Ted Tanner, brainiac and CTO of Pokitdok, refers to the learning platform, Coursera, as “potato chips for the mind.” I see his point but for me, it’s more than potato chips. Since Coursera.com offers both online courses and degree programs, you’re in control of selecting appetizers, desserts, or full course meals. While I’m not interested in taking a deep dive into the depths of computer and data science as Mr. Tanner does, the ability to keep oneself intellectually inspired is the new literacy.
In other words, your brain needs exercise and your imagination needs fuel to produce ideas and solutions. Top performers pro-actively seek inspiration; they don’t have time to wait for those “light-bulb” moments to randomly arrive. It’s part of of bringing your best self to the work every day.
Make important decisions from a state of inspiration and enthusiasm, what psychologists call a “peak state”.
I love to read, but it’s hard to find time. Thus, podcasts and videos are now my inspiration buffet of choice. Here are my favorite five TEDx talks that reliably spark creative approaches to teaching communication skills.
Note: TED are the “top” talks at the annual event in California, probably the most prestigious conference in the world. TEDx talks are local versions using the same format, something like a franchise of the original TED talks. I find TEDx express more diverse points of view than those at the TED mothership….but probably that’s just me.
- Shawn Achor is the best academic ever, and not just because he’s from Waco, Texas. He’s hysterically funny as he argues for the relationship between happiness and productivity. Focus on being happy, or at least cheerful, and other things fall into place.
Listen to Shawn’s talk if you want a good laugh and encouragement to be happy at work.
Happiness is the joy you feel moving toward your potential.
2. Vanessa Van Edwards calls herself “a recovering boring person” and today’s she is the coolest Communication Coach on the planet. Actually she’s the Beyonce of Communication Coaches. Here she shares the small behavioral details that make a person captivating. In her research she actually counted the number of hand gestures in the top-ranked TED talks. (Spoiler alert: more hand gestures = more audience engagement)
Listen to Vanessa on the London TEDx stage if you want to be a more engaging speaker.
Don’t try to impress people, let them impress you.
Vanessa Van Edwards
3. YES! National hero, Jocko Willink, has a TEDx talk and he’s A. M. A. Z. I. N. G. Did you know I have a major crush on this soldier? I know a lot of you are fans of his book, Extreme Ownership. You will not be disappointed by this dramatic speech on accountability.
Listen to Jocko if you’re brave enough to never blame anyone else for results you see in your life.
Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
4. British voice coach Caroline Goyder shares a delightfully creative take on finding the confidence inside you. She refreshes for the audience, the classic example of one of the great orators in history, Demosthenes. You will be surprised by her three tips for a confident voice, informed by her experience in working with actors and singers.
Listen to Caroline if you want to learn a couple of effective voice management techniques.
The most powerful person in the room has the most relaxed breathing pattern.
5. If you’ve been in one of my workshops, there is a good chance you’ve seen my favorite TEDx talk on Growth Mindset. Eduardo Briceño (originally from Caracas, Venezuela) explains the concept
so well and never fails to inspire me….even though I’ve seen this one at least 200 times. Briceño’s discussion of the model of the fixed vs. growth mindset shows how cognitive, affective, and behavioral features are linked to one’s beliefs about the malleability of his own intelligence.
Listen to Eduardo if you want to get more clear on what Growth Mindset is or are in need of inspiration to take action.
Those who believe their abilities are malleable (because they have Growth Mindset) are more likely to embrace challenges and persist despite failure.
And, the plus two:
- If you want to be inspired by a 23-year-old African American (Chloe Valdary) who’s pushing creative limits in her effort to change perceptions of Israel, check out this 3-minute video.
2. This is not a TEDx talk either but Dr. Thomas Sowell is the most dreamy economist ever (and Harvard grad from Harlem). Here’s his brilliant talk on income inequality informed by his journey from confirmed Marxist to Capitalist evangelist.
Before someone blows a gasket, Dr. Sowell is not denying that incomes are inequal. He has a different from “normal” perspective on the issue. Listen to Dr. Sowell if you’re willing to be challenged intellectually.
Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.
It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.
It’s good to have your go-to resources for inspiration when you need it. So bookmark YOUR favorites, then go out, make decisions and take steps on that great project you have.