Why I’ve Made it a Point to Watch one TED Talk a Week

“Have you seen this TED talk?” he said.

This was ten years ago and the first time I heard of TED. It was someone I’d met on Facebook through a self-help group. We were talking about Simon Sinek and his insightful take on leadership.

Since then I’ve become a true fan of TED talks and I try to watch at least one talk a week. These talks are not only inspiring but also informative and entertaining. Learning is addictive and so it’s no surprise to see how the popularity of TED has soared. There are over one billion views of various presentations on their website and two million people watch different videos on TED every day.

They have become the new way that an idea is launched and spread into the world.

What is TED?

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. (About TED)

As I kept watching more talks, reading more books and continually learning through many self-help workshops, I managed to turn my life inside out. And much of my inspiration I owe to the short 12–18 minute videos I watched on TED. When I saw how my life was transformed, I shared my story with my own TED talk at TEDx Accra event in 2015 — “How to Awaken to your Aliveness.”

Below, I list the 5 talks that have helped me on my self-discovery journey:

  1. Do Schools kill creativity? — Sir Ken Robinson

“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not — because the thing they were good at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”

Sir Ken Robinson’s talk has been viewed over 16 million times and is one of the most popular talks on the site. His British wit and superb delivery makes the content much easier to absorb.

This talk shifted my thinking completely and led me to the more creative life I live now through writing. Through my schooling and upbringing I was always led to believe that creativity didn’t equate to success, money or leading a meaningful life. Now, I see that it’s only through creativity that I can be happy and live with purpose.

2. Your Elusive Creative Genius — Elizabeth Gilbert

“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”

Elizabeth Gilbert brought us the New York Times Best Seller ’Eat, Pray, Love,’ which was then made into a movie. She delves into the anxiety and fear of writing a book. Her take on how we get in the way of our own creativity is fascinating.

I learned here that despite the doubts and anxiety we should continue to show up and do what we love to do.

3. How Great Leaders inspire Action — Simon Sinek

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

Simon Sinek’s talk made me rethink both my business and life strategies. He shows how important it is to understand how we communicate our purpose (Why) to the outside world. He champions the Apple brand that consistently defies the odds and disrupts the market by simply stating what they believe in and explains how they build the brand based on their ‘Why.’

To achieve success, then one must follow his own story, his ‘Why’ and not follow others or the market.

4. The Power of Vulnerability — Brené Brown

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Brené Brown’s talk delves into emotions, love, connection, compassion, and shame from a different and insightful perspective. She left me not only assessing my emotions but also challenged my long-standing beliefs that have been cemented in my subconscious.

This life-changing TED Talk is one of the catalysts that inspired my journey into authenticity. After watching it, I started to see myself objectively. For years I had falsely assumed that being vulnerable meant being weak, and as such, I did not want to portray my vulnerability to the outside world. I hid behind the façade of a tough and robotic CEO. However, over time and through embracing the power of vulnerability, I’ve learned to overcome my fears and now recognize the freedom I feel when doing so.

5. The Power of Introverts — Susan Cain

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.”

In an age where being an extrovert trumps introversion, Susan explains why there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, and that when it comes to creativity we need introverts.

Being an INTJ (Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Thinking (T), Judgment (J)) –an introverted thinker who needs a lot of alone time to recharge my batteries, this talk brought a smile to my face. With time I’ve come to understand that though I can be extroverted in small doses, I need time and space (solitude) to create and meditate. I do not need to feel shame for not being as outgoing as people expect. I realize and accept that when introverts are allowed to be themselves, they can thrive in their quiet environments and make magic with their art.



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Mo Issa

Mo Issa


I rise daily at 5 am, meditate, read and journal on my Self-awareness journey. Some of my reflections make it to my blog; others don’t. (http://mo-issa.com)