About 18 months ago, someone put us onto this thing called TED. Little did we know that we were embarking on a voyage of discovery that would prove enlightening, utterly fascinating and entertaining in equal measure.
For non-TED aficionados, TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a foundation providing free to view talks – and paid conferences – delivered by an array of interesting folk from across the world and all walks of life. The likes of the late Steve Jobs, Prof. Stephen Hawking, Malcolm Gladwell, Naomi Klein and Seth Godin have all graced the stage at some point.
TED.com itself is a veritable feast – providing a rich library of the talks, and strong social community. We’re also rather partial to the iPhone App that allows you to download the talks to your phone (video or audio) and has a useful ‘Inspire Me’ function that recommends talks based on your preferred area of interest.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing experienced ad man Rory Sutherland in action, you’ll know he’s not just a seasoned marketer, but also a fantastic raconteur. In this Ted talk, Rory argues that people are deceived into thinking that big problems can only be solved with expensive solutions. In fact, he states the case that getting the small stuff right in our marketing efforts can make all the difference. If you only watch one Ted talk, watch this one.
Dan Cobley marries his passion for physics with some surprisingly insightful observations on the world of marketing. Such as how Newton’s Law applies to branding and what Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle means for trying to understand your customers. Physics was never our strong point, but this is certainly an education.
Jason Fried challenges the view that people need to meet to get the job done. He argues that our working day has now been shredded into a series of ‘work moments’ – with constant interruptions and distractions, one of the key problems being the endless stream of meetings. If you’re a serial meeting organiser, you may think twice before sending that next Outlook invite.
Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere and the No Pants Subway Ride is renowned for pulling a series of absurd pranks and stunts. Here he shares some of his better ones – pointless waste of time or creative genius? You can make your own mind up. We think the latter.
Dan Ariely author of Predictably Irrational shows us that the way we, and our customers, make decisions is far from rational. Sharing some decision-making illusions, Ariely shows that it’s harder to influence behaviour than you think. If you only take one nugget away, it’s that if you’re out on the pull – always make sure you’re with a slightly uglier version of yourself.
Last, but by no means least, is this thought-provoking talk by Sherry Turkle for all of us who are hooked on our fancy smart phones and tablets. We’re spending so much time tweeting, emailing and texting – we’re no longer in the room – in fact we’re everywhere, but nowhere. Like Sherry says, “People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere.” What happens when being connected means nothing really gets our undivided attention?
Got your own favourite Ted talks? Please feel free to share them.