The 5 Most Motivating TED Talks

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

A series of online broadcasts on topics related to technology, entertainment and design, TED Talks provide food for thought for business.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks need no introduction.

Founded in 1984 as a one-time event (that featured the revolutionary personal computer introduced by Apple called the Mac), TED Talks have become the online broadcasts you can watch at work (unlike those cat videos) and not feel like you’re goofing off.

They’re inspirational. They’re informative. Unlike watching stupid cat tricks, they can give you ideas to run your company.

Here are five we think should be on every business owner’s playlist:

Related Article: Leaders Innovate, Followers Increment

How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

In Simon Sinek's How Great Leaders Inspire Action he discusses how from leaders in their industry (Apple) or inspirational people (Martin Luther King), share the same qualities. Namely, they think, act and communicate in ways that are exactly the opposite of the way “regular” people behave.

  • They communicate why they want to do what they want to do (as opposed to just saying we do something). Communicating features and benefits doesn’t appeal to the psychology of customers making a buying decision. Convincing the customer you share the same ideals and values does. People buy into why you do something, not what you do.
  • The law of diffusion of innovation states that 2.5 percent of the entire population are innovators, 13.5 percent are early adopters, the next 34 percent are on the early side of the majority of adopters and the rest either eventually get on board or don’t. The focus should be figuring out how to expand the market to those who “get it,” that 13.5 percent of early adopters who will pave the way for majority adoption, the people who, as Sinek puts it, stood in line for six hours to get an iPhone when they could have waited a week to get one of the shelf.
  • People follow leaders because they inspire us. The way Apple inspired nerds and Martin Luther King inspired the civil rights movement. As Sink concludes, “We follow those who lead not for them, but for ourselves. Those who start with ‘why’ have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

Why We Do What We Do by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins discusses in Why We Do What We Do that there are six human needs that motivate action. The first four are needs of the personality. The last two are needs of the spirit.

  1. Certainty
  2. Variety
  3. Significance
  4. Connection and love
  5. Fulfillment
  6. Contribute something beyond ourselves

You need to explore the extent to which these drive and shape you, and maybe as part of that examination reconfigure their influence to transform your own behavior. 

The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

A third to a half of all people are introverts. Introverts are not necessarily shy, uncomfortable and awkward around people; they are defined by how they respond to social stimulation. Extroverts require large quantities of social stimulation. Introverts not as much. They prefer quieter, lower key environments. They also tend to be highly creative.

The problem is that the modern workplace is geared to extroverts. Open space offices, for example, with their noise and crowding and lack of privacy, are not generally good for stimulating introverted creativity. The workplace needs to be balanced to foster introverted creativity. You can provide balance by:

  • Decreasing emphasis on group work.
  • Offering opportunities to unplug from technology.
  • Providing for more privacy.
  • Encouraging introverts to, at times, be more extroverted when it’s best for everyone in the room.

The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor

The science of happiness not an exact one, but Shawn Achor reveals The Happy Secret to Better Work in his thought provoking TED Talk. While it can describe external characteristics that might contribute to happiness, it cannot accurately describe how an individual processes those characteristics.

There’s a problem with the idea that if you work harder, you’ll be more successful and therefore happy. Every time you achieve a goal, you think you have to set a new goal and work harder to achieve it. Since you are always setting new goals, you’ll never be entirely happy because there’s always something more to achieve.

Instead of emphasizing the need to work harder and be more successful, emphasize the positive results of what you are doing in the present. This results in a “happiness advantage,” in which the pleasure in doing the task at hand—as opposed to what that task is supposed to achieve—results in less stress and higher level performance thanks to higher dopamine levels produced by the sense of contentment.

Ways to “retrain” the brain to increase a general sense of happiness include: 

  • Practicing regular meditation.
  • Focusing on one task at a time.
  • Performing random acts of kindness towards others.
  • Recording at least one positive experience each day and reliving how it makes you feel. 

Related Article: 4 Business Owners Weigh In: What's The ONE Thing Most Critical to Success?

How to Spot a Liar by Pamela Meyer

Lying is a cooperative act. Not all lies are harmful (indeed, they can be good things that are essential to social cohesion). You are probably lied to at least 10 times every day. Lying is an evolutionary adaptation—the larger the brain, the larger the capacity for deception.

You need to find better ways to discover the lying that may prove harmful. Here’s how you spot a liar who might cause you trouble: 

  • Excessive reliance on formal language that gets caught up in technicalities and distances itself from the subject at hand (see Bill Clinton speech denying his relationship with Monica Lewinsky).
  • Body language that appears inconsistent with what the person is actually saying. (A smile that seems forced, for example, or an inappropriate shrug.)
  • Excessive detail.
  • Higher blink rate.

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