12 TED talks to inspire and motivate your employees



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3 mins

Sometimes even the most driven employee has an off day and needs a bit of extra encouragement. Here are our pick of the 12 best TED talks to inspire and motivate your staff

“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.”

“What’s the secret to unlocking the creativity hidden inside your daily work, and giving every great idea a chance? Harvard professor Linda Hill has studied some of the world’s most creative companies to come up with a set of tools and tactics to keep great ideas flowing — from everyone in the company, not just the designated ‘creatives’.”

Tony Robbins discusses the “invisible forces” that motivate everyone’s actions.”


“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, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”

“Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just… haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: try it for 30 days. This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.”

“Business school professor Amy Edmondson studies ‘teaming’, where people come together quickly (and often temporarily) to solve new, urgent or unusual problems. Edmondson shares the elements needed to turn a group of strangers into a quick-thinking team that can nimbly respond to challenges.”

“We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually it’s happiness that inspires productivity.”

“You’re doing everything right at work, taking all the right advice, but you’re just not moving up. Why? Susan Colantuono shares a simple, surprising piece of advice you might not have heard before quite so plainly.”

“What makes a great leader? Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests it’s someone who makes their employees feel secure, who draws staffers into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility.”

“When are humans most happy? To gather data on this question, Matt Killingsworth built an app, ‘Track your happiness’, that lets people report their feelings in real time.”

“Activist Caroline Casey tells the story of her extraordinary life, starting with a revelation (no spoilers). In a talk that challenges perceptions, Casey asks us all to move beyond the limits we may think we have.”

“Very few of us hold jobs that line up directly with our past experiences or what we studied in college. Take TED Resident Jason Shen; he studied biology but later became a product manager at a tech company. In this quick, insightful talk about human potential, Shen shares some new thinking on how job seekers can make themselves more attractive — and why employers should look for ability over credentials.”

This article was first published in November 2012. It was updated in August 2018 for freshness, clarity and accuracy.