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May 30, 2012

TED Talks Top 10 Business & Economics Talks


For your viewing pleasure TED Talks Top 10 Business & Economics Talks. The first two here are great to watch together:

1. Malcolm Gladwell: What We Can Learn From Spaghetti Sauce

In this interesting talk delivered by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, he explores how the food industry went from looking for the perfect single spaghetti sauce recipe to a more diverse approach of creating a variety of spaghetti sauces to suit the desires of shoppers. He examines this trend through one of its main proponents Howard Moskowitz who used the field of psychophysics to create a variety of original sauces for Prego in the 1980s. Once this variability was proven to be successful it spread to the rest of the food industry, and Gladwell feels we are all happier for this increase in choices.

2. Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, discusses some of the observations he makes in his book in this talk from the TED conference. He argues that the vast explosion of choices in advanced capitalist societies has led to increased paralysis in terms of decision making and ultimately decreased satisfaction. He provides a number of examples to back up his thesis that more choice and individual freedom is not always best.

3. Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn't Happen at Work

37signals co-founder and Rework author Jason Fried makes some provocative suggestions regarding why work doesn't get done in the workplace. He suggests that interruptions are the key component contributing to the lack work accomplished in the workplace and that managers and meetings are to blame. He relates the stage of work to the stages of sleep and in order to get the best work done one needs to go through these stages without interruption. This talk was delivered at the TEDxMidwest Conference.

4. Seth Godin on Standing Out

Seth Godin feels that days of status quo marketing through the television industrial complex are coming to an end. People are too busy to pay attention to the nonstop advertising of average products for average people. What grabs people's attention is something remarkable, or rather something worth making a remark about. And their remarks spread the ideas or products to the world and make it a success. Learn about the cutting edge of spreading ideas with this talk by Seth Godin.

5. Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

Ad man Rory Sutherland takes a look at his profession and shows how advertising makes regular things valuable and that this perceived value is often just as satisfying as what we consider "real" value. He makes many telling jokes about this matter such as why don't we sell placebos as medication if they're actually shown to work in the perception of the ailing person. Throughout the talk he makes his point that advertising can often do a better job at spreading an idea or a product than rational problem solving.

6. Johanna Blakley: Lessons from Fashion's Free Culture

Johanna Blakley delivers an eye-opening talk on copyrights in the world of fashion. Because the courts have deemed garments as too utilitarian to be copyrighted, the fashion industry has a complete lack of copyrights when it comes to their designs. They do have trademarks over their brands, but when it comes to the design anyone can copy it. This has led to the fashion imitations we are familiar with, but Blakley points out this hasn't really hurt the industry because the customers who are buying the fakes are not the same as the customers who buy the real thing. If anything Blakley feels this has spawned creativity in fashion as designers are able to mix and match with any designs throughout history and they increasingly try to make designs that can't easily be copied. Blakley points to other industries where items can't be copyrighted and she feels that the struggling industries of movies, books, and music might need to update their ideas on copyright in this new digital age.

7. Steven Levitt Analyzes Crack Economics

In this humorous sketch provided by TED Talks, Steven Levitt analyzes what it takes to make a living selling drugs. Taking America's crack epidemic as a template, Levitt discusses how inner city gangs developed a corporate structure that consolidated power, left little room for promotion, and was incredibly dangerous to boot. In the end Levitt argues that selling drugs on the street is about as lucrative as working at McDonald's, but that this fact hasn't diluted its mystique.

8. Chip Conley: Measuring What Makes Life Worthwhile

While businesses are obsessed with measuring the tangible elements for their business, hotelier and author of Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow Chip Conley makes a strong case for businesses to measure the intangibles of business such as the feelings of customers or the whether the employees find their work meaningful. After studying the "hierarchy of needs" developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow, Conley realized that there was a lot more to his business than making sure his customer's basic needs were met. He set out to measure and improve the metrics of intangible benefits to his customers and employees and his hotel business boomed to become the second largest boutique hotelier in the world.

9. William Ury: The Walk from "No" to "Yes"

Master negotiator and Getting to YES author William Ury tells stories of successful negotiations he has conducted throughout his life often in heated political arenas. He talks about the Abraham Path Initiative which he conducted as a way of getting to the root of the conflicts in the Middle East by having people walk the path Abraham walked and practice Abrahamic hospitality along the way. This talk was delivered at the TEDxMidwest Conference.

10. Richard Branson's Life at 30,000 Feet

TED's Chris Anderson sits down with multibillionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson to discuss his some of the over 400 companies he's started in his Virgin Group. Branson gives some advice and tells of his adventures along the way. He talks about his Virgin Galactic which is now booking sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public. And he tells of his philanthropic efforts around the world.