Terrific TED Talks


You may have already seen me feature a couple of great TED Talks on Pockets of Peace – Brene Brown’s ‘Power of Vulnerability’, and Amy Cuddy’s ‘Your body language shapes who you are’. I received a great suggestion from a reader to do a post on some of the great TED Talks I’ve seen. Which is awesome because I loves me a Ted Talk and I have A LOT to recommend. So I’m going to aim to make this a regular post, and will put them in easily digestible chunks of five.

For those who aren’t familiar with TED, it’s a nonprofit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It’s now a worldwide phenomenon, and the many riveting online talks are responsible for innumerable procrastination pit stops.

Watching a TED Talk or two on a regular basis, especially when I need a rev up of inspiration or pep talk is a great way to get motivated. Careful though, it can be hard to stop at one or two…

I suggest you bookmark your favourites and keep them in your feel-good toolbox. Just click on the title of the talks to be taken through to the online video. Enjoy!

Jill Bolte Taylor – Stroke of Insight

I first came across Jill when I was listening to Oprah’s monologue on her final Oprah show. She mentioned how an Oprah guest had once told her the importance of ‘being responsible for the energy you bring’, and it resonated with me so much that I did a bit of research to find out who this guest was. Well, it was Jill Bolte Taylor and she is one fascinating woman.

Jill experienced a massive stroke one morning upon waking. During this talk she gives a fascinating recount of how her brain functions shut down gradually one by one, and what it was like for this to happen whilst also being acutely aware of her condition – because Jill is a brain scientist. Her stroke significantly damaged the left side of her brain, and allowed her right ‘creative’ side to really unleash with less influence from the left, more ‘logical and rational’ side.

Jill TED

Jill studied her brain from the inside out, as she struggled during eight long years to heal from her stroke, and the insights she had while doing this are nothing short of amazing.

I’ve read her book, A Stroke of Insight, and that’s a great read, too.

Simon Sinek – Start With Why

“People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

In this TED Talk, Simon points out one of the fundamental keys to success in business and in life, and how great leaders inspire action. If you don’t know WHY you’re doing something – and if this is not at the forefront of your mind when you set off on a venture – you’ve got yourself an uphill battle to get people on board.

I love this, from Simon: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Simon Sinek

Want people to resonate with you and your message? Then start with why, and watch Simon’s talk on how to do this. His book, Start With Why, is also great (I’m about half way through it).

Elizabeth Gilbert – Your Elusive Creative Genius

The well known and loved Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, gives a highly enigmatic talk about the pressures to follow up her wild success, and speaks of the concepts of genius, inspiration and where ‘it’ comes from. Elizabeth speaks about how much we expect from genius artists, and posits that perhaps genius is not something gifted to a few by a selective omnipresent deity, but that genius is something we can all access, if we’re open to it.

Liz Gilbert1

Fascinating for anyone who has ever struggled with writer’s block or even just a lack of inspiration to move forward. I love watching this clip, and I get something new from it every time.

Sir Ken Robinson – Schools Kill Creativity

This is a great talk and one of the first published online by TED. Given by Ken in 2006, it has now been viewed over 20 million times, making it the most popular TED Talk of all time. Ken talks about public education systems as they currently stand – and questions whether this sort of education system will truly give the most to our children and their highest potentials.

Ken makes the case for creating an education system that nurtures, rather than undermines and dulls, creativity.


This is an excellent take-away, from Ken’s speech:

“What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatise mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is, we are educating people out of their creative capacities”.

Sarah Kay – ‘If I should have a daughter’

Sarah is a spoken word poet and performer, and in this TED Talk she brings the house down with her performance of her monologue ‘If I should have a daughter’, and presentation on her use of spoken word for expression and connection. Heartwarming, inspiring, thought-provoking, and an awesome performance to boot – this one is worth revisiting again and again.

Get ready for goosebumps.

Sarah Kay

What do you think of these TED Talks, do any of them particularly resonate with you? Do you have any you’d like to share?


  • Christopher Fitch

    Great post! I have seen the top two and they were great, particularly the first one (for me). I will take a look at the others as they look fascinating. The one about schools is definitely one I would like to watch as I can certainly relate to the message and it’s one reason why I teach kids yoga. Thanks for the wrap :).

    • Carly

      Thanks, Chris! What you’re doing with kids and yoga, encouraging them to move their bodies and be kinesthetically active, falls right in line with what Ken’s point is. I think you’ll enjoy his talk! He has a lot of other great ones out there too xx

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