It’s a list that includes an Australian author, a former United States federal prisoner, a CEO of a multinational consumer goods company, a Harvard business school professor, a millionaire entrepreneur and more. These nine TED talks are sure to inspire, stimulate and generate thought about how to successfully run a business. They’re a must watch for SMEs and entrepreneurs. 1. The failurist: Markus Zusak This one’s a little bit different. Markus Zusak isn’t a businessman – he’s an author, but he details an important subject many in the business world have to confront: failure. The Australian writer is best known for his novels The Book Thief and The Messenger, but in this TED talk he explains how his personal failures cultivated motivation, and how his failures and humiliations made success feel so much better. Zusak discusses his original failures, first as a child, then as an adult, which helped propel him to success. It was his original failures that gave him the motivation to do so much better; this is perhaps someone everyone in the business world can learn from. Story continues on page 2. Please click below. 2. Profit not always the point Harish Manwani, the chief operating officer of Unilever, calls for a redefining of business models in society, and asks for businesses – if they want to remain relevant in the 21st century – to define themselves beyond what they sell and produce. Manwani asserts that in the 21st century for business, it shouldn’t be about generating revenue or turnover; it should be about creating a better culture – changing lives – in the process of doing business. Story continues on page 3. Please click below. 3. How data will transform business Philip Evans provides a fact-driven, theory-based look into the future of the business landscape. In this video, Evans, a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group, looks at how the power of technology is driving the boundaries of how we think about business strategies, and how it will change in the future. Evans explains why he thinks two longstanding theories in business strategy are invalid in today’s market and what he thinks the future of business holds. Story continues on page 4. Please click below. 4. Success is a continuous journey Richard St John, entrepreneur and founder of marketing company the St John Group, poses the question of why so many people reach success and then fail. St John reminds us that success isn’t a one-way street, rather, it’s a consistent journey. He uses his own personal experience of going from being a successful businessman to a failing and depressed shell of his former self. His search for true passion coupled with the use of eight key principles, “passion, work, focus, push, ideas, improving, serving, persisting” helped him to climb the ladder of success once again after his early failures. Story continues on page 5. Please click below. 5. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation Business author Dan Pink explores the mismatch between what science knows and what business does, and in doing so, opens up an entirely new operating system for business models. Pink examines the rules underlying current workplace structures and unveils that, in fact, the rules are ill-defined. “The rules – if they exist at all – should be surprising and non-obvious,” he says. During his presentation, Pink looks at Australian success story Atlassian, which grants employees 20% of their work time to autonomously work on ‘whatever they want’ to promote creativity, free thinking and a healthy working environment. An interesting talk if you want to tackle the topic of motivation and rewards in business. Story continues on page 6. Please click below. 6. Work-life balance is an ongoing battle The most poignant of all the TED talks on this list, Nigel Marsh talks about finding the balance between work and life, and how the ongoing battle can either destroy or build an individual and their business. Marsh is the author of three books, Fat Forty and Fired, Overworked and Underlaid and Fit, Fifty and Fired Up, he is also the co-founder of Earth Hour. Marsh says an individual needs to be responsible for setting and enforcing the boundaries that they want in their life. He shows that the “small things” matter and that being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval. With the smallest investment in the right places, Marsh believes you can radically transform the quality of your relationships, the quality of your life, and society. Story continues on page 7. Please click below. 7. Lessons in business … from prison Jeff Smith, a former US senator and prisoner, discusses the ways in which he saw a reflection between the top CEOs in the United States and the prisoners he spent time with in federal prison. Smith talks of the ways in which the ingenuity of the prisoners behind the walls, their ambition, drive and can-do attitude, is something that those in the business landscape can definitely learn from and recreate to ensure greater success in the business realm. Story continues on page 8. Please click below. 8. Your body language shapes who you are Harvard Business School associate professor in social psychology Amy Cuddy talks about what nonverbal communication does in terms of judgements from those we associate with. Cuddy says our body language not only affects how other people see us, but also how we see ourselves. What results is an interesting take on how to be more confident in your work, your life, interviews or general interactions, a key skill which will certainly help you become more successful in your business. Story continues on page 9. Please click below. 9. How to get your ideas to spread It’s not important how good your idea is, marketing guru Seth Godin says, it’s about how good your method of spreading the idea is – the idea he promotes is that “Ideas that spread, win”. Godin says consumers don’t care about ‘you’ at all – they have more choices and less time – and in a world where everybody has more choices and less time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore things. The challenge is to spread an idea worthy of the attention of other people. Godin says the most important question to ask when marketing an idea is: “Is it remarkable; is it worth making a remark about?” This story originally appeared on SmartCompany.
So many people think that money is what motivates people. Surprisingly, it’s far from the truth. The old thought system to motivation is reward and punish. The stick and the carrot. Alfie Kohn writing in the Harvard Business Review points out that offering rewards to change set behaviours like eating less or quitting smoking does not work. Numerous psychological studies back up his thesis. Dan Pink in his outstanding book Drive showed that the carrot and stick works for short-term motivation but not for long-term engagement or long-term results. “Incentives ... do not alter the attitudes that underlie our behaviours,” Kohn says. “They do not create an enduring commitment to any value or action. Rather, incentives merely – and temporarily – change what we do.” “It is plausible to assume that if someone’s take-home pay was cut in half, his or her morale would suffer enough to undermine performance … but it doesn’t necessarily follow that doubling that person’s pay would result in better work,” Kohn postulates. Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why shows that the reason behind what we do really motivates us to put in more effort long term. If someone identifies with the company value of what you are doing and the why behind it, they are more likely to adhere long term to fulfilling the role with passion and enthusiasm. As Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile has found, a sense of progress is crucial to actually staying engaged. In an experiment detailed in her book The Progress Principle she asked 238 employees across seven companies to keep daily diaries of their workdays. She found a pattern. A close analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries, together with the writers’ daily ratings of their motivation and emotions, shows that making progress in one’s work – even incremental progress – is more frequently associated with positive emotions and high motivation than any other workday event. During Pink’s TED talk in 2009, he says there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Rewards, he says, make us single-focused, which leads to incorrect solutions. The solution is autonomy rather than top down, which he says is great for automated mechanical processes but not for the more creative processes required in this century. Tony Hsieh, the chief executive Zappos, in his seminal book Delivering Happiness is clear that creating the why and a culture that backs it up, is the only way to get long-term motivation. Given he built the company from a revenue of $1.8m in 2001 to $1 billion in 2009, maybe we should be heeding the message. Brett Jones is CEO of The Entrepreneur Tribe by Cre8 and frequent author on entrepreneurial matters. @cre8australia
This week’s Secret Soloist is answered by Event Arc founder Scott Handsaker.
This article first appeared June 15th, 2012. There’s nothing quite like seeing entrepreneurship in action. A business’ facts and figures may catch the eye, but it’s not until you see the founder talk about their idea that it truly comes to life and fires the imagination.
Recently, prominent VC blogger Mark Suster was asked who his favourite bootstrapping companies were.