Top 5 TED Talks For Women Who Want ACTION!

Recently I found myself waking up in the morning, feeling completely lost and wondering where the meaning had gone from my life. It turns out this is what can happen when your children are in daycare most days and for the first time, in a very long time, you have nothing you have to do.

I am all for having a plan. My sister often jokes about me having three concrete plans on the go at once, if one of them completes, I will replace it with an additional plan for the future. So when I woke up on a cold wintery day, the house completely silent, no emails to check, no meetings to make, I felt LOST.

The best plan I could come up with at the time was to look at others for direction. And so, I embarked on a 30 day challenge of watching one TED talk every day, in hope that someone would inspire me and by the end of the 30 days I would know what to do next. 

For me, these are my top 5 picks for TED talks that helped enormously in giving some direction in life (at least for a little while):

Brene Brown TED

1) Brene Brown - The Power of Vulnerability

'As it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly'

With over 3 million views I am not the first person talking about this incredible clip. Brene is a 'researcher-storyteller' who has spent years understanding human behaviour and more specifically what leads us to connect.

For me, the timing of watching this clip couldn't have been better. It was the first talk I watched in my 30 day challenge and I was feeling incredibly vulnerable, however terrified of acknowledging that. I had just completed a 'Diana Fisk Project Plan' on how I would approach the following weeks and months to make the most of my time without work. Instead, I realised I just needed to sit. 

Brene talks about the need for us to be kind to ourselves and to accept ourselves whole-heartedly. For a woman who has felt unworthy of nearly everything that has come my way over the past 32 years, this was tough. 

For the first time, I decided to quieten down the internal conflict that was crying out inside me. I instead answered it with, 'I am enough'.

I am not going to say my problems with worthiness have passed, but I have truly seen the value in accepting myself as I am and for presenting myself to the world around me as I am. What I have to offer, is me.

Shirzad Chamine TED

2) Shirzad Chamine - Know your inner saboteurs

'There's an 80% probability that you have no idea how truly magnificent you really are'

You are going to start seeing a trend with these talks.. but hey, this is what it became for me. I realised very quickly after starting this challenge that the talks I connected to the most were offering insight on myself. This would of course result in a greater understanding of what I wanted for myself and DIRECTION in my life.

Shirzad begins the talk explaining how, as children, we developed ways of coping with emotions by protecting ourselves. He now calls these Inner Saboteurs. 'The problem is that these saboteurs become the invisible masters in your head.' 

Man oh man, had I been telling myself a story about who I really was. When listening to Shirzad talk about the different Inner Saboteurs I just got really sick of listening to it all. 'When are they going to work out I am a fraud?' 'I am not good enough.' 'How could he really love me?' Exhausting.

Which Inner Saboteurs can you identify with?

√      Controller 

√      Hyper-Achiever

√      Restless

√      Stickler

√      Pleaser

√      Hyper-Vigilant

√      Avoider

√      Victim

√      Hyper-Rational

'I used to think I was particularly broken and screwed up, what a relief to discover that we are all screwed up by our Saboteurs.'
Caroline McHugh TED

3) Caroline McHugh - The art of being yourself

Let's just pause for a moment and take a look at the sign in the background of the image above.

'Go to work, send your kids to school, follow fashion, act normal, walk on the pavement, watch T.V, save for your old age, obey the law. Repeat after me: I AM FREE'.

I woke up at the age of 30 and realised I had been ticking off a checklist in life that didn't belong to me. This was incredibly disturbing. Caroline explores what it is to be individual, and why some people come across as 'larger than life'.

'I've identified the thread that links them, these are individuals that have figured out the unique gift that the Universe gave them when they incarnated. And then put that at the service of their goals.'

When I look at my role models (one of which is now from this list of TED talks), I agree that the one thing they all seem to have in common is they are living the life that is authentic to them. This doesn't mean we are all going to be Richard Branson - on the contrary. 

Caroline questions what we want to get out of life, and what does life want out of us? Incredibly inspiring and thought provoking thought. I will no longer look at the word impossible the same way.

Bill Eckstrom TED

4) Bill Eckstrom - Why comfort will ruin your life

'What makes you comfortable can ruin you, what makes you uncomfortable is the only way to grow.'

I have been aware of this way of thinking for a while. I actually hate comfort.. I am easily bored and restless within my life. However, I do wonder whether this is part of my comfort zone now. I have recently had to stop and sit in my life - just as it is. This has been incredibly uncomfortable for me and I totally agree that there will be growth out of it.

I have no idea what is around the corner for me, so instead of resisting this unknown - I choose to embrace it and bring on the growth. 

Stephanie Shirley TED

5) Dame Stephanie Shirley - Why do ambitious women have flat heads?

'Nobody really expected much from people at work or in society because all the expectations then were about home and family responsibilities. And I couldn't really face that, so I started to challenge the conventions of the time, even to the extent of changing my name from "Stephanie" to "Steve" in my business development letters, so as to get through the door before anyone realized that he was a she.'


As soon as I finished this talk I immediately followed Dame Stephanie Shirley on all social media, ordered her book and purchased a power shirt just like she is wearing during the talk to channel her! It is safe to say that this was by far my favourite talk during the challenge.

What a life, what a woman. 

I recently attended a Women In Film forum in Melbourne and was pretty shocked at the statistics of women vs men employed in the film industry here in Australia and beyond. Thank goodness I was reading Dame Stephanie Shirley's book 'Let It Go' during this period.

Dame Stephanie Shirley started one of the UK's first software companies in the UK during a time that this industry was incredibly male dominated. She was bullied, harassed and told to give up, but instead, she created one of the most successful companies in the country - making her a very wealthy woman and empowering women around her. One of my favourite parts of her story is that she employed women only, that is until the time of equal opportunity laws when she was forced to employ a man.

I could go on forever about it but I don't want to ruin the talk. Just watch it. Please.


What TED talks have inspired and moved you? Hit me up with some more suggestions in the comments!