1. Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit
In need of a motivational pick-me-up? In this quick and inspiring talk, former seventh grade teacher Angela Lee Duckworth describes her realization that IQ is not necessarily a good indicator of which students would succeed and which ones would struggle. She argues that what it really takes to succeed is “grit.”
2. Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness
According to Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, sometimes our notions of what will make us happy and what will make us miserable are way off. Humans have an amazing ability to create our own happiness, and that synthetic happiness is “every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you were aiming for.” This one is a must.
3. Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree
There’s a strong chance you’ll have your fair share of group projects this semester. In this important talk, Margaret Heffernan, former CEO of five businesses, illustrates how the best research teams and companies are those in which its employees deeply disagree.
4. Andy Puddicombe: All it Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes
Between dance team, ultimate frisbee club, volunteering and—oh, right—lectures, your life’s crazy factor is about to go way up. In this entertaining and informative talk, mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe teaches us how to be “more healthy, more mindful and less distracted” by taking just 10 minutes out of the day to be more present.
5. Larry Smith: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career
We humans have an excellent ability to make excuses for ourselves. Larry Smith, a professor of economics at the University of Waterloo in Canada, tells us why most of us will fail to have a great career. But there is a way out — if you take the initiative to pursue your passion.
6. Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts
Does a cup of tea and a good book sound like a perfect Friday night? In this personal talk, Susan Cain argues that introverts have important talents and abilities that need to be accepted and nurtured. Our culture may value being social and outgoing, but the world needs all kinds.
7. Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days
College is the perfect time to try something new. See something on campus that strikes your fancy? Quidditch, perhaps? Matt Cutts, engineer at Google, says you should try it for 30 days. It’s a great way to achieve your goals and incorporate some dimension into your life.
8. David Kelley: How to Build Your Creative Confidence
Are you a numbers person or more of the creative type? Though most of us probably have an answer to that question, David Kelley argues that we shouldn’t be asking it. Everyone has the potential to create, as long as they have the confidence. Learn about how to build your creative confidence in this important talk.
9. Shane Koyczan: To This Day… For the Bullied and Beautiful
This talk is sure to stay with you. Shane Koyczan’s “To This Day” is an affecting spoken-word poem about bullying and being different that gained over 10 million views on YouTube. In this talk, Koyczan gives a live reading of the poem, along with some stories about his background.
10. Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids
It may feel like a lifetime, but it wasn’t that long ago that you were twelve years old. In this eye-opening talk, child prodigy Adora Svitak encourages you not to lose touch with “childish” thinking. It’s the childlike ability to dream big and be optimistic that will allow you to create innovative ideas, if you let it.
11. Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement
In this short but memorable talk, Derek Sivers illustrates how a movement gets going using footage from an impromptu dance party. Silvers explains that it may be the founder that gets the credit, but it’s the first follower that creates the movement.
12. Jackson Katz: Violence & Silence
Here’s one for the gentlemen (but ladies, you listen up too). In this talk, Jackson Katz discusses why men need to step up and work to stop sexual and domestic violence. It all starts with speaking up. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across Katz’s Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) gender violence prevention program at your university.
13. Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of a Single Story
In this eye-opening talk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells us the importance of understanding that a culture is made up of many overlapping stories. If we hear only one story, we cannot fully understand a culture. She discusses how some of her fellow students forgot this critical point, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
14. Freeman Hrabowski: 4 Pillars of College Success in Science
Freeman Hrabowski is the ultimate success story. In this inspirational talk, he traces his past back to the time he was jailed for marching with Martin Luther King. Today, he is president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he continues give minority students the opportunity to succeed.
15. Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership
Drew Dudley believes we can all show our leadership in everyday situations. His “lollipop moment” (you’ll have to listen to find out) takes place at a college orientation. See what you can do to improve someone’s life and be a leader in this quick and funny talk.
Image: YouTube, TEDtalksDirector