10 Essential Business TED Talks

TED is a leading nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas. These ten businesses TED talks give new personal and business insights, redefine leadership and inspire creativity. While not all of these ideas will fit your business needs, they are definitely worth learning, or relearning.

How to make a splash in social media – Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian, a Reddit co-founder, gives businesses solid social media advice in four minutes. Alexis drives home the point that a brand’s message no longer comes from the top. A company’s audience now can dictate a message through social media. For a message to be successful, it has to be genuine and brands need to be willing to lose control. The laid-back nature of social media also means that successful brands can’t always take themselves so seriously.

Do the green thing – Andy Hobsbawm

Andy Hobsbawm urges individuals and companies to do the green thing. Going green has definitely created a lot of buzz in the business community. Green businesses, businesses that develop green products or businesses that support green causes need to incorporate creativity in their messaging. He stresses that in time of great need, we need great creativity. In the past, creativity has promoted tolerance, peace and education. Today, we need creativity to combat the climatic changes that are already occurring. Creativity creates an aura of magic. Andy recommends that we keep creative messaging simple, sharp and relatable; doing it this way will inspire others want to act.

How to succeed? Get more sleep – Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington, a blogging thought leader and savvy businesswoman, tells a room full of women how to succeed. She tells the room of driven women that they need to literally sleep their way to the top if they want to be successful in business. She explains how she was so overworked that she fainted from exhaustion. She got her body’s message and made it a point to get more sleep. Sleep boosts productivity, joy and mental clarity. As recent financial meltdowns demonstrate, brilliant leaders can make terrible decisions. Arianna stresses that we need leaders who take care of their personal needs. Arianna notes how there are ideas that are dormant in our minds that only sleep can awaken.

Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs – Cameron Herold

Cameron Herald delivers an inspiring talk on why it is important to teach kids to be entrepreneurs. Not only is his talk an excellent reminder of what it takes to be a successful business person, but it reminds successful entrepreneurs to pay it forward. Cameron started his first business, of many, at seven years old selling coat hangers to dry cleaning companies. He was also the student who many teachers overlooked. He did horrible on tests, he resorted to cheating and he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Instead of medicating him, his parents groomed him to be an entrepreneur because they knew he did not fit anywhere else. Entrepreneurs can, and have, fixed the problems in society, so it’s important to nurture the next generation.

What physics taught me about marketing – Dan Cobley

Dan Cobley explains why physics is cool and how brands can apply laws in physics to marketing a business. Dan starts his presentation with the popular Newton’s Law. In physics, Newton’s Law states that the bigger the mass of an object is, the more force will be required to change its direction. In marketing, businesses can use Newton’s Law to account for why the bigger a brand is, the more force it needs to reposition itself. It is why huge parent companies have subsidiaries. Dan also discusses how brands can apply The Scientific Method to the business. The Scientific Method states that any hypothesis is shaky because hypotheses can only be disproven, never proven. In marketing, The Scientific Method means that no how matter how much a brand invests in marketing, all it takes is one bad situation to undermine years of marketing. It took one oil spill to ruin BP’s eco-friendly image and it took one recall to ruin Toyota’s image as the most reliable vehicle.

How to start a movement – Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers gives businesses a new concept about leadership and what it takes to really start a movement. Businesses are constantly being pressured to innovate. Yet, Derek claims that another powerful form of leadership is to be the first to follow. It takes guts to be the first follower. Derek claims that following “turns a lone nut into a leader.” After joining the leader, the first follower is an equal because they validate what the leader is saying or doing; they also give others permission to do the same. The first couple followers that come after the initial follower look more to the follower than they do the original leader. Companies can stand behind other entities and still make a difference.

Listening to Twitter users – Evan Williams

Evan Williams reminds businesses about the importance of following a hunch. As the co-founder of Twitter, Evan uses Twitter to show how his hunch paid off. Twitter was initially conceived as a broadcasting platform to share status updates with friends and family. Yet, Twitter users really shaped its evolution. The staple @(Twitter name) was a user invention. Communicating real-time events, like wildfires or gas shortages, came from the users. Evan reminds companies that when you give people easy ways to share information, good things start to happen. Like Evan, business owners should follow their hunch but never assume where it will go; customers will do that.

Smart failure for a fast-changing world – Eddie Obeng

Business educator and virtual business school owner, Eddie Obeng comments on today’s fast-changing world and how necessary it is for businesses to develop a culture of “smart failure.” Eddie explains how for decades companies conditioned employees to give the correct answer. Yet, the correct answer no longer applies; creativity, and their solutions, cannot keep up with pace of the changing world. For decades, companies said they wanted innovation but would fire employees who would take risks and do crazy things. Companies need to reward these risk-takers because smart failure is the only way to keep up with the times.

Everyday compassion at Google – Chade-Meng Tan

Chade-Meng Tan, a seasoned engineer at Google, explains how and why compassion in the workplace can create happiness and profits, with Google as his case study. Chade-Meng states that the compassionate efforts at Google usually begin at the grassroots level. There are two main benefits of creating a more compassionate workplace. Compassion usually creates highly effective leaders. These “Level 5” leaders possess humility and ambition for the greater good. The second benefit of compassion in the workplace is the inspired and workforce where colleagues respect and admire each other. Businesses that want to achieve a more compassionate work environment have to: 1) create a culture of concern for serving the greater good, 2) give their employees the autonomy to do the right thing and 3) focus on the emotional intelligence of their employees.

Your body language shapes who you are – Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and researcher from Harvard, discusses how body language can change the course of a life. Her research focuses on high-power and low-power poses and the dynamics between the two. Amy’s research showed that a person’s body language determines whether they get hired or promoted. Yet, Amy has also found that our own body language can influence how we think and feel about ourselves. Amy suggests that before a big event, e.g. a job interview, we should privately make high-power poses. Two minutes of powerful posing can raise testosterone levels and decrease cortisol levels. Even if we feel like we are faking feeling powerful, if we do it enough, then we can actually become a more powerful person and leader. In her research and own experiences, tiny tweaks can create big changes.