My Top 10 TED Talks

Unless you have been quite literally living under a rock, you most likely have seen some of the recent talks that have become quite famous. At the tip of my memory, there are two that stand out in recent times. One was that of Greta Thunberg titled “The disarming case to act right now on climate change”, simply because climate change is real and every effort matters. And the second, although was aired in 2015, is alarming due to some of the predictions that were made. I’m referring to the “The next outbreak? We’re not ready” by Bill Gates. Covid19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of every nation who were just not adequately prepared to handle a pandemic at this scale.

My first experience of TED Talks was in late 2000s, after few years when these became famous. Back in 2006, a documentary that caught everyone’s attention was Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. It made quite an impact on me at the time. I was naturally drawn to check out a speech by him on TEDTalks. Ever since, I’ve become a regular viewer of the wonderful, thought provoking, motivating and inspirational content this offer. One of my most used apps on my mobile devices has to the TED.

But before we get to my top 10, here is a brief introduction to TED Talks.

  1. In case you did not know this, TED in TED Talks is an abbreviation that stands for Technology, Education and Design representing a powerful convergence of these three fields.
  2. Richard Saul Wurman and Harry Marks founded the first TED back in 1984 and met with success only six years later in 1990.
  3. From there on, it became a successful annual event held in Monterey, California attracting influential audiences who were united by curiosity and open mindedness.
  4. Media entrepreneur Chris Anderson met Wurman in 2000 and stuck a deal post which, in 2001, a non-profit called Sapling Foundation by Anderson aquired TED. Anderson became the curator thereon.
  5. Three major additions changed TED forever – TEDGlobal, TED Prize and TED Talks. Of this, TED Talks features audio and video podcast series featuring the best content online.
  6. The first 6 TED Talks were released online on 27 June 2006. Within few months, these had millions of views and then, well, rest is history.

Although we now have a vast repository of TED Talks, featuring in several categories, there are some that have made a distinctive impact on me. In case you have not see these, I would recommend that you take some time and watch as you might surely learn something new today. These have been discussed so many times and shared many more.

1. How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

When I first watched this video, I was awestruck at the clarity with which Simon Sinek spoke. His use of a paper board to explain the importance of starting with why is important and how it changes your perspective on achieving your goals. The way he explains on why Apple seems to innovate all the time or that of Wright Brothers on their belief for innovation. He even wrote a book titled “Start With Why” which has become quite a bestseller. Definitely recommended. Check it out now.

2. Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are by Amy Cuddy

When I first watched this video, I was awestruck at the clarity with which Simon Sinek spoke. His use of a paper board to explain the importance of starting with why is important and how it changes your perspective on achieving your goals. The way he explains on why Apple seems to innovate all the time or that of Wright Brothers on their belief for innovation. He even wrote a book titled “Start With Why” which has become quite a bestseller. Definitely recommended. Check it out now.

3. How To Speak So That People Want To Listen by Julian Treasure

When I first watched this video, I was awestruck at the clarity with which Simon Sinek spoke. His use of a paper board to explain the importance of starting with why is important and how it changes your perspective on achieving your goals. The way he explains on why Apple seems to innovate all the time or that of Wright Brothers on their belief for innovation. He even wrote a book titled “Start With Why” which has become quite a bestseller. Definitely recommended. Check it out now.

4. Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model. By Cameron Russell

When I first watched this video, I was awestruck at the clarity with which Simon Sinek spoke. His use of a paper board to explain the importance of starting with why is important and how it changes your perspective on achieving your goals. The way he explains on why Apple seems to innovate all the time or that of Wright Brothers on their belief for innovation. He even wrote a book titled “Start With Why” which has become quite a bestseller. Definitely recommended. Check it out now.

5. Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite non-fiction writers. His books have given me a fresh perspective on things, and they are quite thought provoking too. In this talk, he discusses the food industry and its quest for the perfect spaghetti sauce (pasta lovers, you will know that the struggle is real!). In this talk, Malcolm speaks about his favorite hero Howard Moskowitz who is famous for reinventing the spaghetti sauce among several other inventions. What stood out to me is the fact that we cannot always explain what we want and horizontal segmentation. According to Howard, there was no perfect sauce, a good sauce or a bad sauce. There are only kinds that suit different kind of people. I may like a spicy sauce but you may prefer chunky sauce.

6. Learning From Dirty Jobs by Mike Rowe

His show, Dirty Jobs, is all about he working as an apprentice on those jobs and live like those people. In this talk, Mike shares his experience for one of the episodes of his show where he had to visit a farm and castrate some lambs. Yes, you read that right. His experience is summed up in two words, as he says, Peripeteia and Anagnorisis. Anagnorisis is a Greek word that means transition from ignorance to knowledge while Peripeteia is about the moment where you suddenly realize something that is so shocking. He talks about one of the famous tragedies ever written, Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. I remember when I had read it for the first time, how shocked I was. Same happened when I watched the movie The Sixth Sense. Mike talks about discoveries that lead to sudden realizations.

7. How To Spot A Liar by Pamela Meyer

Admit it. You’ve lied. If you said you have never, you just did. Worse yet, someone has lied to you too. What frustrates is not realizing it when you are being lied to, only to realize it later. In this talk, Pamela talks about Liespotters (derived from her famous book Liespotting) and how these folks are able to identify deception. One of the thing that stood out to me is when she says lie in itself has no power whatsoever but its power grows when someone agrees to believe in it. We are now living in an era of deceptions which is why this video is so relevant even now. This is a wonderful talk that gives you a fresh perspective to understand the science behind lies and lying and equips you on tips and tricks to spot a lie.

8. The Surprising Science of Happiness by Dan Gilbert

We all want happiness. We all seek it, earnestly. We all try different things to find that elusive thing called happiness. But what is it really? In this talk, Dan Gilbert gives us a fresh perspective – natural happiness and synthetic happiness. In his words, “Natural happiness is what we get when we get what we wanted, and synthetic happiness is what we make when we don’t get what we wanted.”He explains these two types with few examples and delivers quite an impactful closure. Do watch this.

9. What Does It Take To Change a Mind? By Lucinda Beaman

Have you ever experienced those moments when you wanted your friend to go out with you to a place or visit a restaurant or watch a movie but you weren’t able to convince them to do so? Or convince your supervisor on a certain project but you were just unable to? In this talk, Lucinda Beaman who is known for being an evidence-based journalist helps understand conflicts between facts and beliefs. She goes onto give a working model, in other words, a framework, to understand how we all process information but most importantly what we can do to be able to converse with those who disagree with us. This is a fantastic talk for leaders.

10. History of Our World In 18 Minutes by David Christian

I’m ending my top 10 list with this gem. David Christian is one of my favorites. In this talk, he begins talking about the complexity that we are surrounded by and how this gets complex by the day. He then winds the time back to 13.7 billion years to the beginning of time, scientifically speaking. I love the way he explains the evolution in a chronological and visually engaging manner. This short video of 20 minutes duration gives you a wonderful insights into the history of the wonderful world that we live in, something that we all should know about.

Here is a special shoutout to a TEDx Talk by my dear friend Mohammed Shammas Oliyath in which he talks about “The Mess Of Fake News”

Here are some worthy mentions that you might be interested in:

  1. Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson
  2. How To Make Stress Your Friend by Kelly McGonigal
  3. The Danger of A Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian Walk into A Qatari Bar by MazJobrani
  5. What Makes A Good Life? Lessons From The Longest Study On Happiness by Robert Waldinger
  6. All It Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes by Andy Puddicombe

What are your favorite TED Talks? Take a moment and comment below your recommendations.

Did you notice any corrections to be made on this page? Submit your feedback here. We will take the necessary action.