Surviving Twenty Something

12 Life-Changing TED Talks (and what to read next)

Life Advice, BooksDanna Rowan

I'll be honest, I love a good TED talk.

They're short and to the point. Just long enough to get you interested, and just motivating enough to get you started on a new journey. More than once, I've taken what I'd learned from a TED talk and applied it to my life, creating positive changes to my character and habits that have stuck with me to this day.

I love how TED talks give you a great kicking off point to explore a subject— kind of like those 'brief history' guides, that seem to cover just about every topic imaginable— and I've often gone looking for more material after watching one.

So, without further ado, here are 12 life-changing TED talks, and the book that you'll want to read after.






1. How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,
Mel Robbins

Ever find yourself watching people dance and think: damn, I wish I could join in? And just for a second you get the impulse to actually get up and do it? Mel Robbins teaches you how to harness those gut instincts and make shit happen in your life. If you struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, this is the talk for you.

THE BOOK: The 5-Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage


I think we've all heard of Brené Brown by now, but I never quite believed the hype until I heard her speak. Humble and hilarious, gentle and strong, Brown's TED talk transformed the way I saw vulnerability and encouraged me to take more chances and connect more deeply with those around me.

The book: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

3. Smash fear, learn anything, Tim Ferriss

I'll admit it: I have a small fascination with Tim Ferriss. The guy guineapigs himself in the name of physical, mental, and emotional betterment— then shares the best of his finds in a way that's accessible and digestible for those who aren't quite so daring.

The book: Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

4. Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are, Amy Cuddy

In this super popular TED talk, Amy Cuddy shares how your body language— the way you hold yourself and your expression— can absolutely transform your confidence, how you perform at work, and how motivated you feel on a day-to-day basis.

The book: Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges


5. The Power of Introverts, Susan Cain

Did you dread group projects in school? Find networking unseemly? Would rather read a book on a Friday than party until yoou vomit in a corner? You're not alone, and you're not broken either. Susan Cain teaches you how your introversion might be your greatest strength— even in a society built for extroverts.

The book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

6. 12 Truths I Learned From Life and Writing, Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is one of those people who just gently reaches in with her words and changes your life, and sometimes you don't even notice until years later. Both the TED talk and the book are whimsical, inspiring, and infinitely relatable— if you've ever thought maybe someday you'd like to write, this one will help you get there.

The book: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

7. The Key to Success? Grit, Angela Duckworth

Ever wonder how successful, passionate people got to be so successful and passionate? It's grit. Not grits, grit. Some people are grittier than others, but Angela Duckworth is here to help you succeed and find joy with the things you love by harnessing your inner gritty.

The book: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

8. How to get your ideas to spread, Seth Godin

Have you ever felt like you have a good idea, but you don't really know how to get it out there, and maybe it's not quite good enough after all? Take some advice from Seth Godin, extraordinarily prolific and successful entrepreneur and idea genius and feel instantly empowered to shake up the world.

The book: Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

9. The Surprising Science of Happiness, Dan Gilbert

What makes us happy? Why? Is it what we think it is? Is it winning the lottery? Career success? Fame? Family? Dan Gilbert explores the history and science of what makes us happy, why we're so bad at understanding what will bring us happiness, and what the hell we can do about it. It's just a little bit mind-blowing. Alas, the TED talk is just a tease; you'll want to read this book after, trust me.

The book: Stumbling on Happiness

10. The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer

Part advice for life, part memoir, this book pulls my heart out a little every time I read it, yet leaves me feeling immeasurably more connected to everyone around me— even the people I don't yet know. Her talk will make you want to think big, take chances, and build connection with your community.

The book: The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help

11. The walkable city, Jeff Speck

Have you felt a little unhappy with where you live, but can't put your finger on why? Jeff Speck makes the case for how a walkable city can improve our health and our happiness, and how a car-centric society is basically making everything shit (and what you can do about it).

The book: Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step At A Time

12. Flow, the secret to happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Don't worry about trying to pronounce his name, just watch the talk. Csikszentmihalyi dives into the concept of 'flow' and how finding 'flow' in the things we like to do can help us to get happy— even when things are rough. The book is basically a classic, and an absolute must-read.

The book: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience


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So, I want to know: have you watched any of these or read any of the books? What was your favourite? Share your recommendations below!


12 Life-changing TED Talks (and what to read after)! // Ever watched a TED talk and become totally fascinated only to be left wanting more at the end? Well, here are 12 inspiring, motivating, and thought-provoking TED talks, and the book you should read next.