12 Must Watch TED Talks for Entrepreneurs

These 12 TED Talks include many of the greatest minds in marketing, advertising and branding. Each of these talks are carefully curated to apply to the entrepreneur as well as the experienced leader, regardless of the size of the team they manage. Once in awhile we will revisit these talks and find new insights and inspiration that apply to a challenge that we or one of our clients are facing. Feel free to leave a comment and suggest other TED Talks that have inspired you.


1 - Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

An insightful video about the realities of value and marketing, Rory Sutherland’s talk shows us the difference between perception and reality and how intertwined the two are in the consumer’s mind. All entrepreneurs should know a bit of marketing, especially when it comes to developing your own digital marketing strategy, and Sutherland’s video is a good place to start to figure out how to give your product or service value and meaning.


2- Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

The Golden Circle - why, how, what - is Simon’s Sinek’s explanation for how truly great and innovative leaders inspire others. For Sinek, the core of every great company is the why - why are they doing what they are doing, what do they believe in? Using examples like Apple, the Wright Brothers, TiVo, and Dr. Martin Luther King, he breaks down how companies and the men who lead them inspire action.


3 - Dan Ariely: Are we in Control of our own Decisions?

Using easily recognizable visual illusions and harder to define cognitive illusions, Dan Ariely breaks down how decision making happens. He shows that the illusion of how an option is presented has great influence over how it is perceived and the decision that is ultimately made.


4 - Seth Godin: How to get your Ideas to Spread

Remarkable: worth making a remark about. Seth Godin’s talk is all about being remarkable, because being safe gets you nowhere. Safe is risky, because the safe is easily ignored. But to be remarkable - a purple cow or a 55’ lava lamp, well, that’s something that will get people interested. So if you’re looking for new consumers, take notes from Godin and create something that stands out and then market it to the people who really want it. And if you’re giving those people the thing they really want, then they’ll do the rest of the work for you.


5 - Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce

Consumers are not all created alike. That’s the basis of the modern food industry. Walk into any coffee shop and you’ll see 30+ ways to take your coffee. Similarly, in any grocery store, you’ll find 30+ different types of spaghetti sauce. Malcolm Gladwell uses the food industry to explain that there is no universal right answer for all of humanity, it’s only by celebrating and embracing the diversity of humans that we find happiness.


6 - Tim Harford: Trial, Error, and the God Complex

All throughout school, we are taught that there is one right answer to every question. But is there really? Tim Harford argues that those who think they know all the answers are suffering from God-Complex. Historically, the best solutions have always been those reached through trial and error, not those resulting from a formula or theoretical expert. So embrace the errors and the bumps in the road. They just mean you’re one step closer to success.


7 - Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From

“Eureka!” is not a singular moment, at least, not according to Steven Johnson. Instead, looking at examples from old 17th century coffee houses to modern-day gps, Johnson argues that the “slow hunch” and “liquid network” are much more likely to be how new ideas come around. It takes time to work out an idea and get it to be functional, and it’s very rarely an independent process.


8 - Cameron Herold: Let's Raise Kids to be Entrepreneurs

Education is not a one-size-fits-all. For Cameron Herold, children should be groomed in the direction of their strengths. And for him and his family, that’s entrepreneurship. Instead of pushing children into a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all future, he argues that we should recognize the traits within our kids and push them towards entrepreneurship. Kids have the ability to learn about negotiation, about saving, about creativity and innovation. If we just took the time to cultivate these traits instead of squashing them to maintain the status quo, we might have a society full of new business leaders.


9 -Dan Cobley: What Physics Taught Me About Marketing

Newton’s second law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the scientific method and the second law of thermodynamics all come together. Dan Cobley used these principles and applied to the laws of branding.


10 - Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work

Work doesn’t work. At least that’s what Jason Fried has discovered. When you’re at work, you’re fighting against all sorts of distractions and interruptions and trying to get something done. And work often has to be done in stages, and if those early stages are thrown off it’s near impossible to get back on track. To get more work done at work, he suggests minimizing physical interaction - instituting no-talk thursdays and switching to I.M. systems instead of in-person conversations - as well as getting rid of meetings that would be better solved with two people talking for 2 minutes than 10 people talking for an hour.


11 - Daniel Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

The carrot and the stick is the traditional motivation system that was a popular form of leadership and management for many years. But Dan Pink tells us that this system of reward actually doesn’t yield the fastest or best solutions out of workers. Instead, he wants us to consider autonomy, mastery and purpose. Using examples like Google, Atlassian, and Wikipedia, Pink shows us that by getting rid of the reward and punishment system, we can increase productivity, worker engagement, and worker satisfaction.


12 - Richard St. John: 8 Secrets of Success

Richard St. John condenses 7 years and 500 interviews into this 3 minute video sharing the secrets of success.

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