London is a great city, but one of its downsides is that it takes a long time to get to most places. The TED Talks app has significantly enriched my commutes. Here are my top ten TED talks:
1) The Family I Lost in North Korea, and the Family I Gained (Joseph Kim). Perhaps the most poignant TED talk I’ve heard, about a boy who list his family in North Korea. About how simple acts of kindness can transform someone’s life.
2) Are We In Control Of Our Decisions? (Dan Ariely). On how “nudges” (e.g. by companies selling products, or policymakers) can radically affect people’s behavior. One of the leading lights in behavioral economics; his other TED talks are also excellent.
3) The Hidden Power of Smiling (Ron Gutman). On how the simple act of smiling has a positive causal effect on your lifespan, success, and health. 4 million views.
4) The Puzzle of Motivation (Dan Pink). How intrinsic motivation is much more powerful than extrinsic motivation (using rewards). I thought I already knew this idea, but this went into far greater depth than what I’d heard before. 3 million views.
5) How Great Leaders Inspire Action (Simon Sinek). Leadership and inspiration doesn’t require you to do superhuman feats (what you do), but stem from how and why you do something. 2.5 million views.
6) Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are (Amy Cuddy). How adopting particular body language has a causal effect on your performance. This is something I was naturally skeptical about, being an dull economist, but this was an illuminating talk based on scientific evidence.
7) The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong (Dan Pallotta). We often think that charities shouldn’t spend on advertising, on hiring good managers – but such investment pays many times over.
8) Teach Every Child About Food (Jamie Oliver). The critical importance of nutrition for health. You may think that you’ve heard it all before, but this is powerfully and cogently argued, and has the potential to change your everyday life.
9) Building US-China Relations By Banjo (Abigail Washburn). The power of music to create community and cross boundaries – that diplomats, politicians and economists couldn’t cross.
10) The Surprising Science of Happiness (Dan Gilbert). We spend our whole lives chasing after happiness, but we can actually manufacture it ourselves.