With constant focus on metrics and deadlines, it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the drudgery of work, but you can find inspiration from people who use their work to be role models, push for equity and innovation, and make the world a better place. Every day brings more need for people with hope and vision, so as a followup to my TED Talk round up about upgrading your hustle, I’ve gathered five of the most inspiring TED Talks by remarkable women. These TED Talks are like having coffee with a life coach who’s pushing you to do the hard things because you know it will be worth it. I promise that after watching these, you’ll approach work and life, with a new mindset, and maybe even be inspired to take the first steps to creating the change that only you can make.
Serena Williams — On tennis, love, and motherhood
If you’ve ever made an accidental social media post, received insulting comments, been disappointed in your body, or wondered how to balance relationships and career,
this is the TED Talk for you. As much as Serena Williams appears to be a real-life Wonder Woman, she shares in this interview how she’s done or experienced every single one of those things—and how she’s dealt with them. She talks about the pressure she’s under to win every match she plays, and how she keeps her famous aversion to losing from damaging her relationship with her sister and tennis competitor, Venus. She also explains her appreciation for her body helping her reach remarkable goals, and now that she’s pregnant (announced to the world in an accidental SnapChat post!), how she’s planning the new part of her life with a “baby in the stands”. Watch this TED Talk for inspiration to reach for even higher goals.
2. Luvvie Ajayi — Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Luvvie Ajayi is a “professional troublemaker,” and she wants us to do better. In a world that wants us to whisper, she chooses to yell—and she shares three questions to ask yourself as your own guide for speaking up: 1) Do you mean it? 2) Can you defend it? 3) Will you say it with love? If you can answer all three with a yes, then say it and let the chips fall where they may. You might become the first domino, the one that inspires countless others to take action. If you have something to say, but have been staying quiet to keep the peace, this TED Talk will give you the courage to speak up.
3. Amy Edmondson — How to turn a group of strangers into a team
Will you ever be on a team where there’s at least one person you don’t know? If the answer is yes (and it definitely is), then this TED Talk is worth a watch. If an NBA game is played with teams, a pickup game in the park is played with teaming: teamwork on the fly. Amy Edmondson uses the example of the 2010 Chilean mining accident to illustrate how different people, industries, and even countries can join together for work that is complex and unpredictable, and maybe even impossible were it not for teaming. Of course, anytime people are thrown together there’s potential for professional culture clash, and Amy’s advice for making sure teaming goes well is all about staying humble; after all, it’s hard to learn if you already know.
4. Rocío Lorenzo — How diversity makes teams more innovative
Rocío Lorenzo thought diversity was not something she’d have to worry about—education was becoming more equitable, so surely diversity in leadership positions would happen naturally, right? Well, as you probably know, that’s not what happened. So Rocío dug into the data to see what diversity really means for companies. It’s obviously the right thing to do, but does it give a company a competitive advantage? The answer was a resounding yes; only when women make up a critical mass in leadership are companies consistently more successfully innovative. If your company could benefit from more creative ideas (and what company wouldn’t?), this TED Talk gives you both the inspiration to push for diversity and the hard data to back it up as a strategic business priority.
5. Dame Stephanie Shirley — Why do ambitious women have flat heads?
Starting with her escape from Nazi Europe, to her remarkable success in the male-dominated tech industry of the 1960s, to her current philanthropic work, Dame Stephanie Shirley’s TED Talk is a 13 minute tour de force of inspiration to make things happen. She saw the immense potential of allowing women to work from home, and created Freelance Programmers, a company by women for women. Stephanie signed her business development letters “Steve” just to get in the door, and the company thrived, even working on the programming for the Concorde’s black box flight recorder—all with women working from home, communicating with each other by telephone. This is a must-watch TED Talk that will inspire you to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and create something great.
If you’re as inspired as I was by these TED Talks, go ahead and share this article with your network (couldn’t everyone use a little more inspiration lately?) and let me know what these talks have inspired you to do by tagging @bosschixnetwork!