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6 TED Talks That Will Enlighten You

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TED Talks are the perfect way to start your day. They range from inspiring, to motivating, to educational, to downright creative and stretch across a wide variety of topics from tech, education, entertainment, and more. We’re going to list some of our favourites for you to enjoy over your morning coffee to kickstart your day! If we missed one of your favourites, be sure to let us know and share it in the comments.

Do Schools Kill Creativity? – Ken Robinson

This talk is actually the most watched TED Talk of all time, and for a good reason. The gist of this talk is that people’s natural creativity is being suppressed by mass education systems than aim to fit different sized pegs into the same square-shaped hole. Robinson goes on to explain that it is becoming increasingly urgent to restructure the educational systems to cultivate creativity, for the sake of personal, economic, and cultural progression. The success of this talk comes from a population that resonates with these ideas, feeling that forced standardization and compliance limit personal potential.

Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are – Amy Cuddy

Body language is incredibly essential in communication, yet many have a tough time controlling it. Cuddy gives a compelling talk on how body language can help shape others’ perceptions of you, as well as your feelings towards yourself. In her research, she showed that “power posing” with your chin up and arms on your hips can actually increase your testosterone levels and decrease stress hormones. Give it a try for a few minutes. At the end, she dives into how communicating warmth and trust can be even more difficult, but is just as important as demonstrating competence and power. She argues that in order to exert power and lead, you need to build trust with your audience, an important skill to learn.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action – Simon Sinek

Sinek has seemingly mastered the art of influencing others, whether that be selling goods and services or leading a movement. He explains that these things aren’t coming from what is being done or how, but why it’s being done. Sinek uses Apple as an example, explaining that they’re so successful selling their products at premium prices not because they are inherently better, but because of what they stand for: creativity, design, and status. Although he only lightly delves into the neuroscience side of things, he makes note of how it is typically the instinctual sections of the brain that drive decision-making processes rather than the rational ones. To truly inspire action, you’ll need to inspire this emotional side of the brain with the “why”.

The Power of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

Rarely does a speech come along that has the ability to completely re-shape the way you value yourself. Brown may not resonate with everyone, but if you’ve ever been lost looking for a sense of self-worth, this is where you should turn. Connection is argued as the driving force of purpose in our lives, and it is shame, underpinned by vulnerability, that prevents us from connecting. Shame brings along thoughts of unworthiness, which after over a decade as a social worker, Brown isolated as the one thing preventing a deep sense of self-worth or “whole-heartedness”. Those who embrace their vulnerabilities, accepting them as necessary, are better able to believe that they’re enough, connect with others, and create meaning in their lives. Not only that, those that find meaning and a sense of purpose are often more successful.

The Puzzle of Motivation – Dan Pink

Motivation can be a fickle thing, and Pink has some interesting research to present in this talk, to go along with his 5 books that have sold over 2 million copies worldwide. He begins by examining The Candle Problem and a long overlooked finding in social science that business typically ignores: money (and other extrinsic motivators) rarely incentivizes people to perform better. It’s only effective with manual work and problems with simple solutions. Unfortunately, modern professionals take on more complicated tasks and require intrinsic motivation to succeed. The three main types are mastery (urge to get better), purpose (need to do things for reasons bigger than ourselves), and autonomy (desire to direct our own lives). Pink’s talk narrows its focus on autonomy and how allowing workers to have control over more aspects of their jobs actually creates better individual and company performance. This is a must watch for any manager.

We Are Richer When We Share – Lawrence Alvarez

Alvarez practices what he preaches in this TED Talk, preaching the value of sharing resources for sustainability while operating the non-profit Institute for a Resource-Based Economy (IRBE). The IRBE owns four stores across Toronto called “Tool Libraries”, which lend out all sorts of gear on the basis of creating a sharing economy. Alvarez’s main idea is that as resources become more limited and expensive, we’ll rely more on borrowing to perform tasks. He also insists that the sense of community that borrowing and lending create is essential to societal function, creating trust and relationships that don’t exist in a marketplace of over-consumption. Although now it may seem like a disruption in the economy, look for this trend of sharing to grow.

At roughly 20 minutes per talk, what we’ve provided here should keep you occupied for the next little while. We encourage you to seek out more TED Talks and to tell us your favourites, whether in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter!

Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Queen's University. He's obsessed with everything marketing and devoted to helping entrepreneurs everywhere thrive.