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.
BICYCLES: Are They the Future of Transportation?
Jody Rosen is a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and a bike nut who has just published a rousing (and sometimes arousing) book called “Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle.” Today, he takes us on a rollicking ride through the two-wheeled revolution, revealing the surprising ways bicycles have shaped the world in which we live.
This and That:
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» Learn more about Transportation Alternatives
» Check out the plans to build pedestrian and cycling bridges in NYC
BIG DATA: Cracking the Codes of Love, Happiness and Success
“You can make better life decisions. Big Data can help you.” So begins “Don’t Trust Your Gut,” a new book by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Seth, a former Google data scientist, has mined massive data sets in order to answer some of life’s most vexing questions: “What predicts a happy marriage?” and “How do you get rich?” and “What really makes us happy?” The answers may surprise you.
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Susan Cain & Daniel Pink: Writing, Longing, and the Search for Meaning
What do we lose when we avoid sorrow and chase empty delights, when we mask our pain and feign cheerfulness, when we profess to have no regrets and insist on turning every frown upside down? Those questions are at the heart of two new books by our curators Susan Cain (“Bittersweet”) and Daniel Pink (“The Power of Regret”). Today on the show, they sit down with Rufus to swap notes on the writing process, share what they’ve learned from each other, and imagine what the world might look like if we all learned how to embrace negative emotions.
» Check out our previous interviews with Susan and Dan
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RELATIONSHIPS: Why Everything You Know About Them Is (Mostly) Wrong
Eric Barker is not a people person. “Getting me to write a relationship book,” he says, “is like asking Godzilla to improve the infrastructure in your city.” But he did it anyway. Guided by leading social psychologists, Eric went on a journey to understand what he was getting wrong about relationships — and what he could do to turn things around. The result is “Plays Well With Others,” a guide to friendship, intimacy, loneliness, and belonging that our curator Daniel Pink says will “revitalize your life.”
THIS AND THAT:
Check out Eric’s blog, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”
Try out Arthur Aron’s intimacy building questions
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How To Be a Grown-Up
In this special episode, Daniel Pink delivers a commencement address, Stanford-dean-turned-bestselling-author Julie Lythcott-Haims shares her manual for being an adult, and Arthur C. Brooks provides his roadmap for finding success, happiness, and purpose in the second half of life.
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IMAGINABLE: How Anyone Can Predict the Future (Yes, Even You)
In January 2020, when the coronavirus started making headlines around the world, Jane McGonigal’s inbox was flooded with emails from Silicon Valley execs, government officials, and non-profit leaders. They all had the same question: “Jane, didn’t you run a simulation of a respiratory pandemic?”
Yes, she had. All the way back in 2010.
Jane is a game designer. She builds simulations that help players imagine the unimaginable. And in 2010, she invited nearly 20,000 people to immerse themselves in a future world besieged by a global pandemic. “How would you change your habits?” she asked. “What social interactions would you avoid? Can you work from home?”
A decade later, when COVID went from nascent threat to full-blown crisis, Jane started hearing from folks who had participated in the simulation. “I’m not freaking out,” one of them said with relief. “I already worked through the panic and anxiety when we imagined it ten years ago.”
According to the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, we can all learn to make the shift from panic to poise by training our brains to think about the unthinkable. But what does that training look like? In her new book, “Imaginable” — and on today’s episode — Jane shares evidence-based techniques you can use to see the future coming.
Want to participate in one of Jane's Simulations? Visit urgentoptimists.org
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Big ideas in an easy-to-digest package... this show is a new favorite! Every episode features the brightest, most forward-thinking minds discussing bold concepts. I'm a big fan!
Could it be possible that the humans might have originated on Pangea? Then as the continent split, it’s the beginning of the breaks up the tribes.
Twitter episode opened my eyes
Cool to see the show trying out a new format. The Twitter episode is now among my favorites. Smart, concise. Loved how it went beyond Musk’s acquisition to consider how social media is going to evolve in the next few years. Brilliant conversation — keep ‘em coming!