The 10 Most Inspiring TED Talks of All Time
Whether you need inspiration to get you through a pending project, motivation for the next chapter in your life (hey, grads ;) or a little pep talk to get you through a personal or professional slump, there’s a TED Talk for you to watch… right now. We’ve pulled together some of our absolute favorites, many by women, most about creativity, some about the future, all with a message we think will change the way you think about something — maybe yourself. Get ready to take a few minutes today to learn something new and get inspired. Pencil in a few more minutes, too. You’ll need a couple to send these to some special peeps in your life.
1. Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? Did you know you could be an expert in creativity? Author and educator Ken Robinson is and he’s channeling those sparks into a place that will have a whole chain of positive reactions: changing our education system. As he puts it: “Education is meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp.” True story. And if it’s going to do that, we need schooling that breeds, nurtures, instills and activates creativity for said future and the generation running it. Where do we sign?
2. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are: From awkward interactions to snap judgments on niceness, social psychologist Amy Cuddy breaks down our international fascination with body language. She also has some tips for how you can change your body language to change your destiny — powerful stuff. With clips and pics to demonstrate her points, this one will have you laughing and uh-huhing. Or, in this case, nodding. A must-watch for all, this is a must-send to that friend who’s on the job hunt and interviewing right now.
3. Amanda Palmer: The art of asking: Ever seen a street performer, dressed head-to-toe in a costume and face and body paint and wondered, Who is the real human under all that gold glitter? At one point, it could have been Amanda F*cking Palmer. The alt-rocker talks about what she learned as the “Eight-Foot Bride,” how that translated into the music industry, why she turns to Twitter to find couches to surf on and why she gives away her music for “free.” We bet you’ll A) follow her immediately on Twitter after watching this and B) never think of crowdfunding the same way.
4. Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model. No, really. Cameron starts this chat by changing into a different outfit, but it’s ultimately not her appearance that makes you listen. It’s the knowledge she’s dropping about how our looks are powerful, superficial and very difficult to to transform. She honestly answers questions she gets asked about being a model and explains why she tells little girls to be a ninja cardio-thoracic surgeon poet instead.
5. Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability: If you’ve ever said “I’m not [whatever] enough,” this inspo-oozing talk from researcher, storyteller, all-around awesome human is for you. Brené breaks down ten years of research into a 20 minute chat where she shares new ways to look at being vulnerable, loving your flaws and daring greatly. How does one dare greatly? Her explanation is best, so give it a watch, but if you’ve ever said “I love you first,” you know what she’s talking about. Send this one to your “move a body” friend. Trust us.
6. Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth – visualized: A medical image maker, Alexander was the man who wrote the algorithms and code for the original MRI machine. His talk is part video, which shows shows a hauntingly beautiful visualization of The Birds and the Bees: The True Story.
7. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius: It may not be a huge surprise that the question the woman behind Eat, Pray, Love gets asked a lot is: “Aren’t you afraid you’re never going to be able to top that?” Ouch, but it’s a concern probably all of us have had at some point post-success. Which stinks. The best-selling author’s chat is all about getting out of our own heads and rethinking creativity. Maybe it’s not that there ARE geniuses and creatives, but we all HAVE genius and creativity in us. Tell us more, Elizabeth…
8. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter… This starts out like spoken word, a beautiful poem that Sarah later explains is her medium for working through… well, anything. Everyone will dog ear her outlook on life: “It’s about gathering up all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected up ‘til now to help you dive into the things you don’t know.” It’s a talk about poems, but really it’s a talk about life. You will be able to relate.
9. Raffaello D’Andrea: The astounding athletic power of quadcopters: With quadrocopters at the ready, Raffaello shows what it means for a machine to be athletic. It has nothing to do with muscles (except for the ones in the minds who helped build it) but the algorithms they flex are just as impressive. The quads balance poles and wine glasses perfectly, bounce balls back to the pitcher and work together in a group game of catch.
10. Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders: Before there was the battle cry to “lean in,” there were these three recommendations: sit at the table, make your partner a real partner and don’t leave before you leave. You’ll think twice about underestimating yourself after listening to this one, ladies.
What is your favorite TED talk? Which of these is a favorite? Share it (+ inspire us!) below!
You can wear many hats running a business and sometimes some look better than others. Thanks to Office Depot, we're talking with Koyun Fan, co-founder of Sticky Rice Sisters, about finding inspiration along the way and staying organized on the road to success.