TED: The Real Reason I’m in HR

I am a complete and utter TED Talks junkie. Seriously. Whenever a professor introduces a TED Talk in a lecture, I am transformed into someone with the excitement of 9-year old girl at a Spice Girls concert in the mid-1990s. I am qualified to say this, because I was in fact, a 9-year old girl at a Spice Girls concert in the mid-1990s.

Girl Power.

Ted Talks (swoon). Why do I love these bite-size morsels of informational goodness? Mostly because they introduce people to extraordinary ways of thinking about ordinary things. I subscribe to the notion that in order to change the world, you have to challenge people on the assumptions they make every day that guide them to behave in the ways they do.

You have to change the way people think.

I say that very cautiously, because I believe there are effective and ineffective ways of doing so. Making more rules, telling someone they’re wrong, telling someone you’re right—typically not very effective in my experience. Understanding someone’s motivation for doing what they do (Fear? Insecurity? A need for power and control?), and guiding them to the realization that the method they’re using to fulfill that need may not be healthy or sustainable—much more effective.

But the first step in all this is truly understanding how the world has come to be this way, and how the world has shaped how people think. How has our history led us to this exact moment in time? That where my one true love, TED, comes in.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite goosebump-worthy TED Talks below. Ultimately, I credit my commitment to changing the world—using HR as a vehicle to do so—to the four individuals below.

The first, psychologist and author Barry Schwartz talks about how work came to be seen purely as a means to an end and what we can do to change that notion.

Shawn Achor is one of the funniest storytellers of all time. And in this TED Talk, he speaks about the power of positive psychology in rewiring our brains for gratitude and happiness.

Regina Hartley posits that organizations should “hire the scrapper.” She explains why candidates get looked over every day for gaps in their resume and non-traditional work experience. She argues that these are the very people we should invest in.

5-time CEO Margaret Heffernan challenges the notion that competition is the way to get ahead. Unsuccessful teams are comprised of high achievers, while successful teams are comprised of helpers. And she does it all in a fantastic British accent.

If you have a favorite TED Talk, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!