One of my career values is working at the frontiers of knowledge which explains my interest in technology and the latest in brain science and human development. And yesterday, as I was posting our latest Uniquely Brilliant podcast episode on YouTube, several TED Talks appeared in the suggested videos. So I watched one, and then another, and yet another.

I’d forgotten how much I enjoy listening to people talk about their ideas. I love to learn more about how our brains work, how to take control of our time, and whatever other topics serendipitously pop up on my screen as I’m watching.

What’s a TED Talk?

The acronym TED stands for technology, education, and design. TED Talks began in the 1980’s as invitation only events for movers and shakers in the TED fields.

Now it’s a non-profit, with over 2700 talks available online at Talks are limited to 18 minutes or less (some go over a little bit)! Plus there are TED affiliated talks all over the world that are delivered at TEDx events.

So, for your watching and listening pleasure, here are 5 TED Talks that I find thought-provoking. I’ve included a bonus 6th TEDx Talk, given by my friend, Jill Davis, at TEDx Colorado Springs last year. I got a little chill of excitement as I wrote that sentence!!

The number in parentheses after the TED Talk name indicates its length.

Free time? What’s that?

Laura Vanderkam: How to Gain Control of Your Free Time (11:54)

The first time I listed to Laura, I was gobsmacked. Laura gives the best explanation I’ve ever heard of how time expands. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from her talk:

“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”

“…time is highly elastic. We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it.”

Girlfriends keep us healthy

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin: A TED Interview (15:44)

Fonda and Tomlin have been friends since they made the feminist tour-de-force movie, 9 to 5, in 1980. I’ve always followed and loved their work (both in entertainment and in feminist social justice) and did an insane happy dance when their Netflix show, Grace and Frankie, was announced.

In their interview with Pat Mitchell, they share their strategies for maintaining friendships and share some interesting research on the value of female friendships. They cracked me up.

Two of my favorite snippets:

“Women friends are a spiritual act.” This is actually a quote from Sister Jane Chittister that Fonda shared.

And Tomlin shared this fact, which gives me great hope! “Older women are the fastest growing demographic in the world.” Did you know that? I sure didn’t.

Exercise will save you

Wendy Suzuki: The Brain Changing Benefits of Exercise (13:02)

This popped up on YouTube and it’s currently on the TED Talk home page. Exercise and I have a long and turbulent love/hate relationship. I love the way I feel when I exercise and I hate to exercise. Wendy has convinced me to exercise anyway.

Wendy, a brain researcher, shares her story of putting on 25 pounds without realizing it. Her journey to exercise and how it led her to change her research area after a well-established scientific career is captivating.

My faves:

She really got my attention with this statement. “Simply moving your body has immediate, long-lasting, and protective benefits for your brain. And that can last for the rest of your life.”

And there’s no way I could ignore this “…exercise is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today….”

It all boils down to exercise protects your brain from the ravages and diseases of old age. So, do it. (That last was directed at me).

What’s In a Name?

Laura Sicola: Want to Sound Like a Leader? Say Your Name Right. (15:32)

This talk got me thinking about the effect of our voices on people’s perceptions of us. Sicola explains how people react to our voices, and coaches us on how to say our names effectively. When I first heard this talk, I practiced saying my name properly. But I’ve forgotten to do it for a while (must be because I haven’t been exercising? See the notes above about exercise….)

In her TEDx Talk, Sicola illuminates an oft-cited and frequently misunderstood study about what people remember from a talk. She explains that speakers often exhibit a “… a disconnect between their choice of words and their execution, their delivery.” Her emphasis on delivery over content is unique.

“The fact is, if you want to be seen as a leader, you have to sound like one.” What do you think about this statement? I so agree with her. I’m always talking about this with the people I coach, particularly the women. Guess I’ll get back to practicing saying my name….

Shonda Rhimes Says Yes

Shonda Rhimes: My Year of Saying Yes to Everything (18:44)

True story. This one made me cry. I’m not sure why Shonda’s story touched me so deeply, but it did. In her TED Talk, Rhimes shares how saying “Yes” to her children saved her career. The part about her children made me cry, but the part about the hum made me bawl because I know the hum. And, y’all, it’s Shonda Rhimes, and she’s an amazing writer, so this talk is magnificent.


“I made a vow that from now on, every time one of my children asks me to play, no matter what I’m doing or where I’m going, I say yes, every single time. Almost. … it’s had a stunning side effect, and it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood it, that I understood that saying yes to playing with my children likely saved my career.”

“The hum is more than writing. The hum is action and activity. The hum is a drug. The hum is music. The hum is light and air. The hum is God’s whisper right in my ear.”

“And then the hum stopped.”

And, finally, the bonus –

My Awesome Girlfriend’s Awesome Talk

Jill Davis: You Are Not Your Diet Brain (16:28)

I met Jill Davis through my podcast partner, Diana Bader. I’d heard a lot about Jill and her amazing story for a year or so before we finally met at a speaker’s workshop. Diana had promised we’d hit it off and we did.

The absolute most inspirational thing at that workshop happened when Jill practiced her TEDx Talk in front of us. It was funny; it was jaw-dropping; it was eye-opening. I’m thrilled to share it with you.

My favorite quote (which I frequently chant to myself):

“Food does not have moral character.” Listen to find out what she means – oh, and to find out what part M&M’s and wine play in her story.

So that’s it. Five thought-provoking TED talks from six amazing women. I’d love to know what you think. I’d really love it if you would email me and let me know. Do you have any favorite TED talks? Has this whetted your interest in exploring more? I’d love to know.

Namaste, honey,


Listen to Shonda Rhimes’s Talk to find out about honey.