TED Talks

I often ask my coaching clients to access outside relevant resources as they go through the process of self-discovery.  There is so much good information online today that one would be a fool to ignore these resources.  One such example are TED Talks.  The following TED Talks have particular relevance to coaching.  They are given by experts in their fields or just ordinary people who have unique takes on related subjects.  Enjoy!


"How to speak up for yourself," Adam Galinsky, 15 min. Speaking up is hard to do, even when you know you should. Learn how to assert yourself, navigate tricky social situations and expand your personal power with sage guidance from social psychologist Adam Galinsky.

Choice Overload:

"The paradox of choice," Barry Schwartz, 19 min.     Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.Collaboration.


Collaboration and Working Together

"First step to collaboration?  Don't be so defensive, 15 min. Ever become angry and "see red"? Being defensive, as it turns out, is one of the greatest inhibitors to true collaboration. Jim Tamm shares years of experience in getting out of the red zone and cultivating a "green zone" attitude.

"How to ask for help--and get a yes," 12 min.     Asking for help is tough. But to get through life, you have to do it all the time. So how do you get comfortable asking? In this actionable talk, social psychologist Heidi Grant shares four simple rules for asking for help and getting it -- while making the process more rewarding for your helper, too.


"How to disagree productively and find common ground," Julia Dhar, 15 min. Some days, it feels like the only thing we can agree on is that we can't agree -- on anything. Drawing on her background as a world debate champion, Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way we talk to each other so we can start disagreeing productively and finding common ground -- over family dinners, during work meetings and in our national conversations.

"The Counterintuitive Way to be More Persuasive," Neal Katyal, 18 min.The secret to winning an argument isn't grand rhetoric or elegant style, says US Supreme Court litigator Neal Katyal -- it takes more than that. With stories of some of the most impactful cases he's argued before the Court, Katyal shows why the key to crafting a persuasive and successful argument lies in human connection, empathy and faith in the power of your ideas. "The question is not how to win every argument," he says. "It's how to get back up when you do lose."

"Own your behaviors, Master your communication, Determine your success, ," Louise Evans, 19 min.This speech is a call to action. We spend about eighty percent of our day at work, the rest is at home. If we have a bad day at work we are likely to take that negativity home with us and vice versa. It is of paramount importance that we create healthy environments in the spaces that most affect our lives by giving of our best and receiving the like in return. The 5 Chairs is a powerful and systematic method which helps us master our own behaviors and manage the behaviours of others. To be a good leader is to contribute to the success and happiness of everyone, at work and at home, on a conscious level. The 5 Chairs offer 5 Choices. Which will you choose?


"To overcome challenges, stop comparing yourself to others,"  13 min."How to speak so that people want to listen," 10 min.  Have you ever felt like you're talking, but nobody is listening? Here's Julian Treasure to help. In this useful talk, the sound expert demonstrates the how-to's of powerful speaking -- from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy.

"How to find work you love," Scott Dinsmore, 17 min. A lot of us spend all of our life doing mind-numbing jobs which don't really matter to us. Instead, what if we found what really matters to us? That's what this talk is about--superficially--but the underlying message is about confidence.

Emotional Intelligence:

"Why aren't we more compassionate?" Dan Goleman, 15 min.  Daniel Goleman, author of "Emotional Intelligence," asks why we aren't more compassionate more of the time.

"Why we all need to practice emotional first aid,"  Guy Winch, 18 min.   We'll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don't we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don't have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

Engineering and Art:           

"To create for all the ages, let's combine art and engineering," Ben Ferren, 20 min.     When Bran Ferren was just 9, his parents took him to see the Pantheon in Rome — and it changed everything. In that moment, he began to understand how the tools of science and engineering become more powerful when combined with art, with design and beauty. Ever since, he's been searching for a convincing modern-day equivalent to Rome's masterpiece. Stay tuned to the end of the talk for his unexpected suggestion.

Fear, Apprehension, and Negative Self-talk:

"Why you should define your fears instead of your goals," Tim Ferriss, 13 min.   The hard choices -- what we most fear doing, asking, saying -- are very often exactly what we need to do. How can we overcome self-paralysis and take action? Tim Ferriss encourages us to fully envision and write down our fears in detail, in a simple but powerful exercise he calls "fear-setting." Learn more about how this practice can help you thrive in high-stress environments and separate what you can control from what you cannot.

