“Ideas worth spreading.” That is the very powerful, and very accurate slogan of TED, the non-profit organization that is taking the world by storm through its concise, inspirational, and informative “TED Talks.”
These talks cover all sorts of topics from business and technology, to science and psychology. The beauty of them though lies in the fact that all of the talks deliver a very real message in 20 minutes or less.
In this post I assembled 15 of the most valuable TED Talks for entrepreneurs. These talks will challenge you, drive you to action, and change the way you think about your business, and possibly even life itself forever.
Are you ready to be inspired?
1) The Tribes We Lead – Seth Godin
In a mere 17 and a half minutes Seth Godin masterfully presents the progression of marketing strategy from the “factory idea” to the “TV idea” to what he calls the “Tribe idea.” He claims that we have entered a period of time, enabled by the global reach of internet, for new leaders to arise and guide their “tribes,” whether political, brand related, or anything else. Learn about Seth’s ingenious take on modern marketing in this insightful, and funny talk.
“The Beatles did not invent teenagers. They merely decided to lead them. Most movements, most leadership that we’re doing is about finding a group that’s disconnected but already has a yearning — not persuading people to want something they don’t have yet.”
2) The Puzzle of Motivation – Dan Pink
Are you ready to dive deep into the world of motivation, flip it on its head, and look at it in a way you probably haven’t ever looked at it before? That is exactly what you will get in this talk – a science based argument for why motivation through reward does not necessarily lead to the best results. Dan Pink’s talk could have huge implications on your business.
“There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does…too many organizations are making their decisions, their policies about talent and people, based on assumptions that are outdated, unexamined, and rooted more in folklore than in science.”
3) Embrace the Near Win – Sarah Lewis
A fact that many people often forget is that before success usually comes something that is not quite success – be it full-fledged failure, or more often, falling just short of success, or as Sarah Lewis calls it, a “near win.” In this talk, Sarah ties together both personal stories, and tales about the likes of Franz Kafka and Michelangelo in order to convey the message that success is actually born out of the perseverance that comes from the near win. Prepare to be inspired by this talk!
“Mastery is in the reaching, not the arriving. It’s in constantly wanting to close that gap between where you are and where you want to be.”
4) How to Manage for Collective Creativity – Linda Hill
Have you ever wondered how companies like Google and Pixar are able to innovate in their field time and time again? What is it that enables certain companies to be that much more innovative than others? In order to find the answers to this question, Linda Hill along with her team observed 16 different managers from 7 different countries in 12 different industries. In this talk, Linda presents her conclusions, and the framework that she has come up with for managing an innovative company.
“When many of us think about innovation, though, we think about an Einstein having an ‘Aha!’ moment. But we all know that’s a myth. Innovation is not about solo genius, it’s about collective genius.”
5) Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe – Simon Sinek
What makes a good leader, good? What is the difference between a mere manager and a great leader? According to Simon Sinek it is the ability to create a sense of safety in the organization. A worker who feels safe, doesn’t fear for his job, knows that his boss will take risks for him – that is a worker who will be prepared to do better work. In this talk Simon gives an incredible look into what makes a great leader.
“Great leaders…provide their people opportunity, education, discipline when necessary, build their self-confidence, give them the opportunity to try and fail, all so that they could achieve more than we could ever imagine for ourselves.”
6) How to Speak So That People Want to Listen – Julian Treasure
As a business owner you need to speak all the time, be it to your employees, customers, or investors, so it’s really important that you can speak well. Julian Treasure lays out the “Seven Deadly Sins of Speech” (which most of us are guilty of), and then presents his four cornerstones of powerful speech. This talk is a must for really just about everyone.
“The human voice: It’s the instrument we all play. It’s the most powerful sound in the world, probably. It’s the only one that can start a war or say “I love you.” And yet many people have the experience that when they speak, people don’t listen to them.”
7) Creative Problem Solving in the Face of Extreme Limits – Navi Radjou
Navi Radjou paints a fascinating picture in this talk of a world in which innovation comes, not from the massive R&D facilities of the Western World, but rather from the streets of the emerging markets. He describes the totally new, but truly old idea of actual problem solving with limited resources. This talk will change your perspective on modern innovation in just 16 minutes.
“When external resources are scarce, you have to go within yourself to tap the most abundant resource, human ingenuity, and use that ingenuity to find clever ways to solve problems with limited resources.”
8) Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cuddy
We all know that body language effects how other people perceive us, but is it possible that our bodies actually change based on our body language as well? Can body language improve our mood or confidence? In this mind blowing talk, Amy Cuddy describes the experiments she ran in order to test this very hypothesis, and the results can actually alter your life.
“So we know that our non-verbals govern how other people think and feel about us. There’s a lot of evidence. But our question really was, do our non-verbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves?”
9) The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain
In today’s fast paced world of entrepreneurs, start-ups, networking, etc. people tend to believe that it is only through the “extrovert personality” (someone who is outgoing and enjoys having a lot of stimulation) that one can be successful. In this talk, Susan Cain presents a compelling case for why it is just as important for society to embrace the “introvert personality.”
