Feeling ambitious? Three inspiring TED talks to keep you focused

Whether you are entrepreneurial or have a corporate focus, strategically managing your time and harnessing energy is pretty important. So here at The Ambition Revolution we are constantly on the look out for resources, tools and inspiration to help you play a bigger and better game - far more easily.  And while I'm a great believer in the beauty of books as development tools, sometimes a powerful video is equally as good, if not better, as it cuts right to the heart of the issue in a short period of time.  

I've curated the following three TED talks - not just because they'll help you you tackle your current role better, but because they just might help you see yourself differently - reminding you of your "why", your "what" and your "how" in ways that expand possibility - and help you get ahead more easily.

1. Why Gender Equality is Good For Everyone - Men Included (Michael Kimmel15 mins

The first is a talk by Michael Kimmel from the May TEDWomen 2015 conference.  Michael is the author of Angry White Men and a scholar on the topics of men and masculinity.  His rather humorous take on the gender equality issue makes it well worth watching and might give you a few new insights as to why you should step up, speak out and take charge.

In a nutshell, it's a great reminder that gender equality is about both men and women, and any inequality is a societal issue (not simply a women's issue). He reminds us of the notion of privilege and how the more invisible privilege is, the more fortunate you are.  He also reminds us that when anyone has to give up power it's going to be a challenge, so we need to help people see the benefits of giving up power in ways that make meaning to them.  You can read a summarised version of his talk here

So why? Because organisations are frequently better off, because you are frequently better off and because men are also better off in the long run when women step up, speak out and take charge.

There is no Mars and Venus, but in fact we are allies here on planet earth and our interests are the same.”
— Michael Kimmel

2. The Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get (Susan Colantuono13 mins

Susan Colantuono is the CEO and founder of Leading Women. You can read more about her here.  She is also the author  of a book called No Ceiling, No Walls: What women haven't been told about leadership, "which takes a close look at the conventional wisdom keeping women from rising from middle management."  

This talk is your how.  It's for anyone who feels like they've worked hard at "doing the job" only to find out that this doesn't get you ahead very fast. That there is a set of curriculum to which you've not been privy to,  and that is not easily taught (or spoken about at women's functions) - strategic acumen, financial acumen and business acumen - "the missing 33%".  

As women we've been socialised since birth to "work hard", to "do the job really well" and to be incredibly loyal to role, department or an organisation. What happens if these behaviours actually keep you "mired in middle management" and get in the way of getting ahead?  

With the right leadership skills, the highest levels of career success are well within reach. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom about leadership won’t get you to the top. Much of it is outdated, incomplete, and ineffective. What you need is.........The Missing 33%!
— Susan Colantuono

So how? Find mentors, coaches, champions and sponsors who can guide you specifically in these sorts of big picture intelligences (the missing 33%) so you can execute bold, audacious moves more easily.

3. Why Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads (Dame Stephanie Shirley) 13 mins

From the TED website:

"Dame Stephanie Shirley is the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members. In this frank and often hilarious talk, she explains why she went by “Steve,” how she upended the expectations of the time, and shares some sure-fire ways to identify ambitious women …"

Wow! So in 1962 this amazing woman not only started her own software company in order to provide a great place to work for women and to make serious money - but also invented the Black Box.  This is inspiring and sad all at once because it highlights that as women in the workforce, we haven't really come all that far, and yet at the same time it's quite clear that we women can and will continue to create and undertake amazing work despite this.

This talk is about your "what". Aim high. Embrace a possibility mindset. Got a big idea? Give it a crack!  Go explore it. Yes, you can. And yes, you should. Don't believe your internal mental chatter or what other people say. 

We waste too much time being afraid, when what we should really fear is wasting time.”
— Stephanie Shirley, Let IT Go - The Memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley

So what? Stop playing your B game, stop planning small. Why shouldn't your idea be groundbreaking, earth shattering or incredibly popular?  If you ever need proof - consider the guy who invented the pool noodle!  

“When we dream small we create small things. When we dream big, we create powerful change.”

So have you worked out your why, what and how yet?

Maybe after watching these TED talks you'll start dreaming and scheming again - connecting back with your reason for being.  Just maybe these talks will inspire you to tackle your next promotion or opportunity with a little more clarity, focus and precision.

And more importantly, who are we to be thinking and playing small? Creating a new reality for yourself and others is yours for the taking, if you choose.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but struggling to do so.


Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months