May 3, 2013
5 TED Talks Every CEO Should Watch

On a mission to better humankind, TED challenges the world’s most remarkable people to come on stage and give the talk of their lives in less than twenty minutes. Inspiring, funny, motivational and educational, these messages are well worth the watch for anyone hoping to improve in their personal or professional lives.

Whether you want to become a more insightful manager or more creative strategist, here are five TED talks that contain timeless advice.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

When Simon Sinek found he no longer enjoyed his stable advertising career, he struggled to rediscover his excitement about life and work. The realizations that followed spurred him to coach others through the same process to become more effective leaders.

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

Best-selling author Daniel Pink makes a case for rethinking how we run businesses. He particularly examines the psychology behind motivation and why traditional rewards might not be as effective as we think.

“If you want people to perform better, you reward them, right? Bonuses, commissions, their own reality show . . . But that’s not happening here . . . It dulls thinking and blocks creativity.”

Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

The author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that traditional thinking about what it means to be a “genius” threatens to ruin the natural guru inside of all us.

“I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. What is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?”

Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

Psychologist Shawn Achor studies positive outliers to understand what makes people above average. When it comes to the workplace, Achor argues happiness actually inspires productivity—not the other way around.

“[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

Though he never graduated from college himself, Apple founder Steve Jobs’s commencement speech at Stanford University offers immortal wisdom for following your dreams and finding new opportunities amid life’s setbacks.

“Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

For further inspiration, check out the following TED playlists compiled by major CEOs: Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Case of AOL and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media.