A TED video a day: 7 inspirational talks to keep the humdrum away

TED talks aren’t new to most of us, but how many of us have sat down to watch those that didn’t pop up in our social media feeds?

Well…the internet is a glorious treasure trove of wisdom, but that very vastness causes some gems to escape our notice. Knowing this, Digital Senior went through the TED and TEDx* video archives and found a week’s worth of videos for your consideration! Some funny, some thought-provoking, and some practical, we hope that they give you some escape from the monotony and, even better, actionable information!

1. For those looking to pick up new skills

Picking up a new skill is scary hard. It feels like a gargantuan task with so much to do, that you’re not sure where to begin or how to even get started. Josh Kaufman, the speaker for this TEDx talk, gets it.

Here, the author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business (as well as a book on this very subject) shares tips on how to break things down, from deconstructing the skill of your choice to removing practice barriers.  By the end of 20 dedicated hours, Josh promises, you’ll pick up said skill—and be sufficiently invested to continue improving on it.

Watch out for his performance towards the end!

2. The course of awesome work never did run smooth

Sure, how challenges and problems help creativity might be something you already know, but some things bear repeating! Tim Hartford opens this talk with a very interesting anecdote that makes listeners sit up and take notice: he talks about Keith Jarrett and the circumstances that led to the best-selling jazz solo album in history.

Tim Harford reminds us, ultimately, that “just because [we] don’t like [challenges/disruptions] doesn’t mean that [they’re] not helping [us]”.  All we need is a little persuasion and willpower to not take the easiest way out, and see where our journeys take us.

3. Tips on how to make the most out of everyone’s favourite presentation software

We’ve had an article written on this topic, and this TEDx speaker gives his take, too! Make no mistake; it’s an entertaining talk WITH useful takeaways to boot. Quoting a half amused, half exasperated David JP Phelps:

“There is a question that has puzzled me for quite a while, and that is why do our Powerpoints look the way the look? Or rather, how on earth can we accept how they look the way they look?”

To remedy this worldwide affliction of not-quite-impressive presentations, Phelps goes through 6 helpful pointers in his own. We’ll leave you to discover these yourselves!

4. Basically, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Stephen Duneier, lecturer and professional investment manager, emphasizes the importance of “marginal adjustments/improvements to your routine”.  Stephen actively practices what he’s saying: in fact, if you watch the video, you’ll discover that he picked up German and knitting with this very concept and mentality. It’s even resulted in a Guinness World Record Holder for the Record of the largest granny square!

Ultimately, Stephen wants to inspire “several of [us] to pull some of those ambitious dreams that [we] have for [ourselves] off the bookshelf”. Now, what are you waiting for?

5. Just a much needed stress reliever (yes, really!)

There are days we need a laugh, and sometimes it can only result from the most ridiculous shenanigans (delivered in appropriate accents) to ever exist. For that, we look to writer-comedian James Veitch, who in this TED talk, talks how he trolls spammers yet again*.

*Please don’t try this yourself, though, such emails might be infected by malware.

If this kind of humour is your cup of tea, James Veitch also has a video with CONAN about pranking his roommates with rubber ducks in the bathroom. Enjoy.

6. On being brave

Many of us struggle with a dread of rejection, whether it arises from having to ask a stranger for directions or having to do cold calls for a project.

Having faced this fear himself, TEDx speaker Jia Jiang deliberately jumps into situations that could lead to rejection for 100 straight days. An admirable quest, he ultimately gathers that “if [he] just [doesn’t] run, if he got rejected, [he] could actually turn a “no” into a “yes,” and the magic word is, “why.”

Watch Jia Jiang’s TED talk and see what you think!

7. On doing things that aren’t obviously beneficial (but could come to be)

Simone Giertz makes inventions that fall short of their intended purposes, and shares how this is not necessarily a bad thing. While we might not be doing the exact same thing she’s doing, we can take a leaf out of her book and try *doing* something seemingly pointless… without placing any expectations on ourselves. Besides, we might pick up skills in the process.

As the wise Simone says, “The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you don’t always know what the best answer is…it turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works”.

Attagirl, Simone.



Have you watched any TED (or TEDx) talks that left a resounding impression on you? If you do, feel free to share them with us below!


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