I Watched The 5 Best TED Talks On Company Culture, So You Don’t Have To

I realise that most of these “I did X, so you don’t have to” posts are saving people from terrible fates, such as reading through Privacy Shield, or the Gender Swapped Twilight Book, whereas these TED talks are genuinely enjoyable. Oh well, what are you going to do? Here is my take on the 5 most influential TED Talks on Company Culture.

Dan Airely makes us feel good at work

Dan Ariely is a professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, and is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight.

Origami, Lego, and a Wordsearch might sound like a hipster man-child’s idea of a great day out, but Airely uses them as tools to conclusively show that people work more efficiently when their work is acknowledged, accountable, and valued.

While this in itself is not groundbreaking, the degree to which these things affect productivity was wildly underestimated by the CEOs and business leaders who were asked to make a prediction of the outcomes.

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


Two decades after transforming a struggling equipment supplier into a radically democratic and resilient (and successful) company, Ricardo Semler wants organizations to become wise.

One of life’s cruellest ironies is that most people never have time, energy, and money all at the same time.

Childhood allows you more time and energy than the Duracell* bunny injecting Red Bull** into his eye while let loose in the TARDIS***, but no means of supporting yourself financially.

Working life allows you the energy and finances of a regular bunny drinking coffee wearing a monocle, but without the time to pompously gaze into fields for hours on end.

Retirement turns you into Scrooge McDuck with a TARDIS, and the energy of a Lindor**** chocolate easter bunny.

How do you fix this problem? Terminal days.

A morbid name? Sure. But the point is that if you were given a terminal diagnosis, you would go to start enjoying life. So why wait until you are too old to do all the things you want to? If you want to go on a 3 day rafting trip, starting on Tuesday, then go for it!

Ricardo Semler talks about terminal days, and other unique rules he allows to stimulate maximum productivity.

*Other battery makes available
** Other stimulants available
*** Other time-travel devices almost definitely not available
****Other Chocolate easter bunnies available, but honestly, why would you bother

Jason Fried explains why you don’t get work done at work

Jason Fried is the co-founder of 37signals, makers of Basecamp and other web-based collaboration tools, and co-author of “Rework.”

If you have to get something done, where do you go? To the library, as apparently one or two still exist? The basement your wife let you turn into a study? Maybe the local coffee shop, or even the commute.

Some even choose a period of time. How many entrepreneurs have admitted that their most innovative thoughts have come at 3:27am? Probably none at 3:27am exactly, but early risers and night owls will attest that being alone is the best place to get things done.

What do all of these things have in common?
They don’t get interrupted with managers calling meetings every 20 minutes.

Jason Fried explains why the M&Ms (Managers and Meetings, which is good, because there is no need to be slagging off the chocolates) are crucifying the productivity they are supposed to be cultivating.

Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

“Bidding adieu to his last “real job” as Al Gore’s speechwriter, Dan Pink went freelance to spark a right-brain revolution in the career marketplace.” according to Mr Pink’s TED page.

These TED talkers sure do love their social experiments. Dan Pink brings up the candle problem, first published by Karl Duncker in 1945.

One set of subjects were paid to solve the problem as quickly as they could, while another were simply told they would be compared to the average time after fixing it, with no reward. The result flips conventional wisdom about incentivising workers on it’s head.

Then the experiment is tweaked slightly, with a more straightforward solution required. For this, conventional wisdom was gracefully restored… with a caveat.

Moral of the story: Don’t play with matches. You can’t bribe creativity.

Vishen Lakhiani: World’s greatest workplace


Vishen Lakhiani is the founder and CEO of Mindvalley — a ground-breaking company comprised of innovators, artists, technologists and dreamers from over 30 countries around the world.”

Vishen Lakhiani stops regaling the audience with tales of his latest exploits with Richard Branson for long enough to describe how he made Mindvalley one of, if not the, best places to work in the world. He does this by giving employees 5 basic tools to succeed: happiness, a noble mission, quests, personal growth, and tribal dynamics.

Included in these tools, Lakhiani champions policies such as the gamification of work, awe-gasmic recommendation (a pun so terrible it would fit in at TalentRocket), and dream managers.

There we go, I saved you all 95:03 minutes of enjoyable viewing of TED talks on company culture. I hope you are happy. If you want to get the latest company culture updates and more straight to your inbox, please subscribe now!

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