My Top 10 Ted Talks

By Kristy Laue
  • 12.08.21
  • 10 Min Read

What do you get when you have a passion for learning but a short attention span? Ted Talks, of course. I love a good Ted Talk. They’re short, informative and you can find one for virtually any topic, from inspiration and leadership to self-help.

It’s also easy to share the power of these snackable little Ted Talks, so here we go with ten of my favorites. Ranging in topics from creativity and introversion to moving through grief, I hope you find them as insightful as I did.

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“Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” – Tim Urban

For a hilarious take on what happens in the minds of procrastinators, start here – don’t wait. (See, there’s a reason I put this one first.) Tim describes what happens when we procrastinate as our brain battles between instant gratification and panic. I especially enjoyed the section about “the dark playground.” One Ted Talk takeaway: everyone is procrastinating on something in life, and some of the most important things don’t have deadlines to put your panic monster into action.

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“10 Mindful Minutes” – Andy Puddicombe

Our minds are lost in thought 47% of the time, which leads to stress, anxiety and a lack of appreciation for the present moment. Andy discusses the importance of taking time to look after your mind and appreciate the present by doing absolutely nothing – and he means nothing. One Ted Talk takeaway: meditation can be approachable, easy and a way to familiarize ourselves with the here and now.

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“The Power of Introverts” – Susan Cain

As an introvert myself, all I can say is PREACH. Susan’s talk discusses the definition of introversion, extraversion and what the heck an ambivert is. She explores how workspaces and classrooms are set up for extroverts, but we can maximize talents in the right zone of stimulation for both – leading to employees with more autonomy and time for contemplation. One Ted Talk takeaway: solitude matters, and by cutting back on the madness of group work, we can provoke deeper thought and better ideas.

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“Moving Forward from Grief” – Nora McInerny

Nora’s story of losing her husband Aaron is moving, profound and deeply personal. She shares her journey and how those that we’ve lost are still around us every day, and that’s okay. One Ted Talk takeaway: it’s not about moving past tragedies that happen – it’s about moving forward with them.

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“How Great Leaders Inspire Action” – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of my favorite leadership gurus with important lessons about why some leaders inspire greatness while others don’t. (If you haven’t read his book “Start with Why,” add it to the list.) He drops lots of knowledge here, but the biggest lesson is that every company knows what they do, some even know how they do it – but only great leaders know WHY they do what they do.  One Ted Talk takeaway: you need to use purpose and belief to inspire success.

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“Your Elusive Creative Genius” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Best known for her book “Eat Pray Love,” Elizabeth faces the question she gets asked most: “Are you afraid you’ll never top your last book?” Her talk centers on the origin of creative genius and how, by definition, it’s fleeting – and that’s okay. One Ted Talk takeaway: it’s good to create distance between you and the results of your work. No one possesses genius at all times.

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“Listening to Shame” – Brene Brown

Brene addresses the web of unattainable expectations we all face every day about who we’re supposed to be and the shame that results when we come up short. But in reality, vulnerability is not weakness. Instead, it means emotional risk and courage that can be the birthplace of creativity. One Ted Talk takeaway: you have to address shame first, and then you can move past it to vulnerability and innovation.

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“A Kinder Gentler Philosophy of Success” – Alain de Botton

In lives often punctuated by career highs and lows, this talk centers on anxiety about status and work. Alain explores how the idea of meritocracy can help inspire success while at the same time make failure feel even more crushing. He proposes that success is more nuanced than just money and achievement, and that you can’t be successful at everything. One Ted Talk takeaway: make sure your idea of success is your own, and know that any success has to admit an element of loss.

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“What Makes a Good Life” – Robert Waldinger

As the fourth director of a 75-year study tracking 724 men, Robert Waldinger provides fascinating insight into what makes us lead good lives. He’s found that people who are more socially connected to family and friends are happier, healthier and live longer. At age 50, cholesterol and other factors didn’t predict long lives for men at age 80 – it was their close relationships. One Ted Talk takeaway: we want a quick fix for healthy lives, but nurturing relationships is the best thing we can do – and it takes time.

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“Creativity Under Pressure” – Todd Henry

Can you be prolific, brilliant and healthy? Or is this a recipe for burnout? In one of my fave talks of all time, Todd discusses how including structure, routine and rhythm can help you establish habits that allow creative accidents to happen more often. In advertising, things get crazy, and we need ideas on command a lot. His five elements can help guide a creative practice for idea generation and flashes of brilliance in a hurry. One Ted Talk takeaway: to die empty.

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