Eleven Madison Park. A decade later, it was named the best restaurant in the world. How did he pull off this unprecedented transformation? By practicing unreasonable hospitality. Host: Caleb Bissinger Guest: Will Guidara Book: "Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect"
Two years ago, Walter Isaacson, the legendary biographer who has written books about Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Leonardo da Vinci, began shadowing Elon Musk. "I started off with a guy who was one of the most popular people on the planet," Isaacson says, "and ended up with a guy who's the most controversial." Today on the show, Isaacson unpacks those controversies.
We go through at least thirty-six major changes in the course of our adulthoods. And yet adapting to those changes is really, really hard. Why is that? Health and science writer Brad Stulberg says it's because our model for change is broken. Luckily, he's here to fix it. Guest: Brad Stulberg Book: "Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything Is Changing – Including You" Host: Caleb Bissinger
In the 1950s, Shaker Heights, Ohio, became a national model for housing integration. In the 1970s, it was known as a crown jewel in the national move to racially integrate schools. So why is its school system now struggling to close a yawning racial achievement gap? Guest: Laura Meckler Book: “Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity” Host: Caleb Bissinger • Download the Next Big Idea app:
Increasing longevity and the explosion of technology are reshaping the world. What will it mean for your education, your career, and your life? • Mauro Guillén’s new book is “The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society” • Download The Next Big Idea app at
Ultra-processed food makes up 60 percent of the American diet. Though to call it food is a stretch. Because it is not, strictly speaking, food at all. It is an industrially produced edible substance. And it’s killing us. That is the nauseating conclusion Chris van Tulleken reaches in his new book, “Ultra-Processed People: The Science Behind Food That Isn’t Food.” Today, he explains how big businesses have corrupted our diets and what we can do to stop them from causing further harm.
In “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away,” cognitive scientist turned professional poker player turned bestselling author Annie Duke says mastering the art of quitting is the key to making smart decisions. (This episode originally aired in October 2022.) Host: Rufus Griscom Guest: Annie Duke Executive Producer: Caleb Bissinger • Want to check out the video e-course Annie made for “Quit”? Download The Next Big Idea app!
In “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence,” Dr. Anna Lembke says today’s superabundance of pleasurable stimuli makes us all vulnerable to overindulgence. But don’t lose hope. Anna, the medical director of addiction medicine at Stanford, says that by understanding how modern stimulants — from Instagram to masturbation machines — prey on our primitive brains, we can find ways to overcome the unhealthy dependencies that prevent us from leading balanced lives. (This episode originally aired in December 2021.) Host: Rufus Griscom Guest: Anna Lembke Executive Producer: Caleb Bissinger The Next Big Idea is produced in partnership with LinkedIn Presents
Henry David Thoreau was a philosopher, poet, and pencil-maker. He was a great resigner and, above all, a superb writer whose masterpiece, "Walden," is considered by many to be America's first environmentalist manifesto. But John Kaag has a different view. "Thoreau's attempt to 'get back to nature,'" he and co-author Jonathan Van Belle write in their new book, "Henry at Work: Thoreau on Making a Living," was an "attempt to get away from the capitalist rat race." By resigning from that race, Thoreau was, in a sense, reclaiming life—he was making a conscious choice about what to respect and where to tap meaning. "The abiding message of 'Walden,'" according to John and Jonathan, is that "the frenetic busyness of modern life should never be confused with the essential business of living." Today on the show, John Kaag and our producer Caleb Bissinger explore Thoreau's life and career, and they come away with surprising lessons about why we work and how we can make it more meaningful—how we can, in Thoreau's words, "live deliberately." If you have questions, comments, or ideas for future guests, email us at Guest: John Kaag Book: "Henry at Work: Thoreau on Making a Living" Host: Caleb Bissinger The Next Big Idea is produced in partnership with LinkedIn Presents
Research has shown that how you spend your morning can have a significant impact on the rest of your day. If you start off feeling anxious and frazzled, chances are you'll end the day feeling the same way. But if you use the first hour after waking up to boost your mental, emotional, and physical well-being, you can set yourself up for a productive and memorable day. Today, Rufus learns how to craft the perfect morning routine from Toby and Kate Oliver, the authors of "Rise and Shine: How to Transform Your Life, Morning by Morning." --- P.S. Need more big ideas in your life? Download the Next Big Idea app and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
Comments (42)

John Bozek

great podcast to get into some of the latest ideas. I've learned lots and been motivated to make some changes in my life because of it...less processed food, conscious quitting, are the most recent episodes that I appreciated and have taken to heart. I'm looking forward to my next listening!

Aug 19th

Shawn Farrer

What's the big idea? 💡

Oct 9th
Reply (2)

Dani Malawista

Oh great. Now I’ll be up all night thinking about this lol

May 1st

Philippe Brunet

holy crap, the hosts kids are just brilliant !! wow, so articulate and intelligent, yet they sound so young ! These are going to be great minds !!

Apr 10th

Pætrïck Lėő Dåvīd

probably the most important single episode in 2021 and that is my educated position.

Dec 30th


Andrew Yang nailed it. Check out 'The War on Normal People'. UBI is a no brainer.

May 29th

Andrew Huang

37:30 story of power of relationships.

Mar 27th

dona bean

impossible to consider it took this long before we spoke about things as adults without moralistic disinformation that supports having the largest inmate population in the modem world..... thanks Dr.Hart!!

Mar 8th

Chris Famulak

mmhmm, mmmhum

Aug 13th

Teresa Wilkinson

in between the ads great content as others have said waaaaaay too many ads

Aug 12th

Apoorv Som

loved it!

Jul 4th

Craig Peters

Sooooo many ads. Thank goodness for the skip 30 seconds button, although it needs 4 or 5 hits at least to get to content again. Finger hovering over the unsubscribe button. I know they need to make money - but this is close to commercial radio obnoxiousness.

Apr 29th

Helena Tusek

Thank you for this podcast! It brought me joy as well and paved ways for new joyous moments in the future! Thank you both 🙏🙏

Apr 26th

Nancy McCann

b xero

Apr 19th

Bruce Hrabak

dumb episode. repackage socialism and communism. gove everyone a grand a month and the market will just magically keep the same prices.....because it has worked so well for housing. 🤢

Feb 6th

Steven Slater

the fact you have to bring race into this shows your true agenda. lame.

Jan 21st

Bruce Hrabak

success: episode was horrible but a thought provoking series moody of the time. A elite professor answer to elite issues is send more kids to yale 😝. and if we're force less people tp be elite than more will be middleclass.... come on this episode was a strawman with no straw

Jan 9th
Reply (1)

Tevin Shadd

Commercial breaks were too frequent and jarring, disrupted the flow of the episode . Podcast is amazing though, easily an instant favorite

Nov 26th

Rajesh Singh

There is noting new in the ideas on this podcast. The name is misleading. Just change it.

Nov 15th

Rajesh Singh

Everything is bullshit here.

Nov 15th
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