One of my favorite innovations in recent years is the idea of TED Talks. Whether you attend a session in person or watch online, you can learn and gain inspiration and see and hear people tell their stories and share their expertise firsthand. It's accessible, substantive information on virtually every topic imaginable.
If reading the news first thing in the morning is bringing you down, why not save that task for a bit later in the day? Instead, take in one of these great TED talks with your breakfast. Since they're under 20 minutes, it's the perfect amount of time to spend with your breakfast and coffee--and you'll start the day informed, motivated, and ready to go do great things.
1. Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation
"The science confirms what we know in our hearts. So if we repair this mismatch between science and business, if we bring our motivation, notions of motivation into the 21st century, if we get past this lazy, dangerous ideology of carrots and sticks, we can strengthen our businesses, we can solve a lot of those candle problems, and maybe, maybe--we can change the world."
Career analyst Dan Pink looks at motivation from a social science perspective. The kind of traditional rewards embraced by most managers aren't always as effective as we think. So what really does work?
2. James Veitch: This Is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email
"Crazy stuff happens when you start replying to scam emails. It's really difficult, and I highly recommend we do it. I don't think what I'm doing is mean. There are a lot of people who do mean things to scammers. All I'm doing is wasting their time. And I think any time they're spending with me is time they're not spending scamming vulnerable adults out of their savings, right?"
What if, instead of deleting all those offers for unclaimed bank accounts in foreign countries, long-lost cousins in need of a place to keep their jewelry, and too-good-to-be-true deals, you reply instead? Comedian James Veitch found out.
3. Laura Snyder: The Philosophical Breakfast Club
"It's shocking to realize that only 28 percent of American adults have even a very basic level of science literacy, and this was tested by asking simple questions like "Did humans and dinosaurs inhabit the earth at the same time?" and "What proportion of the earth is covered in water?" Once scientists became members of a professional group, they were slowly walled off from the rest of us. This is the unintended consequence of the revolution that started with our four friends."
A historian and philosopher, Laura Snyder discusses four friends at Cambridge University who referred to themselves as natural philosophers until they later coined the term scientists. Their 19th-century breakfast meetings generated some of the major principles of scientific inquiry.
4. Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating
"I know that there's something in this world that you love more than you love yourself. Something worthy, by the way, so addiction and infatuation don't count, because we all know that those are not safe places to live. Right? The only trick is that you've got to identify the best, worthiest thing that you love most, and then build your house right on top of it and don't budge from it. And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then your job is to fight your way back to that home the only way that it has ever been done, by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next. You just do that, and keep doing that again and again and again, and I can absolutely promise you, from long personal experience in every direction, I can assure you that it's all going to be OK."
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of the best-selling memoir Eat, Pray, Love, has experienced both huge success and devastating rejection. She speaks engagingly and insightfully about both conditions, and offers a way to keep yourself moving forward through every outcome.
5. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
"Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes. Before you go into the next stressful evaluative situation, for two minutes try doing this--in the elevator, in a bathroom stall, at your desk behind closed doors. That's what you want to do. Configure your brain to cope the best in that situation. Get your testosterone up. Get your cortisol down. Don't leave that situation feeling like 'Oh, I didn't show them who I am.' Leave that situation feeling like 'I really feel like I got to say who I am and show who I am.'"
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy finds that body language goes much deeper than influencing how others perceive us--it can change the way we see ourselves, and even affect our hormonal levels. Just the act of standing in a confident posture can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, improving our odds for success from the inside out, as well as from the outside in.
6. Stefan Sagmeister: 7 Rules for Making More Happiness
"I've been keeping a diary since I was 12. And I've found that it influenced my life and work in a very intriguing way. In this case also because it's part of one of the many sentiments that we build the whole series on--that all the sentiments originally had come out of the diary."
Designer Stefan Sagmeister shares his thoughts on both conscious and unconscious happiness along with seven rules for happiness in life and design.
7. Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do
"What is your motive for action? What is it that drives you in your life today? Not 10 years ago. Are you running the same pattern? Because I believe that the invisible force of internal drive, activated, is the most important thing. I'm here because I believe emotion is the force of life. All of us here have great minds. Most of us here have great minds, right? We all know how to think. With our minds we can rationalize anything. We can make anything happen."
Famed motivational speaker Tony Robbins discusses the forces that we all respond to.
8. Emilie Wapnick: Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling
"Embrace your many passions. Follow your curiosity down those rabbit holes. Explore your intersections. Embracing our inner wiring leads to a happier, more authentic life. And perhaps more importantly--multipotentialites, the world needs us."
Some people have a clear sense of vocation almost from birth. Others have a harder time settling down into any one field--and those are the ones who writer and artist Emilie Wapnick calls "multipotentialites." They may have a wide range of interests and jobs over one lifetime, and they contribute to the world in a way that more singularly purposeful people cannot.
9. Celeste Headlee: 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation
"Why do we not listen to each other? No. 1, we'd rather talk. When I'm talking, I'm in control. I don't have to hear anything I'm not interested in. I'm the center of attention. I can bolster my own identity. But there's another reason: We get distracted. The average person talks at about 225 words per minute, but we can listen at up to 500 words per minute. So our minds are filling in those other 275 words. And look, I know, it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you're not in a conversation. You're just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place."
After spending decades as a radio host, Celeste Headlee knows what goes into a great conversation: honesty, brevity, clarity, and a healthy amount of listening. She also knows how difficult it is for most of us to do. To help alleviate that difficulty, she shares 10 useful rules for having better conversations.
10. Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days
"I learned that when I made small, sustainable changes, things I could keep doing, they were more likely to stick. There's nothing wrong with big crazy challenges. In fact, they're a ton of fun. But they're less likely to stick."
If you're finding yourself stuck in making changes, Matt Cutts suggests that you pick out a new habit and try it for 30 days. It's an entertaining discussion of goal-setting and achievement.