Career and confidence lessons from popular TED talks

Photo: Stephanie Shirley by Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

I’m almost sure that this winter will ultimately be scientifically proven to have been at least 400 times longer than the average winter. And along with the cold and gloom, not only am I not in the mood for socializing, I can barely motivate myself to even do anything work related outside of my immediate commitments. Which means that until the weather gets better, I rarely commit myself to any real professional development, aside from what comes across my screens.

It occurred to me that instead of spending time looking at the videos that pop up on my social media stream or mindlessly looking at memes, I should try to make my video watching more proactive. I also realized that some of the most popular videos being forwarded to me were TED talks, which makes lots of sense. Not only are they quick and entertaining According to the TED website, their motto is “Ideas worth spreading” and their talks are given by “scientists, philosophers, musicians, business and religious leaders.” While some argue that TEDx, (the community inspired version of global leaning TED), has brought down the level of the talks, the majority of people are thrilled to see a wider variety of speakers and topics.

Why do we love TED talks?

Steven Provost runs a top office for recruiting network Sanford Rose Associates and believes Ted Talks are popular because of the format. “You give an expert in their field about 15 minutes to share an idea or a finding in their profession. Not only are they interesting points to learn about topics you may have never know anything about, but there are many times where you can carry it over into your everyday life or your profession.”

If you feel like expanding your horizons in the most easily accessible way possible- have a look at some TED talks that might actually help you upgrade your professional toolbox:

Study up on your industry:

Sylvia RJ Scott, Founder of Girl’s C.E.O. Connection said one of her favorite TED Talks is Do Schools Kill Creativity? By Ken Robinson, TED2006 in Monterey CA. Scott said “This TED talk is just as relevant in 2018 as it was in 2006. It showed me entrepreneurs do more than solve problems. It takes a creative mind to visualize how to solve the problem and turn then design a business to do that.”

But don’t limit yourself:

Relationship expert Greg Godek admits he can’t choose a favorite TED talk because, in his opinion, there are too many great ones:  “I love learning more about topics I’m specifically interested in. But I also love the surprise of becoming interested in topics that, frankly, I DON’T care about (Who knew that WORMS could be so fascinating!).”

San Diego native Godek has attended many local TEDx events and said his 2 favorite speakers by far are “Bhava Ram, The Power of Mantra, an incredible story,” and Karyn Buxman (“How Humor Saved the World”) which Godek said, “included the single most audacious opening of any of the hundreds of TED talks I’ve seen.”

Sadly, I couldn’t find that one on the TED site, but perhaps you’ll have better luck!

Make the professional personal:

Provost says he has several favorites based on different topics including business, relationship, health, and personal. He cites Mel Robbins “How to stop screwing yourself over” as a personal:

“In the middle of her Ted Talk, she shares a very simple exercise that she does when she finds herself delaying to take action. It’s so simple, that she says it’s ’embarrassing.’ She simply counts back from 5 and when she gets to 1, she does what she was delaying to do. She doesn’t start from 1 to 5 because you can always keep counting.”

Provost also said, “It’s great for getting that run before work, making that phone call you’re supposed to make, writing that email, or anything that could be done right now if you weren’t preventing yourself from doing it.”

And the inspiration for it comes in convenient video form!

There are also playlists you can find, for instance, this one to help you find the right job.

Rachel Weingarten|is a marketing & brand strategist and president of 729.marketing