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Leaders Share Digital Lessons

Chalkboard with "LEADERSHIP" written in multiple colors

Good leaders inspire us. They motivate us and encourage us to be our best selves. Thanks to the connections we can make today online, at any moment we are close to potential mentors and managers who can help us find the right path, answer our needed questions, and consider something anew.

If you have a few minutes and are in need of some leadership, we suggest these TEDTalks themed around leadership in the digital age for inspiration and motivation.

We hope you’ll check them out or explore the leadership topic on your own!

Efficient leadership in the digital era with Charlene Li

According to Charlene Li, “The biggest barrier to digital transformation is culture—and leadership drives culture.” A social media and innovation thinker who encourages leaders to thrive in an age of digital disruption, Li encourages people to rethink what they know.

In this TEDTalk, Li, questions how today’s culture of rapid decision-making and technology has changed leadership. What does it mean to be an effective leader today? For Li, it’s about empowering employees.

How diversity makes teams more innovative with Rocío Lorenzo

Is it true that diverse companies better at creatively pushing the envelope? Media and telecommunications consultant Rocío Lorenzo and her team surveyed 171 companies to find out.

“My personal experience working with diverse teams had been that while they require a little bit more effort at the beginning, they did bring fresher, more creative ideas,” Lorenzo shares in this TEDTalk. “So I wanted to know: Are diverse organizations really more innovative, and can diversity be more than something to comply with? Can it be a real competitive advantage?”

What I learned from giving up everything I knew as a leader with Jim Whitehurst

Jim Whitehurst, former Chief Operating Officer of Delta, had long looked at leadership one way. “I thought I was the person ultimately responsible for solving the problems facing my organization,” Whitehurst says in this TEDTalk. “I was the one who was supposed to bring order and structure.”

But, when he changed organizations, he got a lesson in leadership. As CEO of Red Hat, an open-source software company, Whitehurst discovered unexpected changes and challenges.

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4 Quotes to Inspire Your Entrepreneurial Habits

Resilience, curiosity, focus and follow through—the skills required to be an entrepreneur are good ones to have no matter what industry you’re in, and no matter whether you own your own business.

Working with an entrepreneurial outlook can be beneficial even if you’ve never considered writing “entrepreneur” as your job description. It means you aren’t afraid to tackle a challenge, won’t easily give up and always ready with an idea.

So, whether you aspire to officially call yourself an entrepreneur or not, there are still a few things to learn from this mindset. Take it from the quotes of the entrepreneurs below and read their stories for inspiration.

What will you be able to do with a little push?

“Being an entrepreneur can be learned, and that is exactly what I have done. You don’t have to be born with it or have had the ‘lemonade stand.’ But, you do need to have the passion, devotion, conviction, and sheer will and drive to make it happen.”

Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite, in Entrepreneur

“A person who sees a problem is a human being; a person who finds a solution is visionary; and the person who goes out and does something about it is an entrepreneur.”

Naveen Jain, founder of several companies, including Moon Express, Viome, Bluedot, TalentWise, Intelius and InfoSpace, in Inc.

“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned how crucial it is to be able to call a spade a spade and avoid falling in love with a particular strategy or product. Instead, you need to let the customer tell you what she needs—and to change her as she changes.”

Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, in Fast Company

“Being an entrepreneur is a mindset. You have to see things as opportunities all the time. I like to do interviews. I like to push people on certain topics. I like to dig into the stories where there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer.”

Soledad O’Brien, journalist and CEO of Starfish Media Group, in Mediabistro
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3 TEDTalks to Pique Your Social Media Curiosity

As marketers, we love to think about why and how. How can we connect with this group? Why is this connection special? It’s important to stay sharp and remain open so we can absorb all the information and data. At the same time, that overload of content can be a lot to sort through.

When this happens, sometimes it’s important to take a break for yourself. Find an outlet that will excite and motivate you. Checking in with a TEDTalk, especially one that’s only about 10 minutes long, can be a powerful way to recharge without losing focus on your tasks at hand.

The three below caught our attention for the creative ways they delve into social media needs and interests. Sure, you can learn a thing or two while watching, but they’re also simply fun.

