TED Talks for Leaders and Entrepreneurs

We’ve rounded up a handful of TED Talks in another article and thought we’d give you more. In this installment, we share with you three talks that may hit close to home for aspiring and budding entrepreneurs and leaders. These talks will take about 35 minutes of your time. Spread the word!  

The Single Biggest Reason Why Startups Succeed | Bill Gross

Bill Gross is who you may call a serial entrepreneur having founded numerous startups both successful and not. He is well known for launching Idealab, an incubator for inventions, ideas, and businesses.

 Gross sought out to identify what moves a startup’s success needle by drawing from his experience and assessing other legendary startups.


He used to think that ideas were everything but we know how ideas can be overrated, take it from Jane Leu, another serial (social) entrepreneur. Gross also unexpectedly quoted Mike Tyson,

“Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.”

Seeing how this was true for businesses who had to take punches from customers, he moved to the team’s execution and adaptability to getting punched by a customer in the face. This pushed him to consider that maybe it is a startup’s business model. Was it enough knowing that the company has a very clear path generating customer revenues? No. He looked at intense funding but Gross was still not convinced.


If the most monumental factor in determining a startup’s success isn’t an idea, the team, a business model, or funding, what is it you ask? Gross thinks it’s timing. Is your idea too advance, too late, or just right? If you don’t get the timing squarely, you have to educate the world if you’re too early or stand out against the numerous competitors if you’re coming late and the market is already saturated.


Watch Bill Gross’ talk to learn how timing and the four other factors made and broke companies such as Uber, Airbnb, YouTube, and Friendster.


The Little Risks You Can Take to Increase Your Luck

| Tina Seelig

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Author and Stanford engineering school professor Tina Seelig teaches courses focused on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. In this talk, she suggested three unexpected ways you can increase your luck.


But first, how does an engineering school professor define luck? Seelig went to describe it as success or failure apparently caused by chance, later emphasizing the term apparently. So, how do you increase your luck?


First, Seelig suggested that you change your relationship with yourself. Meaning, you have to be willing to stretch and take small risks that push you out of your comfort zone. She remarked that we used to be risk-takers all the time when were children as we had to if we were going to learn how to walk, talk, or ride a bike. Then the shift happens as we get older, we lock down a sense of who we are and we soon find ourselves contained.


Seelig shared that in her class, they take a risk-o-meter test to map the risks her students would be willing to take. This exercise made it clear to them that risk-taking is not binary as there are all types of risks: intellectual, financial, physical, emotional, social, ethical, and political. All these are opportunities for you to explore, your risk could be as unpredictable and subtle as talking to the person next to you in a bus to sharing your feelings with someone you care about.


Second, change your relationship with others. Seelig highlighted that you need to recognize  that everyone who helps you on your journey is playing a huge role in getting you to your goals. It’s only appropriate to show appreciation when someone spent their precious time on you rather than on other people or themselves. Who knows, as you close the loop, more opportunities can arise similar to Seelig’s example on how a rejection and a thank you started an organization.


Third, change your relationship with ideas. Seelig claimed that most people look at new ideas that come there way and judge them as either great or terrible when these ideas are actually much more nuanced. In fact,

“the seeds of terrible ideas are often something truly remarkable,” she noted.


If you’re worried that your idea is crazy, don’t worry, according to Seelig, successful ventures have likely started out as crazy ideas. Other founders must have heard countless of  "that's crazy, it will never work” during their pitch.


Recap: To get luck on your side, you have to be willing to take risks, show appreciation of other people, and really look at and consider ideas.


Head over to Tina Seelig’s talk to learn about the tricks she learned and continue to use to make luck her friend. She also gave classroom situations that aptly demonstrate her students’ creativity and risk-taking.


How to Build a Business that Lasts 100 Years

| Martin Reeves

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Martin Reeves is a senior partner and the managing director of The Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Henderson Institute. As a member of the Institute's Innovation Sounding Board, which is dedicated to supporting, inspiring, and guiding upstream innovation at BCG, and a senior member of its health care practice, Reeves offers an insightful take on how we can learn from living organisms to build resilient businesses.


Reeves started his talk with startling statistics that your company has 1 out of 3 chances to fail or be taken over in five years. Similarly, a study by Standard & Poor’s top 500 companies shows that the challenge does not excuse large businesses where their recent lifespans fell from an average of 61 years in 1958 to 25 years in 1980 and down to 18 years by 2012.


Businesses and companies are threatened by disruptions. Dell Technologies’ 2016 survey found that 78% of companies saw digital startups as a threat, with the number slightly higher in Asia-Pacific at 83%.


As a consultant who strategizes to keep businesses alive, Reeves together with Princeton biology and mathematics professor Simon Levin took inspiration from organisms and surfaced six recurrent traits that are critical to survival. Fascinatingly enough, these traits are also manifested by long-lived social systems and resilient businesses. They are: redundancy, diversity, modularity, adaptation, prudence, and embeddedness.


Reeves’ talk will let you see these traits in action in companies such as Kodak, Fujifilm, and Toyota.

There you have it! Which talk did you enjoy the most? Share and spread the word!

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