3 TED Talks Every Business Owner Should Watch

The global technology, entertainment and design conferences collectively known as TED have been getting a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. These conferences bring together some of the most important creative minds of our generation for an unprecedented sharing of ideas. TED topics range from management and philosophy to green thinking and entrepreneurship, but they all have one thing in common – they are fiercely inspirational, something all business owners need.

Fortunately, the Sapling Foundation has uploaded their entire archive of TED presentations to the Internet, allowing anyone who so chooses the opportunity to view these amazing speeches in their entirety. And if you’re in business, here are the three that you should watch first:

1. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

In this presentation, marketing blogger and entrepreneur Seth Godin discusses the original “greatest thing” – sliced bread. Through this metaphor, Godin talks about how sometimes even the greatest innovations and inventions fall flat until someone finds a way to get the idea to spread. In Godin’s opinion, it’s the people who can get the ideas to spread – not the creators – who ultimately win. In fact, according to Godin, bad or even bizarre ideas are often more successful than boring ones. Ultimately, Godin feels that in a world with too many choices and too little time – only those that are remarkable will succeed. So if you want to spread your business, market the right ideas to the right people in the right way. All you need to do is define your audience and work backwards.

2. Tom Wujec: Build a Tower, Build a Team

In this discussion, world-renowned business innovator Tom Wujec discusses a legendary TED moment from the past, in which teams of four people were asked to build the tallest freestanding structure possible out of spaghetti, tape, yarn and a marshmallow. The challenge focused on quick collaboration and teamwork, and the poor performance of the audience inspired Wujec to take the challenge on the road. Wujec feels the “Marshmallow Challenge” teaches us some very important lessons about the nature of collaboration. In general, he found that kindergartners consistently produced better structures than business school grads, because they spend no time jockeying for power. And while business students are trained to identify a single perfect plan, the kindergartners refine as they go. Ultimately, Wujec feels that it teaches teams how to identify the “hidden assumptions” that hinder success and helps them identify the value different members bring to a team.

3. Julie Burstein: 4 lessons in creativity

In this presentation, Radio Host Julie Burstein discusses how pottery can be a metaphor for creativity, and how it’s important understand that one can only nurture an idea so far, before the forces beyond her control take the idea where they want it to go. Ultimately, creativity is about letting go from the very beginning, so that you can evolve with time and avoid stalling.

According to Burstein, there are four aspects of life that need to be embraced in order for creativity to flourish.

  • Pay attention to the world around you – openly embrace experience, allowing yourself to lose focus and have your creativity nurtured.
  • Embrace challenges – understand how painful experiences can be inspiring in their own special way.
  • Understand limitation – you must reconcile what you cannot do before you can truly understand what you can.
  • Embrace loss – understand where beauty can be found in pain, and how creativity can be inspired by often horrible events.

If you’d like to learn more about creativity, watch these TED talks.

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Article written by Jake Bamford

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