Tried And Tested: 8 Inspirational TED Talks To Ignite Your Career Fire

Stuck in a rut? Over trying to work out what your passion is? Feeling uninspired or unskilled?

Then you need to settle in with a cuppa and try out these awesome TED talks. From humour to experience to cold hard truths, we’ve hand-picked some of the best to get you reaching your career potential in no time! Check them out.

#1 Bel Pesce: “5 Ways to Kill Your Dream”

Time: 6 minutes

This relatable Brazilian author gives a quick 5 point countdown on how to turn dreams into reality. She does it by debunking a few myths; you know, the ones like ‘success happens overnight’. Does it really?

She explains how hanging onto these perceptions creates pressure and stalls our ability to actually reach our goals. If you have a few spare minutes, give it a go.

#2 Larry Smith: “Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career”

Time: 15 minutes

OK, so it may not be an inspiring title, but economist Larry Smith is surprisingly funny and blunt as he goes through all the ridiculous excuses we make about our failure to pursue our dreams.

What stood out to me – as a constant procrastinator in the passion department – is the suggestion that fear is driving my excuses. Interesting and shamefully true, Larry’s humour makes this type of TED talk easy viewing.

#3 Elizabeth Gilbert: “Success, Failure And The Drive To Keep Creating”

Time: 7 mins

This is one of my favourite TED talks. It spoke straight to my soul as a writer but will resonate with anyone who struggles with rejection and fear or questions their passion and creativity.

The Eat, Pray, Love author talks about the similar feelings both failure and success inspired in her as she went from a struggling wannabe writer dealing with rejection, to a published author with a global bestseller. I love how she describes passion as simply “being home”.

“I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing. I loved writing more than my ego; which is ultimately to say, I loved writing more than I loved myself,” Elizabeth says.

#4 Regina Hartley: “Why The Best Hire Might Not Have The Perfect Resume”

Time: 10 mins

As a self-proclaimed underdog, this talk gave me hope in my quest to achieving my dream career.

Human Resources executive Regina Hartley talks about two different types of job applicants: the scrapper (the person who probably had to fight against the odds) and the silver spoon (the Ivy League alumni destined for success).

This talk is about how companies may steer towards hiring the silver spoon but it’s the scrapper that has that added X factor through their passion and determination. Watch it to find out why.

#5 Emilie Wapnick: “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling”

Time: 12 mins

If you feel like the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” has been an anxiety ridden sentence for as long as you remember, this is the TED talk for you.

Emilie suggests ever since we were first asked that question as a kid, the expectation has been only one path is the right path. Can we succeed in more than one area? Is it possible to be a dog trainer-neurosurgeon-life coach all at the same time?

#6 Stefan Sagmeister: “The Power Of Time Off”

Time: 18 mins

This guy is a genius. Every 7 years, Stefan shuts his design studio and takes a 12 month break to pursue other interests.

This talk focuses on the importance of time away from work and how it not only reignites inspiration in your career but challenges personal growth too.

#7 Scott Dinsmore: “How To Find Work You Love”

Time: 18 mins

Scott says that 80% people are dissatisfied with their job. He was one of them. So he quit to go on a quest to find meaning in his career.

This is a simple talk about how we define personal purpose and how putting it to action can keep you from being a statistic.

#8 Maya Penn: “Meet A Young Entrepreneur, Cartoonist, Designer, Activist…”

Time: 7 mins

This 13 year old entrepreneur, company owner, animator and activist will have your head spinning. It seems there’s nothing this kid can’t do.

Maya’s ambition and success is testament to her can-do attitude when it comes to putting ideas into action.

Sometimes it takes youthful enthusiasm to teach us about the simplicity of passion and just how far it can get us if we just take the risk.


A published freelance writer from print to online, Katy’s passion is honest authentic writing. From the mundane experience to a sensational observation, Katy always finds a way to voice what she sees. Relatable and quirky, she writes with warmth and familiarity. She also loves lists, matching socks and edamame beans. You can find her on Twitter @whatktdidnextfw and Facebook.