TED.com is just about the best place to hang out online if you have a few minutes to kill. That's because it offers free recorded lectures given by brilliant people doing amazing things in areas including technology, entertainment, design, business, science, and global issues. And what's cool about it is the talks are tagged so if you're in the mood for something inspiring or funny, for example, you can get just the kinds of videos to do the trick.
Here are a handful of insightful TED talks posted this year that every entrepreneur should check out.
Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work
Psychologist Shawn Achor doubles as a comedian in this talk, during which he says the lens through which your brain views the world shapes your reality. "And if we can change the lens not only can we change your happiness, but we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time," he says in this highly entertaining video.
Drew Curtis: How I beat a patent troll
When Fark.com was sued by a patent troll "...for the creation and distribution of news releases via email" alongside companies such as Yahoo, MSN, Reddit, AOL, and TechCrunch, the eight-person company stood its ground. "I had hoped to team up with some of these larger companies and defend against this lawsuit but one by one they settled out of the case even though not one of these companies infringed on the patent," says Drew Curtis, founder of Fark. The reason? The average troll defense costs $2 million and takes 18 months if you win. He proves that little guys don't have to let themselves get bullied with frivolous lawsuits.
Julie Burstein: 4 lessons in creativity
In this inspiring talk, radio host and book author Julie Burstein gives voice to several interviews with remarkably talented people who found that creativity grows when you pay attention to the world around you, learn from challenges, push against the limits of what you can do as well as the hardest thing of all--embrace loss. "We have to stand in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for, looking squarely at rejection, at heartbreak, at war, at death," she says.
Susan Cain: The power of introverts
Author, lecturer, and self-described introvert Susan Cain says a third to one-half of the population fits the definition of an introvert--someone who often feels he or she is most alive and capable in quiet low-key environments. The problem is that most schools and workplaces are designed for extroverts and their need for large amounts of stimulation.
"Culturally we need a much better balance. We need more of a yin and yang between the two types. This is especially important when it comes to creativity and productivity because when psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people, what they find are people who are very good at exchanging ideas and advancing ideas but who also have a serious streak of introversion in them," she says.
Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are
In the same way that you can improve your mood by forcing yourself to smile, pretending to feel powerful by taking a physically powerful stance can actually make you feel more powerful. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy found that people who adopted a high-power pose for two minutes were more likely to take risks and saw an increase in the power hormone testosterone as well as a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.
Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree
This serial entrepreneur, book author, and fellow Inc. columnist eloquently argues against the echo chamber and conflict avoidance. "[For constructive conflict] we have to resist the neurobiological drive which means that we really prefer people mostly like ourselves." She says people need to expend the energy and patience to engage with others who have different backgrounds, disciplines, and ways of thinking.