Drawing on The Atlantic’s feature, “Brave New Thinker,” that explores “people risking their reputations, fortunes, and lives in pursuit of big ideas,” we ask: what defines brave thinking? The feature itself explored the roles of diverse profiles across the globe who all had one thing in common: they challenged convention. On the religious front you’ve got Catholic pushing the Vatican for change. Women across the Middle East are jeopardizing personal safety for cultural advancements. In Saudia Arabia, one woman disregards law and jumps behind the drivers seat the chart her own course, another in Azerbaijan battles corrupt politicians and in Afghanistan a woman challenges both Taliban and government by running for President. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a provocative rock band using art to battle government.

These women aren’t alone. They’re joined by flocks of men – all change agents in their own right. You’ve got a Chinese civil rights activist who (despite beatings and imprisonment) is shedding light on government abuse in rural areas. You’ve got a researcher foregoing fortune so he can push cancer-fighting research into the hands of others. There are men envisioning new cities and others finding life in new worlds.

In absolutely every single case, these figures have disposed of the rule book and they’re doing what every single person in human history who’s excelled beyond imagination has done – they’re seeing things a new way, their own way.

Brave New Entrepreneur: Practical Application

There you have the characteristics of a brave new thinker. It’s a person who thinks differently and who isn’t afraid to chase that vision. The same principles apply to entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. For the everyday entrepreneur, it boils down to service.

If you have a great idea, chase it like the wind. But for most of us, great ideas are few and far in between. However, everyone of us can be better at what we do and that requires unabashed tenacity. Take the example of New York Times’ Arthur Sulzberger, who ushered the Times onto a web platform and once there pushed it to the success it currently enjoys. One way to do this was by paying attention to the details, and in digital journalism that means reader engagement. Sulzberger employed 11 people to moderate comments alone. The number might seem high considering it’s “twice the number of reports” at the Huffington Post and almost triple the number of employees other companies employ for such specific web-related tasks. It also might seem like an indulgent expense during a shaky economy and uncertain time for publishers, but Sulzberger is “betting that his paper’s dedication to high-quality journalism is its most valuable asset, however costly it now seems.”

Sulzberger’s focus on reader engagement touches a speech Apple CEO Tim Cook recently gave on why they don’t play the spec game like we’ve seen in the PC industry. By providing a great user experience, something he feels offers more value to quickly consumed tech specs, Apple oversteps the squabbles lesser companies allow themselves to get caught up in. He adds, “that’s the only religion we have: we must do something great. Something bold. Something ambitious,” and that’s in the details. Any company can pump out a product with a bigger screen, but can every company deliver the user experience Apple delivers? It’s about being a brave new thinker. In Apple’s case, they didn’t set the bar in user experience; they set the bar for software, hardware, and service.

In both cases, the key is fine tuning the details. Whether you’re moderating dialogue or all aspects of your company, being a brave new business thinker involves re-imagining how your company engages clients.