TED Talks are great. Here is a list of my favorite ones, to easily come back to, when I need to reinvigorate my inspiration.

Table of contents

Inspiration or motivation

The mind behind Linux

Linus Torvalds transformed technology twice – first with the Linux kernel, which helps power the Internet, and again with Git, the source code management system used by developers worldwide. In a rare interview with TED Curator Chris Anderson, Torvalds discusses with remarkable openness the personality traits that prompted his unique philosophy of work, engineering and life. “I am not a visionary, I’m an engineer,” Torvalds says. “I’m perfectly happy with all the people who are walking around and just staring at the clouds … but I’m looking at the ground, and I want to fix the pothole that’s right in front of me before I fall in.”

The puzzle of motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know, but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories – and maybe, a way forward.

The power of introverts

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

My stroke of insight

Jill Bolte Taylor got a research opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: She had a massive stroke, and watched as her brain functions – motion, speech, self-awareness – shut down one by one. An astonishing story.

How I held my breath for 17 minutes

In this highly personal talk from TEDMED, magician and stuntman David Blaine describes what it took to hold his breath underwater for 17 minutes – a world record (only two minutes shorter than this entire talk!) – and what his often death-defying work means to him. Warning: do NOT try this at home.

Personal growth

How to speak so that people want to listen

Have you ever felt like you’re talking, but nobody is listening? Here’s Julian Treasure to help. In this useful talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to’s of powerful speaking – from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy. A talk that might help the world sound more beautiful.

Your body language may shape who you are

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can boost feelings of confidence, and might have an impact on our chances for success.

The happy secret to better work

We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.

Leadership

How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership – starting with a golden circle and the question: “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright brothers …