I’m a big fan of TEDTalks; they’re full of insights on everything from human nature to scientific breakthroughs to trends in design. They’re inspirational, informative, and eye-opening in ways that can help you become a better person and a better professional. For the aspiring entrepreneur, they exist to help you challenge your assumptions, believe in yourself, and push yourself to be the best leader you can possibly be.
Then again, wading through those thousands of talks for just the right lecture on business development can be intimidating, especially if you’re just in the mood for a quick talk on your lunch break. That’s why I’ve compiled this list of essential TEDTalks, which every entrepreneur should see:
1. Creative Problem-Solving in the Face of Extreme Limits. Given by Navi Radjou, this TEDTalk is all about minimalistic applications in the field of problem solving. Problem solving applies to everything, since it’s necessary for entrepreneurial innovation, scientific discovery, and even social constructs — and Radjou introduces the demands and advantages of extreme limitation when it comes to problem solving. For the entrepreneur, this means working with limited capital, limited resources, and limited deadlines — the constraints are high, so it seems more difficult, but it actually drives greater degrees of innovation. This talk is perfect for when you feel like you’re up against the wall with almost nothing to work with.
2. How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Given by Simon Sinek, this TEDTalk explores the idea of leadership, and why some people are better at inspiring action than others. Starting with examples from Martin Luther King’s leadership in the Civil Rights Movement to Apple’s leadership in the business world, Sinek examines certain patterns that seemingly predict the success rates of various leaders. One line in the TEDTalk speaks particularly strongly to entrepreneurs: “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” For entrepreneurs attempting to become industry leaders in their own right, fundamentally understanding this principle is a necessity. Watch Sinek’s TEDTalk for a more thorough exploration of this idea, with real examples.
3. The Single Biggest Reason Why Startups Succeed. Given by Bill Gross, this TEDTalk attempts to quantify all the reasons why one startup might be more successful than another. As a serial entrepreneur and an incubator for countless other startups, Gross has had much experience in the business world. He’s seen great businesses fail and questionable businesses succeed, and this experience drove him to quantify exactly why these differences exist. Measuring each startup’s strength in terms of the strength of the idea, the timing of the company launch, the team leading the business, the access to capital, and the overall business model. What he found was that one factor led to success more than any other — and it took him completely by surprise. It’s a must watch for any business owner.
4. Do What You Love (No Excuses!). Given by Gary Vaynerchuk ,this TEDTalk offers a relatively simple premise, given away by its title. If you’re the type of person who likes to scan through articles for a single nugget of takeaway, there’s no need to watch the full TEDTalk — the title is pretty accurate. The method Vaynerchuk uses to convince you that this is the case, however, is inspiring and worth a watch. Entrepreneurs are often motivated in part by the potential for great revenue, or are thrilled at the notion of owning their own business. But in order to be truly successful, you have to love what you’re doing. You have to be in an industry that you truly care about, and doing the type of work you actually enjoy. Otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied.
5. How to Manage for Collective Creativity. Given by Linda Hill, this TEDTalk is perfect for entrepreneurs trying to maximize the creative potential of their top teams. Exploring different tactics as they are used by some of the world’s most respected and most created companies, Hill examines the root causes for creative greatness. Ultimately, she comes up with a simple set of tools and strategies that any entrepreneur can use to fuel the generation of great new ideas from the entire team, and keep pressing the company to move forward. Creative thinking and abstract problem solving are some of the most important features of any company, and Hill explains the best way to incorporate these into your company culture.
If you haven’t already seen these TEDTalks and you either are or plan on being an entrepreneur, add these to your queue right now. There’s no excuse not to — you can even download them as audio files so you can listen to them on the commute home. The more open you are to new ideas and new experiences, the more likely it is that you’ll succeed in your entrepreneurial journey.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!