5 Ted Talks to inspire entrepreneurs

Norah Walsh Antropologa social business anthropologyTed is a magical corner of the Internet. No joke. Ted is almost more useful than university.

This world renown platform generates talks that don’t usually last more than twenty minutes on (almost) every topic: from design, art, language, to business. You can’t get bored. With recognised speakers, experts in their fields, Ted is a free knowledge network fuelled by a large community of curious spectators.

With the intention of spreading our own curiosity and because we learn a lot watching Ted Talks, we have curated these five talks created to motivate, teach and inspire entrepreneurs just like you. Enjoy!

1. Astro Teller: The unexpected benefit of celebrating failure

Google X is one of Alphabet’s projects (the multinational we used to know just as “google”) managed by Astro Teller, a scientist entrepreneur that doesn’t take challenges lightly and intents to prove in this 15-minute-long talk that the first thing you should be doing is trying to kill your project.

How are you going to kill your project today? Teller is one of those humans whose presence reaffirms that what’s really important is to fall in love with solutions and not products or ideas. This solution inventor juggles with original and risky solutions to urgent problems, destroying ideas and observing if they survive… or not.

We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong. That’s it, that’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of the problem first. Get excited and cheer, “Hey! How are we going to kill our project today?” We’ve got this interesting balance going where we allow our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions


2.      Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, failure and the drive to keep creating

Elizabeth Gilbert is an American writer, author of the bestseller novel “Eat, pray, love” published in 2006 and turned into a movie.

In her Ted Talk, in a little less over seven minutes, Gilbert manages to explore the complex consequences of success and how it can paralyze creativity. She asks us: can creativity survive success?

For most of your life, you live out your existence here in the middle of the chain of human experience where everything is normal and reassuring and regular, but failure catapults you abruptly way out over here into the blinding darkness of disappointment. Success catapults you just as abruptly but just as far way out over here into the equally blinding glare of fame and recognition and praise. And one of these fates is objectively seen by the world as bad, and the other one is objectively seen by the world as good, but your subconscious is completely incapable of discerning the difference between bad and good. The only thing that it is capable of feeling is the absolute value of this emotional equation, the exact distance that you have been flung from yourself.

3.      Tom Wujec: Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast


Tom Wujec is a Canadian author and founder of the “Draw how to make toast project, a methodology designed to teach how to solve problems in a creative and proactive way, discovering different ways to understand the problem-solving process and the generation of solution patterns.

 During this Ted Talk he explains how learning the different ways people draw how to make toast and he extrapolates to bigger and more difficult issues.

When people work together under the right circumstances, group models are much better than individual models. So this approach works really great for drawing how to make toast, but what if you wanted to draw something more relevant or pressing, like your organizational vision, or customer experience, or long-term sustainability? There’s a visual revolution that’s taking place as more organizations are addressing their wicked problems by collaboratively drawing them out.

4.      Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex


Tim Harford  is a world known British economist and author who focusses his Ted Talk around the God Complex concept, coined by Archie Cochrane, a strange social phenomenon: the absolute certainty people feel when they believe their solution is correct.

In order to avoid falling into this God Complex Harford examines the alternative: trial and error to make sure the solution is actually the right one.

We tend to retreat and say, “We can draw a picture, we can post some graphs, we get it, we understand how this works”. And we don’t. We never do. Now I’m not trying to deliver a nihilistic message here. I’m not trying to say we can’t solve complicated problems in a complicated world. We clearly can. But the way we solve them is with humility — to abandon the God complex and to actually use a problem-solving technique that works. And we have a problem-solving technique that works. Now you show me a successful complex system, and I will show you a system that has evolved through trial and error. 

5.      Eddie Obeng: Smart failure for a fast-changing world

Eddie Obeng is an entrepreneurship and innovation professor, organizational theorist and a pioneer on virtual education.

In this Ted Talk, fast paced and very intense, he opens our eyes to the prompt pace of the social changes that happen all around us: are we still stuck in, both in business and education, a social system that no longer exists?

Somebody or something has changed the rules about how our world works. When I’m joking, I try and explain it happened at midnight, you see, while we were asleep, but it was midnight 15 years ago. Okay? You didn’t notice it? But basically, what they do is, they switched all the rules round, so that the way to successfully run a business, an organization, or even a country, has been deleted, flipped, and it’s a completely new — you think I’m joking, don’t you — there’s a completely new set of rules in operation.


Do you have any TED Talks to recommend? Leave a comment below.


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