Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.

5 TED Talks That'll Inspire You to Innovate Like Never Before

Photo of woman with tablet

Coming up with new and exciting thoughts can be difficult, especially when you’re in a creative rut.

So we’re going to teach you—with a little extra help from TED—how to approach creativity from all angles, from coming up with an award-winning idea to selling it to a boss or client. And I can almost promise you that after watching these five talks, you’ll be inspired to innovate like you never have before.

1. Understand Where Good Ideas Come From

Writer Steven Johnson likes to point out that the enlightenment period had a lot to do with the invention of coffee houses. How so? Well, he goes on to discuss how environment plays a role in the creation of ideas. What you’ll learn is how they’re formed, the surprising spaces that encourage them to form, and the (slow) process it takes to get there. Oh, and you’ll come to discover that the concept of an “epiphany” is actually a myth.

2. Play Around a Bit

Tim Brown, the CEO of the firm IDEO, discusses how as adults, peer judgment affects our creativity. He emphasizes that we must learn to play like children in order to inspire greatness. To do this, we must be relaxed in our surroundings and with the people around us.

Basically, Brown wants you to have fun with your beliefs. The more comfortable and unashamed you feel, the better your ideas will be.

3. Let Ideas Mingle and Mate

British author Matt Ridley has this funny (but valid!) concept of ideas “having sex” with each other. What he means is that just as we, as humans, are a combination of the most innovative genetics, great innovations can also be a combination of the most innovative concepts. This is evident in the earliest of history, when the notions of “trade” or “specialization” began to form and people and activities became more efficient. His talk will show you how exchanging thoughts with others can also result in higher prosperity for all.

4. Learn How to Spread Ideas

Seth Godin, an entrepreneur and blogger, says that the spreading of ideas all comes back to—get this—sliced bread. Yes, that’s right—if it wasn’t for this concept, sliced bread might never have existed.

The point of his talk is that knowing how to spread your groundbreaking concept is just as important as the initial thought itself. So he’ll tell you all about making your ideas “remarkable” in a way that people will listen to them, enjoy them, and remember them long after.

5. Use Obstacles to Your Advantage

Writer and radio producer Julie Burstein, in her talk about creating in the midst of challenges, self-doubt, and loss, gives four examples of individuals who had to overcome obstacles in order to spark their creativity. Her talk inspires artists, creators, and thinkers alike to embrace and learn from their challenges. In fact, these four individuals were able to improve their creativity by using these encounters to recreate, restructure, or even abandon their original work.