Image Credits: TED

If you haven’t watched a TED Talk, boy are you missing out. These talks are full of insight, advice, truth, and encouragement. I have watched so many of the most sought after TED Talks for young women and aspiring leaders. These 5 TED talks are sure to give you a new perspective on life, leadership, and yourself. Take a seat, grab some popcorn, and be ready to grow as a leader, women, and girl boss.

Your Elusive Creative Genius –  Elizabeth Gilbert 

This TED Talk is moving, inspiring, and surprisingly funny. This successful author of “Eat, Pray, Love” found herself in a bit of a conundrum following the blow up of her most recent book. Many friends, family members, and colleagues would voice concern over her ability to top her recent success and if it would be possible at all. In this TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert discusses how fear can actually push us farther, make us want more, and keep us going. In short, there are benefits of fear. Gilbert goes through stories articulating how her fear has made her stronger, braver, and has allowed her to stop thinking, “it’s exceedingly likely that my greatest success is behind me.” Gilbert shares the crazy idea that there are not single individuals who are born geniuses and those are the only people who are able to succeed, but instead makes the point that we all have “genius” inside of us. If we want to move forward in our dreams and careers, we mustn’t let fear decide what we can and can not do. In order to succeed we must zone out fear and zone out external comments about our capabilities.

Watch Elizabeth’s TED Talk here.


Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders – Sheryl Sandberg 

Sheryl is the COO of Facebook, the largest social networking site to date. Sandberg starts our her Talk showing us how lucky we are to have grown up in the time that we did, but that there is still an issue. She states, “women are not making it to the top of any profession anywhere in the world.”  First, she shares data that women are not at the top, then she makes it personal by sharing a story of being the only women to have ever pitched a deal in a fancy, New York equity office. I love what Sandberg does next. Instead of going on a tangent blaming everyone else for this issue, she very honestly says, “I am convinced that women are dropping out.” Women are consistently underestimating their own abilities. Women are more afraid to sit at the table or get the top grade, but Sandberg says, “NO! Sit at the table, make your partner a partner, and don’t leave before you leave.” This inspiring TED Talk aims to show women that they are the ones who have to make the change in the work force. Stepping down, letting men lead when you could do an amazing job as well only perpetuates the problem of why women are not at the top.

Watch Sheryl’s TED Talk here.

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are – Amy Cuddy 

Have some tissues ready. This TED Talk definitely had me tearing up. Cuddy is a social psychologist who argues the point that not only does our body language affect how others see us, but also how we see ourselves. This really got me thinking about my own personal body language and how it affects me on a regular basis. Cuddy makes the claim that even when we do not feel confident in a situation or about our capabilities. when we “power pose” we can feel confident in ourselves. It might even have an impact on our overall success. Cuddy points out that, “when we think of nonverbals, we think of how we judge others, how they judge us and what the outcomes are. We tend to forget, though, the other audience that’s influenced by our nonverbals, and that’s ourselves.” This talk is filled with tear jerking stories, awesome advice, and a realization about myself and my body language that I may not have even thought about. At the conclusion of the talk she encourages listeners to try her idea of “power posing.” She urges the audience to share the science to others because it can significantly change the outcome of their life. This TED Talk is a must listen.

Watch Amy’s TED Talk here.


Being Young and Making An Impact – Natalie Warne 

Let me start off by saying that Natalie Warne is a total girl boss. At 18, she helped run campaigns for the Invisible Children movement. Her story is inspiring. If you ever think that you are too young to do amazing things then you need to listen to Natalie’s TED Talk. Natalie is an phenomenal biracial activist and her dream had always been to be an activist like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She grew up in a rough poor neighborhood, but she didn’t let that stop her. When she first heard about the Invisible Children fight, the first question she asked was “What can I do. How can I help?” She was willing to do whatever she had to. Natalie postponed college, received no paycheck, left her family and moved to San Diego. Natalie goes through the amount of hours she spent working, the number of times she was rejected, and the amount of money she spent personally. In addition, she shares some of the ridiculous things she did to pull off Invisible Children events to “rescue” cities. This TED Talk moved my heart. It is full of advice, and even better, truth. Natalie is honest with the audience. If you are an aspiring leader, but think you are too young, watch this. If you think that your ideas are crazy and unachievable, watch this. This 13 minute TED Talk is well worth the time.

Watch Natalie’s TED Talk here.

The Danger of a Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

The first time I saw this TED Talk was in a political science classroom. This young, beautiful, Nigerian women gives a hilarious, truthful, and tear jerking story about being single and narrow minded. My absolute favorite part of this talk is when Adichie tells the story of her arriving at college in the United States. “My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my ‘tribal music,’ and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.” I promise you this TED Talk will have you questioning the way you see things and how you see others. This talk dives into how a single story can shape the way we think and feel, but how often times that story is incorrect. When we have a single story, we make assumptions about things we do not know or understand. “Creating a single story shows people as one thing, as one thing over and over again and that is what they become,”  Adichie states. She says that power comes when individuals continuously make a single story for another group of people. That is how one group is able to be in charge, make more money, and get a better education. She ends with the thought: “That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.” This TED Talk is eye opening and intriguing.

Watch Chimamanda’s TED Talk here.

Kelci W