Giving a TED Talk is a hallmark of thought leader status. These short but powerful presentations allow some of the world's most influential experts to speak passionately about fresh ideas and advancements in their field. Here are five of the best TED Talks from 2019, as well as their key takeaways to inspire you in 2020.
TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design, but the talks encompass much more than those three categories. The talks listed here span a variety of topics, but all have interesting central points and takeaways that everyone can learn from.
Lorna Davis, who was previously the president of Danone, Kraft, and Mondelez, talks about trying to be a hero in the workplace and why it's not a sustainable way to lead. From her experience of trying to lead alone, she's found that the most success comes from interdependent leadership. She advocates working as a group instead of flying solo at the top, which she says is harder than being a hero, because it requires transparency and vulnerability.
As we work to innovate and expand our businesses, being open to collaborative leadership is worth striving for.
As a happiness researcher, Elizabeth Dunn shares her discovery that helping others makes people happy on a fundamental level, and that it actually matters how we help. According to Dunn, blindly giving money to charity without seeing where it goes or who it impacts doesn't encourage people to give more. She advocates for creating opportunities to give that enable people to connect with the communities their generosity is helping as a way to celebrate their shared humanity. This, Dunn says, is how we will experience the most joy from helping others.
If your company holds charity events or volunteering opportunities, keeping this idea in mind as you plan could facilitate an experience that sparks happiness for everyone.
In this presentation, Matt Walker explains the science behind sleep loss and how it's directly associated with chronic diseases, brain function, aging, and more. Walker, a brain scientist who studies sleep, explains that sleep shouldn't be looked at as a lifestyle luxury that only some can afford; instead, it's a non-negotiable, biological necessity that everyone needs to survive.
As the new year picks up and your schedule fills, don't sacrifice sleep in the process. Rest is equally, or perhaps more, important as your daily grind.
Journalist Johann Hari shares his journey interviewing experts around the world on what causes depression and anxiety and how he learned new ways to approach and reverse these problems. Hari says, "If you're depressed or anxious, you're not weak, and you're not crazy -- you're a human being with unmet needs." He saw people work together to come up with non-medical solutions to meet these unmet needs and make the depressed and anxious feel important and understood. Although he's not against drugs as a treatment for these issues, he explains that there are powerful ways to tackle them once we shift the way we think of mental health.
This talk showcases the power of outside perspective and staying in touch with the bigger picture when we're often overrun and obsessed with the trivial.
Bob Langert, the former VP of Sustainability at McDonald's, shares the transformative experience of working with his companies' biggest critics. He talks about coming together with environmental agencies to improve the sustainability efforts of McDonald's' packaging, which was something environmental activists were heavily protesting at the time. Instead of ignoring the critics, Langert learned to embrace them, which lead to successful changes.
When it feels like everyone's a critic, this mentality is key to promote productivity and innovation. Turning to the people who think you're failing them to help find new solutions is an initiative all companies can adopt.
These are just a few of 2019's resonant TED talks. When you need a quick dose of inspiration or perspective, hit "play" on one of these videos and put their lessons to work in your life.