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11 of the Best TED Talks Every Human Should Watch

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 7.30.46 PMTED stands for Technology, Education and Design and if you’re not familiar with them, by now… LOL, you sux0rs at the interwebs. [OK, it’s actually Technology, Entertainment, and Design. But, it should totally be Education, instead]

This is only the greatest repository of speeches and presentations by the most brilliant minds, most fascinating people, education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus, and music legends of our time.

Awhile back, I made a goal to watch every TED Talk.  So, I watch at least one daily.  The more good shit that goes into your mind, the more good shit comes out.  Feel free to bookmark this so you can come back and watch each one of these.

  1. Brené Brown – The Power of Vulnerability – 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.(Filmed at TEDxHouston.)

    Twitter_icon Follow Brené Brown on Twitter

  2. James B. Glattfelder – Who Controls The World? –  James Glattfelder studies complexity: how an interconnected system — say, a swarm of birds — is more than the sum of its parts. And complexity theory, it turns out, can reveal a lot about how the economy works. Glattfelder shares a groundbreaking study of how control flows through the global economy, and how concentration of power in the hands of a shockingly small number leaves us all vulnerable.(Filmed at TEDxZurich.) Twitter_icon Follow James B. Glattfelder on Twitter!
  3. Juan Enriquez: The Next Species of Human – Even as mega-banks topple, Juan Enriquez says the big reboot is yet to come. But don’t look for it on your ballot — or in the stock exchange. It’ll come from science labs, and it promises keener bodies and minds. Our kids are going to be … different.(Filmed at TED2009.Twitter_icon Juan Enriquez is not yet on Twitter.
  4. John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding – With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefines success and urges us all to pursue the best in ourselves. In this inspiring talk he shares the advice he gave his players at UCLA, quotes poetry and remembers his father’s wisdom.(Filmed at TED2001.)
  5. Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life – When game designer Jane McGonigal found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she had a fascinating idea for how to get better. She dove into the scientific research and created the healing game, SuperBetter. In this moving talk, McGonigal explains how a game can boost resilience — and promises to add 7.5 minutes to your life.(Filmed at TEDGlobal2012.Twitter_icon Follow Jane McGonigal on Twitter!
  6. Joe Smith: How to Use a Paper Towel – You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you’re doing it wrong. In this enlightening and funny short talk, Joe Smith reveals the trick to perfect paper towel technique.(Filmed at TEDxConcordiaUPortland.)

  7. Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action – Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers …(Filmed at TEDPugetSound.Twitter_icon Follow Simon Sinek on Twitter!
  8. Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf: Lose your ego, find your compassion – Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf combines the teachings of the Qur’an, the stories of Rumi, and the examples of Muhammad and Jesus, to demonstrate that only one obstacle stands between each of us and absolute compassion — ourselves.(Filmed at TEDSalon 2009 Compassion.Twitter_icon Follow Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf on Twitter!
  9. Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ – To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and team study the world’s “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. In his talk, he shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.(Filmed at TEDxTC.) Twitter_icon Follow Dan Buettner on Twitter!
  10. Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! – In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk on how schools kill creativity, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.

    (Filmed at TED2010.) Twitter_icon Follow Sir Ken Robinson on Twitter!

  11. Cameron Herold: Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs – Bored in school, failing classes, at odds with peers: This child might be an entrepreneur, says Cameron Herold. In his talk, he makes the case for parenting and education that helps would-be entrepreneurs flourish — as kids and as adults. If we want to grow economies worldwide… let’s train our kids to be entrepreneurs, not employees.

    (Filmed at TEDxEdmonton.) Twitter_icon Follow Cameron Herold on Twitter!

Two Non-TED Videos that Every Human Should Watch

Steve Jobs – How to Live Before you Die – No list of inspiring talks would be complete without Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University. While not actually a TED Talk, the speech is deeply touching and inspirational. A must-watch even if you’ve already seen it ten times already.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Midway Island Video on Pollution by Chris Jordan
This is one of the most poignant examples of why we need to change the path that we are on as a civilization. We have polluted this earth and the oceans so much, that 2000 miles away from the nearest continent, animals are dying due to all of the pollution that finds it’s way there. We need to change. Let’s find some solutions. It starts with you!