What makes something go viral? with Dao Nguyen

From baby goats in the office to exploding watermelons, Buzzfeed publisher Dao Nguyen explores viral videos, which, Nguyen says, is really about understanding what videos do for viewers. Do they want to laugh? Are they looking for affirmation?

“The question I get most frequently is: How do you make something go viral? The question itself is misplaced; it’s not about the something. It’s about what the people doing the something, reading or watching—what are they thinking?” Nguyen shares.

A funny look at the unintended consequences of technology with Chuck Nice

“So are we more connected, or are we just more connected to our devices?” asks comedian Chuck Nice in this TEDTalk. If you’ve ever scratched your head at the thought of designer babies, driverless cars and trolls, Nice has a lighthearted look at how we can navigate the future and remember to laugh at the technology that scares us.

3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand with Tim Leberecht

As more and more companies push to empower their employees through social media and turn their clients and staff into their biggest brand advocates, author and marketer Tim Leberecht’s TEDTalk can only become more applicable.

“I’m a marketer, and as a marketer, I know that I’ve never really been in control,” Leberecht shares. “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room, the saying goes. Hyperconnectivity and transparency allow companies to be in that room now, 24/7. They can listen and join the conversation. In fact, they have more control over the loss of control than ever before. They can design for it. But how?”

Surprise campaigns, humble companies and free publicity all come up in this talk.

Remember, TEDTalks are also searchable by topic and length, so you can explore 3,000-plus videos and transcripts for the motivation you need. And, since the talks already happened but remain part of the community online, you can comment and continue the conversation no matter when you watch.

Stay curious, friends!

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Inspired to Go Viral

Mobile phone about to watch video

When it comes to going viral, there’s a certain X factor that remains unknown.

Sometimes, it seems that going viral isn’t something that one so much achieves as inadvertently accomplishes. It’s as if, suddenly, it’s happened to you! Even more confusing is that, over the years, the definition of “going viral” has included earning a million hits to generating noteworthy buzz.

Today, going viral has become even harder, and there’s no permanent definition as to what it means. Although there’s an unpredictability to viral videos, there’s always a heavy dose of hard work and application required.

Launching your own video efforts can feel like a herculean task, especially if you feel overwhelmed by everything else that is out there. Seeing the amazing responses others receive can make tackling your own videos feel daunting. Additionally, you may find you measure your video success differently for your niche than other video-makers. So instead of looking at viral videos as something to copy or repeat, look behind the creativity and tenacity for motivation.

Let these video pros and their stories inspire you. What stories will you tell? What will you make the markers of your success?

“Viral videos aren’t just about being funny. They’re about identity creation. You send the video to your friends to say something about yourself. You’re saying, ‘I get this. Do you get it?’”

Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of CollegeHumor and current head of global creative strategy with Facebook in New York magazine

“It’s very easy to make a viral video, but longevity and consistency, that’s hard.”

Michelle Phan, YouTuber and makeup entrepreneur in Vox

“The number one question I’m asked as a YouTuber every day is, ‘How can I get my videos out there; how can I make my videos go viral?’”

Todrick Hall, entertainer and YouTube personality, in Screener for The Daily Dot

“When I gave a talk at TEDx, I thought that if I did a good job, the video might go viral. But…it has 140,000 views while Colin Powell’s (who spoke at the same event) has only 2,700.”

Cameron Russell, model and activist, on the TEDBlog

“We live in an age where people are becoming more aware of their own creativity and their own interest in visual expression and sharing of their experiences.”

Nick Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro, to Mashable
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Find your zen at work

Background image of balloons with zen proverb "Let go or be dragged"

It’s happened again—you were writing that report, but then you took a break to check your email. Also Twitter. And Facebook. What can you do when a world of discovery and distraction is at your fingertips?

Sure, it’s not a bad thing that our lives have become hyper-connected. The doors to exploration have opened wide online, making us more flexible, curious, and inventive. But at the same time, it can make it difficult to complete a task when you’re not totally focused. Instead of concentrating on one thing, you’re jumping from email to email, post to post, and easily put off track.

Sometimes, we aren’t even the ones to blame. Thanks to changing workplace and social expectations, folks often anticipate a prompt response. And those notifications are so enticing! It will only take a minute to check what they mean…

What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right—staying focused!

