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6 Ted talks every entrepreneur should watch

6 Ted talks every entrepreneur should watch

Posted 09th January, 2020 by Sarah

7 minute read

The old saying goes that no man is an island. Today, no business should be either. No matter whether you’ve just set up a one-person-band web design business, you’ve just launched your own plumbing company, or you’re growing your ecommerce outfit, you can benefit from pressing your own pause button every now and again in order to get inspiration and ideas from what other people are doing in the business world.

With this in mind, we’ve trawled through the library of TED talks to find the best sessions from both past and present on the topics of entrepreneurship, starting a business, building a business, leadership, motivation and finding inspiration.

Here’s some recommended viewing…

Not here for inspiration? If you’ve come to tsoHost for domains or web hosting, shoot across to our product pages.

The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed, Bill Gross

Aired in 2015, this six-minute TED Talk has been watched more than 6.6 million times. Gross’ talk is informed by years and years of working with start-ups and experiencing both successes and failures.

In his talk, Gross looks at the role five factors play in the success or failure of a company. These are the idea behind the company, the team, the business model, the funding, and the timing of the launch of the start-up.

He goes on to explain that one of these factors alone accounts for 42 per cent of the difference between success and failure.

How to run a company with almost no rules, Ricardo Semler

Ricardo Semler’s TED talk starts with the following sentence “On Mondays and Thursdays I learn how to die.”

It’s a pretty grim start to what is actually an insightful and thought-provoking talk on business innovation and what it takes to think differently in order to improve the bottom line.

In the session, Semler talks about abandoning corporate cultures such as nine to fives, set working locations, limited holidays and top-down leadership in order to make the ‘pursuit of wisdom’ the main aim of a company.

He talks about making decisions as if you’d never achieved anything in the past, never asking the question ‘why’ just the once, and learning how to go to the movies on a Monday afternoon in order to build a wiser and more profitable future for your business.

8 lessons on building a company people enjoy working for, Patty McCord

It takes less time to watch this talk by Patty McCord than it takes to make a cup of tea. This five-minute-long TED session is based on Patty’s extensive experience as an HR executive and the lessons she’s learnt during this time.

McCord suggests that there are eight things all business owners should take on board if they want to develop a company that people want to work for.

Advice includes starting with the assumption on a daily basis that everyone comes to work to do an amazing job, to ditch using metrics such as ‘do you come to work on time’ as a measure for how well people are doing their jobs, and to rethink the word feedback to make it something that happens in the moment and not just once a year during performance reviews.

The puzzle of motivation, Dan Pink

Viewing figures for this talk, first aired in 2009, are now in the 22 millions. The entire session is based around the idea that there’s a mismatch between what social science tells us about human motivation and how businesses approach the topic.

He uses an experiment called the Candle Problem to showcase how the carrot and stick approach to motivation doesn’t work in the 21st century. Then he backs up this conjecture with references to multiple research studies from the likes of LSE and MIT.

Next, Pink turns the talk’s focus to the power of intrinsic factors in motivation. He concludes that people are more likely to be motivated if they are given autonomy, the opportunity to show mastery and if they believe in the purpose of what they’re doing.

His sign off?

“If we repair this mismatch between what science knows and business does. If we bring our notions of motivation into the 21st century, we can strengthen our businesses and maybe we can change the world.”

Want to innovate? Become a now-ist, Joi Ito

This talk by the head of MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito, starts with a discussion about the night he heard that a magnitude nine earthquake had hit off the coast of Japan, releasing a cloud of the fallout from some damaged nuclear reactors that had set a trajectory towards the home of his wife and family. The night led him to set up a citizen science project on global radiation almost instantly.

In his session, Ito explains that the traditional rules of innovation don’t work anymore. He talks about the importance of shifting focus from education to learning when you want to innovate, he talks about the concept of using a compass instead of a map, in other words, ditching extensive planning and preparation in favour of innovating by instinct, and he talks about being super present in order to innovate in better, cheaper and faster ways.

The happy secret to better work, by Shawn Achor

In this talk, happiness researcher Shawn Achor examines the commonly held belief in business that success equals happiness and that more success leads to more happiness.

Achor says: “This is scientifically broken and backwards.”

His reason for saying this is because, by studying happiness in companies in 45 countries around the world, he has found that when individuals achieve the success they have craved, they then move the goalposts.

He refers to this tendency as ‘placing happiness on the opposite side to success’ or ‘pushing happiness over the cognitive horizon’.

Achor says businesses should be viewing happiness in the opposite direction.

He talks about the ‘happiness advantage’ and how a brain with a positive outlook performs better on everything from creative tasks to sales than one set to see things negatively.

He concludes by talking about five ways people can train their brains to be more positive, signing off by saying:

“By training your brain we can reverse the formula for success equals happiness and in doing so create a real revolution.”

Categories: Marketing, Small Businesses

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