3 TED Talks to Prepare Young Agency Professionals for the Workplace

By | May 21, 2014
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BrainAfter accepting a job offer with PR 20/20, I tried to read every ebook and article, and watch every video to prepare myself for what lay ahead.

But there was a hole in my preparation plan.

College life and work life operate in contrasting ways. In college, you work in short, intermittent blocks with plenty of time throughout the day to complete assignments, nap, lounge and pursue additional interests. After four years of this routine, I had grown accustomed to it.

As a young professional, however, you must be alert and active for nine to 10 hours straight. Despite my best efforts, I had underestimated the hurdles I would face with efficiency, motivation and adapting to the workplace.

These three TED talks helped me through my first year in an agency and guided me through rewiring my mindset to allow for the changes to my daily life.

1. The Happy Secret to Better Work

Shawn Achor (@shawnachor), the CEO of Good Think Inc. and an avid advocate for the powers of positive psychology, discusses the relationship between success and happiness in his talk. The current model used in most professional tracks suggests that if you work harder, you will be more successful, and thus happier.

Achor argues that in this traditional model, once your set goal is reached, your mind has already moved onto the next goal. This disables your brain from recognizing happiness and achieving its supplemental benefits. 

The new model for defining happiness and success centers on raising your positivity in the present. Doing so will give you the “happiness advantage”—the output your mind is capable of when fueled with a positive mindset.

Research shows that a positive brain performs better than a negative, neutral or stressed one and is 31% more productive.

The Takeaways:

When faced with new expectations and demands, being positive is to your brain like spinach is to Popeye: An unequivocal fuel boost.

Furthermore, employers seek the “glass half full” workers. Negative vibes are toxic to work environments and are easily spotted by colleagues. 

Get positive. Achor’s TED talk lays out five actionable items to implement daily for a more positive you.

2. The Puzzle of Motivation

Dan Pink (@danielpink) is a five-time author and ex-speechwriter for former Vice President Gore. Pink’s TED talk touches on task motivation.

Many companies currently use a 20th century model of external reward systems; however, Pink argues that this reward model is not suitable for 21st century jobs. Intrinsic motivation is the only way to obtain the best output from today’s employees, resulting in more dedicated, enthusiastic and productive workers. Intrinsic motivation unlocks the ability for high performance in cognitive tasks.

The Takeaways:

No matter what your employer’s stance on motivation and reward is, you can find your own intrinsic motivation, and ultimately enjoy your job and daily tasks more.

Our minds crave actions that are larger than us. Connect how the project or work matters to you, and tie your own values to its mission and goal.

3. The Power of Introverts

Susan Cain (@susancain), a former corporate lawyer and negotiations consultant, published author and self-proclaimed introvert, focuses her TED talk on the power of introverts and their place in society.

Cain explains, “Western societies favor the man of action over the man of contemplation." From a young age, we are taught that group work is highly valued and that the outgoing and talkative are more liked and popular.

But Cain argues, “There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.”

The Takeaways:

As a new employee, it can be difficult to find your place on the team, especially when introverted (as one-third to one-half of us in the U.S. are). Cultivate self-awareness; take note of how you work best and in what environments you’re most successful. Set yourself up for success by communicating these observations to managers, while identifying steps you can take to improve.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, take the time to recognize where you fit in. Don’t be intimidated to be the person you are. Everybody brings valuable skills to the table. 

What advice would you give to young professionals?

Image Source: Opensource.com

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