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s change the world together:


  1. disqus_cshVkNAa1Q's Gravatar disqus_cshVkNAa1Q
    February 26, 2013    

    Great compilation. Thanks. It is especially important to raise awareness of the “Midway” problem – I don’t think many Europeans have any idea what goes on the the Pacific Ocean! I don’t think they know you’ll find the similar problem in the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean too. I am re-posting and re-tweeting.

    • teedubya's Gravatar teedubya
      February 26, 2013    

      Thanks for the kind words… yeah, there needs to be more awareness on the Midway pollution… we can’t continue doing this as a civilization. In the past 150 years, we’ve reeked havoc on Mother Earth… humans are a virus in many ways, unfortunately.

  2. February 26, 2013    

    Great List! In fact, I’ve watched/listened to everyone one of your top 10 +2 – great minds – have you watched “How to Start a Movement by Derek Sivers?

    • teedubya's Gravatar teedubya
      February 26, 2013    

      I have seen that one… perhaps it’s needed here, as well? There are so many. I think the list will have to be expanded to 20, actually.

  3. mandylipka's Gravatar mandylipka
    March 25, 2013    

    Eeek. Some TED I haven’t seen! Nice work curating this list. I don’t think my mind could handle the task… so much good food.

  4. April 26, 2013    

    Great suggestions!! Interesting, it sounds nice that TED stands for Technology Education and Design but on the “About” page at TED it says it is Technology Entertainment and Design.

  5. April 27, 2013    

    Terrific list Travis, thanks for sharing!

  6. Stacy Braiuca's Gravatar Stacy Braiuca
    May 13, 2013    

    Brene’s are several of my FAVORITES!!!!!

  7. disqus_FTxekWc1wO's Gravatar disqus_FTxekWc1wO
    May 24, 2013    

    I thought TED = Technology, Entertainment, Design. Not education.

  8. Gina Marie's Gravatar Gina Marie
    June 7, 2013    

    Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong as well as Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20 are some of the best TED Talks also.

  9. Taylor Gahm's Gravatar Taylor Gahm
    November 24, 2013    

    Wow you have watched a lot of TED talks! Have you seen mine?

    • Rashaad Abu-Hamdan's Gravatar Rashaad Abu-Hamdan
      January 30, 2014    

      A personal favorite from the TEDxHouston 2013 conference. List will keep growing!

  10. helparmenianchildren's Gravatar helparmenianchildren
    December 6, 2013    

    Check out this really inspiring talk.
    Ready, Set, Dream BIG
    Thank you

  11. Murilo Gun's Gravatar Murilo Gun
    December 7, 2013    

    hi! check my TEDx talk about LIFE-AS-A-SERVICE:

  12. Rashaad Abu-Hamdan's Gravatar Rashaad Abu-Hamdan
    January 30, 2014    

    Hey Travis, consider this talk by Taylor Gahm. One that hasn’t been shared too much just yet, but a personal favorite from the TEDxHouston conference we hosted last Fall. List will keep growing!

  13. hoymotivacionblog's Gravatar hoymotivacionblog
    February 14, 2014    

    Thanks for the compilation. Midway has been shocking to watch, recommend to share with everyone

  14. David Phillips's Gravatar David Phillips
    April 17, 2014    

    Amazing list! I myself held a speech on a very important subject “Death By PowerPoint” and how to avoid it. Hope you enjoy it!

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Travis Wright is a Venture Catalyst, Public Speaker, Digital Disrupter, Marketing Provocateur, Stand Up Comedian, Tech Blogger & Brand Awesomeizer.

This Travis Wright guy shares marketing resources, industry analysis, interwebs strategery & random hilarity along w/ occasional sport or political rants. If you can stand his jokes and want his opinion on something, feel free to connect with him.

email: tw [at] traviswright [dot] com