TED Talks! are your pre-curated go-to videos for some intellectual food for thought when you need to indulge. No matter which you pick, the odds are high that you'll learn something completely unexpected. If not? You pick another. And with their new iPad app, it's gotten even easier to feed your brain (they've even made it surprisingly easy to pick a few variables and have an instant playlist set up for you).
Here are five unexpected things learned about life through TED talks:
We spend so much time thinking about what we want and working to get it that this just doesn't seem like it could be true. But no matter how important the decision, there are dozens of irrelevant and inconsequential things that influence us even though we think we're the one in the driver's seat.
Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, shows us a few funny (but also scary) examples of how people aren't actually as rational as they think. For example, if you offer a focus group the choice between a free trip to Rome or a free trip to Paris, the results would be pretty evenly split. What if you add the option of a free trip to Rome with coffee included? That seemingly meaningless addition to the list of choices makes that all-inclusive trip to Rome look more attractive by comparison, and a majority of people choose Rome over Paris. Did Rome suddenly get a lot better? Do people care that much about a free cup of coffee? No. But subconsciously people compared the two most similar options and chose the best of the two, completely forgetting about Paris.
Favorite quotes: "If you ever go bar hopping, who do you want to take with you? You want a slightly uglier version of yourself." and "Useless options help people figure out what they want."
There's a certain amount of secrecy that comes with being an entrepreneur, since our ideas are what set us apart. However, the conventional wisdom is to share your goals (even if it's just with a spouse or trusted associate) so that they're real and someone can help hold you accountable. Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby, says to keep your goals to yourself. In a fascinating bit of psychology, it turns out that just saying our goal to another person gives us a positive feeling that is the same as if we actually accomplished something. Therefore, we're not as motivated to keep working.
Favorite quote: "...understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing."
A corporation can spend a million dollars in advertising and development only to find that a simple, modest effort has a bigger influence. Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy Group, points out that small actions have more capacity to change things than big ones. I'm all about finding the amazing, overlooked little details in life, so I found it fascinating to see that applied to everything from airport signs and elevators to conquering hunger in developing nations. Want people to remember your hotel over others? The million-dollar renovation will go unnoticed by most people, while something as small as giving them control over the music that plays in the elevator will make them spread the story to all their friends.
Favorite quotes: "Very, very small changes can have disproportionately huge effects. And equally, enormous mergers can actually accomplish bugger-all." and "Every corporation should have a Chief Detail Officer, and every government should have a Ministry of Detail."
There are so many tests for figuring out what type of personality you have. Are you an INTJ, ENFP, a thinker, a doer? The list goes on. Philip Zimbardo, the researcher behind the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, shares how the way we think about time influences our actions more than we think. The most successful people tend to be future-oriented, meaning everything is about future rewards. This is great for building a business or earning money, but can take its toll on family and personal life. Zimbardo talks about how to change the way we think about time. Unlike changing your personality, it's not a hard thing to do.
Favorite quote: "Future gives you WINGS... to soar to new destinations and challenges. Present hedonism gives you ENERGY... to explore people, places, self, & sensuality.""
Christien Meindertsma tracked one pig to find out what besides meat this animal contributed to the world. The answers are quite weird. Everything from bread and soap to bullets and artificial heart valves has a little bit of pig in it. OK, so this one might sound more like the answer to a trivia question, but it actually got me thinking about the lifespan of what I do and how I'm sharing a part of myself every day I post my thoughts, finds and adventures.
Favorite quote: "185 products are made from pigs .. it's odd that we don't treat these pigs as absolute kings and queens."
What totally shocking things have you learned? Whether you saw it in a TED talk, read it online or figured it out on your own, let us know!