If you’re striving for business and personal success, check out these nine popular TED Talks. They’ll provide you with insights and strategies that can help you become a better entrepreneur.
1. Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend
There’s no question that launching a business means you’ll experience stress, and likely lots of it. Juggling everything from marketing to administration to financing your business is stressful, and you may find that the more stressed you become, the more you worry about stress. (And if you’re not worried about it, your family members probably are.)
Stanford University psychologist Kelly McGonigal offers a fresh take on stress and how to use it to your advantage. This popular TED Talk is not really focused on how to reduce stress—which will be a relief to many of us who feel it’s unavoidable—but McGonigal does offer a tangible stress-reduction tool you can use when it feels like you’re reaching your limit.
Insight: “The harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable. How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress.”
2. Bill Gross: The single biggest reason why startups succeed
It’s tempting to think that money (or marketing) will ensure the success of your entrepreneurial venture. Bill Gross, founder of multiple businesses including IdeaLab, studied 200 businesses that succeeded or failed, and identified the most important factors correlated with success. In this TED talk, he highlights the one factor that you will want to consider whenever you are considering starting a new business, or a new direction or product for your current business.
Insight: “Be really, really honest about it, not be in denial about any results that you see, because if you have something you love, you want to push it forward, but you have to be very, very honest about that factor.”
3. Amy Cuddy: Your body language may shape who you are
At one time or another, nearly every entrepreneur has felt like they are operating “out of their league.” As their business grows, their sense of being an imposter may grow. Here, social psychologist Amy Cuddy suggests simple changes to our body language that can increase our confidence and also change how others perceive us. After watching this Top 25 TED Talk, next time you go into an important meeting you may first want to find a bathroom stall or elevator where you can practice your “power pose.”
Insight: “Don’t fake it till you make it. Fake it till you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalize.”
4. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
It doesn’t matter if your team currently consists of just one person: you. Leadership expert Simon Sinek will help you understand how to inspire your customers, your network, and your future team by showing that it’s not the “what” but the “why” that makes individuals and companies into great leaders. After all, no one wants to be a terrible leader, but it’s easy to do. When I queried my colleagues at Nav about which TED Talks they’d recommend entrepreneurs watch, this one was the most highly recommended. Not surprisingly it’s been watched almost 39 million times so far!
Insight: “Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead—not for them, but for ourselves.”
5. Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator
Is your business taking you much longer to get off the ground than you planned? Are you putting off hard activities or projects? Are you sacrificing the important for the urgent (or even the unimportant)? You’ll probably relate to Tim Urban’s entertaining TED Talk on procrastination. It’s not really about specific techniques for conquering procrastination, but it will provide a major insight that may help you find ways to conquer yours.
Insight: “It’s this long-term kind of procrastination that’s much less visible and much less talked about than the funnier, short-term deadline-based kind. It’s usually suffered quietly and privately. And it can be the source of a huge amount of long-term unhappiness and regrets.”
6. David Pogue: 10 top time-saving tech tips
If you buy into the “time is money” adage—and as most entrepreneurs know there is some truth to it—then you’ll love this fun, quick presentation in which David Pogue offers quick tips that will save you precious seconds. Use them to free up time for more important things in your business. (Here are 12 more time-saving tips for entrepreneurs.)
Insight: “(With) technology … for some reason, there’s no standard syllabus, there’s no basic course. They just sort of give you your computer and then kick you out of the nest. You’re supposed to learn this stuff—how?”
7. Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?
If you’re at all tempted to grow your business by burning the candle at both ends—for weeks, months, or even years—circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster’s discussion on sleep should scare you straight. He explores links between sleep and health, including mental health. He shares how even small reductions in the time we spend sleeping can have major implications for our health and well-being. For entrepreneurs, this is especially important as work-life balance often flies out the window. (Don’t forget: Your employees need sleep, too.)
Insight: “If you have good sleep, it increases your concentration, attention, decision-making, creativity, social skills, health. If you get sleep, it reduces your mood changes, your stress, your levels of anger, your impulsivity, and your tendency to drink and take drugs.
WATCH: Why Do We Sleep? >
8. Eduardo Briceño: How to get better at the things you care about
Continual improvement isn’t just optional if you want to be successful; it’s essential. Many of us spend much of our time in what Eduardo Briceño calls the “performance zone.” But to grow and improve, we must also spend time in the “learning zone.” This TED Talk offers actionable advice to help you move your life and business forward.
Insight: “The way to high performance is to alternate between the learning zone and the performance zone, purposefully building our skills in the learning zone, then applying those skills in the performance zone.”
9. Rodney Mullen: Pop an ollie and innovate!
If your business grows out of a passion, Rodney Mullen’s journey will no doubt be inspirational. A street skating champion at age 14, he won 35 out of 36 freestyle competitions, and later co-founded a skateboard company and secured a patent for a skateboard truck design, among his many accomplishments. In a talk interspersed with skating video clips, he riffs on innovation, creativity, success, and failure—it’s also just fun to watch.
Insight: “What is it that will punch you and make you do something and bring it to another level?”
WATCH: Pop an Ollie and Innovate >