Everybody is deluged with information, which only makes understanding all the more important.
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Imagine being able to assemble a team of the most talented and brilliant minds around to give you their choicest nuggets of wisdom in 18 minutes or less. How amazing would that be?
Thanks to the internet and TED talks, you have that capability at your fingertips. TED talks give audiences from around the world free, instant access to speakers who are doing cutting-edge work in numerous areas. TED, which is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, offers short, powerful talks covering topics ranging from science to business to global issues.
You could spend days on TED, poring over countless insightful videos, but to save you time, here’s a list of the top 10 TED talks that can shape how entrepreneurs view the world, increase innovation and engage in creative problem-solving. Happy viewing!
1. Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits — Navi Radjou
For a mind-blowing discussion on the art of doing more with less, watch Navi Radjou’s TED talk on frugal innovation. He discusses how entrepreneurs in emerging markets have found clever ways to solve problems with limited resources. This isn’t about “making do”; rather, it’s about finding innovative ways to make things better, often by taking something that is in abundance to help deal with something that’s scarce.
These are valuable lessons for those in developed nations such as the U.S. While businesses in the West rely on a “more for more” business model (more money for more product), Radjou says this is not terribly effective. Radjou also shares principles for how we can all accomplish more with less.
2. Don’t fail fast, fail mindfully — Leticia Gasca
We stifle innovation when we punish those who fail. Most people who fail bury their stories out of humiliation or shame. Yet in doing this, they miss a great opportunity for growth, and the rest of us miss out on learning from their stories. Leticia Gasca can relate — she kept the story of her failed business under wraps for seven long years, feeling like her failure made her the biggest loser among entrepreneurs.
However, when she finally shared her story, she realized that our failures make us stronger and help us connect with others on a deeper level. It’s not so much a matter of “failing fast,” Gasca says, as that may prompt some entrepreneurs to give up too easily or not give a project their all. She proposes a new mantra: fail mindfully. Be aware of the impact that a failed business has, and be aware of the need to share those lessons with the world.
3. Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume — Regina Hartley
When you are looking to hire a new employee, it’s easy to glance through resumes and quickly find the cream of the crop. According to Regina Hartley, these are often the so-called “silver spoons” — the candidates who went to an elite school and have impeccable recommendations.
And then there are the “scrappers” — the candidates who are equally qualified, but their resume is a patchwork of experience and their education comes from a less-esteemed school. If you delve a little deeper, you may find that these are the candidates who have learned to thrive because of the adversity. Hartley urges employers to consider giving scrappers a chance — they have grit, passion and purpose that will ultimately set them apart.
4. How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work — Carla Harris
In today’s business world, we often hear that you’ll get ahead by putting your head down and working really hard. The problem is, it’s a myth. Carla Harris discusses the real way people get their foot in the door and make important inroads in their careers: they find a sponsor. While many up-and-comers are told they need to find a mentor, what they really need is a sponsor — a person who has your back and will fight for you.
If you hope to achieve success in business, you’re going to need people who will represent your case and speak on your behalf in those closed-door meetings where decisions are made. In this insightful TED talk, Harris discusses how to identify and develop a productive sponsor relationship.
5. How cryptocurrency can help startups get investment capital — Ashwini Anburajan
According to entrepreneur Ashwini Anburajan, we're living in a golden era of entrepreneurship, but venture capital hasn't evolved to keep up. The current system limits the number of ideas that get funded, the number of companies that are created and those that will actually receive funding to grow. If the goal of entrepreneurship is to inspire innovation and encourage more people to build companies of all sizes, we need a new, more flexible system to fund these ideas.
We need to democratize access to capital, Anburajan says. She discusses a whole new way for young startups to raise money through the powers of cooperation and cryptocurrency.
6. Why tech needs the humanities — Eric Berridge
Imagine you’re working for a software consulting firm that’s about to get fired by a big client. What do you do? Faced with this scenario, Eric Berridge and his team opted to send in “Jeff, the bartender” (who was also a brilliant philosophy major dropout) in a last-ditch effort to keep their jobs. It worked, not because Jeff knew anything about software development, but because he changed the conversation.
This example shows why including people with a humanities background is still important even to a tech-based company. There is an assumption that our future workforce will be dominated by STEM, but Berridge says this is overblown. We need to be careful not to overvalue STEM and undervalue the humanities. While the sciences teach us how to build things, it’s the humanities that teach us what to build and why. Watch Berridge's TED talk here.
Related: The Era of the Specialist Is Over
7. Want to innovate? Become a “now-ist” — Joi Ito
The world is more complex and interconnected than ever before. We can try new things out much more easily and cheaply than the generations before us, says Joi Ito in his TED Talk. The traditional rules for institutions don’t work anymore because change is coming at all levels; it’s chaotic and hard to control.
Bottom-up innovation is happening in some of the most cutting-edge projects emerging today. We must now work with a different set of principles. In this new world, we must value learning over education. We must focus on being connected, always learning, fully aware and in the present. Don't be a futurist, Ito suggests: be a now-ist.
8. Five ways to kill your dreams — Bel Pesce
We all have dreams, yet so few of us actually attain those dreams. Why? In part because we believe in the overnight success story — that we will one day achieve it all in one fell swoop. But Bel Pesce shares a few key elements we may be missing. She breaks down five myths that ensure your dream projects will never come to fruition.
Top of her list is the myth of believing in the overnight success story. The truth is, an “overnight” success is always the result of everything you have done in your life up until that point. In this succinct video, Pesce gives straightforward advice: if you have a dream, it’s your responsibility to make it happen.
9. What baby boomers can learn from millennials at work, and vice versa — Chip Conley
There is evidence that gender and ethnically diverse companies are more effective — but what about a diversity of age? A number of studies have shown that age-diverse teams are more successful, says Chip Conley. There is a need for multigenerational companies to become more intentional about how their employees work together.
More than 40 percent of people have a boss younger than themselves, yet older employees have organizational insights that can be beneficial to nearly any company. As Conley explains in his TED Talk, a new kind of “elder” is emerging in the workplace. The most successful businesses will learn to create a powerful synergy between their younger and older employees.
10. Why you should treat the tech you use at work like a colleague — Nadjia Yousif
Companies invest millions of dollars in new technology, yet employees are often frustrated and leery about using it. While management has high expectations about the benefits of using new technology, the reality is that people on the front line are skeptical or afraid of using this tech, says Nadjia Yousif in her TED Talk.
Roughly 70 percent of the jobs in the US require mid-level digital skills, but many people don’t approach this tech with the right mindset. Consider treating technology like a team member. Doing so can ultimately lead to ideas and breakthroughs in how to better manage tech company-wide.