10 best TED talks for business. Save managers from the boring international business conferences

- Eventory Blog


10 best TED talks for business. Save managers from the boring international business conferences



We live in the times when almost everything is easily accessible on the Internet. The knowledge is not an exception. When the distance is not a barrier anymore and information flow became unlimited, the struggle of traveling miles to get to the promising international business conference disappears. There’s a much easier way to give managers possibility of gaining new, useful business knowledge and skills. In this article, we share with you 10 best Ted talks that will let you save some on-road time!

Do we really need to attend every international business conference?

It’s not a top secret, or some unknown thing, that not every conference is a big hit. Yes, we’ve all been there. Hours of precious time wasted on pointless lectures, unfortunate awkward networking sessions and thinking how much could we do if we were back in the office. It’s not even because that particular international business conference was poorly organized. It may be the case sometimes, but surprisingly, often the wrong fit to the company profile or employee interests takes the blame. So, the questions arise. Is it not worth attending events anymore? Are the conferences dull and the speakers have no business knowledge and skills that can be useful for others? Do we need to spend hours on boring lectures to listen to one beneficial one? No, absolutely no. There are ways to improve managers skills and extend business knowledge without even moving from the office desk!

Where to look for a business knowledge and skills while you’re not going anywhere?

The Internet era opened up a sea of possibilities for entrepreneurs across the world who want to extend their business knowledge and explore new areas of interest. Among countless tutorials, conference live streams, e-books and courses you can find TED talks. Now, what on earth is that? If you, somehow, didn’t hear about TED conferences, I’m here to explain. It all started in 1984 when TED organized its first conference which covered the areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. Despite the stellar lineup, TED lost money and as a result, the organization took 6 years break. Later the conference became one of the biggest annual event, well-known across the world. Nowadays, TED covers almost all of the topics. In accordance with the idea “Ideas worth spreading” it’s creating short (approximately 20 minutes) speeches that touch the areas from technology through business to global issues. With all that, comes the great credibility of the content. Renown built around TED conferences and the fact that its talks are published on the Internet in an approachable form of short videos makes it a great alternative to conference participation. Not only it saves a great deal of money but also let the managers gain the knowledge. They can explore business-related areas without spending ages on the boring conference chair.

So, what are some best TED talks for business?

#1. Simon Sinek – Start with why. How great leaders inspire action?

Leadership is one of the crucial components of the company’s prosperity. The issue applies not only to the chiefs but also the inferior staff at almost every department. From years now, companies are well balanced, organized compilation of individualities that at some point need to lead others in order to achieve set goals. This twenty-minute video will teach you what is the foundation of successful leadership.

Simon Sinek, the author of bestsellers oriented on a leadership area and TED speaker, is explaining why some companies with the same access to similar resources and with alike ideas achieve greater success than others. Using the Gold Circle model, he shows what successful companies or leaders, such as Apple, the Wright Brothers or Martin Luther King, have in common. The graph is constructed from three elements:

  • What – every organization knows what is doing/producing
  • How – some of the organizations know this, their unique values, sales propositions
  • Why – only the best organizations know this, why beyond the profit the company exists.

Sinek points out that to effectively lead the company to success the proportions in the golden circle should be reversed. The most successful companies in the word start their business with the “why” factor, which makes their product attractive to the customers. This presentation is often pointed out as a classic or one of the best TED talks for business. The author, who later wrote a book titled “Start with why”, in a convincing and interesting way explains how the correct leadership should look like.

#2. Ricardo Semler – Radical wisdom for a company, a school and a life

How to run a company with (almost) no rules? Seems impossible, right?  Ricardo Semler is best known for showing the world that workplace democracy may in fact works. He is a businessman with a radical approach on how to manage the organization and employees, leaving a very little space for the conventional methods. He started the revolution incorporating his ideas at his company Semco. At this point, many corporations follow his steps. Ricardo managed to even found a school which is based on this radically democratic philosophy. Now, are you looking for unconventional points of view and theories? You don’t need to cross the ocean to attend an international business conference, Ted talks are here for you!

Author of many books about corporate democracy is presenting his ideas in a funny and accessible speech. He is explaining why and how he came up with the idea in the first place. Semler shares why he began a long-term battle to create an organization that would function without him. Ricardo presents the radically democratic approach which allows employees to organize their working hours, choose supervisors and define the salary.

Ricardo Semler, by showing a real example of the ideology success, points out the mechanisms behind employees productivity and explains the importance and profitability of incorporating the democracy not only to the company rules but also on a daily basis. This video can be a real mine of unique business knowledge and skills and can give managers an inspiration for creating a brand new “ted talk” business strategy.

#3. Tom Wujec – Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make a toast

Behind this odd title hides one of the best TED talks performed by Tom Wujec – an innovative practitioner of business visualization. In less than ten minutes, Tom shares how using design and technology can help groups to solve complex company problems and understand the ideas.

So, what about that toast? Wujec starts the speech by referring to the design exercise he stumbled across years ago. The exercise is to draw the process of making a toast. He explains that what at first may seem a trivial task can, in fact, help people understand and solve complicated problems. Under deeper inspection, it turns out that it reveals truths about the way people collaborate.

