TED Talk Reviews
by Jacquie Clermont
Introduction: TED Talks bills itself as “1900 talks to stir your curiosity”. In general TED Talks run around 18 minutes and draw upon some of the most interesting topics and personalities on our planet. The talks vary considerably in theme, but some relate to professional growth and development. I’ve highlighted four that are worth watching.
The Power of Introverts (11 million views) ∗∗∗∗
This tape is a must for all introverts, and worth the time for extroverts too. Susan Horowitz Cain, author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, makes an excellent case for letting introverts be who they are in a culture whose institutions, from schools to the workplace, are designed for extroverts. Faced with a message that her “mellow” way was not the way to be, she made what she called self-negating choices in her career. Clearly, she now wants to make the world safe for introverts, who make up one third to one half of the population. Her arguments are bolstered by a lot of heart and personal stories at once funny and poignant. She names famous introverts such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Gandhi, as well as a not-so-famous beloved role model, her grandfather, a highly respected rabbi shy before his own congregation. She ties introversion to creativity, good management decisions, and religious revelation. “Introverts get better grades and are more knowledgeable,” she says, yet they are routinely passed over for promotions. She asks us to let introverts be themselves so they can give us their “unique gifts.”
Your Body Shapes Who You Are (25,329,634 views) ∗∗∗∗
Amy Cuddy, an associate professor at Harvard Business School had dedicated her career to exploring how people judge and influence each other and themselves. The subject is body language, and the objective is to improve both how other people see you and how you see yourself. The bottom line is, yes, you can fake it until you make it. Cuddy has the numbers to prove it. Taking power poses, and she shows pictures of what these are, changes hormone levels, thus changing how you interact with others. “Fake it till you become it,” Cuddy says. “Tiny tweaks can lead to big changes.” Apparently, even a two-minute power pose is enough, and I tried this about a week ago before an interview. The recruiter says I placed first out of three and is now checking references.
Success is a Continuous Journey (2.8 million views) ∗∗∗
Richard St. John, author of The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 To Be Great, describes his own rise and fall and rise again. He knows what went missing because he had to find it again, and he did. This is a short, powerful talk, as much about life as it is about business.
The Power of Vulnerability (19 million views) ∗∗∗
Scholar, author, and speaker Brené Brown is the witty professor in this self-defacing portrait of herself during her six years of research on human connection. Yes, she had what she called a “breakdown,” and yes, she finally had to put her notes away for a time, but what she learned changed the way she “lives, loves, and parents.” The major finding was that people with a strong sense of connection have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves first, and the belief that what makes them vulnerable also makes them beautiful. At this point I did wonder whether she has ever felt the economic vulnerability of unemployment and whether she would have the courage of authenticity under the terms of an employee at will arrangement. At any rate, her affirmation, “I am enough,” is a good one at the end of any job-hunting day, so I recommend the tape. Brown’s web site is http://brenebrown.com/. She is the author of six books, including The Power of Vulnerability.