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7 TED Talks That Will Change the Way You Look at Business

These presentations can teach you about the importance of time off, where you can do your best work, how to pitch to investors and more.
7 TED Talks That Will Change the Way You Look at Business
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TED Talks are a godsend. They introduce us to people we should keep on our radar and concepts we can (and should) work into our everyday lives. They’re accessible from anywhere and easier to digest than a book or a long-winded podcast. TED Talks can be life-changing, both on the personal and professional level.

It’s no surprise, then, that certain TED Talks have impacted the way some entrepreneurs approach business. From Dr. Timothy Folta’s redefined definition of entrepreneurship to author and consultant Joseph Pine’s take on what consumers want, here are seven TED Talks that will transform how you look at your business.

Dr. Timothy Folta: Myths of entrepreneurship

Dr. Timothy Folta is the associate professor of management at Purdue University’s Krannert Graduate School of Management. Over the years, he’s studied entrepreneurship and innovation with a focus on the biomedical industry.  In his TED Talk, Dr. Folta argues that our general definition of entrepreneurship is skewed -- though starting a business does involve risk, entrepreneurship itself does not have to be considered a particularly risky path. Dr. Folta proposes three ways in which business owners can protect their assets, their reputations and their livelihoods by leveraging resources and thinking ahead.

Related: How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

When asked where they go when they really need to get some work done, people usually say they sit in the kitchen, go to the park, or settle down in their favorite café. They almost never say they go to the office to finish an important project. In this TED Talk, software entrepreneur and Rework co-author Jason Fried shares why he thinks people avoid the office when they have a deadline to meet. He offers ways for business owners and CEOs to make the office a more positive place to work: eliminate distractions, stop over-managing and more. Fried’s 17-minute talk is essential for anyone who wants to maximize their team’s productivity and overall morale.

David S. Rose: 10 things to know before you pitch to a venture capitalist (VC)

David S. Rose has been on both ends of the spectrum: He’s raised millions in venture capital for his own companies and funded several businesses as a VC himself. Here, he provides entrepreneurs with 10 things to keep in mind before they pitch to investors. As a VC, Rose looks for passion, integrity, leadership and commitment more than just the numbers that entrepreneurs often show in their pitch presentations. Rose’s tips are indispensable . . . so long as you can handle his rapid-fire speaking style.

Related: 5 Habits of the Wealthy That Helped Them Get Rich

Joseph Pine: What consumers want

Joseph Pine is the author of Mass Customization and a former business coach at IBM. He coined the term “Experience Economy,” which is the idea that consumers buy experiences, not goods or commodities. Pine describes how the key to any business’s success is creating an authentic customer or client experience and explains how major businesses like Disney promote authenticity that dazzles millions.

Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

In this TED Talk, Dan Ariely tells the story of a man who was assigned a major PowerPoint presentation for his company. He enjoyed working on the presentation and was proud of the result, but when he turned it in to his boss, he was told the presentation was no longer needed. Though his boss liked the presentation, the man was disappointed. Ariely, a psychology and behavior economics at Duke University, says most of us thrive by making progress and feeling a sense of purpose. His 20-minute monologue is perfect for anyone who wants to find meaning in their work and take pride in what they do (which is all of us).

Related: Inspiring Quotes to Help You Get Through Your Work Day

Stefan Sagmeister: The power of time off

As entrepreneurs, we often hear that the only way to succeed is to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Designer Stefan Sagmeister argues that refusing to take decent-sized breaks (or sabbaticals) actually makes us less productive and less fulfilled. Instead, taking time off -- approximately 12 percent of your usual work time, Sagmeister proposes -- allows you to feel more passion for your job and put more energy into individual projects. Sagmeister describes the times he’s taken sabbaticals and the ways in which they’ve helped his business, then asks his audience to do the same.

Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

How do you promote teamwork within your business? Tom Wujec, who researches business visualization, studied the way people worked together when asked to create a stable structure out of dry spaghetti and marshmallows. He found that kindergarteners completed the challenge better than anyone else. In this TED Talk, Wujec discusses the value of collaborative prototyping and the exchange of ideas within teams.

Most TED Talks offer a wealth of information and anecdotes regarding a variety of subjects, but they’re especially helpful for entrepreneurs. What TED Talks have helped you and your business grow? 

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