  1. The first step is to simply draw the process of making a toast. At this point, Wujec points out that we can notice that some people pay more attention to certain details than the others. What is more, everyone see the process in a different way!
  2. Next step is to illustrate the process on a sticky notes or cards. This way we have the chance to rearrange the notes in various ways and make the whole visualization even more precise. Also, Wujec stress out the fact that drawing on notes gives richer insight into the process.
  3. The third part of the exercise is for the group – members draw the process on sticky notes and rearrange them together. It shows that despite the bigger number of notes the group can easily organize to group the similar nodes and if necessary deal with a discrepancy.

In the quick speech, Wujec manages to present how managers can map out the company strategy to efficiently discover soft spots, problems and patterns of the complex problems. He points out that visualization of problem and group work gives an insight of different individuals and can help clearly understand problems.

#4. Bill Gross – The single biggest reason why startups succeed

Bill Gross, the founder of Idealab, helped many startups to grow and conquer the market. Over the years he also saw a lot of promising companies with great business ideas fail. As an enthusiast of this form of organizations, he wanted to find out what are the factors that determine a startup success.

To find out what really matters when it comes to organization success Gross is studying multiple startups. As he’s saying, he wanted to be systematic about it and avoid him not being objective. Thus, he chose 5 factors and looked at them carefully across the companies that both failed and succeeded in the last couple of years. The factors were:  

  • Idea
  • Team
  • Business Model
  • Funding
  • Timing

After he compared the results of his study and the outcome surprised even Gross himself. He discovered that, after years of thinking that idea is the most important component of the startups’ success, there is another factor that matters the most. Timing – it can determine whether the company success or no.

Gross, in a short but very precise and systematic way, made his way to the list of the best TED talks for business with the vital information on what a fresh organization should have. As an experienced specialist who worked with many startups over the years, he shares his business knowledge and skills that, for sure, will help many entrepreneurs across the world.

#5. Dan Pink – The puzzle of motivation

Motivation is an issue for every manager since forever. How to motivate employees to be more efficient, reach targets and have the desire to develop. What is the best stimulus for action, what do we need to stay focused motivated and therefore more efficient? This talk Dan Pink should give you some ideas.

Dan Pink is an author of many books, such as “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” or “A Whole New Mind”, that cover the area of business, work and management and in one of the best TED talks he is elaborating on how to motivate people these days. He starts by showing the audience “The Candle Problem”. The reference to the experiment where two groups of people were asked to solve the problem (and were promised different rewards) leads to the statement that money is no longer a good way to stimulate people’s mind.

Pink, also with the help of “The Candle Problem”, shows that the characteristic of the tasks people have to deal with has changed over the years. The issues we face at work and everyday life are no longer simple, one solution tasks. These are complex demanding problems, which can be solved only by open minds. Dan Pink calls them “20th-century tasks” and as motivators, he points out intrinsic factors such as autonomy, motivation and purpose.

When choosing an international business conference to attend we seek for interesting, unusual lectures. Dan Pink’s TED talk is, with no doubt, one of these. There is no reason not to watch this packed with humor, quick lesson on motivation!

#6. Margaret Heffernan – Forget the pecking order at work

Margaret Heffernan, an international businesswoman, brings up a subject of the hierarchy at work. During her career, she worked with many great talents and superstars of the industries, but now she’s rising a question – does a team really need super talents to succeed?

Heffernan starts her speech by illustrating the title statement. She draws upon a study of biologist William Muir who wanted to study productivity using chickens. He borked them into two groups – “normal chickens” and “super chickens”. He observed them, and when the evaluation time came the results were surprising. The average group did as expected, the productivity increased. The super chickens group, however, pecked each other to death, so that from high productive chickens only a few survived the experiment.

Following the example, Margaret Heffernan points out how important it is to create groups that will contain people determined to work, not only super talented company celebrities. She explains how ego-driven teams are less likely to meet the goals. Also, she presents the concept of social capital and explains that employees that truly know each other are better employees.

Forgetting the pecking order at the workplace seems the opposite concept to all conventional frames of a company structure. Margaret Heffernan, with her business knowledge skills and real-life examples, is proving you that in fact, it doesn’t work in anyone’s favor!

#7. Shawn Achor – The happy secret to better work

A positive attitude is a key to productive and efficient work. Now, this sounds like proper cliché. But there is some truth to this statement. Shawn Achor, the CEO of Think Inc., has studied positive psychology and is using TED talk to teach people about it.

While the speech is full of jokes and anecdotes, the author provides a professional study on psychology. The idea of “positive psychology” focuses on studying happiness by focusing on the positive side of it. Long story short – we study happy people on why they are happy instead of thinking how to make depressed people happy.

Shawn applies his life work on positive psychology to the working patterns saying that happier employers are more productive. Also, he claims that a human brain can be rewired to positive thinking even in 21 days and presents the ideas how to do it. Do we need to tell more to convince you to watch this piece? That’s what we thought.

