7 Mandatory TED talks that Every Business Professional Needs to Watch

7 Mandatory TED talks that Every Business Professional Needs to Watch
TED talks at InsiderHub

If you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to a “TED talk,” you’re in for a real treat.

TED is a non-profit organization committed to the spreading of paradigm-shift-worthy ideas, which are typically shared via talks delivered by the world’s best thinkers and experts (they typically won’t take more than 18 minutes of your time).  TED was founded back in 1984 as an annual conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design joined forces, and today, it covers almost every topic imaginable from a vast range of disciplines, and in more than 100 languages.

Though not all-inclusive by any means, we’ve assembled seven of the best TED talks relating to the business world (in no particular order), that no modern business professional should do without.  It’s a great place to start!

1.  Bill Gross, The Single Biggest Reason Why Startups Succeed

Bill Gross, founder of Idealab, an incubator for new ideas, inventions, and businesses, discusses commonalities between startups that succeed vs. those that fail.  Gross, a veteran of the startup revolution, has also founded GoTo.com, and the Snap! search engine – his startup days go back to when he was in high school, when he founded a solar energy company.

2.  Sir Ken Robinson, Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson wants to challenge the “Just-listen-and-do-as-you’re-told” way that educators have traditionally taught up-and-coming generations.  Robinson, best-selling author of “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,” explains in this TED talk why we need to not only reawaken our own dormant creative powers, but also to rethink the basic “carrot and stick” principles with which we educate our children in the 21st Century, in order to avoid undermining their creative and critical thinking skills.

3.  Regina Hartley, Why the Best Hire Might Not Have the Perfect Résumé

Regina Hartley is a Human Resources guru with 25 years of talent acquisition experience with UPS under her belt – she is also a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from the HRCI.  Whenever she has to choose between a job candidate with a perfect résumé and another who has had to overcome obstacles, she inevitably goes with the latter.  She herself grew up in adverse conditions, and knows the kind of passion and purpose that it takes to fight through challenges.  She makes a compelling case for why those “Scrappers” tend to be the best choice every time.

4. Jacqueline Novogratz, Inspiring a Life of Immersion

“Extraordinary leaders must dare to live a life of immersion,” contends Jacqueline Novogratz, a long-time advocate for improving the lives of the poor and less fortunate. She founded and currently heads the Acumen Fund, which invests in innovations from all over the world that focus on positive change. She explains how being a noteworthy business leader is more than mere focus on profits, but also includes taking resources and converting them in order to make the world a better place.

5.  Steve Jobs, How to Live Before You Die

Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University commencement speech has certainly earned its iconic status among the business world’s best “teaching moments.”  The late Apple founder and CEO has quite a well to draw from in terms of unique experience related to helping to shape the world.  He is a big booster of the underdog, and encourages leaders to have true faith in their path, to take risks, and to take the necessary leap of faith to act individually.

6.  Shawn Achor, The Happy Secret to Better Work

Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc., shares his expertise in the field of positive psychology, and contends that by studying the successful and those that are above average, we can raise the bar in terms of what “average” is – and we can continue nurturing and growing the expectations of human ability, not only in academia, but also in business and industry.  Achor advocates that 75 percent of job success relies on perspective and attitude, and that business leaders should change their world perspective, which will, in turn improve sought-after outcomes.

7.  Richard Baraniuk, The Birth of the Open-source Learning Revolution

Corporate trainers and eLearners, this one’s for you.  Education advocate Richard Baraniuk discusses his vision when creating the open-source, online education system Connexions (now known as OpenStax). Forget about the textbook, give the instructors more creative leeway to share and modify the course materials as they see fit, from and to anywhere in the world.

Got any suggestions to add to our list?  Let us know by commenting below!


  1. Darlene Frederick 3 years ago

    What I love about Ted Talks is that the most mundane business topic is “taught” in a completely nontraditional context. This draws you in to listen more closely and exercise your brain to relate an unfamiliar context to your own reality. Try one of my favorites – Takaharu Tezuka: The best kindergarten you’ve ever seen http://ed.ted.com/featured/XtoM0sBq

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