Where do you get your business inspiration?

If you don’t have a quick answer for that one, you better start a serious search.

“Inspiration” isn’t just for lovers of unicorns and rainbows. Inspiration is eye-opening ideas and examples that transport us beyond the same-old daily grind. It takes us beyond our limited perspectives and enables us to set new, expanded goals for ourselves.

Have we inspired you to seek inspiration?

We’ll start you off with what inspires us – 10 of the most mind-bending TED Talks for small business owners currently available on YouTube (and some of them are pretty entertaining to boot!).

Get all comfy with a notepad and your favorite flavor of Ben & Jerry’s… and let’s go!

1. How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas | Manoush Zomorodi

“I want to be bored,” said no one, ever. And in our uber-connected world, we’ve managed to almost completely banish boredom. Success! Except, reveals journalist Manoush Zomorodi, it’s actually a big fail when it comes to creativity. She explains why, in a dynamic talk filled with humor, insights from neuroscience and cognitive psychology, and the results of Zomorodi’s 20,000 people-strong #BoredandBrilliant social experiment.

You should watch this if: You want to birth creative, innovative ideas

Current views: 339K

Practical value: 10/10

Entertainment value: 10/10

Main takeaway: If you never give yourself time to space out (low-tech style), you’re depriving your brain of its ability to innovate

2. Know your worth, and then ask for it | Casey Brown

If the thought “I’m not being paid enough for what I do” has ever crossed your mind – this talk is a must-see. Pricing consultant Casey Brown shares a concrete strategy for getting customers and clients to pay what you’re really worth.

You should watch this if: You feel you should charge more for your work, but are afraid that no one will pay it

Current views: 269K

Practical value: 9/10

Entertainment value: 7/10

Main takeaway: “No one will ever pay you what you’re worth. They’ll only pay you what they think you’re worth.” Shape others’ thinking by clearly defining your value – and then clearly communicating that.

3. How great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek

Martin Luther King.
The Wright brothers.
How did they lead and succeed when others who were just like them – or “better” – have become anonymous nobodies? Organizational consultant and author Simon Sinek reveals the simple but powerful formula that the above – and all successful leaders – use to draw enthusiastic, dedicated followers.

You should watch this if: You want to magnetically attract the right customers, partners, and employees

Current views: 10.6M

Practical value: 10/10

Entertainment value: 8/10

Main takeaway: Don’t tell people what you do. Tell them why you do it. Find the deeper why, the raison d’etre of your business – and put that at the forefront of any communication.

4. The puzzle of motivation | Dan Pink

“There’s a mismatch between what science knows and what business does,” shares career analyst Dan Pink. Pink illustrates how most businesses are still using forms of management and incentives that worked for many 20th century tasks… but not for the world we live in today.

You should watch this if: You want your employees (current or future) to be motivated, innovative and committed.

Current views: 8.4M

Practical value: 8/10

Entertainment value: 8/10

Main takeaway: If you’re looking for creative and conceptual accomplishments from your employees, don’t give financial, extrinsic incentives, or you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. Intrinsic incentives like autonomy, mastery, and purpose are where it’s at. (If you’re going “huh? How do I give an employee ‘mastery’?”, watch the talk.)

5. Own Your Behaviours, Master Your Communication, Determine Your Success | Louise Evans

While the opening shot of five colored chairs on the stage may seem to hint at a panel, this talk introduces you to an unusual type of panel discussion: the one that behavioral coach and corporate trainer Louise Evans recommends you have in your mind every time you react to someone else. Evans introduces us to her practical 5 Chairs, 5 Choices strategy of moving from knee-jerk reactions to choosing responses and behaviors that get us where we want to go.

You should watch this if: You want to communicate in the most effective way with clients, employees… and anyone in your life.

Current views: 1.7M

Practical value: 9/10

Entertainment value: 7/10

Main takeaway: No matter what other people do and say to you, you have a choice in how you react, respond and behave. Take your reactions off autopilot and you’ll be much happier and more successful.

