Since TED’s humble beginnings in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, this non-profit organisation now covers virtually all topics; from global issues to science to business, in over 100 languages. With countless inspiring TED talks at our fingertips, it can be hard to know where to begin! Here, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourites.
Dr Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
Dr Brené Brown is a research professor for the University of Houston, Texas. Brown studies courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She has managed to publish five number one New York Times bestsellers, including her 2019 book Dare to Lead.
Brown’s research invites people to reimagine how we can embrace these core human traits to inspire innovation and leadership. While Brown has many lectures under her belt, her 2010 TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability is one of the most viewed talks in the world.
“I believe that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore… embrace the suck.”
This TED Talk discusses vulnerability and shame within the human psyche and how it affects our ability to embrace joy, love and connectedness. Brown explains the key to unlocking positive feelings comes from embracing your vulnerability. Often, leaders in today’s society are tirelessly battling to overcome or accept their sense of vulnerability. However, doing so is critical, as this will inspire one’s courage and self acceptance.
Charlene Li: Efficient Leaders In the Digital Era
Charlene Li is one of the foremost experts on social media, and is the CEO and Principal Analyst at the research company Altimeter Group. Li is a consultant and independent thought leader on leadership, strategy, social technologies, interactive media and marketing. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Open Leadership”, and co-author of the bestselling book “Groundswell”.
In her talk, Efficient Leaders in the Digital Era, Li explores how businesses’ ever-increasing drive for innovation and rapid decision making has surpassed the demand for efficiency. Furthermore, she uncovers the impact this has on modern leadership. Li believes businesses’ success is rooted in empowerment, not control. Equipping employees with the information they need, so that they can make their own decisions, empowers firms to succeed.
Jim Whitehurst: What I Learned From Giving Up Everything I Knew As a Leader
As the former CEO of Delta Air Lines, Jim Whitehurst’s resume boasts some serious leadership experience. When he left Delta to become CEO for Red Hat, an open-source software company, his perspective on leadership drastically changed.
“I thought I was the person ultimately responsible for solving the problems facing my organisation. I was the one who was supposed to bring order and structure… that’s what I thought my role was, and I was wrong.”
In his talk, Jim discusses how CEOs and leaders need to facilitate environments that encourage all members of the team to share their ideas unapologetically. CEOs must also be comfortable with criticism. Fostering an environment that welcomes participation across all levels of the organisation (no matter how large the organisation is) is the vehicle for idea generation.
Dr Brené Brown: Listening to Shame
Following the success of her first TED Talk, and her subsequent fame, two years on Brown re-examines what she knows about vulnerability in her 2012 lecture, Listening to Shame. In this talk, Brown delves deeply into shame; an unspoken epidemic and the secret behind many forms of broken behaviour. Brown discusses how vulnerability is essential to wholehearted living; recontextualising it as a sign of human strength, rather than weakness.
Brown delves into the vulnerability we feel when faced with challenges that involve emotional risk, exposure and uncertainty. The vulnerability we feel, the fear of our plans going wrong, the fear of failure; is in fact our fear of shame. Shame, Brown describes, is the fear of disconnect. Brown then highlights that our ability to act, despite our vulnerability, is courageous.
By listening to our vulnerability and shame, we are empowered to be more open, honest and act with courage. Brown’s wisdom offers valuable insight for all leaders, inspiring them to confront their shame head-on.
Itay Talgam: Lead Like The Great Conductors
Author of The Ignorant Maestro, Itay Talgam reimagined himself as a “conductor of people”; in business, academia, government and education, following his decade long conducting career in Israel.
Itay uses metaphors inspired by the symphony orchestra to provide models for inspired leadership. He draws on the major challenge that conductors face: they must create perfect harmony without saying a word. In his talk, Talgam outlines the unique styles of renowned 20th-century conductors, illustrating critical lessons for all leaders.
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