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Food for thought: 5 unusual TED Talks to watch on your lunch break

Arianna Huffington insisted you get more sleep; Susan Cain demanded you appreciate the world’s introverts; Amy Cuddy showed you the power of body language in the workplace. 

These three, hugely influential TED Talks have been watched more times than Colombia has residents – 50 million collective views to date and counting. But amongst the treasure trove of knowledge and insight shared on TED stages around the world, lurk a wealth of lesser-known talks that have much to offer in the way of lunch break inspiration. We round up our favourites.

 

1. THE SURPRISING HABITS OF ORIGINAL THINKERS

You have to come up with a lot of bad ideas in order to hit on a good one. To-do lists are the enemy of idea generation. Creativity and self-doubt go hand-in hand. Discover a wealth of intriguing facts in this talk by organisational psychologist Adam Grant. And whether you’re an ultra-organised multi-tasker who never misses a deadline, or someone who makes a fine art out of last-minute cramming, this is worth watching alone for the insight into the relationship between creativity and procrastination. 

 

2. THIS TECH TEAM IS SAVING GOVERNMENT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS A YEAR

Hayley Van Dyck might just have the coolest tech job in the world. Together with the first-rate team of (mostly female) digital experts she cherry-picked from Silicon Valley’s most influential companies, she’s disrupting the way US government enables veterans, disabled people and single mothers to get access to the services and benefits they need. “What would it look like,” she asks, “if it was actually as easy to get student loans as it is to order cat food to my house?”. She’s attempting to answer that very question, right out of the White House under the orders of her boss, President Obama himself. Find out more about how she’s revolutionising the system. 

 

3. DARE TO DISAGREE

Harmony is overrated – that’s the central message of this rousing TED talk on the issue of conflict in the business world. CEO Margaret Heffman presents compelling arguments for building a diverse professional network and challenging yourself to work with people who think differently to you in order to avoid the dangers of group-think. 

 

4. LIFE’S THIRD ACT

Oscar-winning actress, fitness star, impassioned activist: Jane Fonda has had three extraordinary careers. In this life-affirming talk she explains how she unwittingly carried out what psychologists call a “life review” in order to make peace with aspects of her former selves and careers so that she was able to keep growing and continue achieving success. “Everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There's only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards… bringing us into wholeness, authenticity and wisdom.” A wonderful lesson in resilience, this is a must for anyone living with regrets, feeling “stuck” or unsure of the future, or wanting change they can’t quite bring themselves to make. 

 

5. HOW TO MAKE A SPLASH IN SOCIAL MEDIA

The Internet is a level playing field. It costs nothing. And the best way to run a successful digital campaign is to take yourself less seriously and relinquish control. Those are the three key lessons Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian wants to share with you in his three-minute talk. Well worth a watch to hear him give an example of this at play – and how Greenpeace’s serious campaign to save the humpback whale from extinction went from strength to strength thanks to a certain ‘Mister Splashy Pants’!