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Top 10 TED Talks for Rethinking and Inspiring Your Work

Top 10 TED Talks for Rethinking and Inspiring Your Work

Majora Carter TED talk

I love TED Talks, those inspiring talks you can watch free online. I want to tell you some of my favorite TED Talks for making your work life more meaningful, more fun, and successful. Or just to enjoy a good story.

My clients will recognize some of these as ones I’ve suggested for homework.

First, I have a celebration to share. I’m excited that I’m going to attend my first live TEDx event. I even get to help out with it, including volunteering to coach one of the TEDx speakers.

TED Talks Overview

TED Talks are from the annual TED conference and the many smaller TEDx conferences around the world. The events are about sharing “ideas worth spreading,” from work fulfillment and mind-blowing technology, to solving world hunger and creating better schools. Anything you can think of, and plenty you would have never thought of.

Yes, TED conferences could stand to include far more diversity among their speakers (which is slowly getting better over time). At the same time, the breadth of topics and the creativity of solving global problems is a far cry from what any mainstream conference offers.

Some Fav’ TED Talks About Work

And now, here are the ones I think will inspire you and spark fresh ideas. These lessons are all relevant to your work success, and actually, relevant to a fulfilling life as a whole.

I realize it would take a while to watch them all, but I hope you’ll bookmark this page for when you’re hungry for another bit of inspiration.

These are in no particular order.

  1. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work (12:21) – So funny. And important. We have some serious misconceptions about how to find happiness at work.
  2. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are (21:03) – Strike a new posture and it will help you access powerful feelings, and might even impact success. I see this in action with myself and my clients. Be sure to watch her talk until the end, with her personal story.
  3. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action (18:05) – By studying successful leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Apple Computers, Sinek reveals that they all start with Why. This talk, as well as his book Start with Why, are well-crafted examples of his own message.
  4. Majora Carter: 3 stories of local eco-entrepreneurship (18:00) – Hopeful stories worth learning from. Creative social entrepreneurs are keys to creating change.
  5. Susan Cain: The power of introverts (19:04) – Of course I have to mention the introvert talk by Susan Cain, author of Quiet. Both introverts and extroverts will benefit from watching. It happens to be one of the most popular TED talks and you’ll see why. (Introverts make great speakers!)
  6. Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work (15:21) – Successful entrepreneur and author of Rework, Fried holds up a mirror to our non-productivity, and provides solutions.
  7. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability (20:20) – This introverted researcher shares how and why she faced her own vulnerability… based on her vulnerability research. Very funny. If you like it, you’ll love Brene’s books and blog.
  8. Jonathan Fields – Turning fear into fuel (17:57) – Author of Career Renegade, Jonathan Fields, tells us how he moved past fear into action. As in his book, he gives very practical doable tips.
  9. Angela Lussier: Reinventing Work (5:31) – Well, I’m biased about adding this to my list because Angela is a friend, but I tell my clients to watch it for good reason. She gives us a snippet of how she quit her creativity-squashing job. Her unconventional story and ideas are captured in her book, The Anti-Résumé Revolution.
  10. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius  (19:32) – A popular and personal talk by a bestselling author about the faulty notions we have about creativity and genius. Hint: We are all creative geniuses. Tweet that.

I recommend all the books I linked to above. They are all among my favorites. (More book favorites here.)

Update: More Recommended TED Talks for Your Career Journey

Since I posted those 10 above, I’ve since discovered a few more I want to add to the list, and luckily there’s a lot more diversity among the speakers now.

  1. Sarah Lewis: Embrace the Near Win (11:41) – I love her storytelling and messages. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, what use is the near win?
  2. Mellody Hobson: Color Blind or Color Brave? (14:15) – The president of Ariel Investments makes the case that speaking openly about race — and particularly about diversity in hiring — and how it makes for better businesses and a better society.
  3. Jason Shen: When Looking for a Job Highlight Your Ability Not Your Experience (6:20) – Creative approaches to going for work that has no obvious connection to your work experience. And why employers and applicants have to think outside the expected career tracks when things are changing so much.
  4. Angela Lee Duckworth: Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance (5:59) – Love her stories and humor, and I always appreciate passion and perseverance.
  5. Sarah Corbett: Activism Needs Introverts (13:48) – I like how she thinks. Creative ideas for introverts.
  6. Ruby Maddox: How We Connect to Our Highest Purpose (11:52) – Ruby is a fellow introvert who lives near me, and I’m such a fan of what she’s up to. I love her focus on living your purpose. (I profiled Ruby on my blog: Inspiring Introvert: Meet Ruby Maddox, Living Her Purpose, with Balance.)
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Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
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