- Tim Harford “Trial, Error and the God Complex”
Harford discussed how companies rely far too much on finding geniuses (or “mini-gods,” as he calls them) who can solve their biggest problems. He says that instead, we need to utilize trial and error more often to solve problems and be okay with making mistakes as we learn. We don’t always know the answers but we can find the solutions when we test out our different theories. He pushes to abandon the “god complex” and instead question and challenge ideas to find the best answers.
- Stanley McChrystal “Listen, Learn … Then Lead”
Once a general in the military, McChrystal discusses how important it is as a leader to listen to those who follow and depend on you. His message to listen and learn first—and then lead—will strengthen both leaders and their followers. He discusses the importance of relationships as the “sinew that hold a force together.” He also says that “a leader isn’t good because they’re right, they’re good because they’re willing to learn and to trust.”
- Derek Sivers “How to Start a Movement”
Sivers’ talk on starting a movement and how important followers are for a single leader begins with a video of a solo dancer in the middle of a crowd; he then goes on to explain that without followers, a leader isn’t much, but when followers begin to catch the vision of the leader and join him or her, more will follow. He encourages people who see others with great ideas to follow them early on and see how that greatness unfolds.
- Sheryl Sandberg “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders”
Sheryl Sandberg’s groundbreaking talk on women and leadership was eye-opening to many and was followed by an entire book on the issue. Sandberg discussed why there’s a disparity in the numbers of male leaders vs. female and what we can do to help even the score. She emphasized the importance of helping women understand that they shouldn’t pull back from their ambitions when getting ready to plan a family; instead, they should keep pushing for greatness.
- Simon Sinek “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”
Simon Sinek gave a talk that some would argue is one of the most inspiring Ted Talks ever given. His speech not only encouraged leaders to take action but ultimately inspired organization-wide movements in those that heard this talk. Sinek’s main argument was that if an organization doesn’t know the why behind what it does, it won’t be as successful. He then explained that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and that when you understand the why behind your ambition, you can do so much more.