12 October 2014

3 Can't-Miss TED Talks That Will Make You Think, Laugh and Cry

Last week Rio de Janerio hosted TEDGlobal 2014. As always, it was an amazing opportunity to talk about ideas worth spreading. TED Talks have been a great source of inspiration for me over the last years. They made me think, laugh and cry. Following the thrill of this year’s event, I’ve collected for you three of the best presentations in the history of the conference. Seriously, if you haven’t watched them yet, do it now!

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about an injustice (2012)

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson reveals the injustice behind America’s justice system. “The US justice system treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent.” His talk is about humanity, compassion and justice. 
Stevenson received the longest standing ovation in the history of TED. If you ask him what he does to be so persuasive, he would simply tell you “I just tell stories.” Indeed, he spent the first 5 minutes telling a personal story of his grandmother to introduce a key concept: the power of identity. And throughout his talk he told other anecdotes that helped him make a personal connection with the audience.  
When Carmine Gallo asked him about his secret, he said: “If you start with something too esoteric and disconnected from the lives of everyday people, it’s harder for people to engage. I often talk about family members because most of us have family members that we have a relationship to. I talk about kids and people who are vulnerable or struggling. All of those narratives are designed to help understand the issues.” 
Stevenson’s talk is considered to be one of the most persuasive TED talks ever. Trust me, you can’t not watch it.
Why I chose it: it’s the best example of the power of a great story. After his presentation, the audience donated $1 million to his-non profit organisation. That’s the equivalent of $55,000 for every minute he spoke. Who said public speaking doesn't matter?

Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation (2009)

Daniel H. Pink—one of the top business thinkers in the world—makes “an evidence-based case for rethinking how we run our businesses.” In his funny, thought-provoking talk, he reveals the mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Traditional rewards (bonuses, commissions, etc.) are not always as effective as we think. In fact, when it comes to 21st-century tasks—the right-brain, creative, conceptual kind of works—rewards narrow our focus and lead to poorer performance. 
The solution is a new approach built around intrinsic motivation and based on three pillars:
  • Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives 
  • Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose: the drive to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves 
In a presentation being viewed more than 11 million times, Pink introduces revolutionary business practices that will shape the organisations of the future.
Why I chose it: it challenges conventional wisdom. “Science confirms what we know in our hearts,” Pink said. 

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe (2014)     

Leadership expert Simon Sinek explains what makes a great leader, starting from the innate human necessity to feel safe. According to Sinek, the business world is dangerous—the economy may go through a recession, your competitors will try to steal business from you—and the key to survive is in the environment created by the leader. “If you get the environment right, everyone of us has the capacity to do great things.”
When we feel safe inside our organisation—when we don’t fear our leaders—we are naturally driven by the desire to do remarkable things. 
“When a leader makes the choice to put the safety and lives of the people inside the organisation first, to sacrifice their comforts and sacrifice the tangible results, so that the people remain and feel safe and feel like they belong, remarkable things happen,” Sinek said.
Why I chose it: Sinek shares ideas that inspire. In perfect TED style, his ideas are worth sharing. Head counts vs. heart counts; authority vs leadership. Plus, I love when he goes back to the beginning at the end of his talk. This is to me one of the most powerful ways to close a presentation.
These talks have one element in common: they are all built around a story. Each speaker presented his ideas in a way that was meaningful to the audience. They all thought about how best they could share their message in a way that was worth spreading. They didn’t just inform their audience, they changed them from a state in which they didn’t know or didn’t care about their topics to a state in which they did—from a state in which they didn't believe in their ideas to a state in which they did. And they achieved that through the power of storytelling.
Tell me, what’s your favorite TED talk?