5 Essential TED Talks for Social Enterprise Leaders

Last week, I shared 5 Must-See TED Talks for Nonprofit Leaders, but as this blog is devoted to both for- and non-profit organizations driven by a cause, I wanted to give equal time to my social enterprise peeps. 

While both traditional businesses and nonprofits have been around for a long time, social enterprises are still an emerging model. But, like you, I hope and believe that they are the future of business. Make money, and do good—at the same time? Yes, please! I can't wait to see what happens next in this movement.

And because I want you to also have fun and be successful, here are five TED Talks that I think will encourage social enterprise leaders, and employees, on their way to making a meaningful impact.

(PS: You don't have to work at a social enterprise to like them!)

5 Essential TED Talks for Social Enterprises

1. Tony Robbins: Why we do what we do

This speech will help you find, or remember, why you lead or work at a social enterprise. It's educational and motivational. It can be difficult to remember your "why" when funds are low, days are spent combing through email, you feel unappreciated or distracted, meetings never seem to end, or you're just caught up in the day-to-day of work. Sometimes we remember the "why" all on our own, and sometimes it takes someone to intervene. If you need the latter, use this talk. 

2. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

Whether you've reached your career-defining moment or not, you'll be encouraged by her talk. This is evidently the prelude to her latest, lovely memoir, Big Magic, and an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief. I believe many social entrepreneurs are "feelers" because they place the mission first. They're all about the business of improving lives, and while that can be attributed to the head, I think it's more likely attributed to the heart. Elizabeth gives us a way to deal with success, failure, and more importantly, the everyday in-between. I love her refrain to "keep showing up," and think you will too.

3. Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work

In this funny, 12-minute video Shawn will back up your theory that happy employees are better employees. And he reveals some incredibly interesting research that shows you how to think differently about success, because your views on success impact not only your happiness, but the happiness of those around you. Because these are two things that matter to each of us, I hope you'll pay attention. He's challenging us to create a new reality. Are you up for it?

4. Jacqueline Novogratz: Inspiring a life of immersion

If you've ever received any criticism, skepticism, strange looks, odd comments, or even raised eyebrows when you tell people about your work, you'll be interested in this talk. Though she tells a number of stories, I believe the theme of legacy is what binds them together. As a social entrepreneur, you're all about creating a better future, not just for yourself, but for others who need a partner or helping hand to make it so. Your work is designed to improve lives now, and for generations. You'll identify with her journey as you strive to live your own life of immersion.

5. Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

In some ways, a social enterprise is a hybrid between a traditional business and a nonprofit. This offers a lot of gifts, and a few challenges. And the social enterprises I know have two things in common. First, they all (obviously) choose to not to do business as usual. They want a more innovative environment, and want to run things a little differently. Second, there are usually at least a few people who have had more traditional business jobs, and therefore, bring that experience (or baggage) to the enterprise. Given these two things, creating a compelling office culture is vital in helping differentiate your organization and instill loyalty to your mission. In this talk, Ricardo is definitely a disruptor to traditional office culture. He may give you some ideas you want to explore, and maybe even a few you prefer to ignore. The point? You get to decide because it's your organization! 

6. BONUS: Richard St. John: Success is a continuous journey

Part cautionary tale and part business lecture, this four-minute video will remind you to stay focused on why you started your organization: for your customers and the people your work benefits. Success is relative, but hopefully not fleeting. And second chances are available to all of us.

By the way, I spent the better part of a day watching talk after talk to bring you five+ that I thought would help you be a better social entrepreneur. Whew—grueling work, but I'm here for you! Did I miss any of your favorites?


5 Essential TED Talks for Social Enterprise Leaders

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.