TED brings together the world's greatest minds to talk about applying research and science into our everyday reality.

It’s a new year: Time to achieve new goals, but how do you get there? Turn to the experts. Since 1984, TED has brought together the greatest minds to talk about applying research and science into our everyday reality.  

Some TED talks are on things that are interesting but will never apply to your job, like astrophysics and chemistry. Others can be a great source of inspiration and cutting-edge tactics on how to influence others, manage your time and hack your brain to be more productive. 

They come in video form, and most can be listened to while you’re doing just about anything: driving in your car, cooking dinner or taking a walk. (If videos just aren’t your thing, you can read the transcripts instead.)  

Without further ado, here are five TED talks to get you motivated enough, connected enough and productive enough to knock 2016 out of the park. 

1) How to make stress your friend 

 

Sales can be stressful. You probably don’t need an expert to tell you that.  

Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal wants you to learn to interpret signals your body gives under pressure — like sweating or your heart pounding — as signals that you’re preparing yourself to overcome a challenge, instead of thinking of them as negative indicators of anxiety.  

Want to always be closing? This one keeps you cool when you’re in the heat of the moment closing the deal.  

Not only that, McGonigal presents evidence on how experiencing stress can help you build more authentic connections with your clients looking to have a stress-free retirement. Double win.  

2) The puzzle of motivation 

 

Dan Pink is a career analyst who explains with great self-deprecating humor how what we think will motivate us doesn’t always work.   

Motivational speakers not really you’re thing? No problem. This talk is for you if you’re into more facts and less touchy-feely.  

Or as Pink puts it, “This is not a feeling. Okay? I’m a lawyer; I don’t believe in feelings. This is not a philosophy. I’m an American; I don’t believe in philosophy. This is a fact.” 

One of his main points: “There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.”  

This talk is great for a leader of a sales team or an independent seller looking to break out of a funk using hard facts that others have already proven. 

3) The power of vulnerability 

 

Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability is a blockbuster of sorts – the video has been viewed more than 23 million times.  

Her six years of qualitative research lead her to discovering what made people in happy relationships different from those who felt alone.  

“They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating,” Brown said. “They just talked about it being necessary.” 

You might be asking, what does having richer, happier relationships have to do with my job selling annuities?

Well, it turns out, happy employees are 12 percent more productive at work.  

4) Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce 

 

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Outliers, in his typical rapid-speed, humorous style tells Howard Moskowitz’s story on revolutionizing the food industry.  

Ever wonder why there are 71 different spaghetti sauces at the grocery store? Gladwell explains how Moskowitz’s career was based on finding not the perfect sauce, but instead the perfect sauces to make a company grow.  

“People don’t know what they want!” Gladwell said. “As Howard loves to say, ‘The mind knows not what the tongue wants.’ It’s a mystery!” 

How can Prego sauce help you? This talk helps you “hack” using choice to influence your clients in a way that makes them feel like they are in the driver’s seat, giving you a greater chance of success.  

5) A kinder, gentler philosophy of success 

 

Need something to take the edge off? This is the talk for you.  

The presenter, Botton candidly explains his own experience with feeling unfulfilled at his job: “For me, they normally happen, these career crises, often, actually, on a Sunday evening, just as the sun is starting to set, and the gap between my hopes for myself and the reality of my life starts to diverge so painfully that I normally end up weeping into a pillow.” 

If you’ve had your own version of such a Sunday night, don’t worry. Botton explains how our expectations given to us by the outside world cause us to feel bad about our own lives.  

“What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but we should make sure that they are our own,” he said. “We should focus in on our ideas, and make sure that we own them; that we are truly the authors of our own ambitions.” 

 

See also: 

How technology can increase your productivity 

The hard truth about motivation 

How to go from failure to success … in just one  

The 3 step formula for massive sales success 

 

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