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TED Talk Speaker Seth Godin and Others Discuss Ideas and Impact

Industry: Education

New Free Think University Course Challenges Students to Ask Where Do Impactful Ideas Really Come From?

Washington D.C. (PRUnderground) January 29th, 2014

The movers and shakers of our world think all the time about the next great idea.  Many of us wonder if we even live in the same world with them.  But are such great ideas solely the property of a small and elite number “great and creative geniuses”?

In this Free Think University course experience, students will watch a series of remarkable TED Talks all geared toward exploring creating, sharing, and caring for impactful ideas.  And they just might find some answers not only to where impactful ideas come from, but how they can have some themselves.

People often credit their ideas to individual “Eureka!” moments. But writer Steven Johnson shows how history tells a different story. His fascinating tour takes us from the “liquid networks” of London’s coffee houses to Charles Darwin’s long, slow hunch to today’s high-velocity web.  Steven Berlin Johnson is the best-selling author of six books on the intersection of science, technology and personal experience.

“The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.” ― Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. She makes the point that one of the most dangerous things we can do is ruin our ability to unlock this genius.

The sophistication of the modern world, says British author Matt Ridley, lies not in individual intelligence or imagination; it is a collective enterprise. In his book The Rational Optimist, Ridley (whose previous works include Genome and Nature via Nurture) sweeps the entire arc of human history to powerfully argue that “prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else.”  He suggests that bringing more than one idea together, getting them to “have sex,” can in fact unlock whole new ways of thinking and approaching a given field or project.

So how can you start a movement? CD Baby founder Derek Sivers  explains in a TED Talk that it takes more than one leader to start a movement. It is the first follower that transforms the “lone nut” trying to start a movement into an actual leader.

Seth Godin, Yoyodyne and founder, formerly at Yahoo!, says, “I think that the way you are going to get what you want is you have to get your ideas to spread… This idea applies to everyone regardless of what they do. We live in a century of idea diffusion. The thing that’s going to decide what gets talked about, what gets done, what gets changed, what gets bought is: is it remarkable? And remarkable is a really cool word because we think it just means neat. But it also means ‘worth making a remark about. ‘ And that is the essence of where idea diffusion is going.”

Free Think University Co-founder Jim Van Eerden wants to encourage people to ask themselves what their own great ideas might be. He says, “No matter your place in the world, understanding how impactful ideas are forged and birthed into the world is inspiring.”

To access the full course, click here.

About Free Think University

Free Think University is where more than 30,000 free-thinking students have joined what Mortimer Adler called “The Great Conversation” – the dialogue of the ages about The Big Questions of our day, and where they participate in one of the fastest-growing independent scholarship funds in America. Submit questions for future courses to For more information go to or follow @freethinku.

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