10 Ted Talks to Motivate & Inspire You

Problem: I Need Inspiration

Solution: Ted Talks

Okay, so this may be oversimplying the solution to the problem just a tad. However, I do believe Ted Talks are a great resource to use when you want to get inspired. I’m someone who loves finding motivation by hearing other’s success stories, inspiring outlook on life/business/money, or whatever. In fact, I think most people are like that. However, they feel that it can only come in the form of people they know. Well, I personally believe that looking for inspiration outside of your circle is amazing!

Why? Well, sometimes you may just not feel inspired by the people you’re around. That’s not to say there aren’t amazing people around you who are doing admirable things, but sometimes it’s not what gets you going.  With Ted Talks, or finding anyone via this beautiful thing called the internet, we can pinpoint what kind of person we want to seek inspiration from. You don’t know any entrepreneurs in the beauty industry? You can find one online. How about someone who ditched their corporate job to live in a minimalist life? Sounds interesting, and I want to know more, but I don’t know anyone like that. Again, internet, Youtube, Ted Talks. So here are some of my favorite TedTalks I’ve seen (and I have a lot more to see/hear).

1. Tim Doner

If you’ve seen some of my other blog posts you know I have a huge interest in languages, and studying languages. I’m on a journey to being a polyglot. But I’ve noted before, I’m not studying languages so I can call myself a “polyglot” and seem cool. I like languages because I think languages are great vehicles to connect with more people, to understand people, erase discrimination and boundaries, open your mind to new cultures. And well, a lot of them sound awesome. In his TedTalk, Tim also expresses similar views. By the time he was in his teens who could speak 20 languages and as such, gained some media coverage.

But it wasn’t what he expected. He wanted to discuss how and why he learned a language, including the less “popular ones.” The interviewers however, were more interested in baiting him with prompts to get him to say certain phrases in a language. It became less and less about the languages and more about how fun it was to look and listen (MFM…) to someone like him. I really enjoyed that he harps on “learning a language is more than knowing a few words. Or being able to ask where the bathroom is.” At just over 16 minutes, this Ted Talk is one to watch.

2. Mel Robbins

Now she just seems like so much fun. She seems like one of your professors who makes you excited to go to class and doesn’t start the first day with uncomfortable icebreakers. Many out there either feel dissatisfied with their lives or are terrified of getting to that point and settling in life. Mel gives her no B.S. take on the topic and how to avoid it. She makes an effort in this Ted Talk to connect with her audience as if to make sure they’re really hearing her. Now, I feel like I can’t say too much without giving away what she discusses, but hers is differently one of my favorites. Hence, making this list. I also appreciate that she calls us out for our own laziness, being in our heads too much, feeling so overwhelmed we shut down. I’ve been there.

Mel lets you know that the key to stop screwing yourself over in life may not be easy, but it’s actually quite simple. She also has a book called the 5 Second Rule, and also a 5 Second Journal. I haven’t read her book, but if you really connect with her talk, you might want to check them out, click the photos of the books below to view them on Amazon.



3. Luis Vargas

I am on a journey where I am trying to be more conscious on what I spend my money on. I am by no means a minimalist, but I have decluttered many things and I am starting to downsize my possessions. In the process, I’ve realized that I wasted my money on a lot of frivolous purchases. Whether it be cheap fast fashion from when I worked retail to dumb gadgets I never got use out of. I’ve realized as my itch to travel is growing exponetially by the day, that investing in experiences is so much more worthwhile than spending money on things. And for me, those experiences don’t include eating out (check out my post on how to save money for travel, this is a big no-no).

Through his anecdotes from his extensive travels, Luis articulates this same idea. He even cites some pretty alarming statistics that many Americans don’t hold a passport, and the ones that do rarely go beyond Mexico or Canada. That is so insane to me as someone who believes exploring cultures vastly different than your own seems like something everyone with the opportunity should aim to do. He talks about the notion society enforces that money and things are more important than experiences. And of course, he wholeheartedly disagrees. If you do too, give this a watch.

