Our 10 favourite motivational TED Talks


Have you set yourself an ambitious new year's resolution? Want to kickstart a new exercise routine, or start making moves at work?

Watch one of our favourite motivational TED Talks to get in the right frame of mind, so you can start ticking off goals. Or watch all of them! We can’t guarantee they’ll change your life, but we promise that they are worth fifteen minutes of your busy day. Or—if your day isn’t so busy—we can guarantee that these videos are better for the soul than refreshing Instagram for the umpteenth time. TED selects some of the most interesting speakers and personalities around, so you’re sure to learn a thing or two.

1. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

We’ll give away Achor’s secret—happiness inspires productivity. Rather than expecting happiness from work, we should be bringing happiness to work.

2. Ben Saunders: Why bother leaving the house?

Ben Saunders was the youngest person ever to ski solo to the North Pole, and he wants everyone to spend time enjoying nature—“because that’s where the meat of life is.”

3. Larry Smith: Why you will fail to have a great career

This one has a misleading name—It’s about loving what you do and finding meaning in your passion. Smith argues that we should define our own idea of a “great” career—it might be less spectacular or lauded than other careers, but it should be the one which gives you fulfilment.

4. Chris Burkard: The joy of surfing in ice-cold water

Burkard is a surf photographer who litters this presentation with jaw dropping photos and stories, but his message is a simple one: “Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit.”

5. Patti Dobrowolski: Draw your future

Struggling to visualise your goals and dreams? Dobrowolski reckons that harnessing the power of our imagination and literally drawing our goals is a way to actualize a better future.

6. David Blaine: How I held my breath for 17 minutes

Here's something a little left-of-field. Magician and stuntman Blaine describes what it took to hold his breath underwater for a world record 17 minutes. It's great inspiration to tackle your goals, no matter how crazy—just don’t try this one yourself!

7. Alix Generous: How I learned to communicate my inner life with Asperger's

Generous is a young woman with Asperger’s (a form of autistic spectrum disorder) who worked hard for years to learn how to share her thoughts with the world. She shares her story and her vision for tools to help more people communicate their big ideas.

8. Julie Burstein: 4 lessons in creativity

Think creativity is just for actual artists? Think again! Burstein talks about the value of creativity for people in all careers, and how to be creative in the face of self-doubt.

9. Elon Musk: The Mind Behind Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity

Hear about modern society’s newest technologies from the horse’s mouth. Elon Musk is founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and talks about his projects, including: a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company, and a fully reusable rocket.

10. Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

Learn to love an argument! Heffernan argues that while most of us instinctively avoid conflict, productive disagreement is central to progress, and that the best relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.


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