We’ve dug around for some golden nuggets from the gold mine that is TED Talks. We’re all time poor, that’s just the way most people function in today’s world, so here are three interesting talks condensed down to their key points. Consider these when you’re exploring your own business philosophies – and life in general!

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon uses a simple theory based on what he terms ‘the golden circle’, and it looks like this:

Golden circle Simon Sinek uses to explain how great leaders inspire action

He believes that successful businesses think from the inside, out, whereas most businesses think from the outside, in.

The ‘WHY’ refers to your businesses purpose and belief(s) and Simon says that people buy why you do something, not what you do. He feels that the goal should not be to do business with the people who need what you have, but rather the people who believe what you believe (the why).

He goes on to explain in detail about this being a result of how our brains work, where our human behaviour and the decisions we make are all made using our limbic brain

The entire video is fascinating. But in brief, he says that to be successful, you need to be motivated by the right thing and not for money, fame or fortune – you need to want to change the way of the world.

Key takeaway for small business owners? Be very clear on why you do what you do and what you believe in. Then the success will come as others buy into your vision.

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Do you think stress is harmful to your health? If you answered yes, this is one you need to read.

A study tracking 30,000 adults in the US for a period of eight years, started out by asking them two questions:

  1. How much stress did you experience in the last year?
  2. Do you believe that stress is harmful to your health?

Then they used public death records to find out who died … The findings?

  • Those who claimed to have had a lot of stress within the past year had a 43% increase to their risk of dying.
  • BUT, this was only true for those people who also believed that stress is harmful to your health.

So in a nutshell – how you think about stress matters.

In a time of stress when your heart is pounding and you’re breathing faster, if you tell yourself ‘This is my body helping me rise to this challenge’ then your body believes you and your stress response becomes healthier. The biological benefits are two-fold:

  1. When you believe your stress response to be helpful, you will no longer have restricted heart muscles during stressful situations.
  2. Oxytocin is released when you’re stressed and it nudges you to tell someone you’re stressed – oxytocin wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you when you’re stressed!

Trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and your body will back you up – pretty cool, right? This is all about taking care of you, which ultimately means taking care of your business.

Key takeaway for small business owners? By changing the way you view stress, you can change the way your body reacts to stress and reduce your risk of health issues related to stress.

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

We truly think Barry is onto something here. His theory is that too much choice makes people miserable – and this is his reasoning as to why:

  1. We really don’t want to make the wrong choice.
  2. We feel the loss of other alternatives when just one alternative is chosen.
  3. Our expectations are escalated (meaning it’s much easier for us to be disappointed).
  4. We only have ourselves to blame when we are not happy with our choice.

Sounds like a bit of a recipe for let down, doesn’t it.

Barry outlines a bunch of examples where this is evident in today’s society, but let’s take the work related one for example ­– these days, technology enables us to work on any day, at any time of day, from anywhere, so we have to make a decision again and again and again on whether or not we should be working – that’s a bit rough, don’t you think? It sets us up to feel guilty and detracts from everything else we are doing that isn’t work.

Everywhere we look, life is a matter of choice. ‘Decisions, decisions, decisions’ – it’s all a bit of a drainer. The key points Barry makes here are:

  • the secret to happiness is low expectations, and
  • the absence of some type of limitation on our choices is a recipe for misery and disaster.

Barry couldn’t exactly offer a magic number of choices to limit something to, but too many options certainly does seem to have adverse effects. Research done around the offerings of a mutual fund company found that for every 10 options offered, the rate of participation went down by two per cent. In other words, if they offered 50 fund options versus five, the uptake is reduced by ten per cent.

Key takeaway for small business owners? When you’re looking at you’re your business offers, remember that less can be more. Quality over quantity.

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