The Playbook For The Modern Man

8 Essential TED Talks Every Man Should Watch

Let’s face it: TED’s “Ideas Worth Spreading” aren’t always worth spreading. Instead of learning something that will change your life, you may end up learning how to tie your shoes or how to use a paper towel.

But amidst all the pop psychology and faux intellectualism, gems can still be found. We’ve sorted through the clunkers to bring you eight of the best TED talks for men. These thought-provoking presentations reflect on masculinity, happiness, health, fear, creativity, communication, and more subjects relevant to the modern man.

Let us know which TED Talk you think should have made the list in the comments.


#1 ‘A Call To Men’ by Tony Porter

Educator, activist, lecturer, and author Tony Porter shares a powerful message about manhood in the 21st century. He begins with a passionate plea to men everywhere: don’t “act like a man.” Using stories from his own life, Porter shows how this limiting mentality – drilled into so many at young ages – can lead men to disrespect and mistreat women and each other. His solution? Break free of the “man box.”

#2 ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ by Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy’s talk is one of the most popular ever to grace a TED stage. The social psychologist discusses the importance of body language and reveals an easy way that anyone can change not only others’ perceptions of them, but the way they feel about themselves. Cuddy’s “power posing” can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on your chances for success.

#3 ‘Flow, The Secret To Happiness’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

As one of the world’s leading researchers in positive psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi knows a thing or two about happiness. In this talk, he asks “What makes a life worth living?” and – spoiler alert – it isn’t money. Instead, Csikszentmihalyi posits that the real secret to happiness is finding pleasure in activities that bring about a state of heightened focus and immersion called “flow.”

#4 ‘Are We In Control Of Our Own Decisions?’ by Dan Ariely

Behavioural economist Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, combines classic visual illustrations with his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research to prove that we are not as discerning as we think. Ariely explores how emotional states, moral codes, and peer pressure affect our ability to make rational and often extremely important decisions in our daily lives.

#5 ‘How To Live To Be 100+, by Dan Buettner

National Geographic writer and explorer Dan Buettner studies the world’s longest-lived peoples, distilling their secrets into a single plan for health and long life. He shares a selection of the diet and lifestyle habits he’s learned from diving deep into the ‘Blue Zones,’ five hidden slivers of the world that boast the highest per capita populations of centenarians.

#6 ‘The Happy Secret To Better Work’ by Shawn Achor

Shawn Achor offers a brilliant challenge to the notion that if you work harder, you will be more successful and then you will be happy. With a heavy injection of humour, Achor argues that in fact it’s the other way around: happiness encourages productivity. Along the way he discusses unicorns, weirdos, and a blueprint for moving our collective ‘average’ upwards.

#7 ‘Your Elusive Creative Genius’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

After the explosive success of her book Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert knows that her best work may be behind her. That thought provided the inspiration for her TED talk, in which she muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person “being” a genius, all of us “have” a genius. Her talk is must-watch for creatives of all kinds.

#8 ‘How To Feel Like The Incredible Hulk’ by Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss has made a career of bettering himself. His books, including bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek, have inspired countless people around the globe to level up their lives and strive for something more. In his talk, Ferriss shows how one simple question – “What’s the worst that could happen?” – is the secret to facing fear and doing it anyway.



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