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Need some motivation? Look no further than this group of TED Talks, from experts in a variety of fields. From the aid worker who battled hippos (and lost) to the analyst who discovered the power of drawing toast (and how those drawings revealed simple solutions to complex problems),” this roundup of TED Talks is ideal for motivating yourself or your sales team.

Each piece takes only moments to watch, but provides takeaways you’ll think about long after the talk ends. Remember, these videos can be watched any time you need a little extra motivation to get things done, tackle a problem or reach your goals.

6 Don’t Miss Motivational TED Talks for Salespeople

1. Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make toast by Tom Wujec

Toast? How does it relate to sales or motivation?

This TED talk revolves around breaking down large tasks or goals into less complex pieces. While the ability to break tasks down into smaller steps is something most of us do intuitively, it does not always translate well to the workplace.

Wujec discusses how his test case – asking a group to draw pictures of the process of making toast – revealed some key ways we can break tasks down into their most basic elements and then reconstruct them in ways that make sense.

How many steps are needed to provide enough detail and allow you to complete a task or reach a sales goal? How many steps become overwhelming and are just “too much” and force you to give up before you even begin? The toast project provides some clear insight into goal setting and more important, goal achieving.

Grab some Post-Its (you’ll need them), a pen and your latest goal and watch this interesting take on breaking complex tasks into reasonable deliverables.

2. How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings by David Grady

Are routine meetings sucking up too much of your time and your day? David Grady tackles the topic of too many meetings – and how bad meetings can disrupt and distract you from your day. Nonproductive meetings are big time wasters, and if the meeting generates enough additional tasks, you can find yourself getting further and further from your goals.

This dynamic, to-the-point talk addresses the problems with bad meetings – what makes them bad, and why they have such an impact on your success. Even decently run meetings can derail your progress, if there are too many of them, too often. Grady gives some tips for avoiding “Meeting Acceptance Syndrome” or MAS; basically, the need to accept a meeting request, even if you have no interest in the topic or mandate to be there.

While some meetings are needed and important, Grady suggests taking an alternative and thoughtful approach to your schedule and has some ideas for gracefully bowing out. This short, fun and insightful topic will have you questioning how many sales meetings you run and attend and evaluating if those meetings are indeed helping you reach your sales goals.

3. The power of believing you can improve by Carol Dweck

Yet. Adding this simple word can result in a powerful shift for your mindset.

“I haven’t reached my goal…yet”

“I haven’t been number 1…yet”

We send ourselves strong messages of failure every day. These messages resonate and make it even more difficult to move forward. Carol Dweck discusses the power of “yet” and how it impacts school children to succeed. As a motivation for sales, the idea that we are still developing and on the way to a goal can be powerful, particularly if you feel like you are scrambling to gain a foothold or in danger of missing your mark entirely.

Rewarding based on effort, progress or strategy, and taking those qualities as a win can motivate people to stay in the game and keep moving forward. Sticking to a goal, even when you seem like you are not there “yet” keeps you moving closer and ensures you eventually get there. Giving up, feeling like a failure or like you have missed the mark means you’ll never quite get there. Dweck shares anecdotes about the power of “yet” and the reason this little word can help us stay motivated.

4. 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change by Jim Hemerling

How you ever noticed that when we make a change for the better in our personal lives, like training for a marathon or living a healthier lifestyle, we are often extremely energetic and excited? We want to tell the whole world about our journey and stay as motivated as possible. But when we experience organizational change at the workplace, we often are fearful, stubborn, and exhausted. Why is it easier to personally change than organizationally change?

The answer always comes down to leadership and how change is approached. Change is always occurring. It is a manager’s job as the leader to make sure your team can adapt to change without feeling exhausted or under too much stress and constraint.

Being an effective leader and manager entails much more than providing support around the technical side of the work you are aiming to accomplish. As Jim Hemerling states in this Ted Talk, to be a strong and inspiring leader, one must put their people first. Make your team feel comfortable in an inclusive environment where they aren’t afraid to share their opinions and ideas. Make your team feel important. Inspire them and enable them with the capabilities they need to succeed.

Let Hemerling’s straightforward speech inspire you to develop effective change management skills to lead your team in this constantly changing world.

5. Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume by Regina Hartley

Candidate A: Ivy League, 4.0 GPA, flawless resume, great recommendations.

Candidate B: State school, fair amount of job-hopping, weird jobs like singing waitress.

Who will you hire?

In this Ted Talk, Regina Hartley goes into detail on how hiring the seemingly lesser-attractive candidate on paper can actually be the better choice. Recognizing hardships that an individual has overcome in their life can lead to hiring the most successful worker. Think about it this way; the “scrapper” candidate managed to succeed when their life was destined for failure. They took their learning disabilities and turned them into desired difficulties just as Steve Jobs did with his dyslexia.

Hartley goes into her own personal experience of being the “scrapper” candidate: growing up in a house with a schizophrenic father and no ownership of a house, car, or phone. However, Hartley took these hardships and embraced them as keys to who she has become, undergoing “post-traumatic growth,” and hopes that you recognize candidates who have done the same.

So, who will you hire?

6. Try something new for 30 days by Matt Cutts

This may feel like one of those super fluffy motivational videos that leave the viewers with no tactical plan of action, however, in order to make this video relevant, sales professional must apply this advice with their everyday sales tactics.

All sales teams have ups and downs. Sometimes we see success early in the sales period and have happy sales managers. However, teams always hit a point where making quotas isn’t so easy. Sales professionals typically just continue to utilize the same approach that seemed effective for the ‘easy weeks,’ reaching the same types of prospects, using the same approach and process.

This is where trying something different for 30 days can be a game-changer. Learn and implement daily social selling strategies; increase your daily outreach to prospects—there are probably lots of options if you think about it. Just try it for 30 days and see what happens. From a manager’s perspective, this way of free thinking can be a huge motivator for your team.

Each of these compelling talks provides an interesting take on solving a problem, reaching a goal or finding the success you crave; watch when you have a few moments to spare or need some fresh motivation to get moving.


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