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TED Talks that could grow your business image
Skills and services 12 April 2020

3 TED Talks that could inspire unique ways to grow businesses

As a company founder, MD or CEO, strengthening your business’ capabilities in an increasingly competitive business world is a key part of your role.

15 May 2018

What has your business’ response to economic uncertainty, exchange rate fluctuation and overregulation been? In navigating the business during COVID times and what happens afterwards, South African businesses are reacting by delaying business decisions, suspending company expansion and deferring offshore investment.

But you don’t have to follow suit.

While the current climate may be challenging for growth – causing businesses across South Africa to tread cautiously – business leaders can’t let themselves become uninspired or demotivated by prevailing circumstances or sentiment.

Amidst political and economic turbulence, it’s advisable to elevate your mindset to find creative ways to grow and succeed. These three must-watch TED Talks by some of the world’s leading minds in leadership, psychology and law, can help you develop a different mindset for doing business:

1. The happy secret to better work by Shawn Achor

Who is Shawn Achor?

Shawn Achor is the CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology, and the author of The Happiness Advantage. After 12 years of research at Harvard University, he discovered how businesses can increase their employees’ happiness, consequently raising success rates and profits. Making him a firm believer that positive changes ripple into more successful company cultures.

A key takeaway

Positive psychology involves understanding the science of happiness and that our external world is not predictive of our internal level of happiness:

“90% of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. We’re finding it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”

How to apply this lesson

Find a way of becoming positive in the present. Your brain will be able to work harder, faster and more intelligently. Achor suggests meditation to focus on the task at hand, allowing your brain to get over the ‘cultural ADHD’ that gets created through trying to do multiple tasks at once.

2. The puzzle of motivation by Dan Pink

Who is Dan Pink?

Career analyst, former speechwriter for Al Gore, and best-selling author, Dan Pink, examines the puzzle of motivation. starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't - that traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

His trio of influential bestsellers has changed the way companies view the modern workplace and identifies a sea change in the global workforce: The shift from an information-based corporate culture to a conceptual base, where creativity and big-picture thinking dominates the landscape.

A key takeaway

Contingent motivators – where employees are told ‘if you do this, then you get that’ – work in some circumstances, but for a lot of tasks, they don't work and can harm.

“Think about your own work. Do the problems that you face, have a clear set of rules and a single solution? No. The rules are mystifying. The solution, if it exists at all, is surprising and not obvious”.

How to apply this lesson

Traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement, self-direction works better. High performance isn’t just influenced by reward and punishment, it’s about harnessing that unseen intrinsic drive. Job satisfaction requires adequate and fair remuneration, but also giving people the autonomy to do things for their own sake and because they matter.

3. How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek

Who is Simon Sinek?

British-American motivational speaker and marketing consultant, Simon Sinek, has authored four books, including: Start With Why – a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership, where he starts with a ‘circle’ and the question ‘Why?’. Sinek has discovered significant patterns in the way leaders who’ve made an impact in the world, companies and politicians think. “I try to find, celebrate and teach leaders how to build platforms that will inspire others.”

A key takeaway

Great leadership is simple and has universal characteristics.

“As it turns out, all the great inspiring leaders and organisations in the world, whether it’s Apple or Martin Luther King or the Wright brothers, all think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite to everyone else. All I did was codify it, and it’s probably the world's simplest idea. I call it the golden circle. Why? How? What? This little idea explains why some organisations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren't”.

How to apply this lesson

Aim to hire people who believe what you believe, and not just because they are looking for a job. When you hire people because they can do the job, they work for money. But if they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with everything they’ve got.

Key takeaway 

The challenges of business growth require you to think differently as a company leader. In the face of a generally pessimistic outlook for the nation’s economy, conceptual methods of motivation and using your company’s ‘why?’ might help you grow when others can’t.