8 TED Talks That Will Help You Be A Better Project Manager
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8 TED talks that will help you be a better project manager

Laura Sima Laura Sima Last Updated:

TED talks are wisdom gold nuggets distilled into a maximum 20-minute talk. Some are funny, some are informative, others are downright inspirational. The thing is – there’s always something you can learn from a TED talk.

That applies if you’re a project manager, too. While there are playlists on time management, work and other relevant topics, we created a list of 8 videos on various topics (meetings, creative collaboration, leadership) that can help you become a better project manager.

Check out our picks below!

1. Jim Hemmerling – 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change

Change is something we’re faced with every day. Jim Hemmerling starts with self-transformation only to introduce a more delicate topic: organizational transformation. Under the constant pressure of global and technological pressure, organizations have little choice but to constantly adapt. And continuous change can become exhausting.

Also, organizations can complicate change more than necessary. Some leaders add to this by waiting until it’s too late to implement changes. That’s when everything gets done in a crisis mode and stress kicks in. This TED talk provides advice on how leaders can manage change so it becomes less stressful. Project managers can also apply those suggestions to ease the negative effects of change on their teams. Watch his talk here

2. Simon Sinek – How great leaders inspire change

Project managers are also team leaders. And as team leaders, they need to connect with their team members, to get them on the same page as shared goals, values and beliefs will always enable a team to accomplish more.

In his now popular TED talk, Simon Sinek analyzes two different leadership models and their results. Through sound examples, he shows how great leaders can connect with others and inspire them through shared values and purpose. Connecting with through shared beliefs and values can help leaders overcome many impediments such as lack of resources, money or other values. Simon Sinek teaches graduate-level strategic communication at Columbia University and has written two popular books on leadership: “Start with why” and “Leaders Eat Last”. Watch his talk here

3. Ari Wallach – 3 ways to plan for the (very) long term

Most project managers are constantly pressured to get the most results within a short time time, with the lowest amount of resources. However, Ari Wallach argues that that can be counterproductive. He suggests that short term thinking prevents us from making the investments that will truly yield a return in the long run. He believes that in order to tackle big problems, we first need to deal with short term thinking. Ari outlines a simple process for that. Project managers can use his advice to learn how to plan for activities and goals that require a larger investment, but bring about a significant difference in their work. Watch the full talk here

4. David Grady – How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings

Even if meetings that are setup by project managers seem more important, they’re still meetings. David Gardy argues that the equivalent of a bad, long meeting is simply a colleague stealing your time. David is an information security manager who believes that there’s a new illness in the workplace. He’s dubbed it MAS – Mindless Accept Syndrome. Its first symptom is mindlessly accepting meeting invitations without giving it a lot of thought. Attending too many vague meetings and believing we’re powerless to change anything is making us miserable.

In this video, he suggests the cure for it. Project managers can use his feedback to send better meeting invites, and making sure that team members will do the same. Watch the full talk here

5. Linda Hill – How to manage for collective creativity

Innovation is one of the key elements for staying in business. Still, when she started studying innovation management, Linda Hill noticed that none of the principles that apply to traditional leadership work there.

According to her, in order to lead a creative or an innovation team effectively, one needs to unlearn everything they know about leadership. Also, project managers for creative teams have a unique challenge. They need to learn how to harness people’s talents in a way that creates work that is useful. Drawing from Pixar’s experience, Linda lays out the foundation that any project manager can use to manage their team’s creativity effectively. Learn from her talk here

6. Casey Brown – Know your worth and then ask for it

Why add this in a list of videos that will help you be a better project manager? Because like Casey says, people won’t pay you what you’re worth, they will pay you what they think you’re worth. This is true regardless of your profession. Still, in order to become better at what you do, one of the things you need to learn is how to get appropriate compensation for the work that you do.

Casey is a pricing consultant who’s hit upon this very issue herself. After one year of doing consulting work, she realised she was delivering solid value for her customers and decided to up her prices. Find out how she did that and how that affected her business. Watch her short talk here.

7. Roselinde Torres – What it takes to be a great leader

Like we said, project managers are leaders. And there are companies that invest a lot in leadership development programs. Still, when Roseline Torres took a closer look at how effective these programs are, she found that there is a considerable skill gap between what leaders are taught and what skills are required of them. Current leadership models worked for what was, not for what is.

Baffled by her new discovery, she left her job to study leadership full time. The results of her research and her insight into what makes a great leader in the 21st century are shared in this video. Luckily for us, it’s something that’s easily within reach. Watch her TED talk

8. Shonda Rhimes – My year of saying yes to everything

Shonda Rhimes is the creator of the all time popular TV show Grey’s Anatomy. While sometimes with three, maybe 4 shows in production each season, Shonda could probably teach anyone a thing or two about project management and time management. Yet, she shares an even better lesson.

While running through a dry spell creatively, one of her kids asked her to play one evening. Some time after she said yes to that invitation, she realized how important play was to keeping her career alive. Downtime is something crucial, even for the busiest of people. Project managers are no different here. Being overworked will slowly, but surely drain you into a state of burnout. So, don’t be grumpy – go outside and play something, will you? But watch her talk first.

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