Business conferences offer many benefits, but if you find yourself slight on advice and battling a tight budget, these 10 TED Talks are a free and easy way to gain insight into some of the best minds in the business world.
1. Profit’s not always the point – Harish Manwani
As the COO of Unilever, you stop and listen when Harish Manwani takes the stage. In this perceptual talk, Manwani elucidates that 21st century businesses are “doing well by doing good”. There’s no place in the modern market for just economic value; this has to be coupled with social value too.
2. The single biggest reason why startups succeed – Bill Gross
Bill Gross has been founding businesses since junior high. He’s since formed over 100 companies – some major successes, some major failures. It got him thinking: why do some companies boom and some bust? He’s developed a systematic theory as to what matters the most for start up success and found that timing is everything.
3. Where good ideas come from – Steven Johnson
After watching this video, chances are you’ll rethink the dynamics of your entire office. Steven Johnson traces the origins of the ‘innovation revolution’ back to the days of the coffee house. He speaks of ideas as “liquid networks,” spawned over time by a stimulation of socially chaotic experiences. We are lacking that level of stimulation from social settings today, believes Johnson, and he sets out suggesting how to bring controlled chaos back.
4. How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done – Yves Morieux
Yves Morieux eloquently explains that we are responsible for creating the conditions to succeed; what successful conditions look like (hint: throw the rule book out the window); and that despite our culture being somewhat blame-happy, one can only truly be blamed for failing if one failed to ask for help along the way.
5. Two reasons company fail, and how to avoid them – Knut Haanaes
Knut Haanaes’ Darwin-esque adapt or die business philosophy is precariously balanced between exploration and exploitation. He believes the two reasons companies fail are if they: 1) only do the same thing, or 2) only do what’s new – a complex issue that many established businesses in a modern market are facing.
6. How data will transform business – Phillip Evans
Evans outlines the 21st century relationship between strategy and technology. Technology, he details, has been driven beyond institutional boundaries. Vertical business structures are becoming horizontal, and the ‘horizontalisation’ of industries implies fundamental changes to how we think about strategy. If you can handle the density of this discussion, it turns out to be truly fascinating.
7. A smart loan for people with no credit history (yet) – Shivani Siroya
Some 2.5 billion people worldwide don’t have a credit score. So how do these “untrustworthy” people get their start? Forget banks, micro loans, loan sharks and inflated interest rates: InVenture is a new credit-scoring app that looks beyond income when assessing someone’s credit status. It has delivered finance to more than 200,000 people in Kenya in the past year – and has repayment rates above 90 percent. This is a timely topic that will intrigue any budding businessperson.
8. Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume – Regina Hartley
Regina Hartley identifies two categories of qualified applicants – the silver spoon (those Ivy League graduates apparently destined for success) and the scrapper (those who’ve fought adversity to reach the same point). In her enlightening talk, Hartley explains why she’d pick the scrapper over the silver spoon.
9. Why you will fail to have a great career – Larry Smith
In this funny and frank presentation, Larry Smith focuses on what to avoid in the quest for career success. Basically, Smith surmises that if you lack the purpose and motivation to truly commit to your passion, you’ll be as useful and successful as a sack of potatoes.
10. How to live before you die – Steve Jobs
What better person to take advice from than the founder of two of the biggest and most successful companies of the 21st century? Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech is broken down into three parts – connecting the dots, love and loss, and death – and illustrates how our personal life and career overlaps more than we realise. Even if you’re not a Jobs fan, it’s worth the watch.
By Lydia Truesdale