#8. Simon Sinek – Why good leaders make you feel safe

Another talk on leadership and another one from Simon Sinek. What is it about his speeches that they’re at the list of the best TED talks? Twice!? For sure, good ideas and presentation!

This time, Simon brings up an issue of the reliance between the insecurities and productivity or the way people work. He compares a business to the ancient tribe mechanisms – the danger was everywhere and people needed to trust each other in order to stay safe. He points out that the same rules apply to a business.

Sinek claims that we should treat leaders as parents. Chiefs should disciple, educate, nurture employees and build their confidence and trust. This way, they will be willing to take risks on their own and therefore perform better.

With graphic, real-life examples Simon Sinek once again takes place at our list of the Ted talk must-see for managers! After all, a good leadership is crucial in the business.

#9. Linda Hill – How to manage for collective creativity

A management professor talks about what inspires innovation and creativity. During her career, Linda Hill studied many companies that worked with innovations and after years of studying the subject, she’s here to share her business knowledge and skills with the TED audience.

Hill is starting with the statement that what we perceive as a good leadership often doesn’t work in favor of innovation. She says that innovation is not about a solo genius but it’s rather the other way around – innovation is about collective genius. As a confirmation of this point of view, she refers to the Pixar company.

The professor studied the company and noticed that despite the messy and hard to describe the process, they still make the most creative products. It’s because they create teams of talents, who constantly collaborate with each other. Hill defines three capabilities that every innovative organization have: innovative abrasion, creative agility, creative resolution.

What we learn from Linda Hills presentation is that leadership is not about inspiring vision and its execution. It’s about creating a space where people want to exchange ideas and are willing to solve problems innovatively. Creating a world where people know their voices are heard and they want to belong to this process of innovation. Sounds like something that managers can benefit from, right?  

#10. Richard St. John – Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes

What every manager across the world would like to know is how to succeed. Obvious, but still there is a number of companies that fail. Richard St. John, the marketer and success analyst, dedicated several years of his career to studying the core of success. In this extremely short, but still considered as one of the best TED talks, he presents what he found out.

Richard started his study with the question: What leads to success? Now, each one of us asked this question at least once. The analyst started answering it by conducting about 500 interviews on the subject, gathering answers from the most successful figures in TEDs history. He then combined the answers and as a result, he pointed out 8 important elements:

  • Passion
  • Work
  • Getting Good
  • Push
  • Support
  • Serve
  • Ideas
  • Persistence

Explaining each of them, Richard manages to draw the basics of success in 3 minutes. Is it a reasonable amount of time to inspire you to action and give you the foundation for building your success? We don’t know that, you have to check yourself!

TED archives are full of videos that can equip managers with business knowledge and skills needed in order to develop. The selection of 10 Best TED talks for business presented above is our subjective choice and we assure you that there’s much more of it. Just press the play!

TED talks are great but what if you REALLY want your staff to attend an international business conference?

We know that event attendance is a great way to promote your company outside. Event marketing strategy, if comprehensively prepared, can really boost your brand and sales. However, to save the managers from boring conferences you have to plan it thoroughly. Ok, but how?

Firstly, you need to define the goals. Why do you want to send someone to an international business conference? What do you want them to get from it? These are things you need to have clear even before you start to look for the potential events. Having precise aims is one thing, but there are others that you should consider.

Your employees’ interests

Sending someone to the international business conference is time-consuming and often requires a lot of planning. So, make sure you don’t waste time forcing your employees to attend events they won’t enjoy. Do your research, find out what business knowledge and skills your employees want to learn and match it with the event profile. It may seem time-consuming but there are applications, like Eventory Planning, which by learning your preferences is searching for the proper events. It’s quick and easy way to improve the efficiency of the event participation of your team!


Events may be expensive. So when you’re sure that managers will enjoy the conference you want to make sure that the costs will be under control. This can also be done with the help of a technology. How? For example, Eventory Planning, after suggesting the events that fit your preferences and won’t be money spent for nothing, will remind you of buying the tickets before the prices rise. Getting tickets last minute may work when you book the holiday trip but is a no go when you want to cut the cost of events!

Business potential

Besides the brand building benefits, events are a way to build a base of promising business contacts. Now, attending an international business conference, it’s hard to tell which one will gather the most potential connections and leads. Sure, it’s hard unless you have a tool that will give you the support. You can create a base of people you want to meet or talk to and the platform will track their event activity. This way you can attend the same events as your target group and meet them in person!

Sometimes attending the international business conference may be a sad disaster and the money waste. However, thinking through your event activities can make it beneficial both for the company and its employees.


In times when the work is fast and every minute costs a lot, wasting time for international business conferences seems irrational. Luckily, there are ways to get vital business knowledge and skills without traveling across the ocean or sleeping through several boring lectures before you get to the interesting one. One solution to this problem are TED talks, which over the years became one of the most effective and popular ways for self and business development. It won’t replace a good old face-to-face interaction but is a great way to keep a track of new ideas. Also, TED talks give you the base of the speakers you should see live. Surely, well thought through attendance at events have many perks but if you want to cut the costs of managers journey – the Internet is here for you!