I’m a big fan of motivational videos (which you probably already know if you read my post on my productive morning routine). Because of this, I’m hugely grateful to the TED Talks organization for putting out so much great material that inspires me and keeps me going on my toughest days.
If you’re new to TED Talks, finding great videos amongst the thousands that are out there can be challenging. That’s why I’ve put together the following list of my favorite 23 “must see” videos (note – I’ve added the run time beneath each video so that you can pick one to watch based on the amount of time you have available). Bookmark this page and then come back whenever you’re in the need for a little motivation!
Gary Vaynerchuk – Do What You Love (No Excuses!)
Dreamers – here’s a clip for you… In his TED Talk, popular entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk gives viewers the kick in the ass needed to turn dreams into reality. This clip is one of my “must haves” for days when I’m feeling like I’m going down the wrong path.
Run time – 15:26 minutes
Rory Sutherland – Life Lessons from an Ad Man
In this video, Rory Sutherland – Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather – offers up the idea that “a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider ‘real’ value.” It’s funny and deeply intriguing, making it a must-see for entrepreneurs who are struggling with sales.
Run time – 16:39 minutes
Derek Sivers – How to Start a Movement
Although Sivers started out as a professional musician and circus clown, his CD Baby company – which sold for $22 million in 2008 – makes him a bonafide entrepreneurial legend. In his Talk, which centers on the idea of developing your ideas and gaining buy-in for your movement, you’ll learn what makes good ideas grown and how you can harness the power of two for your own growing business.
Run time – 3:07 minutes
Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action
Sinek’s talk is based off the idea that “people don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it.” If you feel like your leadership skills could use some polishing, be sure to check out his simple, yet powerful “golden circle of motivation” model.
Run time – 18:05 minutes
Dan Ariely – Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions?
What seems like such a simple question actually prompts a fascinating TED Talk on the subject of decision-making. Turns out, we aren’t as rational as we think – but you’ll have to check out the video to see why!
Run time – 17:22 minutes
Seth Godin – How to Get Your Ideas to Spread
If you’re an entrepreneur who doesn’t know who Seth Godin is, you’ve got a lot of learning to do! But regardless of how familiar you are with this marketing guru, there’s no way you won’t be inspired by this TED Talk on being remarkable.
Run time – 17:05 minutes
Richard Branson – Life at 30,000 Feet
No list of inspirational TED Talks would be complete without Branson’s “Life at 30,000 Feet,” which examines the businessman’s life, career, near-death experiences and motivations. Give this video a watch when you’re feeling bogged down by the daily requirements of running a startup. Trust me – it’ll give you the kick in the pants needed to remind you exactly what you’re working towards.
Run time – 29:55
Malcolm Gladwell – Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce
Author Malcolm Gladwell dives into the food industry for this TED Talk, exploring how the quest for the perfect spaghetti sauce uncovers hidden truths about the universal concepts of choice and happiness. Check it out if you’re having trouble connecting with what your consumers really want.
Run time – 17:34 minutes
Tim Harford – Trial, Error, and the God Complex
Would it surprise you to hear that even the biggest corporations – with their vast financial resources and brilliant employees – rely on trial and error to come up with their most successful products? Economics writer Tim Harford explores one such example from Unilever and translates the lessons the company learned to a powerful message for entrepreneurs.
Run time – 18:07 minutes
Steven Johnson – Where Good Ideas Come From
According to author Steven Johnson, the “Eureka!” moments that power your startup might not be as random as you think. In this TED Talk, Johnson discusses the history of innovation, leaving small business owners with plenty of strategies for nurturing their own big ideas.
Run time – 17:46 minutes
Evan Williams – The Voices of Twitter Users
It isn’t widely known that Twitter was actually a side project developed by founder Evan Williams’s company, Odeo. In this TED Talk, Williams discusses this unlikely history, as well as how listening and responding to user insights lead to the creation of such things as the retweet and hashtag. It’s a great “behind the scenes” look at a company we use every day.
Run time – 7:52 minutes
Cameron Herold – Let’s Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs
Even if you aren’t a parent, entrepreneur Cameron Herold’s ideas on shaping our children to be more comfortable with business ownership than traditional employment are worth watching. Who knows? Maybe the creator of 1-800-GOT-JUNK will change the way you view yourself and the importance of your work as an entrepreneur!
