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Learning From TED: My Favorite TED Talks and Why They’re Musts for Marketers

Ever wonder who TED is?

Well, TED Talks began in the 1980s, with the intent of fostering research and curiosity around the topics of technology, entertainment, and design (hence, the name TED). Since then, the roster of speakers has developed and morphed, today including thousands of thought leaders on themes ranging from science to emotion, philanthropy to race, and everything in between. (There’s even a topic category on the TED website titled “Ants.” Seriously? So awesome.)

It’s the most incredible organization to foster curiosity and provide snippets of education in our busy society. I’ve tried to take advantage of the top speakers in my areas of interest whenever I have the time.

I’m convinced that for the development of our careers and the betterment of us as well-rounded people, there is nothing more powerful than continual learning that leans into our unique areas of curiosity.

There is nothing more powerful than continual learning that leans into our unique areas of curiosity. Click To Tweet

Below are four TED talks that have truly influenced me in one way or another.

Here’s the thing: I’m finding that the formerly siloed areas of my life (“Here I’m a husband, and here I’m a manager, and here I’m a marketer”) tend to bleed together in this new entrepreneurial season, more than ever before. The skills and knowledge that benefit one role inevitably benefit another. With that in mind, each of these four TED talks has been powerful to shape who I am and how I operate as a family man, an entrepreneur, and a marketer.

Simon Sinek: Start with Why

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

Sinek is genius is his explanation of why some people or organizations thrive, and others don’t. Using Apple and the Wright Brothers as key examples of success, he moves through his “golden circle” framework and shows how most brands create their model and messaging based on their “what”–and that’s why they fail. The magic is in starting with their “why.” His talk taps into brain anatomy in the most brilliant way, and it’s forever changed the way I think about business. The power to persuade a consumer (and to persuade ourselves) is rooted in “why”–in our belief.

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work

“It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens… we can change every single business outcome at the same time.”

Achor is known for his research in positive psychology and has spoken extensively about the link between happiness and success. This TED talk has such awesome implications for overall human happiness, as well as for business success. Our culture tends to say that attainment of success leads to happiness. Achor refutes this, saying the formula is backward. We simply have to change our level of positivity by amending the lens through which we see reality. Science shows that this spike in positive thought will produce brain chemicals associated with higher levels of energy, learning, productivity, and ultimately, success.

Stefan Sagmeister: The Power of Time Off

“The work that comes out of these [sabbatical] years flows back into the company and society at large.”

Sagmeister is a design genius based in New York, and while he’s given a number of TED talks, this is my favorite. He points to the unexpected power of sabbatical in fueling our work. Sagmeister takes off one year in every seven, and he shares how the “off” years lead to inspiration and innovation, creativity, and a return to his passion. He points to a few high-level companies who give their engineer/creative employees months of time off to pursue their own projects, and how that greatly impacts the corporate bottom line later. My takeaway is to spend time away from work and encourage my people to do that same. The payoff is unexpected, but massive, in its return on bottom line through creativity and innovation.

Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

“In order for connection to happen, we have to be seen.”

Brene Brown is beloved by so many, and while her research and writing don’t directly correlate to work or marketing, they do teach what it means to be a healthy human being. Not only is that more important than professional success, but the focus on holistic well-being means well-being in the workplace. Brown speaks to the importance of a sense of worthiness (believing we are enough), and how that worthiness gives us the courage to tell our story. To be seen. To be vulnerable. And this worthiness and vulnerability means we are kinder, gentler, and better able to lead and serve with integrity.

One of my biggest priorities in life–and an intentional goal in 2016–is to continually be soaking up knowledge and leaning into my curiosity. TED offers a quick and easy learning platform from our world’s best thought leaders.

The power of a like-minded professional community is that it allows for this sharing of ideas and resources, spurring each member to fresh ideas and innovation. I’m thankful for TED Talks for this very reason; they allow for the spreading of new research and cutting-edge frameworks.

I’m thankful for this community (for you!) for this reason, as well. What are your favorite TED Talks? Which ones should I check out next? I’d love to know! Will you comment below, or tweet me @ccannon?

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