We’re here to help with a few tips, tricks and apps to help you concentrate and turn the computer into your virtual zen zone.

Set the mood

Perhaps one of the reasons why you go searching for distraction is because you legitimately need a break. Feeling uncomfortable at your workstation can be a real drag, and it’s natural to want to shift your focus elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s not your task that’s giving you a headache, but your setup. If you feel blinded by your computer screen, think about downloading f.lux, which adapts your screen brightness according to the time of day. If on a phone, double check your settings or download a filter app.

Block out the noise

Some people need silence to work. Other people need what they would consider a health level of noise.

The gentle hum of instrumental music can trigger creativity while helping you zero in on a single activity. Close your random tabs, forget about email and plug your earbuds in. Subscription music service Focus at Will promises to boost your concentration with background music. You can also search “concentration” or “study music” on your favorite listening platforms like YouTube and Spotify.

Searching for something a little different? If you work alone or from a home office, you might crave the office environment to keep you on track. Enter Coffitivity, a site that invites you to listen to the ambient noises of such locations as a “Texas Teahouse” or “Lunchtime Lounge” Perhaps a little noise can help you shut out those inner voices (and maybe even outer ones too) and stay on your A game.

Place limits

Sometimes, you have to set limits.

If you think you can’t keep yourself from visiting certain sites or checking your phone, you may need to give yourself some hard boundaries. The Google Chrome productivity extension StayFocusd will help you limit the time you spend on certain websites. Similarly, Freedom can help you tune out noises across your computer and smartphone. For phone users, apps like Moment help track which apps you’re using most and coach you into different habits.

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Say Yes to Creative Balance

How to keep saying yes without overwhelming your to-do list.

Creative people love to say, “Yes.” Saying “yes” can lead to unexpected opportunities and amazing collaborations. Saying “yes” can open doors to new connections and projects.

Working from a place of “yes” means we are inspired by the work, and that enthusiasm empowers us to pursue ideas and implement innovative solutions. When we keep ourselves open, we gain experiences and potentially discover talents and passions we didn’t know we had.

However, the more there is to do, the easier it can be to feel overwhelmed. If you find yourself wanting to agree to an opportunity, but know you may not have the bandwidth, it’s okay to ask for help. You cannot pour from an empty cup.

Be open about workload and expectations

“Only do what only you can do. I encourage leaders to make this their personal mantra,” leadership consultant and author, Erika Andersen, shares in Forbes.

It can be exciting to take on a task, or perhaps an old habit, but that doesn’t make it an efficient use of your time. Don’t let the workload suffer by blindly saying, “Yes.” Think about what you can and should do.

Do you want to meet on Wednesday, but it would be easier to meet on Friday? Are you able to take on the additional project, but aren’t sure if it should be prioritized above your existing work? Speak up.

Become stronger through partnership

Writing in the Ask Entrepreneur column, serial entrepreneur, Jen Groover, recommends categorizing and prioritizing tasks, both small and big ones, to figure out the best way to tackle your to-do list.

Once organized, take a step back and think about your natural strengths. When we partner with others, we become stronger together and can work smarter.

“Sharing responsibility and handing over certain tasks can be a scary thing,” Groover writes. “But keep in mind how much farther you’ll be able to grow. I always tell entrepreneurs, 100 percent of $100 is still only $100. But 20 percent of $100,000 is a heck of a lot more. So if you can find someone who has the strengths to your weaknesses and vice versa, you’re going to have more to share.”

Also, remember that so many of us are surrounded by talent. Perhaps you’re intrigued by the project but know of a team member who would be a great fit to lead the effort. Make the connection. Taking a step back so someone else can take a step forward is its own reward.

Help yourself and offer to help otherscome stronger through partnership

“People are more inclined to want to help those who’ve attempted to help themselves first,” writes Alice Boyes, author of The Healthy Mind Toolkit and The Anxiety Toolkit. “When asking for help, briefly explain what you’ve tried independently. That way the person from whom you’re requesting help knows you’ve tried to figure out your problem for yourself before requesting help.”

This could be as simple as Googling a solution on your own, double-checking a request or going back to your notes. Ask for help smartly, and give your own help freely. “If you’re known as a helpful person around your office,” Boyes adds, “folks will want to help you when the time comes.”

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