canstockphoto19186449Professional development and training should be a constant focus throughout your career. You should make time to continuously develop your skills and expand your industry knowledge. However, it isn’t often realistic to take a five day formal training class or attend major industry conferences, especially with companies cutting training and travel budgets. I’m going to share a secret that I have used over the past year to get some real time leadership training and coaching— TED Talks. I’ve talked about TED Talks before and I cannot begin to tell you how motivating and beneficial these TED Talks have been for my career. It’s like having a career coach on your desktop.  I promise after you watch these TED Talks you will walk away with real-world application, new skills, and some serious confidence, so grab a seat and get to work.

1.  Susan Colantuono – The Career Advice You Probably Didn’t Get

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Susan starts off this highly cited and regarded TED Talk by addressing the monumental gender gap within senior-level management, which is a staggering 33% for women. She goes on to explain that the conventional coaching women receive is to be more assertive, develop your network, define your personal brand, and become more focused on leadership soft-skills. While those skills are important for breaking into mid-level leadership roles, they are not the distinguishing traits necessary for moving into senior positions. Susan shares industry insights from CEOs on how they make their decision to promote to senior-level positions while giving actionable advice on how you can position yourself to demonstrate these qualities.

2.  Amy Cuddy – Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

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If you are about to deliver a major presentation or are heading into an interview, this 20 minute TED Talk is just what you need to watch to get you hyped. In this TED Talk, social psychologist, Amy Cuddy discusses body language both from the impact that it has on others perception of us and also how our nonverbal cues impact how we think of ourselves. “Our bodies change our minds… and our minds change our behavior…and our behavior changes our outcomes.” Amy conducted an experiment with subjects using high-power poses and low-power poses to put together this informative and powerful game-changing advice. Watch this talk to see the high-power poses and how to use them in high pressure scenarios to improve your performance.

3.  Sheryl Sandberg – Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

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Facebook executive, author of the empowering book Lean In, and one of the most popular TED Talk speakers on this list, in this TED Talk Sheryl Sandberg answers the question as to why we have too few women leaders in the C-suite. Female representation at the executive level tops out at 15%, and with the challenging decisions that women face between professional success and personal fulfillment, it is hard to imagine how we will close the gender gap in this lifetime.  Sheryl gives keen advice in this TED Talk about how to “lean in”—from a very literal perspective of having a seat at the table and this speech was given pre-Solange Knowles’ album —but also about the unconscious decisions we make that represent us leaning back. This is a must-watch TED Talk from one of the strongest and smartest voices in the 21st century women’s empowerment movement. She encourages us as women to not underestimate our abilities, to negotiate for ourselves, and raise your hand for opportunities like running the new department, taking the lead on the difficult project, or the new client.

4.  Sarah Lewis – Embrace the Near Win 

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This is the TED Talk to watch if you need some motivation, a push in the right direction, some encouragement after a rough day or after a challenging business meeting. In this inspiring TED Talk Sarah Lewis describes the difference between success and mastery, while reminding you that we often learn the most from our failures. That, in fact, failure drives us with more tenacity, and pushes us closer to achieving mastery. According to Lewis this is how you convert success to mastery. Lewis reminds us that, while winning is always a good thing, we are often further motivated when we lose by a hair. Watch this inspiring TED talk to change your outlook on a near win.

5.  Roselinde Torres – What It Takes To Be A Great Leader

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This brief 10 minute TED Talk with Roselinde Torres details what she learned about successful 21st century leaders after quit her job to travel the world study the attributes of effective and ineffective leadership practices in companies, other countries, and non-profit organizations. From her travels she determined two things; the characteristics of successful leaders, and the habits that were in place to enable them to grow to their full potential. Roselinde shares ground-shattering insights about out of date practices, strategies that are causing companies to close their doors for good, and what questions you should ask yourself to figure out if you’re ready to be a great leader. As a leader you have to be willing to face the unknown and this TED Talk will help you figure out if you’re ready.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a couple of additional TED Talks that deserve an honorable mention. These talks are not hosted by women, but they will still beneficial on your leadership development journey.

  1. Adam Galinsky – How to Speak Up for Yourself
  2. Tim Harford – Trial, error and the God complex

What TED Talks have inspired you the most??




Published by Aija Rhodes

Aija is the founder of BossChix Network, a women’s empowerment and lifestyle blog that celebrates women’s professional achievements, community involvement, and family life. BossChix Network also empowers women to overcome challenges and achieve their goals, BossChix Network serves as an outlet for women to connect and collaborate with others who seek to climb the corporate ladder, land roles that prepare them for senior leadership, and live authentically. Aija is a management consultant for a Big Four consultancy firm. She is a certified Project Management Professional and has fourteen years of program and project management experience assisting clients in conquering an array of business challenges. Most recently, she led a team that designed an IT security program and portfolio management processes for a global healthcare company. When she isn’t blogging or working with clients, Aija can be found enjoying the restaurants and museums of her hometown, Washington, D.C.

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Miss Millennia Mag (@MissMillMag)

Loved listening to Sarah Lewis! I can’t wait to watch these all. Thanks for such great motivational stuff!

4 years ago

Looking forward to watching these… I’ve watched TED Talks before and I absolutely love them!

4 years ago

I watched the “Body Language” one a while ago. It is pretty interesting how something so small could make a huge significance!

Kristina Dapaah
4 years ago

Ahh another TED lover – glad to make your acquaintance! They are awesome and so motivational. I loved Susan Cain’s TED Talk based on her novel Quiet – this is geared to the introvert in professional settings!

Scotch & Stilettos
4 years ago

I can’t wait to watch these! I’ve been watching so many TED Talks recently and they’re just fantastic!


4 years ago

Loved Sarah Lewis in Embrace the Near Win. This can be an inspiration to all women! It’s true that failing often leads to almost perfection

Tasheena @

Love Ted Talks! Thanks for sharing this list. Listening to Sheryl Sandberg right now.

4 years ago

What awesome inspiration and motivation. I definitely need to add more of this to my professional development. It was a must and a given when I was in Corporate American, now that I am at home, I have fallen off in this area.

4 years ago

Ted Talks always leave me feeling so inspired, like I can take on the world. Definitely interested in the body language one. That 33 percent gender gap in higher-up positions is very disturbing to me. It’s 2017, people. Not the fifties.

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