I discovered TED talks during my undergraduate studies. The many hours I spent watching them could definitely be classed as procrastination, but looking back I also know that much of how I now think about the world came from simply having access to these ideas.
Talks by the likes of the great Sir Ken Robinson taught me that the established way may not be the best way, and though I still fight against my conditioned bias towards accepted authorities, I fully appreciate the value of difference, and of enabling yourself and others to thrive.
Ideas like these are – hopefully – at the heart of startup company culture, and that openness to curiosity and learning is crucial to the success of the new economy.
In light of that ethos, here are five TEDx talks that I found inspiring (and not in the Instagram follower-bait kind of way). Enjoy!
1. The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU
I seriously love this talk. As our lives progress and we get busier professionally and personally, it can feel hard to find the time to learn new skills. Much as I love Malcolm Gladwell, his popularisation of the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to master something is I think, a little demotivating for the time-poor. Josh Kaufman explains how learning new skills needn’t be insurmountable if you employ some clever deconstruction. Breaking down seemingly overwhelming tasks, embracing the learning curve and spending just 20 hours – about 45 minutes daily for a month – of focused practice on any task will take you through the frustration of a complete lack of knowledge, to a place where you can be reasonably good at something. More of this, please.
2. How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu
Much of the language around the new economy and millennial careers focuses on ideas of self-realisation, fulfilment, and making a difference. Fuelled by this rhetoric and the pressure to excel, we can struggle to find that work that ticks all those boxes, or even to know what we like. Film producer Adam Leipzig says that finding that purpose can be boiled down to 5 questions: Who are you? What do you do? Who do you do it for? What do those people want and need? How do they change as a result? Sound too simple? Watch the talk and give it a go.
3. How to find and do work you love | Scott Dinsmore | TEDxGoldenGatePark
“I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?” Warren Buffett
Inspired by the above quote from everyone’s favourite bajillionaire, Scott Dinsmore realised that putting in time at a job he hated with a Fortune 500 company wasn’t the way to build a great career. He found that 80% of adults don’t enjoy their work, and wanted to discover what the other 20% were doing right. This knowledge, he distilling down to three simple principles which he called the Passionate Work Framework. These tools can be accessed for free at liveyourlegend.net
4. The skill of self confidence | Dr. Ivan Joseph | TEDxRyersonU
The self-help industry thrives on the widespread lack of self-confidence, which they know feeds into everything that we do. A lack of confidence has a knock-on effect on every other aspect of a person’s life. It’s often said that you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will, but that’s certainly easier said than done.
Dr. Ivan Joseph knows that excellence can only be achieved through confidence. However, this isn’t a case of haves and have nots. He believes that confidence isn’t an innate character traits but rather a skill that can be learned. How? Repetition, repetition, repetition. Watch it!
5. The psychology of self-motivation | Scott Geller | TEDxVirginiaTech
Motivation can be unpredictable and sometimes elusive. It can sometimes be easier to get motivated when the pressure is coming from an external source like a deadline, money, familial duty etc. But in order to motivate ourselves in a consistent and fulfilling way, it needs to come from inside ourselves. Scott Geller examines the psychology of being self-motivated and how we can convert our motivations from external to internal.
These are are just five of umpteen talks in the TED archive. I purposely chose TEDx talks because I like the off-site, university feeling of these videos. If you have any particular favourites, I would love to hear them! If you prefer to take in information aurally, I can recommend listening to the TED Radio Hour, where NPR host, Guy Raz takes listeners through themed discussions of ideas on how we can change the world.