“I got the message that somehow my quiet and introverted style of being was not necessarily the right way to go, that I should be trying to pass as more of an extrovert. And I always sensed deep down that this was wrong and that introverts were pretty excellent just as they were.”
10) How I Held My Breath for 17 Minutes – David Blaine
Most of us have heard of David Blaine’s absolutely insane daredevil tricks, but what most of us have not heard about is the tremendous amounts of hard work that goes into each and every trick. In this talk, David Blaine gives an intimate look into the life of a daredevil. In truth though it is more a look into the life of a person who is passionate about what he does. It’s about always pushing towards the next goal, it’s about practice, it’s about the journey to success more than about success itself.
“As a magician, I try to show things to people that seem impossible. And I think magic, whether I’m holding my breath or shuffling a deck of cards, is pretty simple. It’s practice, it’s training and experimenting, while pushing through the pain to be the best that I can be. And that’s what magic is to me.”
11) Dare to Disagree – Margaret Heffernan
Disagreement surrounds us, but is it possible that it can actually propel us forward as well? According to Margaret Heffernan, disagreement and dialogue are crucial not just to the progress of a company, but to the progress of the world itself. Through a poignant story, this talk shows the importance of going against human nature, and actually embracing differences of opinion.
“It’s a fantastic model of collaboration — thinking partners who aren’t echo chambers. I wonder how many of us have, or dare to have, such collaborators.”
12) Why We Do What We Do – Tony Robbins
In an attempt to define why we do what we do, Tony Robbins presents what he believes to be our driving forces – six human needs plus emotion. This talk, brimming with passion, anecdotes, and even a high five with Al Gore, is a true TED classic.
“You don’t work in your self-interest all the time, because when emotion comes into it, the wiring changes in the way it functions. So it’s wonderful to think intellectually about how the life of the world is, especially those who are very smart can play this game in our head. But I really want to know what’s driving you.”
13) How to Make Stress Your Friend – Kelly McGonigal
Do you ever get stressed out? I think it’s safe to say that as a business owner you do indeed. But the question is how do you react to your stress? Do you think that stress is harmful to your health? Well, Kelly McGonigal has some words for you in this talk that will get you looking at stress in a whole new light.
“Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier? And here the science says yes. When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.”
14) 8 Secrets of Success – Richard St. John
Unlike other content on TED, this talk is very short, lasting only three and a half minutes. Perhaps because of that, it is packed with energy, quick and concise points, and real, actionable takeaways that can guide you towards success. In this talk you will hear Richard’s 8 secrets to success which he has gleaned from 500 interviews over the course of 7 years.
“A lot of kids want to be millionaires. The first thing I say is: OK, well you can’t serve yourself; you’ve got to serve others something of value. Because that’s the way people really get rich.”
15) What Physics Taught Me About Marketing – Dan Cobley
In an absolutely unique, and frankly, quite refreshing talk, Dan Cobley shows how there is really a lot more in common between physics and marketing. Now before you get scared off by physics, don’t worry, this is not a complicated presentation. What it is though is a very insightful look into some core principles of brand management.
“The physics is that the bigger the mass of an object the more force is needed to change its direction. The marketing is, the bigger a brand, the more difficult it is to reposition it.”
A Little Something Extra
In case that wasn’t enough information, motivation, and inspiration for one sitting, I wanted to give you just a bit more.
These next three TED Talks are actually interviews with three of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time – Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, and Lary Page, co-founder of Google.
These people are not just successful, but are trying to create real change in the world we live in.
Life at 30,000 Feet – Richard Branson
In this interview you will get a unique and inspiring look into the ups and downs of Richard Branson’s life.
“As I say, we go in and shake up other industries, and I think, you know, we do it differently and I think that industries are not quite the same as a result of Virgin attacking the market.”
The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity – Elon Musk
Ever wondered what drives a man like Elon Musk? What decisions he had to make, and what plans he has? In this interview you will hear a truly impassioned person speak about what they do, and it couldn’t be better.
“People would say, ‘Did you hear the joke about the guy who made a small fortune in the space industry?’ Obviously, ‘He started with a large one,’ is the punchline. And so I tell people, well, I was trying to figure out the fastest way to turn a large fortune into a small one. And they’d look at me, like, Is he serious?”
Where’s Google Going Next? – Larry Page
Are you ready for Google’s vision of the future? Well that is what you will get in this interview with Larry Page, along with a bit of business philosophy, and inspiration to boot.
“Our mission, we defined a long time ago is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Now it’s Your Turn to Do Something Incredible
Now that you’ve heard some incredible things, said by incredible people, it’s time for you to get up and do something incredible! Take what you learned from these talks and apply them to your life, and to your business.
P.S. Want to master social media marketing? Then download the free eBook below!
Zack is a social media enthusiast who loves all things digital. He is the inbound marketing manager at StoreYa where he spends his days searching for the newest social marketing scoop. If you’d like to chat with him, feel free to connect with him on any social platform.
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