8 inspiring TED Talks to listen to over the holidays

TED was founded as a one-off non-profit event in 1984 under the banner of “Ideas worth spreading”, bringing together people from technology, entertainment and design. Since then, it’s morphed into two annual conferences, inviting talented people from all walks of life to share their wisdom and experience with the world. Here’s a collection of some truly inspiring TED Talks out there right now.

Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

Larry Smith is a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo, a well-known advocate for youth leadership and a storyteller. Recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, Larry has coached several of his former students to help them position and develop their businesses, the most famous of which is Research in Motion (RIM), maker of the revolutionary BlackBerry. Check out this talk about the absurd excuses people use when they fail to pursue their passions. He believes we’re all destined for high-stress, low-reward, “soul-destroying” jobs. Unless… Watch Larry’s speech to find out what we can do to succeed.

Cameron Russell: Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model

Cameron Russell admits she won the genetic lottery – she ticks all the boxes to have reached impressive career peaks as a successful model. But here she speaks with refreshing candour about the beauty paradox – superficial yet incredibly powerful. It’s quite fascinating to explore her take on beauty in society and its impact on our culture.

Janine Shepherd: A broken body isn’t a broken person

Recently featured on Australian Story, cross-country skier Janine Shepherd hoped for an Olympic medal, until a truck knocked her down during a training bike ride. She shares a powerful story about the human potential for recovery. Her message reads like this – you are more than your body, and giving up old dreams can allow new ones to soar.

Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

Behavioural economist Dan Ariely discusses what motivates employees. Despite salary featuring high on most people’s lists, other factors such as acknowledgment and inclusion, positive motivation and job satisfaction are what delivers true happiness to workers.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek presents a simple model for how leaders inspire action in their followers and teams, and why some people are able to achieve things and others not. He uses the idea of the “Golden Circle”, a way of looking at how people approach what they do, citing Steve Jobs, the Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr. as case studies. As Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep

People say a good speech is a quick speech. If so, this is a winner. It’s less than five minutes long and delivered with humour and wit by the creator of news website The Huffington Post. The premise of her argument – get more sleep – might sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we all need a reminder of this common-sense approach. Quote of the talk: “Let’s sleep our way to the top.”

Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

American businesswoman and current COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg leads a talk about the conspicuous lack of women in leadership roles. Sandberg offers aspiring female leaders a few practicable tips to move their career in the right direction.

Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+

The ageing population makes up the fastest-growing demographic, but is living to a century really possible? Explorer, educator and author Dan Buettner gleans the salient points from research into aged people in the three most long-lived areas (Sardinia, Okinawa, California) of the world. A sneak peek at the top points? Social equity peaks at 25 in America but not so in Sardinia. Longest disability-free life expectancy in the world? Okinawa. Most of these long-living global citizens eat a plant-based diet. They don’t overeat. They have lots of friends. And they live an active life in a village-like community.

Do you have any inspiring TED Talks to share?

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