Some entrepreneurs are fortunate enough to have connected with a valuable mentor to guide them as they jumpstart a new business idea or venture. The wise words of a person who has walked the path before you can be a pivotal part of your success--but finding someone willing to coach you is not always easy. Luckily, today's entrepreneurs can gain knowledge from some of the most successful business leaders without ever meeting them face-to-face. These six TED Talks provide tips and tools that every new entrepreneur can benefit from.
1. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread
In this marketing focused TED Talk, entrepreneur Seth Godin shares his beliefs about why some ideas are more successful than others. In today's hyperactive, digitally driven world, getting your idea noticed is no easy feat. Godin suggests this is why your average, everyday good idea is more difficult to market than a strange, unusual idea. Rather than try to appeal to the very distracted masses, Godin advises focusing on a small (but interested) niche. This strategy is more productive, since you will be communicating with a relevant group that will be more likely to rally behind your idea. Who knows--if it's crazy enough, it might work.
2. Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons From an Ad Man
Advertising guru Rory Sutherland knows a thing or two about customer perception. In this talk, he dives into the topic of intangible value. Most products have a tangible value--for example a TV provides entertainment and orange juice provides vitamin C--but all products can also have intangible value if positioned correctly. Sutherland shares the story of the potato king as evidence. When Fredrick the Great wanted the people of Prussia to eat potatoes, they scoffed at the idea. Despite the economic and nutritional value of the crop, the king couldn't get potatoes to catch on. He then instructed his soldiers to "guard" the potato field he had planted, catching the interest of the villagers, who wanted know why, which fueled the popularity of potatoes in Prussia.
3. Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work
Imagine a place where you could do work without interruption. Entrepreneur Jason Fried believes the constant contact, scheduled meetings, and other office protocols are what keep employees from doing their best work at work. Fried suggests that a shift in office etiquette (for example, less talking and more email) could conjure up more productivity and reduce the overwhelming amount of time that is lost from interruptions.
4. Margaret Gould Stewart: How Giant Websites Design for You (and a Billion Others, Too)
Having worked at Facebook and YouTube, Margaret Gould Stewart is more than familiar with the importance of user experience. This TED Talk explains the power of design and how user emotions come into play. Stewart cites the iconic Facebook "Like" button, revealing what went into its creation and sharing how even the smallest change could irk or excite people. Understanding the details of design and the outcome it has on users is a lesson every entrepreneur could benefit from learning.
5. Steven Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From
Writer Steven Johnson has researched the evolution of ideas and determined that those aha! moments are not as random as we might believe. Johnson credits the inclusion of others' ideas for the birth of brilliance, since we tend to attach our own thoughts to those we have heard from others when formulating a solution or coming up with a new concept. What can you take away from this talk? For the best brainstorming, be social. Meet up with others from your team in a welcoming environment where thoughts can be openly shared and constructively turned into good ideas.
6. Julie Burstein: 4 Lessons in Creativity
After spending much of her life talking with creative individuals, radio host Julie Burstein shares the top things that fuel creativity and retells some of the best advice she's heard for overcoming obstacles. Listing experience, challenge, limitation, and loss as the four lessons, Burstein credits creativity as a fundamental part of any profession. Since some of the best entrepreneurs are creative thinkers, this informative talk is an incredible asset to help cultivate your creativity.