Four Must-Watch TED Talks for Entrepreneurs

Thursday, October 30, 2014

For those of you unfamiliar with TED, the name of the organization is derived from the acronym “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” TED started way back in 1984 as a standalone conference. The conferences continued and, in 2000, TED was acquired by the non-profit Sapling Foundation–whose motto is “fostering the spread of great ideas.”

A multitude of presenters across a variety of disciplines are given up to 18 minutes to share great ideas in an engaging manner. And, since 2006, many of these have been available to watch, for free, online. Currently, there are over 1,700 talks available.

Many of these talks offer creative ways to think about business from top leaders in the world. It’s a wonderful way to get access to some of the top business minds–at no cost. We’ve selected several talks of specific use to entrepreneurs (times are listed after the title):

Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man (16:33)

Sutherland is the Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy&Mather UK–which is one of the largest ad agencies in the world. In this talk, Sutherland presents the concept of real vs. perceived value. His revelation on how intangible value of goods and service can be more influential than tangible benefits will make you re-think the value proposition (or at least, how you state it) in your business.

Tim Harford: Trial, Error, and the God Complex (18:04)

Harford is an engaging speaker, as well as a successful author. In fact, if you enjoy this talk, you should check out his book, The Undercover Economist. This specific talk discusses when trial-and-error is better than over-analysis.

The example he uses is Unilever, a successful owner of over 400 brands. In the course of trying to invent a better squirt nozzle for laundry detergent, intelligent designers spent too much time thinking about the problem before simply making ten nozzles and picking the best one. Then they took that one and created ten variations. They repeated that process over 40 times until they landed on a nozzle that functioned exactly as desired.

Dan Cobley: What Physics Taught Me About Marketing (7:35)

If you want a quick introduction to the kinds of idea mash-ups that make TED Talks engaging and revealing, review Cobley’s discussion. Physics and Marketing are two disciplines that don’t seem to have much in common. But Cobley, a Marketing Director at Google, explains what Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and the Second Law of Thermodynamics taught him about branding.

Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do (21:45)

Robbins is a well-known business coach, motivational speaker, and author.  After years in the business of motivational speaking, Robbins has his finger on the pulse of human behavior. In this talk, Robbins educates the audience on the basics of human emotions and the needs that drive us all. He shows how to use this knowledge to spur on greater personal success, as well as how you can become a more effective leader.

If you’re a lifelong learner with a desire to get great advice from the top business leaders, you should definitely watch TED Talks to make the most of your free time. They’re all available online at

If you have any favorites that we missed, please add them to the comments below along with a note on why the particular talk inspired you.


photo credit: Theo Lagendijk via photopin cc

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