Ted Talks about working smarter

10 Incredible TED Talks About Working Smarter

I love TED talks. I’ve seen almost every video on their website, and I’m the kind of guy to share the video with friends, and include a message along the lines of “this is the greatest thing I’ve seen in a while.”


One of my favorite things to do while I’m working is listen to a TED talk in the background. They’re so inspirational and motivating, and you learn so much from them.

There are so many good ones, but I thought since we’re all about company culture and employee engagement here at Officevibe, I’d compile a list of my favorite TED talks about work.

This list is in no particular order, but I recommend forwarding the videos (or this post) to everyone at your work. After watching these, you’ll learn how to work smarter.

1. Simon Sinek – How Great Leaders Inspire Action

I know I mentioned that this list is in no particular order, but if you only watch one video from this list, this should be the one.

It will completely change the way you do business. One of the reasons people like a company like Apple so much is because they connect with us on an emotional level. In this captivating talk, Simon explains how you should be telling your story.

You should be explaining to people why you’re doing what you’re doing, and not just telling them what you’re doing.

2. Jason Fried – Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work

This is one of my favorite TED talks of all time, because it’s so true. I’m a huge fan of Jason, and everything he does. I’ve read all of his books, I’ve used all of his products, and I have a very deep respect for him.

Whenever he talks, I listen. I think more people are starting to understand this idea that it’s not necessarily about working from 9-5. It’s about getting stuff done. If you want to work from home one day, or you want to work from 11-7 instead of 9-5, that should be allowed.

3. Stefan Sagmeister – The Power of Time Off

This is a really cool video, because the idea that he has seems so radical. Every seven years, Stefan takes a full year off. Not a 2 week vacation, a full year. He calls it a “mini-retirement”.

The point here is, you should give your employees the necessary time off, and you should encourage people to “recharge their batteries”. At Officevibe, we’re lucky enough to have unlimited vacations. It really just comes down to trusting your employees.

4. Shawn Achor – The Happy Secret To Better Work

Is success the secret to happiness? Or is happiness the secret to success? I think way too many people think that it’s the former, when in fact, it’s the latter. You need to do things that make you happy.

There’s an old expression, money doesn’t buy happiness, and it’s 100% true. Shawn is an incredibly smart guy, he’s a psychologist, and the talk is very entertaining.

5. Dan Pink – The Puzzle of Motivation

I’ve spoken a lot about this particular video in the past, mainly because I think it’s so important for people to understand. In this talk, Dan explains what most social scientists already know, that managers seem to not know, and he talks about how there is a huge disconnect there.

The way managers have been traditionally rewarding people is all wrong. Managers focus on what are called extrinsic motivators, basically external things like money, vacation time, etc… and what they should be focusing on is intrinsic motivators, basically things inside of you, like passion, autonomy, control.

This is in my top 3 favorite TED talks of all time.

6. Tim Ferriss – Smash Fear, Learn Anything

Anything by Tim Ferriss is worth checking out. Author of the famous “four hour work week”, this talk is great for understanding the importance of failure.

If you “smash fear”, and aren’t afraid to fail, or aren’t too afraid of being wrong, then the possibilities are endless. He does all this by asking one very simple question: “what’s the worst that could happen?”.

7. Yves Morieux – As Work Gets More Complex, 6 Rules To Simplify

This is one of the newer talks posted on the TED website, and is so in line with what we do at Officevibe.

There have been so many advancements in technology, collaboration tools, etc…yet employees are more disengaged than ever. How come? He says that it’s because companies have become way too complex, and we need to simplify things.

He also says that management hierarchies are obsolete, and we need more of a flat, bottom-up type of approach. Remember, Keep It Simple Stupid!

8. Jane McGonigal – Gaming Can Make A Better World

One of the more popular TED talks about gaming and enterprise gamification, with over 3 million views.

It’s an incredible talk that encourages us to play more games, and learn more from the games that we play.

It seems weird to think about solving world hunger by playing videos (and she gets laughs from the crowd when she mentions this), but she explains why she thinks it’s true. She’s no idiot, she’s the director of R&D at the Institute For The Future, and created a multiplayer game called SuperBetter after suffering from a concussion, that helps you set a goal and let your friends and family encourage you to reach those goals.

9. Nigel Marsh – How To Make Work-Life Balance Work

Having a good work-life balance is so important for your health, your productivity, and overall well-being. He says “so many people talk so much rubbish about work-life balance”.

It’s an amazing talk, and he’s being brutally honest. He says things like flex time, casual Fridays, and other weird initiatives are not enough.

There needs to be a real discussion on how we can handle balancing our lives properly. He says that it’s up to us as individuals to make this change. It’s actually a pretty funny, but smart talk.

10. Stanley McChrystal – Listen, Learn…Then Lead

For those of you who might not be familiar with Stanley McChrystal, he’s a four-star general, and the former commander of U.S. and International forces in Afghanistan.

He has decades of military experience, and based on that experience he shares what he’s learned about how to be a good leader. Look at the first word in the title of the video to figure out what the secret to being a great leader is.

What are some of your favourite TED Talks?

Let me know your thoughts on twitter @JacobShriar or @Officevibe.

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