Run time – 19:36 minutes
Dan Cobley – What Physics Taught Me About Marketing
If phrases like “Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle” and the “second law of thermodynamics” make you uncomfortable, don’t worry! Cobley – one of Google’s marketing directors – explains these principles in an easy-to-understand way and uses them to create a whole new way of thinking about marketing. It’s definitely worth a watch if you feel like your own promotional methods are becoming a bit stagnant.
Run time – 7:39 minutes
David Rose – 10 Things to Know Before You Pitch to VCs
Getting ready to make your own plea for financing? “The Pitch Coach” David Rose gives you an inside look at the ten things you need to know about yourself (and to prove to a VC) before you even say your first word.
Run time – 14:42 minutes
Shawn Achor – The Happy Secret to Better Work
Achor’s video is all about realigning your perspective in order to shape your reality – but don’t think that this is some “New Age” touchy-feely video. Psychologist Shawn Achor is hilarious to listen to, and his thoughts are guaranteed to have you seeing your work day in a better light.
Run time – 12:21 minutes
Julie Burstein – 4 Lessons in Creativity
Simply put, entrepreneurs must be creative if they want to succeed. So if your creative juices haven’t been flowing all that well lately, find 20 minutes to sit down and watch radio host Julie Burstein discuss several powerful sources of creativity – all based on interviews with remarkably talented people.
Run time – 17:20 minutes
Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
How powerful can body language be? Psychologist Amy Cuddy found that adopting a high-power pose for just two minutes were more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors, saw an increase in testosterone (the “power hormone”) and experienced a decrease in cortisol – a hormone associated with stress. Definitely take a look at this one if you’ve been feeling less-than-assertive lately!
Run time – 21:03 minutes
Jason Fried – Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work
I’ve deliberately structured my life in a way that allows me to work from anywhere – and Fried’s talk on office productivity reinforces the reasons why I get more done this way. If your productivity needs a boost (or if you suspect your office-based employees aren’t as effective as they could be), you’ll definitely want to make time in your schedule for this TED Talk.
Run time – 15:21 minutes
Margaret Heffernan – Dare to Disagree
Growing organizations often struggle with the “echo chamber” effect – in which employees agree with the status quo in order to avoid conflict. Since this can stifle growth, entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan makes the case in her TED Talk that we all need to take the time to engage with others who come from different backgrounds, disciplines and ways of thinking. Check out the video if you have the sneaking suspicion you’ve inadvertently surrounded yourself with “yes men.”
Run time – 12:56 minutes
Andrew McAfee – What Will Future Jobs Look Like?
If Amazon’s delivery droids are any indication, the future of employment could look a lot different than the one we’ve come to know now. Economist Andrew McAfee explores what future jobs could look like, as well as what entrepreneurs and the next generation of workers can do to prepare themselves.
Run time – 14:25 minutes
Renny Gleeson – 404: The Story of a Page Not Found
Got four minutes? Then you’ve got time to watch Gleeson use the example of 404 pages to make the case for turning unfavorable scenarios into marketing and reputation building opportunities. It’s a great – but quick – look at the power of building well-designed brands.
Run time – 4:08 minutes
Richard St. John – 8 Secrets of Success
To figure out why some people succeed, St. John asked more than 500 wildly successful people what helped them most in their careers. The results are eight traits that all interviewees have in common – and that you can learn to apply to your own life after taking a look at this video.
Run time – 3:34 minutes
Rachel Botsman – The Currency of the New Economy is Trust
We’re living in the “sharing economy,” so if you want to succeed, you’ve got to understand how to share and collaborate in a way that builds reputation capital. Botsman – the co-author of the book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption – challenges entrepreneurs to understand the power of trust and to transform themselves to this new economic system.
Run time – 19:46 minutes
Looking for even more inspiration? Check out these other compilations of great TED Talks for entrepreneurs:
- Inc. Magazine – “6 TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Should Watch“
- VentureBurn – “7 Inspiring TED Talks Every Entrepreneur Should Watch“
- Mashable – “6 Inspiring TED Talks for Entrepreneurs“
Or, if you have another favorite episode that should be added to the list, leave it in the comments section below!