Motivational Monday: 5 TED Talks with the Ingredients for Success

If you’re anything like me, you binge watch so many TED Talks during the day that it makes your Netflix binging look like child’s play. If you’re unfamiliar with TED Talks, here’s a little background information: TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a set of organized conferences all over the world that’s run by a private organization called the Sapling Foundation, that’s been active since 1984. Their foundation is based on conversing and spreading academic, cultural and scientific ideas and topics relevant to society at the time. Their motto is, “Ideas worth spreading.”

I compiled a list of 5 TED Talks that I found inspirational and motivating when it comes to work, such as starting your own business, chasing success, problem-solving, being passionate about your career and becoming happier in the workplace:

1. Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast

Tom Wujec’s TED Talk starts out with a simple question: “How do you make toast?” Many people drew and described the process in different ways that varied from visualizing who made the toast and the experience that they had to the intricate mechanics of toaster design. One thing that all of these processes had in common, however: majority of these drawings had nodes and links. “It’s the combination of links and nodes that produces a full systems model,” Wujec says. “It makes our private mental models visible about how we think something works…What’s interesting about these systems models is how they reveal our various points of view.” Wujec goes on to explain that between 5 and 13 is the most successful amount of nodes in a diagram, how as humans, we clearly understand how to break down complex things into singular simple steps and in a group effort, it’s disordered at first, but as people build on one another’s ideas, the layout goes from messy to genius. So from this simple exercise, some key lessons to take away in regards to complex problem solving are:

  • Draw out the steps
  • Put them on cards to re-organize
  • Work in a group

2. How great leaders inspire action

In this wildly popular and classic TED Talk, Simon Sinek explains what makes leaders different from the rest. “All of the great and inspiring leaders and organizations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers,” Sinek says, “they all think, act and communicate the exact same way, and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else.” Sinek goes on to explain this simple idea of  “the golden circle.” What do you do? How do you do it? Why do you do it? He explains the importance of passion behind an idea and how you cannot be successful if your only pursuit is the result, as well as the biological explanation for it. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” he says.

3. The happy secret to better work

In this hilarious video, Shawn Achor explains how important, effective and vital your levels of happiness are in the workplace. Research shows that 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge (instead of as a threat). Most individuals have the mindset that if they work harder, they’ll be more successful and if they’re more successful, they’ll be happier. Scientifically speaking, this is untrue. If you succeed in a goal, instead of celebrating that achievement, you raise the bar higher for yourself. “If happiness is on the other side of success, your brain never gets there,” Achor says. “We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society and that’s because we think we have to be successful, and then we’ll be happier.” Achor then goes on to explain that raising your levels of positivity is what actually creates successful advantages because your brain performs much better in a positive state than it does negative. With positivity, you are 31% more productive and 37% better at sales. 

Additionally, Dopamine, a chemical in the brain known for happiness, actually turns on all of the learning centers in your brain as well. There are a few different ways to train your brain in just 21 days in a row to increase positivity:

  • Write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day
  • Journal about one positive experience you’ve had each day
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Random acts of kindness

4. The power of introverts

In this personal favorite of mine, Susan Cain goes on to explain how businesses in today’s society feed to stimulate more extroverted personalities instead of the introverted, who hold many invisible strengths in the workplace that are undermined. She notes, yet, celebrates the differences, and addresses the incorrect stigmas that both personality types endure. 1 out of every 2.5 people you know are introverted. In fact, many creative individuals tend to be introverted, so therefore, all of this is extremely relevant in the workforce—that tends to only nourish the extroverted personality.

The difference between introversion and extroversion isn’t shy vs. outgoing, it’s actually the levels of stimulation, and particularly, social stimulation. She suggests a different business model in which employees go off by themselves to generate their own ideas and then come back together to work as a group to talk these ideas out. Understanding one another, especially in the workplace, is the best way to create progress and become successful. If you are unsure of your personality type, you can find out what you are in the Meyers-Briggs assessment that also evaluates additional personality traits as well, here.

5. 8 secrets of success

Finally, in this very brief video, Richard St. John lists his 8 secrets of success. The light-hearted and hilarious video has some very inspirational quotes of wisdom by fellow successful business leaders that have broken down into simple one-worded bullet points:

  • Passion
  • Work
  • Good
  • Focus
  • Push
  • Serve
  • Ideas
  • Persist

So there you have it. I hope you watched at least one of these videos above and that it inspired you in your own business, whether it be through management and organization of the workplace, success with your own ideas in a start-up business, or your personal levels of happiness and passion that drive your productivity levels. Not a bad Monday at all!

About the Author

Maddie Deming is a guest contributor for the AddShoppers Blog. With a background in Business Analysis and journalistic writing, Deming brings a unique perspective to the blog.