The 20 Essential TED Talks for New Grads

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May 25th, 2011

Moving from the relatively sheltered world of the college campus into work and independence can be a very exciting, though sometimes rough, transition. New grads will be facing a host of new challenges testing the lessons they learned in school, both academic and personal. Finding a little advice and inspiration for life after college can be a great way to help smooth out the transition into the real world and pave the way for an exciting and successful career. These TED talks offer wisdom, advice and motivation to help you take on whatever comes your way in your post-college years.

  1. Nigel Marsh: How to make work-life balance work: If you thought it was hard to balance schoolwork with your personal life in college, things won’t get any easier when you’ve landed a fulltime job. Take a few lessons on how to find a balance between time for yourself, your friends and your work in this talk from Nigel Marsh.
  2. Arianna Huffington: How to succeed? Get more sleep: As a student you probably endured many a sleepless night studying or working on big projects, but if you want to succeed in life after college, you’re going to need to get some rest. At least, that’s what Arianna Huffington thinks. Listen to this talk as she shares some of the benefits it can have for your body and your mind.
  3. Caroline Casey: Looking past limits: Have you ever thought to yourself that you can’t or won’t ever be able to do something? Why put such boundaries on what you can achieve? In this talk, you’ll get inspired to move beyond the ways you may be limiting yourself and push yourself to really see what you can do.
  4. Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success: What does success mean to you? Failure? In this lecture, you’ll learn how our ideas of what counts as success and failure may be a bit too harsh and learn ways to give yourself credit for all the wonderful things you’ll accomplish in your years after college.
  5. Tim Ferriss: Smash fear, learn anything: Even the bravest among us are sometimes afraid to aim high and push boundaries, terrified of failure, humiliation or letting others and ourselves down. But in this talk, Tim Ferriss asks us to consider, “What’s the worst that could happen?” When you stop to think about it, you may have nothing to fear after all.
  6. Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other’s minds: No matter what field you’ve chosen to major in at school, in the working world you are going to be in close proximity with coworkers, bosses and perhaps even clients. Learning to better understand communication, whether spoken or not, and how it can be an immensely helpful tool. You’ll gain some valuable insights when you listen to this talk from expert Rebecca Saxe.
  7. Elizabeth Gilbert on nurturing creativity: Whether it’s expectations you have for yourself or those in your life, sometimes we struggle to live up to our ideas about what’s genius and creative. In this talk from writer Elizabeth Gilbert, you’ll learn how to awaken the innovation that lives inside of you and perhaps spark ideas that will drive you towards greater career success.
  8. Jeff Bezos: What matters more than your talents: Through this inspiring talk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos asks grads to measure their potential not on their abilities, but their actions. While talents can form a great foundation, it is good character, insightful decisions and what we do, not what we say, that makes us who we are.
  9. Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation: If you really stop and think about it, what motivates you to do your best and work hard? The reality is that many of the ways we traditionally try to push ourselves aren’t really the best. Learn how to motivate yourself and anyone you might be managing in your new career through this talk from writer Dan Pink from Bexley, Ohio.
  10. Ric Elias: 3 things I learned while my plane crashed: Small issues can seem large, arguments irreparable and paths set in stone — until we’re faced with a life and death situation. In this talk, Ric Elias shares what really runs through the mind in those moments and how you can use these lessons to change how you live every day.
  11. Steve Jobs: How to live before you die: One of the wealthiest and most successful businesspeople in the world, Steve Jobs has plenty of lessons he can teach students about what it means to get to the top. In this talk given to Stanford students, he shares the importance of following your dreams and seeing the opportunities that exist even in failure.
  12. John Wooden on true success: Whether you love basketball or not, this talk from renowned coach John Wooden is sure to inspire. He shares advice and wisdom on what success really means and how all of us can get there in our own ways.
  13. JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure: New grads often fear failure, but as you’ll learn in this talk from acclaimed author J.K. Rowling, sometimes it’s the only way to find success. Get inspiration to follow your dreams, work hard and make the life you’ve always wanted for yourself.
  14. Richard St. John’s 8 secrets of success: There may be no single recipe for success, but this talk from Richard St. John illuminates some of the essential ingredients that go into any viable project or career. Not only is it an inspirational talk, but one that can help you redefine how you see your path to the top.
  15. Philip Zimbardo prescribes a healthy take on time: How you look at time can actually impact your present happiness and success, or so says psychologist Philip Zimbardo. In this talk, you’ll learn how changing your outlook on your past, present and future can make for a better life.
  16. Joachim de Posada says, Don’t eat the marshmallow yet: So many of us are all about instant gratification, getting what we want, when we want it, but in this talk you’ll learn why delayed gratification can be so powerful.
  17. Derek Sivers: Keep your goals to yourself: As a new grad, you’ll undoubtedly having people asking you what you plan to do with your life. You’ll have to tell them something, but you might not want to share everything – as you’ll learn in this talk. In fact, not talking about your goals may make you more likely to actually go out there and pursue them.
  18. Gary Vaynerchuk: Do what you love (no excuses!): Do you love a career that doesn’t promise big paychecks or have a passion for something that’s incredibly hard to make into a career? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Gary Vaynerchuk shares why it’s good to be a dreamer in this amazing talk.
  19. Rick Warren on a life of purpose: Everyone feels at some point or another that their life is without purpose, but in this talk from Rick Warren you’ll learn why it’s so important to find a drive in your life, whatever it may be, and work your hardest at fulfilling it.
  20. Carl Honore praises slowness: As a new grad, newly independent adult and possibly new employee, you’ve got a lot on your plate and may be so busy you’re rushing from place to place and task to task. Yet speed isn’t necessarily a virtue when it comes to a happy and successful life. Take a listen to this lecture and learn why slowing down and savoring every moment has its virtues as well.

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