If you’re going to watch three TED talks, make it these

Do you love TED talks but aren’t sure which ones you should watch to help you in your business? Start with these three:

1. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread


Making people care about a product in the current market of infinite and instantaneous choice could almost be seen as more important than the actual product. Seth Godin describes the importance of “idea diffusion” and uses the metaphor of sliced bread to illustrate how to make an idea spread.

Sliced bread, which seems today to be a staple of society, was a failure of an idea until the company Wonder figured out how to make it relevant by making people talk about it. In short, as Godin says, “We are all in the fashion business” because flash and style are the things that will make you stand out.

Godin’s talk should be on your shortlist because he expounds on the paradigm shift that came with the death of what he calls the “TV-industrial complex.” For instance, instead of sending e-mails, companies should focus on sending “me-mails,” with the “me” representing the person who is being marketed to.

2. Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team


Tom Wujec’s talk is the description of a collaboration test that involves building as tall a tower as possible with dry spaghetti, tape and a marshmallow. He found that kindergarten students performed better at the exercise than all professional types except architects and engineers.

The marshmallow challenge brings to the forefront two main ways of solving problems:

  1. Having the single “right plan” before executing.
  2. Creating an iterative process of prototypes and refined structures.

The young children performed better than CEOs, business school graduates and other professional groups because they were more trained in trial and error rather than in jockeying for power, agreeing on a single perspective and developing the so-called “right plan.”

This TED talk is especially notable for the further insights that Wujec reveals about the nature of teamwork and the judgement errors that the process brings out in individuals who are supposed to be better at collaboration.

3. Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce


The renowned author gives a great talk about the thinking of the food industry, describing the exploits of Howard Moscowitz, intellectually a psychophysicist and, it turns out, professionally a marketing expert. Howard reformed the spaghetti sauce industry by changing the thinking of both Ragu and Prego from a platonic process into a process of democratization and choice. He also helped Pepsi to create Diet Pepsi.

Gladwell went along to explain how this process of grouping and embracing the diversity among different groups of people within an industry will actually help to find a consensus that will please more people than a focused effort would.

Do you have a favourite TED talk? Share it with us in the comments!

Brittany Giles is the Social Media Specialist at The Printing House.

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