Coffee Break / Inspiration

17 TED talks that every woman needs to watch

. 6 min read . Written by Rasika Rane
17 TED talks that every woman needs to watch

Are you caught up in the mundane? If you sighed at that question, you definitely need some inspiration and a fresh perspective towards life and work. Don’t worry, Kool Kanya has got you covered. TED talks is a great place to start if you’re seeking motivational thoughts about everything, from work life to personal values, to encouragement.

We’ve curated a ‘TED talks by women’ series led by diverse women who found empowerment in their career and personal paths. Wherever you are right now in your life and career, these women have valuable words of wisdom. These videos will help you get clarity and lift your spirits. Take some time to absorb these empowering stories coming from the best women pioneers of our time.

‘Why we have too few women leaders’ by Sheryl Sandberg

This is one of the most popular TED talks to date. It’s not a surprise as they are words coming from the COO of Facebook and a bestselling author, Sheryl Sandberg. She discusses the dissection of gender inequality at the top levels of business and initiates a compelling call to action for the women who dream of being at the top. Her message addresses the struggles of women as she lays out three sure signs that will get you to your goals in the workforce.

‘The power of vulnerability’ by Brené Brown

Brené Brown elaborates on the transforming power of being a human being and our ability to empathise, belong, and love through this talk. In a poignant, funny manner, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A ‘Talk to Share’ she calls it, and rightly so.

‘The career advice you probably didn’t get’ by Susan Colantuono

This one’s for you if you feel like you’re stuck in a career rut. Susan Colantuono explores the defining attributes of leaders and addresses the question of why so many women make it to middle management, but not to the top levels of the business. She exclaims a lack of advice on ‘acumen’ for women and instead suggests focusing on ‘personal actions’ such as improving confidence and self-promotion.

‘Can we all “have it all”?’ by Anne-Marie Slaughter

Anne-Marie Slaughter takes a fresh look at this ubiquitous question, asking whether work-life balance is just a women’s issue. Drawing from personal experience, she shares the story of how she decided to reassess the ‘feminist narrative’ she grew up with. She expands her ideas and explains why transformation in work culture, public policy and social customs can lead to equality.

‘Why 30 is not the new 20’ by Meg Jay

This talk is a wakeup call to twentysomethings everywhere. Psychologist Meg Jay describes the twentysomethings phase of life as ‘the defining decade’. Her research found that the choices you make in your 20s are laying the foundation for your future, personally and professionally. Just because marriage, work and kids are happening later in life, doesn’t mean you can’t start planning now. She offers advice for all twentysomethings to reclaim adulthood in the defining decade of their lives.

‘The power of introverts’ by Susan Cain

In a world where being social and outgoing are valued above everything, it can be challenging to be an introvert. Susan Cain argues that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world and should be encouraged and celebrated. Turning the timid, antisocial introverted stereotype on its head, Cain explains the unique skills that introverts bring to the table. She also discusses the barriers we may face in a workplace designed for the extrovert. Her talk is a fascinating look at the world of the introverted leader, a concept further explored in Cain’s book, Quiet.

‘Dare to disagree’ by Margaret Heffernan

We instinctively avoid conflicts. But Margaret Heffernan demonstrates that reasonable disagreement is essential to progress. She explains how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to disagree profoundly. Her personal advice is about being open to differences, changing our minds, seeking contrary evidence and overcoming fear.

‘What it takes to be a great leader’ by Roselinde Torres

Roselinde Torres describes her experience of observing truly great leaders at work. She shares the three simple, but crucial questions you need to ask the leader in you: what are you looking for? What’s the diversity of your network? Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has helped you succeed in the past? The first question touches on strategic understanding, the second helps in engaging others while the third takes you on the path of personal greatness.

‘How to gain control of your free time’ by Laura Vanderkam

We overwhelm ourselves with the concept that we don’t have enough time in the day. How do we find time for what matters the most? How do we decide how long each task will take? Laura Vanderkam is a time management expert who studies how people spend their lives. She reveals that we often overestimate our commitments while underestimating the time we have for ourselves. According to her, we can’t make more time, but we can stretch time to accommodate what we decide to put into it. She offers practical strategies to help find more time for what matters to us, so we can “build the lives we want in the time we’ve got.”

‘How to get back to work after a career break’ by Carol Fishman Cohen

Returning to work after an extended break can be challenging. Career expert, Carol Fishman Cohen offers a ton of suggestions for ‘re-launchers’, from networking to finding a job to updating your work skills. She talks about the importance of considering internships and test period jobs. Through her own experience of returning to work after a career break, Cohen shares how employers are changing the way they engage with return-to-work talent.

‘Grit, the power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela Lee Duckworth

Quitting a high-paying job in consulting, Angela Lee Duckworth took a position to teach Math in a public school. While doing this, she realised that IQ wasn’t the only thing separating success and struggles. Duckworth has conducted extensive research on why some people succeed where others fail and concludes that grit is the determining factor. Grit is the view that life should be approached as a challenging marathon rather than a sprint. People with grit are more likely to accept occasional failure as the price of learning, a process which often translates into long-term, sustainable career success.

‘Women entrepreneurs, example not exception’ by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that women running firms are overlooked keys to economic development. She makes special notes on innovation and self-sufficiency and talks about inspiring our entrepreneurial spirit with self-hacks that create growth and access to finance, markets, and business networks.

‘Get comfortable with being uncomfortable’ by Luvvie Ajayi

Luvvie Ajayi, a self-proclaimed professional troublemaker, talks about her mission to leave the world better than we found it. She highlights how confronting your fears can empower your life’s path. She believes that your silence serves no one and encourages you to get a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable. She also shares the three questions you should ask yourself if you’re teetering on the edge of speaking up or quieting down.

‘The gift and power of emotional courage’ by Susan David

Anxiety and stress can get the best of you. Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our inner self reflects on how we deal with the world. In this talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. Emotional agility is a form of self-care that allows us to approach our emotions with curiosity, compassion, and courage to take value connected steps forward. She urges you to habit these steps to detach, reflect, and focus on authenticity.

‘Know your worth, and then ask for it’ by Casey Brown

The pay gap is real, and it’s time to speak up. Companies aren’t paying you what you’re worth; instead, they’re paying you what they think you’re worth. Pricing consultant Casey Brown guides you through her learnings on how to clearly define and communicate your value and take steps towards being paid for your quality.

‘To solve the world’s biggest problems, invest in women and girls’ by Musimbi Kanyoro

Musimbi Kanyoro introduces the Maragoli concept of ‘isirika’, a practical way of life that embraces the mutual responsibility to care for one another. She has seen women practising it all over the world and urges everyone to follow equal generosity and care for one another. She also calls for women to support women and their ideas, so they can expand and grow.

‘Your body language shapes who you are’ by Amy Cuddy

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy claims that owning your body language is the key to unlocking substantial life goals. She claims that ‘power posing’ — which is standing in a posture of confidence even when you don’t feel confident— can boost feelings of confidence. According to her, this applies to women specifically as the ‘power non-verbal’ makeup much of their unspoken communication.