"An NFL quarterback on overcoming setbacks and self-doubt," Alex Smith, 14 min.  Former NFL quarterback Alex Smith almost died after a particularly rough tackle snapped his leg in 2018 -- yet he was back on the field just two years later. In this inspiring talk, he shares his hard-won insights on overcoming fear, self-doubt and anxiety that could help anyone endure life's challenges.

"Psychological Flexibility: How love turns pain into purpose," Steven Hayes, Ph.D., 20 min. Steven C. Hayes, PhD , is a professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. The author of 43 books and more than 600 scientific articles, he has served as president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, and is one of the most cited psychologists in the world. Dr. Hayes initiated the development of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and of Relational Frame Theory (RFT), the approach to cognition on which ACT is based. This is a powerful talk. It has a connection to leadership in business because it helps explain anxiety, apprension, and even panic attacks that can victimize one in giving talks and presentations in the business context. (See the Recommended Books tab for Dr. Hayes'  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy book, The Liberated Mind.


 "My secret to staying focused under pressure," Russell Wilson, 6 min.     Athletes train their bodies to run faster, jump higher, throw farther -- so why don't they train their minds, too? Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson talks about the power of "neutral thinking," which helps him thrive under pressure (both on the field and off) -- and shows how you can use this mindset to make the right moves in your own life.


"What makes a good life? A lesson from the longest study on happiness," Robert Waldinger, 13 min.  Robert Waldinger, at the time of this Ted Talk was heading The Grant Study, the longest continuing study of happiness ever done.  What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you're mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life. Those three major findings: (1) Relationships are very important! People who are more isolated than they want to be actually have shorter life spans. (2) It's not the longevity of the relationships with friends and spouses that matter, but rather the quality of those relationships. (3) satisfactory long-lived relationships lead to better mental health, longer memory retention, and more.  After you listen to this talk, Google "The Grant Study" and get more details. Note: Only men attended Harvard when this study started; hence, women are not included.

"Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.," Louie Schwartzberg, 10 min.  Nature’s beauty can be fleeting -- but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day. Louie is a cinematographer who captures breathtaking images that celebrate life.

"The Trick to Regaining Your Sense of Childlike Wonder," Zach King, 8 min.  When we ditch our assumptions, new ideas can enter the world, says filmmaker Zach King. In an entertaining talk full of props and surprises, he shows us the trick to regaining our sense of childlike wonder through the power of storytelling. This is one of the best TED Talks ever. Enjoy!

Health and Wellness

"Why sleep matters now more than ever," Matt Walker, 1 Hr.   A good night's sleep has perhaps never been more important. Sharing wisdom and debunking myths, sleep scientist Matt Walker discusses the impact of sleep on mind and body -- from unleashing your creative powers to boosting your memory and immune health -- and details practices you can start (and stop) doing tonight to get some rest. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded April 1, 2020)

"The Trick to Regaining Your Childlike Wonder,"  Zach King, 8 min. When we ditch our assumptions, new ideas can enter the worrld, says fimmaker Zach King. In an entertaining talk full of props and surprises, he shows us the trick of regaining our sense of childlike wonder through the power os storytelling. This is one of the best TED Talks ever! Enjoy.

Humorous, But With A Message

"The happy secret to better work," Shawn Achor, 12 min.     We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.

"Why great leaders take humor seriously'" Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagonas, 9 min.  There's a mistaken belief in today's working world that leaders need to be serious all the time to be taken seriously. The research tells a different story. Based on the course they teach at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker and corporate strategist Naomi Bagdonas delve into the surprising power of humor: why it's a secret weapon to build bonds, power, creativity and resilience -- and how we can all have more of it.

"The benefits of not being a jerk to yourself, 14 min."  After more than two decades as an anchor for ABC News, an on-air panic attack sent Dan Harris's life in a new direction: he became a dedicated meditator and, to some, even a guru. But then an anonymous 360-degree assessment done by his family, friends and colleagues turned up some brutal feedback -- he was still kind of a jerk. In a wise, funny talk, he shares his years-long quest to improve his relationships with everyone (starting with himself) and explains the science behind loving-kindness meditation, and how it can boost your resiliency, quiet your inner critic and simply make you more pleasant to be around.

