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Audible Inspiration: Work Smarter by Listening to These 7 Great TED Talks

It’s in everyone’s best interest to work smarter — that’s at least why we spend so much time talking about it, and even more time developing and implementing the tools to help us get things done. But sometimes it’s not about the software, the quick-and-dirty tips, or even rehashing our busted time-management systems. A lot of the time, we just need a little encouragement. A new perspective. A relatable anecdote or two, or even a sliver of insight into someone else’s genius. And that’s what makes the TED movement so valuable: it’s given us all of that and more, through thought-provoking storytelling that brings humanity to even the most practical and businesslike of subjects.

Here are 7 TED talks that will inspire you to work smarter.

1. The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor

This talk hit home for those of us at Mindjet HQ, since we’re all about working inspired. Shawn Achor, psychologist and CEO of Good Think, Inc., turns the idea of working towards happiness on its head, proposing instead that productivity is a natural byproduct of happiness.

2. Smart Failure for a Fast-Changing World by Eddie Obeng

Business educator Eddie Obeng takes the basic philosophy behind agile business — that is, constant adaptability — to an entirely different level in his work, which centers around the idea that our world isn’t just changing, it’s totally unfamiliar to us. “We spend our time responding rationally to a world which we understand and recognize,” he says, “but which no longer exists.” In this talk, he explains ‘smart failure’ and why we all need to be doing more of it.

3. How To Make Work-Life Balance Work by Nigel Marsh

Nigel Marsh, author and marketer, believes that your work-life balance is far too valuable to be dictated by an outside entity — particularly one that’s only interested in part of you and your worth. “Certain job and career choices,” he says, “are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis.” Here’s how he makes it work.

4. A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success by Alain de Botton

Author Alain de Botton is devoted to helping people find fulfillment in their everyday lives, and to do that, asks important, thought-provoking questions about the way our society views — and acknowledges — success and failure.

5. The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

This piece by author and ‘quiet revolutionary’ Susan Cain is one of the most powerful on the list — not just because it’s a celebration of introversion and its often-unexpected potential, but because it illuminates society’s need as a whole to pare down our expectations of stereotypes to unleash the brilliance in all of us.

6. The Battle Between Your Present and Future Self by Daniel Goldstein

Just about all of us have wondered what it would be like if we could go back in time and give our younger selves some type of advice or insight. But since that’s not possible, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should start making better decisions now? In this talk, behavioral economist Daniel Goldstein outlines the tools we need to improve the lives of our future selves.

7. Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work by Jason Fried

We’re all about the telecommuting, but there’s more to it than just a desire to send emails in our bunny slippers. In his piece, software entrepreneur Jason Fried delves into the core reason why the office isn’t always the best place to get things done.

Did we miss your favorite TED talk? Share it with us in the comments.

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