If you’re an entrepreneur—or an aspiring one—you’re probably getting a ton of solicited (and unsolicited) advice on how to create your business, grow your business, hire for your business, market your business, finance your business, tax your business, and on and on.
As an entrepreneur myself, I love the “how tos” and the “five tips for” and the “make sure yous”—so much so that I share my own with you here! But what I really need to keep myself motivated, curious, and constantly growing is to make sure that within all that practical advice, I stay inspired.
So, for this week’s dose of soul food, I’m bringing you five of my favorite TED talks. The speakers all come from different backgrounds and address all sorts of themes and issues, but each has inspired me to approach my life, work, and community with a whole new perspective—and that’s been the source of some of my most successful business ideas.
So, without further ado:
1. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action
As Sinek explains in his talk, “All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations of the world think, act, and communicate the exact same way, and it’s the complete opposite to everyone else.”
So, what do those inspiring leaders and organizations do differently? They start with why. Sinek’s talk is geared toward the way we approach leadership, and his stance has hugely influenced how I think about messaging and marketing, as well.
2. Gary Vaynerchuk: Do What You Love (No Excuses!)
If you ever need a kick in the pants to leave the job you don’t love, follow the dream career you’ve always wanted but have been too afraid to pursue, or take a risk to make your life more fulfilling, just pop this baby on. Vaynerchuk explains that in order to care about your users, clients, or community, you need to care about everything—and that starts with yourself. He says: “Look yourself in the mirror, and ask yourself: What do I want to do every day for the rest of my life? Do that.”
3. Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating
Elizabeth Gilbert, famous for her book Eat, Pray, Love, says that she spent six years facing nothing but rejection letters for her writing. And every time she considered giving up, she realized “I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, which is to say that I loved writing more than I loved my own ego.”
Our egos (I like to call mine my monkey brain), have a whole lot to say when we face rejection. Gilbert’s talk is a great reminder to keep a hold on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it—especially in the midst of all the monkey brain chatter.
4. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread
In the startup industry, there’s a ton of emphasis on coming up with really unique, creative, game-changing, savvy, and innovative ideas. But in order to make your idea really successful, Godin argues that it’s not so much about the idea itself, but how we market that idea—and the way we do that needs to change. Marketing is not about constantly interrupting people with ads. It’s about speaking to the people who are listening.
Godin explains, “Market to these people because they care. These are the people who are obsessed with something. And when you talk to them, they’ll listen because they like listening—it’s about them. And if you’re lucky, they’ll tell their friends on the rest of the curve, and it’ll spread. It’ll spread to the entire curve.”
5. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability
As a founder of your own business, it’s easy to put pressure on yourself to be a Super Professional Expert Superhero—because that’s the only way you think people will take you seriously and how you’ll eventually grow your company.
In this talk, Brown reminds us that there’s real power in staying vulnerable—that’s how you create genuine human connections. It’s a great lesson for life that I love to help translate to entrepreneurs’ businesses.
Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson