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7 Tech and Business TED Talks to Inspire you in 2019

If you’re a business owner, marketer, or technologist, TED Talks are powerful and inspiring-- not just because they’re impactful, but because they’re short. When you have financial goals and KPIs, time is precious. None of us have exactly as much time as we’d like to spend with friends and family, and we have even less time for education and entertainment. 

And that’s a problem for two reasons:

  1. Human beings require some form of entertainment-- it helps us recharge, think deeper thoughts, and bond with others 
  2. As business people and innovators, we require continuing education-- we can’t keep pace with a warp speed world when we’re not moving right along with it

TED Talks, however, tend to work for busy people. We can all find 18 minutes (or less) per week to digest new information, learn new concepts, and open our minds to new ways of thinking. TED Talks are a great way to learn something valuable, and spark the fire of new ideas, in 20 minutes or less. 

2018 has been a banner year for TED Talks. But, really, every year since the concept began (as a conference) in 1984 has been a banner year for TED Talks. Since there are so many TED Talks available, we thought we’d narrow this list down to our seven favorite talks of 2018. 

Our goal here is to give you something inspiring, thought-provoking, and actionable for the new year. 

Here are seven tech and business TED Talks to inspire you in 2018. 

1. ‘Why you should treat the tech you use at work like a colleague’ by Nadjia Yousif 

Does your company actually use all of the tech it pays for? Or are you and your employees too stressed out, intimidated, or otherwise preoccupied to make full use of the technology you spend your hard-earned money on?

That’s what Nadjia Yousif’s TED Talk is all about. In this entertaining (and practical) discussion, Yousif explains how to make full use of your technology suite-- by treating software and other forms of tech like your employees and coworkers. 

View the talk, transcript, and more information here

2. ‘How to be “Team Human” in the digital future’ by Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist who “promotes human autonomy in the digital age.” In his mind, we’re dangerously close, as humans, to being valued more for our data than our creativity. You’ve probably had similar thoughts. 

In this compassionate, optimistic TED Talk, Rushkoff doesn’t completely condemn or eschew technology. Instead, he encourages us to look back to our values from before the digital takeover in order for us to find, connect with, and empathize with one another. We can never go back to a pre-digital world, and technology is something to be embraced-- but that doesn’t mean we have to lose our humanity as we advance. 

A fantastic quote from Rushkoff’s talk: 

... instead of trying to earn enough money to insulate ourselves from the world we're creating, why don't we spend that time and energy making the world a place that we don't feel the need to escape from.

The TED Talk and transcript can be found here

3. ‘Confessions of a recovering micromanager’ by Chieh Huang

In one of the most laugh-out-loud funny TED Talks of the year, CEO Chieh Huang wonders why we micromanage others-- especially when we know it’s not effective. 

He confesses his own bad habits, talks about his road to recovery, and describes the all-too-real effects micromanagement has on employees. But it’s not all hilarious observations and self deprecation. Huang also offers a real solution to the micromanagement problem. 

You can view this TED Talk’s transcript, along with additional information, here

4. ‘Lost in translation: the joy of a jargon-free world’ by Thea Knight

If you work anywhere in or around marketing and technology, jargon is probably a way of life. When you talk to friends, family, kids, or your spouse, you have to choose your words carefully. You feel you can’t properly explain yourself. We’ve all been there. 

In this excellent TED Talk, Thea Knight explains how we can speak more intentionally, and eliminate the meaningless jargon from our everyday conversations. Fewer buzzwords, more bonding. 

Using some amount of jargon is unavoidable, especially in a professional setting, but we don’t have to live our lives around it. 

You can find more information on this talk here.

5. ‘The simple genius of a good graphic’ by Tommy McCall

This is one part TED Talk, one part history lesson, and one part love letter to the concept of graphics. In this talk, McCall shows us the power of graphics, and how they can distill complex ideas and pages of information into a single image. And he gets through all of this in under six minutes. 

Here’s an excerpt: 

Graphicacy -- the ability to read and write graphics -- is still in its infancy. New chart forms will emerge and specialized dialects will evolve. Graphics that help us think faster or see a book's worth of information on a single page are the key to unlocking new discoveries. Our visual cortex was built to decode complex information and is a master at pattern recognition. Graphicacy enables us to harness our built-in GPU to process mountains of data and find the veins of gold hiding within.

For anyone interested in design, marketing, art, business, and data, this TED Talk can’t be missed. 

You can find transcripts and more information here.  

6. ‘How AI can save our humanity’ by Kai-Fu Lee

Can artificial intelligence remind us of what it really means to be human? Kai-Fu Lee thinks it can. 

In this talk, the computer scientist describes how AI’s deep learning and potential for automation can help us rekindle our kindness and creativity. Some of the comes from AI’s ability to relieve humans from mundane jobs, Lee says. But the rest of what he lays out is even more fascinating. 

This TED Talk’s transcript and other details can be found here

7. ‘The upside of data’ by Jessica Donohue 

Do passion and data intersect? Can they exist on the same Y-Axis? For Jessica Donohue, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Donohue’s career has been focused on data, and she explains why her passion continues to grow as the business world becomes increasingly reliant on Big Data. Data is something we all value, as business owners, marketers, and technologists-- it helps us make informed decisions, find our perfect customers, and (ultimately) put food on the table. In just over 12 minutes, Donohue will make you fall in love with data all over again. 

You can find more information on this TED Talk here.

Here’s to an Inspired 2019

From all of us at Neoreef, we hope you have a prosperous and inspired 2019. If you’re ever in a rut, need a new idea, or just want to learn something new, we hope these seven TED Talks can fulfill those needs. 

Happy New Year!

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