Plenty of TED talks relate to entrepreneurship, either directly or indirectly. So we’ve narrowed it down a bit, with the 4 best TED talks for four specific areas of entrepreneurial success: attitude, marketing, motivation, and management.
4 Amazing TED Talks To Fire Up The Entrepreneur Buried Deep Inside
Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
Shawn Achor is a positive psychologist who gives a delightful account of how he once convinced his baby sister she was a unicorn. Now before you skip over this TED talk, assuming it’s not related to business and you’re not interested, let’s look at the message.
Achor explains how researchers typically study data to determine averages – how much does the average person work out, or what is the average income for people of a certain age? But the danger in ignoring the outliers is that “if we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”
By studying happiness at Yale, he learned that external factors (e.g. getting into a top school) were not indicators of internal happiness (e.g. students focused on worries and complaints far more than their privilege or achievements). His findings also showed that the “work hard to reach happiness” plan that most of us are taught to follow is scientifically backwards. Positive workers faired better in several areas, including turnover rates, job security, and productivity.
Basically, success at work doesn’t = happiness; Happiness = more success at work.
Watch the talk to learn techniques workers used to guide their brains toward positivity.
Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread
Of course, it’s a good idea to know a thing about marketing if you expect to start your own business. Marketing is the unavoidable piece to success for every entrepreneur – whether or not they have any interest in it.
Seth Godin outlines how advertising has changed since a decade ago, when people didn’t buy products from their smartphones or get hundreds of emails per week. In today’s age of information bombardment, boring won’t cut it. People simply don’t have the time to pay attention to spam, mediocre products, or even decent products that aren’t remarkable.
And when he says remarkable, he literally means “worth making a remark about.” If there’s nothing unique about your offering and it doesn’t pinpoint your target’s needs, you’re dead in the water. “Consumers don’t care about you. They’ve got way more choices than they used to, and way less time. “
Basically, the age of mass marketing is over. So if you’re advertising something, you’ll probably be ignored by the majority. But those on the fringe are actually your target market – the ones who will talk about your business and remain loyal.
Godin gives one of the best TED talks for struggling marketers. Check out his talk for some odd examples of products that took off (from soy milk to diamonds made of cremated humans).
Gary Vaynerchuk: Do What You Love (No Excuses!)
At age 30, Vaynerchuk walked away from a million dollar company, not because he hated it, but because he was “1% not happy.” This may truly be the best TED talk for anyone who’s been procrastinating with their life, or assuming their career dreams can’t happen. Vaynerchuk gives you just what you may need – a kick in the ass.
“What do I want to do every day for the rest of my life? Do that. I promise you can monetize it. If you love Alf, run an Alf blog! Love smurfs?! Smurf it up!”
The main message? Man up: stop crying, and start hustling. You can run a hugely successful business that earns heaps of cash, but if the day-to-day tasks suck, you’re going to be miserable. Instead of blindly following the money, start with what you love and build from there. You now have more power than ever to build a brand through solid content. “If you have brand equity, anything can happen.”
So if you’ve been slacking on your career ambitions, get a fresh transfusion of energy here.
Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work
If you’re still stuck in a position you loath, you’re familiar with the seething feeling that you are wasting precious time. You could be doing something, anything better than nodding off in a meeting about TPS reports (or whatever). But have you ever wondered why you feel that way?
Jason Fried, CEO and founder of Basecamp, explains in his TED talk why you can’t wait to get out of the office every day, even if you kinda like your job. The problem is that workers aren’t productive at the office. Fried asked several people where they would go to get work done. Not one of them said “the office.” Why? Because professionals (especially creatives) need large, uninterrupted blocks of time to really get things accomplished.
“This whole phenomenon of having short bursts of time to get things done reminds me of another thing that doesn’t work when you’re interrupted – and that is sleep.”
Managers and meetings (M&Ms, as Fried calls them) are toxic to productivity. For those who run a business, this is priceless information that can help you restructure your employees’ workday. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, this is the best TED Talk for understanding why you’re so restless in that cubicle all day. Hear some of Fried’s ideas for improvement, like “No Talk Thursdays” here.
So there you have it. 4 of the best TED talks for current and aspiring entrepreneurs. Hopefully this gives you the kick you needed to step it up a few notches in the work world.
Brianna Johnson is a freelance writer with a degree in Sociology. Read more from Brianna here.