08.05.201611 min read

10 TED Talks to Watch to be a Better Marketer

TED, a nonprofit founded in 1984, was created as a forum for thought leaders to give an 18-minute or less talk on the places and spaces where technology, entertainment, and design collide. TED’s overarching mission is to spread great ideas and to encourage all to seek a better understanding of the world. From its start as a one-day conference to a viral video community, TED has brought together some of the brightest minds to share their life’s work and passions.

Marketing, in its purest form, is also dedicated to storytelling and spreading innovative ideas. And as marketers, we’re highly focused on being able to communicate clearly, exhibit leadership in our organizations, and create unique and disruptive work.

From social media to physics, these 10 TED Talks were curated for marketers to provoke new ideas, increase efficiency and happiness in the workplace, and inspire leadership.

1. Alexis Ohanian: How to Make a Splash in Social Media

Alexis Ohanian, the founder of Reddit, is a true leader when it comes to community-led social media. During this talk he explains how the real power of social media is more than just garnering Likes and Shares, it’s about the growth and change resulting from genuine community participation. Watch this talk to see how Mr. Splashy Pants used the swell of social media engagement to save whales.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Alexis Ohanian on How to Make a Splash in Social Media. TED Talks are a great resource for educating and inspiring us, as well as sharing great ideas.

2. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Author of “Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek has a heck of a lot to say about effective leadership. He’s the creator of a model called the Golden Circle, what he says is “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages, and organizations, over others.” As a professor of graduate-level strategic communications at Columbia University, Sinek is an expert on inspirational leadership, which he says all starts with the question “Why?” Watch this TED Talk to learn about a leadership ideology that inspires cooperation, trust, and change.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Simon Sinek on How Great Leaders Inspire Action

3. Dan Cobley: What Physics Taught Me About Marketing

We all agree that marketing and physics go hand in hand, right? I didn’t think so either until I watched this TED Talk. Dan Cobley, a marketing director at Google, has always worked in the marketing field but his degree is actually in physics. Passionate about both subjects, Cobley draws a series of interesting comparisons between the two subjects using Newton’s Second Law, the fundamentals of branding, and other unlikely pairs. Tune in to this TED Talk to think about marketing in a whole new way.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Dan Cobley on What Physics Taught Me About Marketing

4. Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend

We’re all trying to cut down on our stress. From yoga to meditation to herbal tea, the modern society is obsessed with ridding our lives of stress because it’s bad for our bodies and minds. Well, not according to Kelly McGonigal, who feels really bad about telling her former patients that stress would harm them. Instead, she says, a pounding heart, sweaty palms, and heavy breathing are not bad for you—as long as you believe that it isn’t. McGonigal’s research shows that stress is not actually what is physically harmful, it’s only bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Too good to be true? Watch this TED Talk to learn how your mind can actually change your body’s physical response to stress, and how it might actually be good for you.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Kelly McGonigal on How to Make Stress Your Friend

5. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

According to Forbes, Seth Godin is “a demigod on the web, a best-selling author, highly sought-after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger. He is uniquely respected for his understanding of the Internet.” After starting a successful company that was purchased by Yahoo!, Godin published multiple books that received critical acclaim. This talk is all about how to separate the good ideas from the ordinary ones, and why that sometimes means embracing the weird and bad ideas.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Seth Godin on How to Get Your Ideas spread

6. Renny Gleeson: 404: The Story of a Page Not Found

Marketers hate landing on a 404 page. We’re critical, and quick to judge whoever’s mistake it was that led us there. But not all 404 pages are created equal. In this TED Talk, Renny Gleeson, a Wieden+Kennedy interactive strategist, shows us how some organizations have found a creative way to let you know you’ve landed on the wrong page. As a self-proclaimed skeptimist (skeptical optimist), Gleeson shows us that there’s always an opportunity to be creative, even when it comes to “a page not found.”


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Renny Gleeson on 404: The Story of a Page Not Found

7. Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership

How often do you have “lollipop moments?” In this TED Talk Drew Dudley, a leadership educator, talks about how leadership isn’t just for the people who sit in the corner office. It’s an untapped quality within all of us, and we’re given an opportunity to display it every day. This TED Talk is both entertaining and inspiring. Give it a watch on Monday morning before the work week madness begins, it’s guaranteed to boost your good feels for the day.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Drew Dudley on Everyday Leadership

8. Abha Dawesar: Life in the Digital Now

In 2012, Dawesar found herself smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Sandy's destruction. Amidst power outages, flooding, and shortages of food, Abha Dawesar found herself dragging herself halfway across town for a place to charge her cell phone. This TED Talk eloquently discusses our obsession with staying connected, and how it fits into our always-on, digital world. This video provides an interesting perspective for marketers who are dedicated to making sure our digital messages are seen—those of us who rely on modern technology for the success of our digital campaigns.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Abha Dawesar on Life in the Digital Now

9. Adam Grant: The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

Adam Grant is hooked on finding out which factors go into success. He’s studied the dynamics of a successful and productive workspace for years and is an expert on what separates mediocrity from originality. Grant is charming, energetic, and endearingly awkward. The kind of person you respect immensely but aren’t intimidated by. In his TED Talk, he explores what he’s found to be the three most common habits of original thinkers. One major theme that Grant focuses on is embracing failure—even encouraging it. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones,” he says.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Adam Grant on The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers

10. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

In this TED Talk (a personal favorite of mine) Amy Cuddy discusses how the way you hold your body might actually be dictating the course of your life. In particular, she talks about how “Power Posing” can release certain chemicals in your brain to actually make you feel stronger and more confident—and make you more successful. According to Cuddy, body language not only dictates the way people see us, but it also controls who we are and how we feel. While not specific to marketers, Cuddy helps you understand how your body language influences others and your own brain. This TED Talk gives you an incredibly actionable way to evaluate and change your non-verbal language and improve your life.


This is a screen shot of the video TED Talk by Amy Cuddy on Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

With more than 2,200 TED Talks available online, you have access to creative insight on almost any topic imaginable. From social media to improving leadership, TED Talks are a great resource for marketers wanting to expand their knowledge, and to rethink their current processes. This list is by no means comprehensive, in fact, we encourage you to do more searching on the TED.com website.

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This article originally appeared in The Act-On Marketing Blog. 

This article was written by McKenzie Ingram from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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