5 Motivational TED Talks for Anyone Starting a Business

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Being the CEO of a startup is all about efficiency. You want to create flawless and productive processes that support your workforce and encourage great performance.

That goes for yourself, too: If you can save yourself even a few minutes, you need to leap at the opportunity. There are simply not enough hours in the day when you are trying to get your business off the ground.

So, rather than attending conference after conference to learn how to be the best entrepreneur you can be, check out this list of TED Talks we’ve compiled. While they won’t teach you absolutely everything you need to know about developing a killer startup, they will certainly familiarize you with current HR trends and get you enthused about your company’s future.

1. ‘Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe’ by Simon Sinek

Two of the most important things to consider when developing your business are the organizational culture and the company’s values. Before you get started, you should really know what your company is about, what it stands for, and what it supports. You should also know what kind of relationships you want to build. After all, the people within an organization and the connections employees have with one another are what allows it to flourish.

Sinek’s talk touches on a number of core issues related to culture and values. First, Sinek talks about how managers play a key role in employee engagement and motivation. Sinek also explores how developing the right company culture is critical to the development of great leaders who earn the trust and respect of their teams.

Sinek states that leading an effective team is like parenting a family, and he warns against creating a company culture based on fear. Trust, security, and autonomy are all central to a healthy culture in which employees can develop into excellent performers who are assets to your business.

While entrepreneurs might feel the impulse to be ruthless in order to develop their fledgling businesses, they should always keep in mind their teammates’ needs to feel secure.

As Sinek says, ​”Great lead­ers would nev­er sac­ri­fice peo­ple to save the num­bers. They would soon­er sac­ri­fice the num­bers to save the people.”

2. ‘Remember to Say Thank You’ by Laura Trice

Nobody works for money alone. We all want to know our efforts have been appreciated. In a 2017 study from Reward Gateway, 49 percent of participants said they would leave a company if they felt they were not receiving appropriate recognition for their work.

With all of that in mind, Trice’s talk is a must-watch. It is a quick but important reminder that a simple “thank you” can make all the difference when it comes to employee morale and performance. Trice also covers why positive feedback should be specific, timely, and genuine. Incorporating employee recognition into regular performance discussions is a surefire way to satisfy your employees and encourage them to perform better in the future.

3. ‘Why the Secret to Success Is Setting the Right Goals’ by John Doerr

Anyone in HR is well aware of the value of a good goal-setting system. The right goals have the power to incentivize and inspire employees, while unreasonable goals can demotivate employees and cause performance to tank.

In this talk, Doerr discusses how business leaders and institutions fail their employees by leading them toward the wrong objectives. Employee objectives should be SMART — a point on which most businesses already agree — but they should also be aligned upward. Employees should be able sit down with their managers, take command of their goals, and create targets that support and complement business objectives. This is the only way businesses will get their employees enthusiastic about their goals.

4. ‘The Puzzle of Moti­va­tion’ by Dan Pink

You can’t simply pay your employees, tell them what to do, and expect they will be motivated each and every day. People require more than this in order to find purpose and bring 100 percent to the table every day. Human beings are complex creatures.

Pink’s talk covers the “car­rot and stick” approach to moti­va­tion, explaining why improved productivity doesn’t automatically follow increased com­pen­sa­tion. Rather than focusing on money, Pink suggests we look inward at intrinsic motivation. To truly motivate our workforces, we need to give our employees autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

5. ‘Dare to Disagree’ by Margaret Heffernan

Many of us shy away from confrontation, but speaking up and holding your ground — even if your opinion runs counter to the opinions of other people around you — can really help a company grow.

In this talk, Heffernan explores how and why disagreement drives optimal business performance. Conflict avoidance can be detrimental to a business, so it is best to encourage open lines of communication and give employees the freedom to disagree. The last thing you want is to surround yourself with yes-men who would sooner see the company fail than speak up against you.

Stuart Hearn is CEO of Clear Review.

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Stuart Hearn has 20 years of experience in the HR sector. He cofounded plusHR, a leading UK HR consultancy, and previously worked as international HR director for Sony Music Publishing. Stuart is currently CEO of Clear Review, an innovative performance management software system.