Imposter Syndrome:

"How you can use imposter syndrome to your benefit," Mike Cannon-Brookes, 14 min.     Have you ever doubted your abilities, feared you were going to be discovered as a "fraud"? That's called "impostor syndrome," and you're definitely not alone in feeling it, says entrepreneur and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes. In this funny, relatable talk, he shares how his own experiences of impostor syndrome helped pave the way to his success -- and shows how you can use it to your advantage, too.

"How you can use impostor syndrome to your benefit, 13 min."  Have you ever doubted your abilities, feared you were going to be discovered as a "fraud"? That's called "impostor syndrome," and you're definitely not alone in feeling it, says entrepreneur and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes. In this funny, relatable talk, he shares how his own experiences of impostor syndrome helped pave the way to his success -- and shows how you can use it to your advantage, too.


"The Power of introverts," Susan Cain, 19 min.  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 in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.

"What's the difference between shyness and introversion? And, how can companies help introverts thrive?  A Q&A with Susan Cain after her Ted Talk, above.  From Ideas.Ted.Com.


"How to outthink your competition--with a lesson from sports," Rasmus Ankerson, 16 min.Does success come from luck or skill, and how do you tell the difference? One way to find an answer: think like a pro gambler does, says football executive Rasmus Ankersen. Using sports analytics to emphasize his point, Ankersen digs into the reasons why successful companies often hesitate to change until it's too late, offering data-driven lessons on how to stay ahead of your competition.

"How great leaders inspire action," Simon Sinek, 18 min.     Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership -- starting with a golden circle and the question: "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright brothers ...

"The secret to giving great feedback,"  5 min.  This short presentation from "The Way We work" series produced by TED is excellent but short, and packed with good leadership tips.


"The puzzle of motivation," Daniel Pink, 19 min.     Career analyst and former speech writer for Al Gore, 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. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.

"5 ways to kill your dreams," Bel Pesce, 6 min. All of us want to invent that game-changing product, launch that successful company, write that best-selling book. And yet so few of us actually do it. TED Fellow and Brazilian entrepreneur Bel Pesce breaks down five easy-to-believe myths that ensure your dream projects will never come to fruition.


"How memories form and how we lose them," Catherine Young, 4 min. (animated)     Think back to a really vivid memory. Got it? Now try to remember what you had for lunch three weeks ago. That second memory probably isn't as strong— but why not? Why do we remember some things, and not others? And why do memories eventually fade? Catharine Young gives the basics on memory and memory loss. This is a short, TED Education talk.

"The neurons that shaped civilization," Vlayanur Ramachandran, 8 min.     Neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran outlines the fascinating functions of mirror neurons. Only recently discovered, these neurons allow us to learn complex social behaviors, some of which formed the foundations of human civilization as we know it.

"Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality," Anil Seth, 17 min.     Right now, billions of neurons in your brain are working together to generate a conscious experience -- and not just any conscious experience, your experience of the world around you and of yourself within it. How does this happen? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, we're all hallucinating all the time; when we agree about our hallucinations, we call it "reality." Join Seth for a delightfully disorienting talk that may leave you questioning the very nature of your existence.

Perception / Self-Perception:

 "Good' and 'bad' are incomplete stories we tell ourselves," Heather Lanier, 14 min.     Heather Lanier's daughter Fiona has Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a genetic condition that results in developmental delays -- but that doesn't make her tragic, angelic or any of the other stereotypes about kids like her. In this talk about the beautiful, complicated, joyful and hard journey of raising a rare girl, Lanier questions our assumptions about what makes a life "good" or "bad," challenging us to stop fixating on solutions for whatever we deem not normal, and instead to take life as it comes.

"Why incompetent people think they're amazing," David Dunning, 5 min.     How good are you with money? What about reading people's emotions? How healthy are you, compared to other people you know? Knowing how our skills stack up against others is useful in many ways. But psychological research suggests that we're not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. In fact, we frequently overestimate our own abilities. David Dunning describes the Dunning-Kruger effect.

"How Not to Take Things Personally," Frederik Imbo, 18 min. Frederik Imbo studied theatre at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent and has acted in lots of television series. He founded Imboorling and now has over 15 years' experience in stimulating and supporting people. With the aim of improving their communication skills, Frederik gives presentations, workshops, training courses and personal coaching sessions to anyone prepared to make their two ears available. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. This TEDx talk relates to Level 1 energy.


