"Hearing the inherent diversity in these stories, ideas, and opinions, can be the spark to a better understanding of the similarities and differences in all of us and how we leverage this for creative results." says Lisa Mink
By Lisa Mink
In my twenty years of working with many talented and bright executives, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some very unique voices. Voices that come from all backgrounds and walks of life. Voices with their own perspectives, their own ideas to share. More often than not, I’m asked about what I’ve learned from these leaders on some of the intangible concepts of leadership, motivation, and culture.
What makes people tick? What motivates them? What can we do as individuals to include as many voices as possible—and to find the worth inherent in all of us? The wildly popular TED series of lectures are filled with bright individuals and unique ideas that help shed light on what these things really mean. I have a few favorite TED Talks—from novelists, entrepreneurs, scientists, and even Al Gore’s speechwriter—which give insight into human nature that drives many of our actions. Hearing the inherent diversity in these stories, ideas, and opinions, can be the spark to a better understanding of the similarities and differences in all of us and how we leverage this for creative results. Those of you who are leaders and budding entrepreneurs will most likely find yourselves nodding “yes” to these TED Talks. I know I did exactly that. And just like me, I hope you learn something!
Dave Isay, “Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear” Dave Isay began StoryCorps in 2003 as a simple booth in Grand Central Station where anyone could tell their story. Thirteen years later, it’s become the world’s largest collection of recorded human voices and an archive of wisdom. His TED Talk is a celebration of humanity, diversity and the fact that every single person has a story to be told. Regina Dugan, “From mach-20 glider to hummingbird drone” As the then-director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Regina Dugan asked, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” To answer that question, she talks about some of the incredible projects she’s worked on at DARPA, like a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and a little thing called the internet. Dugan pushes the mindset that risk and possibly even failure are both paths to new technology. Steven Johnson, “Where good ideas come from” Writer Steven Johnson, whose latest work about the 1854 cholera outbreak in London is “The Ghost Map,” discusses how the environment you put yourself into shapes your creative process. This is well worth watching for lessons in collaboration and the source of breakthrough ideas. Linda Hill, “How to manage for collective creativity” Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill has studied some of the most creative companies in the world. Here, she talks about the impact of leadership when driving innovation, and how to keep great ideas flowing from everyone on staff—not just the designated “creatives.” Simon Sinek, “How great leaders inspire action” Some of the greatest leaders in history—Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers—have inspired action and loyalty to their causes or brands. Fascinated by inspiring leaders, Simon Sinek attempts to find out how great leaders inspire action by beginning this conversation with a circle drawn on an easel, and the simple question: “why?” Dan Pink, “The puzzle of motivation” Career analyst Dan Pink served as Al Gore’s speechwriter and has moved on to identify a sweeping change in the workplace: the shift of an information-based corporate culture to a conceptual base, where creativity and big-picture design dominates the landscape. Here, he talks about the surprising science of motivation, rewards and leadership in the 21st century. Elizabeth Gilbert, “Your elusive creative genius” In this funny, moving, and very personal talk, the author of the best selling “Eat, Pray, Love” offers an unusual perspective on creative genius and where it comes from. Instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. Tony Robbins, “Why we do what we do” It shouldn’t be a surprise that any list of great talks features the great motivational speaker Tony Robbins. Here, he asks: what is the impact and power of emotion, and how does that motivate us? Then, he high-fives Al Gore from the front row. Sherry Turkle, “Connected, but alone?” Influential psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle speaks about a concept very close to her research: how technology is redefining human communication, and therefore human connection. As an MIT professor, she’s an undisputed voice to answer the question: how do we shape how we design and use technology? Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The danger of a single story” Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won critical acclaim for her first and second novels, “Purple Hibiscus” and “Half of a Yellow Sun.” Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice, transcending regional, gender, class, and racial differences—differences that can be barriers to understanding and cooperation. She also warns against the danger of a single story, and the potential threat to us all. Susan Cain, “The power of introverts” In a society that values those who are outgoing, sometimes it can be easy to overlook the extraordinary talents and abilities of introverts. But self-described introvert Susan Cain notes that our bias towards the extroverted can also include the soft-spoken, enabling awareness on how everyone can work better together. Amy Cuddy, “Your body language shapes who you are” Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how by simply improving your body language, and your posture, you can change your brain into projecting confidence—even when you don’t feel it. Shawn Achor, “The happy secret to better work” What comes first: happiness, or working hard? We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but in this very funny TED Talk, psychologist Shawn Achor turns this notion on its head, giving us valuable insights on happiness, attitude and productivity. Photos: James Duncan Davidson via TED Blog
About the Author Lisa Mink Lisa has over twenty years of experience in human resources, executive coaching, and consulting. She offers executive and individual coaching for leaders who want to reach their highest potential in their own corporate roles. She can be reached at www.lisamink.com or her LinkedIn page.