4. Lera Boroditsky

While many of the comments of this Ted Talk focus on her dress (which yes, is great), I enjoyed this one for many other reaosns. As with Tim, I was interested in this Ted Talk because languages interest me. Lera is incredibly well spoken and touched on themes I began to notice in myself as a language learner. Even though I’m still a beginner in Portuguese and Russian, and I’m at intermediate/upper intermediate level in Spanish, I’ve noticed a few things happen when I speak the languages. I almost become a different person. Ok, that sounds kind of strange, right? But, my voice changes depending on the words, I talk with my hands more in Portuguese, the volume of my voice changes. And it was something I kind of noticed, but didn’t really know what was going on.

Lera discusses this in her Ted Talk. She explains how language shapes of reality and our perceptions of the world can greatly differ from one other, solely based on language. She gives several anecdotes to illustrate this. One example being that in Russian there are several ways to say blue. For English speakers, we just say blue. But to Russians, it’s more specific, it’s different than that. As a Russian learner, one part of me thought oh no, I’m going to have to learn four ways to say blue and all six cases and letters of the alphabet? But a bigger part of me finds this so interesting. If you are interested in linguistics or are a language learner, I think you’ll enjoy this.

5. Justin Baldoni

This one was sitting in my watch later playlist for a while. I heard of Justin’s webseries called Man Enough and thoroughly enjoyed the conversations. The series featured a laid back chat between a diverse group of men in the industry as they tackled their take on masculinity. I highly suggest anyone, men and women, to check it out. In his Ted Talk, Justin discusses similar themes. He discusses what traits are considered to be manly and not-manly and why he no longer wants to live like, and why other men shouldn’t too.

I think his talk is important because it reminds people that feminism and equality movement really is equality for all, and it fights for men too. Justin physically fits the ideal of what a masculine guy should be. And while it’s an unfortunate truth, that likely allows people, especially other men, to listen to him, hear him out and take him seriously. He lets men out there know that while they should also be supporting women and checking themselves (and other men) for their own problematic behaviors, that they also are negatively impacted by society’s gender imbalance. I’d love to hear another talk by Justin, because there are many more topics that he could address, but until then watch this and check out his webseries.

6. Caroline McHugh

Caroline’s TED talk is a refreshing pick-me-up that I listened to when I really needed a boost of yes, both inspiration and motivation. There are many speeches covering the same topic of how to be yourself, including other TED Talks. However, whether it be her calm demeanor, intriguing accent or downright captivating content, I connected with her TED Talk more than others. She focuses on individuality, our obsession with approval from others and discusses an interesting concept on being perception-less versus perception-free.

She quotes Ghandi, “My life is my message.” And she adds by saying that it has to become. “Because if not, why are you here? It’s not like you have a spare.” I’m in a transitional point in my life, and creating one with purpose and meaning, whatever that means to me, is constantly on my mind. Caroline’s video is another resource I have in my arsenal if I ever need to remind myself of the bigger picture during rough patches. I am sure it can do the same for you. While just over 25 minutes, I didn’t find myself skipping any parts of it.

If you enjoyed her TED Talk, she has a book as well called Never Not a Lovely Moon. You can click the link or the picture below to shop it.

7. Bill Burnett

Similar to Caroline, Bill Burnett’s TED Talk provided me motivation and inspiration. However, their two styles couldn’t be more different. While Caroline is more calm and laid-back, Bill is a bit more straight-forward and no B.S. Don’t worry, he’s not one of those motivational speakers who practically berates and yells at their intended audience. Which, I mean, is cool if you’re in the mood for it. For some reason I find that great for fitness motivation videos, but I digress…

He just genuinely seems like a person with a spark and energy that can not be tampered with. So when talking about designing your dream life and living a life with purpose and passion, it’s quite inspiring. He seems like a testament to that ideal.