"Never, ever give up," Diana Nyad, 16 min.     In the pitch-black night, stung by jellyfish, choking on salt water, singing to herself, hallucinating … Diana Nyad just kept on swimming. And that's how she finally achieved her lifetime goal as an athlete: an extreme 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida -- at age 64. Hear her story.

"3 ways to find hope in hopeless times," Wajahat Ali, 17 min. It can be hard to remain hopeful during seemingly hopeless times. Sharing hard-won wisdom on how not to give up when the going gets tough, writer Wajahat Ali talks about the challenges he faced with his daughter's cancer diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic, detailing three actionable things we can all do to find the silver linings in our lives--and invest in hope where we can. Wajahat Ali, a Daily Beast columnist and co-host of the "Democracy-ish" podcast, recovering attorney, playwright, author, and exhausted dad, gives a candid overview of hitting bottom and then realizing that acceptance and positivity are choices.  

Polyvagal Theory: 

Dr. Stephen W. Porges introduced his Polyvagal Theory in 1994, then director of the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The theory posits that human beings have evolved brain structures that regulate social interactive and defensive behaviors. Further, a feeling of safety is necessary before quality social engagement behaviors can occur. (Engagement can be linked to any number of activities, such as leadership.) Its relevance to coaching is that it demonstrates the link between what we are thinking(“inside”) and how it influences what others see (“outside”). The vagal nerves transmit signals to receptors throughout the body. This mind-body link is the essence of one-on-one coaching. The coaching process identifies blocks and gremlins that can keep us from being confident enough to let the best version of ourselves show. If approached from a scientific, academic, or neurological mindset, the theory is complex; however, it can be meaningful to the layperson when reduced to everyday language. The two approaches below take different routes to explain Polyvagal Theory. One is a serious one-on-one discussion on how the theory relates to coaching.  The other is an improv-style presentation that uses humor and metaphor to get the point across.  View both in turn to gain a firm understanding of the subject. 

"Understanding why you are who you are,"  53 min. This is an interview of Dr. Stephen Porges by Luke Iorio, President of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). IPEC has graduated thousands of coaches, leaders, athletes, and professionals across 44 countries, all of whom share Luke’s vision and desire for expanding our human potential and creating lasting, conscious change. This interview is a segment of the One Idea Away podcast hosted by iPEC. 

“The Polyvagal Theory: The new science of safety and trauma,” 28 min.  "Nerd Nite" is a venue akin to Ted Talks in which presenters give talks that are both fun and informative while their audience drinks beer!  This talk, given by Dr. Steven Porges’ son, Seth, explains Polyvagal Theory.  Seth Porges is director, producer, science and technology journalist, and television commentator. This presentation shows his remarkable ability to take a difficult subject and break it down into language and metaphor for the non-scientist.   He has appeared on the Travel, Science, History, Discovery, and Bloomberg channels, and has written for several national magazines. This is a terrific talk!


"Inside the mind of a master procrastinator," Tim Urban, 15 min.    Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn't make sense, but he's never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done. In this hilarious and insightful talk, Urban takes us on a journey through YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes and bouts of staring out the window -- and encourages us to think harder about what we're really procrastinating on, before we run out of time.


"3 secrets of resilient people," Dr. Lucy Horne, 17 min.    To most people in the field, resilience research is a calling, an academic interest or maybe even just a buzzword. For resilient expert Lucy Hone, it turned out to be an essential survival skill. In this powerful and personal talk, she shares the three strategies that got her through an unimaginable tragedy and—in doing so—offers profound insights on how to find meaning in loss.

"How creative writing can help you through life's hardest moments, Sakinah Hofler, 15 min."  Have you ever seen or experienced something and wished you spoke up? Writer Sakinah Hofler makes the case for writing as a tool to help you process difficult memories and reclaim the power they may hold over you. Pick up a pen or pull up a keyboard and follow along as she walks you through how to unburden your mind and inspire reflection.


"Why being respectful of your coworkers is good for business," Christine Porath, 15 min.     Looking to get ahead in your career? Start by being respectful to your coworkers, says leadership researcher Christine Porath. In this science-backed talk, she shares surprising insights about the costs of rudeness and shows how little acts of respect can boost your professional success -- and your company's bottom line.