6. The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed | Bill Gross

Bill Gross, founder of IdeaLab, asks: what is really behind start-up success? Is it the idea, the execution, the timing, the business model, or the funding? Gross analyzed 200 different start-ups – 100 of them started by IdeaLab, and 100 not – and he shares the answer and some telling examples with us in this talk.

You should watch this if: You’re turning a business idea over in your head and want to know if it has potential to be a winner

Current views: 2.7M

Practical value: 9/10

Entertainment value: 7/10

Main takeaway: We wouldn’t tell you that! It would kill the suspense.

7. The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

Qualitative researcher Brene Brown takes us on a journey into the human psyche for a look at what enables us to feel connection, belonging and worth. Brown draws on ten years of research with thousands of people as well as her own emotional journey. Simultaneously funny, poignant and thought-provoking, this talk will have you reflecting on its ramifications long after it ends.

You should watch this if: You’re afraid that people will discover all the ways you’re not perfect and reject you – professionally or personally.

Current views: 11.3M

Practical value: 8/10

Entertainment value: 9/10

Main takeaway: Ironically, the ability to be open about the ways that you’re not perfect is what will bring you the acceptance of and connection with others.

8. Self control | Dan Ariely

Passing up immediate gratification for long-term gain? For sure!

We believe in that… until someone offers you your absolute favorite chocolate (you can start your diet again tomorrow, right?) or you get an important text while you’re driving (you don’t doubt the value of human life, but it’s so unlikely that something will happen, right?).

In a talk replete with scientific data and amazing real-life experiences, behavioral economist Dan Ariely examines why our long term goals don’t always match up with our short term actions – and what we can do about it.
Oh, and if you ever find yourself having trouble getting out of bed on time (who doesn’t?), the two awesome alarm clocks featured around minutes 12-13 are not to be missed.

You should watch this if: You ever have trouble doubling down on those important, hard, long-term business activities (‘cause they’re not so much fun, and the gain seems so far away)

Current views: 936K

Practical value: 8/10

Entertainment value: 8/10

Main takeaway: Human beings (kind of like rats and pigeons) are wired to minimize future gain and magnify immediate gratification. If we want to accomplish, we need to leverage workarounds, like reward substitutions and self-control contracts. (What are those? It would take too long to explain. Watch Ariely to find out!)

9. How to Deal with Difficult People | Jay Johnson

You know that difficult client? The one you’ve been debating about “firing” for months? What if you could actually make dealing with him… not so difficult?

Communication and leadership developer Jay Johnson shares solid strategies for how to do that through predicting others’ behavior, influencing others’ behavior and changing your own behavior.

You should watch this if: You have difficult people in work or life that you have to deal with.

Current views: 701K

Practical value: 10/10

Entertainment value: 6/10

Main takeaway: Don’t expect difficult people to change. But it’s worth putting effort into changing how you deal with them, because you’ll reap the physical, emotional, mental and financial rewards.

10. Speak like a leader | Simon Lancaster

Speechwriter to the stars, Simon Lancaster writes speeches for government officials, CEOs of international corporations and other powerful personalities. In this talk, he gives you the six steps to making a speech worthy of a leader – a speech that will influence, persuade and motivate to action. Lancaster practices what he preaches; to top off the myriad examples he weaves effortlessly into his talk, he lets the audience choose a topic and crafts an on-the-spot leadership speech.

You should watch this if: You ever have to speak in front of other people with the goal of influencing them.

Current views: 2.8M

Practical value: 10/10

Entertainment value: 10/10

Main takeaway: Influential speeches have a very predictable pattern. But the steps would sound meaningless unless you watch them in action. Go watch!

It’s a Wrap!

Done watching for the day? Before inspiration can flourish, it needs to take root. It’s time to put away your screen and go for a walk so all these new ideas can gel and form new connections in your brain. Manoush Zomorodi would approve.