TED Talks for Office Managers

TED Talks: Our Top 10 for Front Office Managers

TED Talks… they are the stuff that dreams are made of, don’t you think? The Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading”, picks the best and brightest to speak to us about a wide range of topics including socio-economics, science, philosophy and technology. TED Talks consist of 18 minutes of solid gold advice, usually presented with humor, sincerity, humility or some other emotion that compels us to feel connected to the speaker.

Since we work with front office managers on a daily basis, we thought it would be helpful, dare we say instructional (and maybe even fun) to tell you about 10 of our favorite TED talks that can inspire you and help you succeed.

The Best TED Talks for Front Office Managers

1. Dan Pink: “The Puzzle of Motivation”

In a humorous speech, Dan Pink, career analyst and former Al Gore speechwriter, discusses the role of traditional motivation in the workplace. He makes a great case for performance being based on what we like to do, and lack of performance being based on reward systems.

Citing autonomy (the urge to direct our own lives), mastery (the desire to get better and better at something that matters), and purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves), Mr. Pink confirms what we already know in our hearts: that people do what they feel like doing. Let’s bring this knowledge to the work place and strengthen our businesses.

2. Simon Sinek: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”

With two successful books under his belt, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek takes us on a journey to learn about what makes leaders great.

He tells us how leaders such as Apple Computer, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers were able to inspire, where others weren’t. Inspiring words like “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” gives us pause to reflect. Our favorite line from his speech is “Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead inspire us.” Although this talk is geared towards big companies, the lessons from this speech, if used effectively, would position anyone as a leader in the office.

3. Dr. Linda Hill: “How to Manage for Collective Creativity”

Do you realize that your staff is possibly your richest source of ideas? This is what Harvard professor Linda Hill discovered when she studied 16 of the most innovative companies in the world. In this dynamic TED talk, the co-author of Collective Genius explains how some of the best ideas come from ordinary people, not just the designated “creatives.”

Dr. Hill tells us that “our task is to create the space where everybody’s slices of genius can be unleashed and harnessed, and turned into works of collective genius.” So watch this TED talk and think about how how you would create an environment where different ideas are not only expressed but can take shape.

4. Shawn Achor: “The Happy Secret to Better Work”

Hang on tight for this one! Shawn Achor talks faster than a speeding train, but his humor shines through and grabs you by the heart on his talk about positive psychology. This is one of our very favorite TED Talks.

Mr. Achor tells us it’s not necessarily reality that shapes us, but the lens through which our brain views the world that shapes our reality. By engaging in positive activities and actively training your brain, you can reverse the formula for happiness and success. In doing so, you will create ripples of positivity.

5. Celeste Headlee: “10 ways to Have a Better Conversation”

Have you “unfriended” someone on Facebook because they said something about politics, religion or childcare? Pure Research did a study of 10,000 American adults and found that we are currently more polarized and more divided than ever before. We are also less likely to compromise, and when we make important decisions, it’s based on what we already believe.

Celeste Headlee, reporter, host and correspondent, asks us, “Is there any 21st century skill more important than being able to sustain coherent, confident conversation?” We don’t think so and Celeste does a great job teaching us how to do just that with 10 excellent tips.

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6. Tom Wujec: “Build a Tower, Build a Team”

If you’d like to know how kindergarten students could possibly out-perform college graduates at a team building skill, Tom Wujec, Fellow at Autodesk, will tell you. He explains that being able to work within a group without jockeying for power can have a profound effect on the outcomes of your objectives – or in this case help you manage your office.

Is there only one way to do things or is there another way? Mr. Wujec implores us to find what he calls the “iterative process”, which helps us get instant feedback. People often think there is only one right answer. By being flexible and having a prototype, you can go from having an “uh-oh” moment to having a “ta-da” moment!

7. Roselinde Torres: “What it Takes to Be a Great Leader”

In a study of 4000 companies, 58% reported that there were significant talent gaps in leadership, despite corporate training programs and coaching. More than half had failed to grow great leaders. Roselinde Torres, senior partner and managing director at the consulting firm BCG, asks, “Is my company helping me to prepare to be a great 21st century leader?”

Answering 3 questions will determine your effectiveness as a 21st century leader: Where are you looking to anticipate the next change? What is the diversity measure of your network? And, are you courageous enough to abandon the past?

When you prepare yourself for the realities of today and the unknown possibilities of tomorrow, you will be set up for greater success.

8. Dr. Kelly McGonigal: “How to Make Stress Your Friend”

Psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal has changed her thoughts about stress. She used to think it was the enemy, but now she sees it as a positive. According to a study, people who experience a lot of stress, but do not view stress as harmful, are not likely to die. In fact, they had the lowest risk of dying than anyone in the study. When you change your mind about stress, you can change your body’s response to stress.

In this thought-provoking TED Talk, Dr. McGonigal convinces you that carrying this philosophy throughout your life and work will give you the best chance of living a life that, while not free of stress, will at least be one that you know is normal.

9. William Ury: “The Walk from “No” to “Yes””

Even though Mr. Ury, author of Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In talks about the Middle East and Abraham, his philosophies about finding a simple, elegant way to create agreement can be applied to many different situations, including office politics.

His teaching is that we are all one family. The secret to peace is simple – it’s us, who act as a surrounding community around any conflict. By embracing the “third side” each of us can take a step toward conflict resolution and peace.

Our favorite quote: “When spider webs unite, they can halt even a lion. These are profound words to work by.” –Old African Proverb.

10. Tony Robbins: “Why We Do What We Do”

Mr. Robbins needs no introduction. He is one of the most popular speakers in the world. He believes that the invisible force of internal drive activated is the most important thing in the world. Effective leaders have the ability to consistently move themselves and others to action because they understand the “invisible forces” that shape us.

In one of the most popular TED Talks, he asks us what is it that shapes our ability to contribute, to do something beyond ourselves? Mr. Robbins talks about two master lessons: the science of achievement (how do you take what you dream about and make it happen) and the art of fulfillment (you can only feel so much by yourself).

By understanding what drives each of us, we are able to understand, relate more, feel more and give more.

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