"How changing your story can change your life, Lori Gottlieb, 16 min.  Stories help you make sense of your life -- but when these narratives are incomplete or misleading, they can keep you stuck instead of providing clarity. In an actionable talk, psychotherapist and advice columnist Lori Gottlieb shows how to break free from the stories you've been telling yourself by becoming your own editor and rewriting your narrative from a different point of view.

"5 Effective exercises to help you stop believing in your unwanted thoughts, Steven C. Hayes, PhD, 20 min.  Most of us live with a constant stream of internal statements, criticisms, and commands running through our heads. But we have a choice: We don't have to let them define us--or our days, says psychology researcher Steven Hayes.  In this powerful Ted Talk he explains how we can disentangle ourselves.

"Accept yourself and all your thoughts, feelings, and emotions," 1 hr.  This is a video of a podcast interview of Dr. Steven C. Hayes who did the "5 effective exercises to help...," cited above--and an excellent follow-on to it.  Doing the interview is Luke Iorio, president of the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching.  


"The power of vulnerability," Brené Brown, 20 min.    Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share."

Listening to shame," Brené Brown, 20 min.     Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Dr. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.


"How caffeine and alcohol affect your sleep," Matt Walker, 5 min.     Caffeine wakes you up, and alcohol makes you nod off, right? It's not that simple. Sleep scientist Matt Walker takes us into the eye-opening ways that these drinks affect the quantity and quality of our sleep.

"Sleep is your superpower," Matt Walker, 20 min.     Sleep is your life-support system and Mother Nature's best effort yet at immortality, says sleep scientist Matt Walker. In this deep dive into the science of slumber, Walker shares the wonderfully good things that happen when you get sleep -- and the alarmingly bad things that happen when you don't, for both your brain and body. Learn more about sleep's impact on your learning, memory, immune system and even your genetic code -- as well as some helpful tips for getting some shut-eye.  

"How sleep affects your emotions," 3:40 min.     It's not just your imagination -- you're more irritable when you're low on zzzzs. Sleep scientist Matt Walker explains how our nightly slumber affects the emotional centers in our brains, and why we can think of sleep as first aid for our feelings.

"How stress affects your brain," Madhumita Muirgia, (primer, animated), 4 min.     Stress isn't always a bad thing; it can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you're playing a competitive sport or have to speak in public. But when it's continuous, it actually begins to change your brain. Madhumita Murgia shows how chronic stress can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes.

"The surprising link between stress and memory," Elizabeth Cox, 5 min.     You spend weeks studying for an important test. On the big day, you wait nervously as your teacher hands it out. You're working your way through, when you're asked to define "ataraxia." You know you've seen the word before, but your mind goes blank. What just happened? Elizabeth Cox details the complex relationship between stress and memory. A TED Ed presentation.

"How to manage stress like an ER doctor," Darria Long, 12 min.     How do doctors in the emergency room stay calm and focused amidst the chaos? Drawing on years of experience, ER doctor Darria Long shares a straightforward framework to help you take back control and feel less overwhelmed when life starts to get "crazy busy."

"The cost of work stress and how to reduce it," Rob Cooke, 10 min.     By some estimates, work-related stress drains the US economy of nearly 300 billion dollars a year -- and it can hurt your productivity and personal health too, says wellness advocate Rob Cooke. He shares some strategies to help put your mental, physical and emotional well-being back at the forefront.

"How to make stress your friend," Kelly McGonigal, 14 min.     Stress. It makes your heart pound, your breathing quicken and your forehead sweat. But while stress has been made into a public health enemy, new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe that to be the case. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.


"How to build (and rebuild) trust," Frances Frei, 15 min.     Trust is the foundation for everything we do. But what do we do when it's broken? In an eye-opening talk, Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei gives a crash course in trust: how to build it, maintain it and rebuild it -- something she worked on during a recent stint at Uber. "If we can learn to trust one another more, we can have unprecedented human progress," Frei says. Frei makes an interesting connection between trust and technology, as in using cell phones and computers during business meetings.

Work-Life Balance:

"How to turn off work thoughts during your free time," Guy Winch, 12 min.     Feeling burned out? You may be spending too much time ruminating about your job, says psychologist Guy Winch. Learn how to stop worrying about tomorrow's tasks or stewing over office tensions with three simple techniques aimed at helping you truly relax and recharge after work.

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