TED talks are a wonder of the modern world we live in. Renowned experts on any subject you can think of giving inspirational talks on everything from physics to education to business. Here are our top 18 picks for the best TED talks for entrepreneurs young and old, and far and wide.
1. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread
Seth talks the good, the bad, and the ugly of getting audiences to pay attention to you. What makes a successful idea gain traction and spread? The answer might surprise you. In this talk, Seth explains why sometimes bad ideas perform better than good ones, and how “very good” is the last thing you really want to be.
2. Majora Carter: 3 stories of local eco-entrepreneurship
Majora tells the inspiring stories of 3 entrepreneurs who made a difference for the planet by focusing on their own communities. With a message that even the smallest ventures can make a big difference in their local communities, Majora shares her view that the future of sustainability is grown at the local level.
3. Navi Radjou: Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits
Navi chronicles how entrepreneurs in emerging markets use human ingenuity to champion frugal innovation in the face of severely limited resources. His inspiring message about the power of humanity is carried by anecdotes from entrepreneurs from India to South America.
4. Rachel Botsman: The currency of the new economy is trust
Rachel discusses collaborative consumption and how trust and “reputation capital” are what allow for new industries, like Airbnb and Uber, to thrive. Companies, she argues, that wouldn’t have been able to succeed in earlier times. Rachel includes insight into maintaining reputation and how easy it can be to lose face.
5. David S Rose: How to pitch a VC
David reveals the 10 things your pitch needs to prove to venture capitalists in order to secure investment for your startup. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to sell investors on your business -- you need to sell them on you as the entrepreneur. David chronicles the traits you should show in your presentation.
6. Gary Vaynerchuk: Do what you love (no excuses)
In an impassioned appeal to the miserable, Gary argues that -- especially in today’s world -- there’s simply no excuse not to do what you love. He puts monetization fears to bed, stating simply that someone will buy anything. As with his own work, few talks are more passionate than Gary’s.
7. Harish Manwani: Profit’s not always the point
Harish, COO of Unilever, explains why focusing on purpose and sustainability, in addition to the bottom line, actually leads to better business performance. By looking at how companies that do or do not emphasize mission, he explains how tunnel vision over profits and revenue can actually hinder financial performance.
8. Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work
In this talk, Jason explains why so little good work actually gets done at the office. He talks the two reasons why, and offers 3 suggestions for improving how the workplace works. As champion of the remote work movement, Jason gives a passionate speech on how the way we do work simply must change.
9. Knut Haanaes: Two reasons companies fail -- and how to avoid them
In this talk, Knut discusses how you can run a company and reinvent it at the same time. How can you strike a balance between what he calls “exploration” and “exploitation?” How can you find a place between understanding your core business and consistently expanding it?
10. Joseph Pine: What consumers want
In this talk, Joseph unpacks the “authenticity” buzzword - what it really means to consumers and how that affects businesses large and small. He talks selling authenticity and why it’s so hard, as well as citing examples of inauthentic products and experiences that have been wildly successful anyway.
11. Margaret Gould Stewart: How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)
Margaret shares amusing examples from giants Facebook and YouTube to illustrate the unique challenges of designing at such scale. She discusses the need for both tremendous humility and incredible audacity to understand the implications of design for billions of people.
12. Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work
Nigel discusses how to take work-life into your own hands and make real balance happen -- where work gets done and you still have time for family and personal life. He notes that neither a very short-term or very long-term approach can lead to a true balance that works for you.
13. Dan Cobley: What physics taught me about marketing
Dan talks about how his background in physics has counterintuitively offered key insights into how businesses are marketed. Citing several fundamental principles of the physics world, he draws some insightful parallels to the business and marketing world.
14. Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success
In a lightning fast presentation, Richard distills countless interviews into the 8 real secrets of successful people and businesses. Some of them may surprise you!
15. Bel Pesce: 5 ways to kill your dreams
Entrepreneur Bel reverse engineers how to kill your dreams in order to share what it takes to nurture passions and succeed in business. In her quick, entertaining talk, Bel draws insights from taking the opposite approach we normally follow.
16. Bill Gross: The single biggest reason why startups succeed
A lot of factors go into whether or not a business succeeds. Is there one, prevailing element where founders should focus their efforts? Bill looks at several ideas -- including the idea, the team, and the timing -- to determine what has the biggest impact on a business’ eventual success or failure.
17. Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit
Angela asserts her theory that IQ and traditional smarts aren’t the best predictor of success - it takes hustle and grit to get a head in the world. She illustrates vital insights for many different realms, from education to business.
18. Richard St. John: Success is a continuous journey
In this bite-sized talk, Richard uses his own business to exemplify how success isn’t a one-way street. When we stop trying, we fail. With lessons in perseverance as well as pigheadedness, he offers sage advice for those imagining success as a stopping point.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Share your suggestions in the comments below!