The Five Most Motivational TED Talks of All Time

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Leaders and employees both struggle to understand the levers that actually drive workplace motivation. When searching for methods to keep yourself, or your team, motivated and excited to work, one of the best places to start is with a list of motivational TEDTalks—especially on a Monday.

This blog post digs into five of the most popular TEDTalks on motivation. What truly sticks out about this list is how vastly different each speaker is from the next. Despite these differences, they can all agree on the importance of staying motivated in the face of a challenge. We all struggle to stay inspired. Start your Monday with one or, five, of these TEDTalks and instantly feel prepared to take on the workweek!

1. The Future We're Building and Boring, Elon Musk 


Elon Musk joins TED's head curator, Chris Anderson, to discuss his vision of the future. The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal (among others) discusses sustainable energy plans and hopes to decrease Los Angeles traffic through a network of tunnels. Not to mention, Musk dives into how life on Mars has become a legitimate possibility for the near future. This is a particularly long TEDTalk, as Musk has evolved into one of the most forward-thinking and inspirational entrepreneurs of our time. He truly motivates a myriad of people around the world to think big. TED wanted to take advantage of this knowledge. Enjoy!

About the Speaker:

Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; a co-founder,a Series A investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI; founder and CEO of Neuralink.

2. How I Learned to Read and Trade Stocks — in Prison, Curtis Carroll


This TEDTalk tells the story of Curtis "Wall Street" Jackson, who grew up in poverty in Oakland, CA. At the young age of 17, he turned himself in for a crime that landed him a 54 year-to life prison sentence. While in prison, Curtis grew interested in the stock market but struggled due to the fact that he was illiterate. This is a true story of perseverance, motivation and true inspiration. 

About the Speaker:

Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll overcame poverty, illiteracy, incarceration and a lack of outside support to become a stock investor, creator, and teacher of his own financial literacy philosophy.

3. Don't Fear Intelligent Machines, Work with Them, Garry Kasparov


Garry Kasparov became the youngest world champion ever at 22 in 1985 and spent twenty years as the world's top-rated chess player. His legendary matches against the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1996 and 1997 made him a central figure in artificial intelligence and the evolution of the human-machine relationship. This TEDTalk focuses on the power of AI and "how our technology can make us more human." 

About the Author:

One of the greatest chess players in history, Garry Kasparov lost a memorable match to IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997. Now he shares his vision for a future where intelligent machines help us turn our greatest dreams into reality.

4. How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek


This 20-minute clip jumps into the powerful influence that leaders, politicians, and companies have in the 21st century. Sinek uncovers unbelievable patterns in how leaders think, act, and communicate. This TEDTalk focuses on the exploration of how trust and confidence play a role in decision making. 

About the Speaker:

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. It all starts with the concept of the "golden circle" and the question "Why?" Sinek explores how leaders can motivate and inspire cooperation, trust, and change.

5. The Puzzle of Motivation, Dan Pink


Motivation is a puzzle for most leaders, including career analyst, Dan Cook. In this TEDTalk, Cook dives into the mystery behind motivation in the workplace. This talk focuses heavily on the scientific data that surrounds motivation and exposes that traditional rewards don't necessarily enhance the workforce in 2017. 

About the Speaker:

Dan Cook is known for his work as a former speechwriter for Al Gore. Today, Cook is an independent career analyst intent on spreading ideas about how our current economy is revolutionizing the job market. 

Keep a look out for our next list of TEDTalks that help empower workers and leaders alike.