He wrote a co-wrote a book and co-founded a class with Dave Evans, who also gave a TED Talk. In contrast to Bill, Dave is practically bouncing off the walls. So check out his if you want more energy. However, I particularly enjoyed Bill’s talk. Don’t read this and assume Bill’s talk was slow and boring. He still managed to engage his audience throughout the entirety of his talk. For example, he provides three “dots” that he believes you should connect if you want to have a meaningful life. Bill also plays an interactive game involving having multiple lives. It’s extremely interesting and aimed at breaking down the limitations we put on ourselves.

Click the picture below to show the book.

8. Amal Kassir

Do you know those people who appear to be a breath of fresh air? Bubbly, happy, always smiling? Amal favors such a person. But as a Muslim woman, she is subjected to hate, ignorance and discrimination all the time. And she’s angry about inequality. But she doesn’t appear to let that negatively influence the person she is. She’s a spoken word poet and that definitely comes through in her delivery. She discusses all the different identities, most of which aren’t positive, that people assign her, before even asking her name. But as she put it, “the greatest distance you can travel in the shortest amount of time is by asking someone their name.”

Why do we already assign traits to people we haven’t met? Why do we generalize. A point she stated that gave me goosebumps is that “we’ve come to a point where we don’t ask people their names, because we already gave it to them.” I would highly encourage you to watch/listen to this TED Talk. How is it inspiring or motivating? For me, I aim to learn more about different people and quash any biases I havee. But an underlying theme in Amal’s talk is that you shouldn’t allow bad people turn you into another. And you shouldn’t let bad situations prevent you from recognizing or seeking good ones.

Have an event? You can book Amal here.

9. Rick Steves

You most likely heard of Rick Steves if you’re into travel. If you’re into watching travel videos, he’s almost inescapable. But I don’t mind because his travel videos are a source of education, motivation and inspiration for the budding traveler inside me. His TED Talk continued motivating and inspiring me as he discussed the incomparable value of traveling. And he doesn’t mean vacationing, he particularly emphasizes the importance of thoughtful travel. So that means getting out of the resort and spending more time with locals than other vacationers sunbathing at the beach. Sure, those could be fun too. But travel is so much more than that and he underlines that some of the most rewarding parts of travel is truly connecting with others.

He opens listeners’ minds and remind us, especially Americans since that is what he is and who he was speaking to, that we are not at the top of the world and others aren’t desperately trying to become like us. Huh? You may be thinking, I don’t think like that. But I think in a sense we all have some ethnocentric beliefs that he believes, and so do I, can be quashed if you connect and get to understand people from countries other than yours. While travel was the theme for the talk, overall it can also be interpreted as encouraging people to become more open minded, travel being an excellent tool to do so. He also recounted his experience in Iran which was truly inspiring and eyeopening. A takeaway line from Rick’s speech is, “fear is for people who don’t get out very much.”

10. Anil Seth

“When we agree about our hallucinations, we call that reality.” If you want to get tripped out and question your very existence and thoughts about the world, I highly recommend checking out this TED Talk by Anil Seth. This is kind of a weird choice to include on a list of TED Talks that motivate and inspire me. And I can’t exactly pinpoint it myself. Perhaps this talk inspires me to look at life, my thoughts and the world around me in a different light. Or maybe it motivates me to start studying the brain and neuroscience… okay, maybe not. But I highly recommend Anil’s talk which discusses our minds, our realities and how the two work with one another.

Through interactive examples such as audio and videos to demonstrate his point, this talk will definitely make you go “hmm…” The whole idea of our perception of self seems to be a complex subject. But don’t worry, because besides being intrigued, Anil explains it in a way that’s easy to digest while still adding humor when appropriate. I immediately thought he would make a great professor who I would gladly sit through a lecture for. His take on controlled hallucinations and the possibility of misperceiving the world and ourselves, is nothing short of intriguing. Even if you think you wouldn’t be interested in this topic, give it a chance. I’m sure you’ll be surprised.

Honorable Mentions


If you made it to the end, thank you! Thank you for reading this blog post. Check out some of my other posts and check back here weekly for new posts. Also, if you want to watch my Youtube channel, click here.




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