My Top 10 List Of TED Talks On Creativity

Hello again. I’m off on a new tangent this week, it’s been inspired by Yaro’s last post. Actually, I’ve had this niggling feeling I needed to take his advice since receiving the email in my inbox several weeks ago with tips on writing great articles – I just have so much spinning in my head that it often takes a while to action everything that’s fighting for my attention.

The Master Plan

Yaro’s great idea is to make top 10 lists of things related to my topic. He suggested a top 10 list of my favorite books on creativity. Whilst that’s a brilliant idea, there’s one small problem… for some terrible reason, most likely due to my own scattered brain, I’ve stopped reading books to completion. I get part way through them and charge off on other tangents. This is a considerable problem when it comes to making top 10 lists of my favorite books on creativity.

So I did what all good creatives do when faced with an impasse and I improvised. Whilst I spend the next few weeks finishing reading all the books on my top 10 list, I decided to make a top 10 list of something else. The “something else” is largely responsible for why I don’t finish books anymore!

Details Of My Ongoing Love Affair

I have an ongoing love affair with TED. At the end of the day, when I’m sick of dealing with black text on a white computer screen, I crawl into bed with TED and let the world’s most inspiring, informative, ingenious and innovative people take me on adventures into their worlds.

I don’t watch TV these days. I watch TED. Somehow, because I’m learning new things and being inspired by what I see, I can sneak past that feeling of guilt I get from watching mind numbing entertainment because it’s not productive. So my first ever “top 10 list” is my top 10 TED talks on creativity.

The Master Plan Explained

This is how it’s going to look. I’m going to show in order of 1 to 10, the talks I have found to be most inspiring and also practically useful in regards to creativity. I want to explain to you how each clip made the cut and why it’s ranked as it is. So each week, I’ll cover two or three clips, and try to explain why they’re important and a give summary of the magnificence within them.

Some of the talks are directly related to creativity. Others are great examples of someone being creative. And others are expressions of crucial elements of creativity, like Isabel Allende’s talk on passion.

There’s one talk in here that isn’t so much about creativity. But I realized it’s possibly the most useful way to overcome one of the biggest stumbling blocks to realizing your potential, and take the risks needed to explore and express your creativity. Even though it’s not necessarily pitched as being about creativity, it could be the most important clip of them all if it moves you to action.

Drum Roll… Here’s The Top 10 List

#1 Sir Ken Robinson

Schools Kill Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson: Sir Ken tops my TOP 10 in both books and TED talks on creativity. Basically, I’m a raving Sir Ken fan, and not without good reason. Sir Ken is mobilizing people all over the world to revolutionize the education system. He’s a world authority on creativity and education. In this talk, he explains clearly and with a brilliant dose of humor exactly how the education system is the first thing to wipe our abundant creativity. This talk sets a great foundation for the ones that follow in the list.

#2 Sir Ken Robinson

Bring On The Revolution

Sir Ken’s second talk was recorded on TED four years after his initial one. His first talk was downloaded over 4 million times, and this one rivals it for being just as insightful, informative and funny. He builds upon the information he shared in his former TED talk, and tells some extraordinary stories to illustrate his point. Watching this talk for the fire-fighter story alone would be a worthwhile experience. If you want to know just how valid and valuable it is follow your gut instinct and do what you love, watch this!

#3 Tim Brown

Creativity and Play

Tim Brown: Tim’s talk makes it into 3rd place for a couple of reasons.

I love to draw attention to the connection between play and creativity and have spent many posts on this blog doing so, as well as writing a book about it. Tim’s talk is all about the connection between play and creativity. His talk is insightful and informative and he shares some great distinctions about creativity and how it works that I’ve never heard anyone else mention. An added bonus is that he gives the audience some cool creativity exercises to do as well. This video totally rocks and totally deserves a top ranking.

#4 Isabel Allende


Isabel Allende: Now this is one amazing and passionate woman! She gets to rank 4th because her talk epitomizes two of the most important aspects of creative expression: courage and passion.

I don’t often like to speak about passion because it’s often an over-used term without the real energy behind it. I think people like to give lip service to passion, but you don’t actually see many people living it. Isabel lives it, she breathes it and she expresses it powerfully. To be creative takes guts, a lot of it. You’re baring your soul to the world again and again and you have to handle the world rejecting you again and again. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable. Without courage and passion to fuel your stubborn insistence to accept nothing less than living life to its full potential, don’t expect to get a grip on creativity.

#5 Ross Lovegrove

Organic Designs

Ross Lovegrove: If I didn’t have such a big crush on Sir Ken’s creative expression, I’d have a big crush on Ross’s. Partially just for having a name like Lovegrove, what a cool name! Those elements I mentioned about Isabel’s talk, on courage and passion, Ross is also a brilliant example of someone who embodies these attributes as well.

Just listening to him and watching him will give you a great idea of what creativity is about and what’s needed to master it. Ross lives right on the edge of innovation and design for the future, listening to someone like this is inspiring and I feel safer knowing there are people like this in the world helping design for our future. The difficulty for someone like Ross is waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with him… When you get to the part where he says, “What a waste! F__ ‘em,” you’ll know what I mean.

#6 Tim Harford

Trial, Error and the God Complex

Tim Harford: Tim comes in at 6th place, not because he’s speaking specifically about creativity, but because what he speaks about is also one of the most crucial elements to creative expression: trial and error. Nobody has ever mastered any creative feat without a lot of it. There are no brilliant people on this planet who haven’t spent years dedicated to fine tuning their skills. Trying to avoid this and still be successful is like trying to avoid exercise and expecting to have a strong, fit, healthy body.

I also love Tim’s explanation of the God Complex. This is something we’re all very guilty of at least some of the time, and I can see how it really makes life difficult for everybody. Definitely worth listening to.

#7 Matt Cutts

Try Something New For 30 Days

Matt Cutts: I mentioned in the article one speaker who had a message so powerful, it might even be the most important one of all if it moves you to take action. This is Matt’s message.

One of the biggest blocks to creativity and anything else in life is our procrastination and excuses. If we just stopped this and took action on the things we say we’d like to do, our lives would transform dramatically. Matt is a shining example of someone who has been living this way, and he gives you a brilliant tool to turn your excuses into action.

By taking on 30 day challenges, he’s transformed his life from someone who talked about doing things to someone who makes it happen. After watching this talk, I implemented a 30 day challenge immediately, and I can see how my life could transform dramatically if I just keep on challenging myself 30 days at a time.

#8 Joshua Walters

Being Just Crazy Enough

Joshua Walters: This guy is amazing, he shares some of the most entertaining and difficult aspects of creativity in a very humorous and empathetic manner. Having always been highly sensitive and creative, and had tendencies to those hypomanic states he refers to, I know how important it is to manage this and balance myself out to avoid some kind of blowout. Listening to Joshua’s portrayal of understanding and managing his creativity and accepting who he is along the way is well worth your time, and it’s only going to take six minutes of your time, so there’s no excuse to miss it!

#9 Larry Lessig

The Law Is Strangling Creativity

Larry Lessig: Larry’s talk is cool because it gives you some insight into how creativity is evolving and flourishing with the Internet and new communication technologies. In this talk, you learn some useful things about how creativity thrives in an open source environment that embraces a user-friendly culture. This is a very thought provoking talk on some of the aspects of creativity as it works in today’s world that get missed by a lot of the others.

#10 Elizabeth Gilbert

About Genius

Elizabeth Gilbert: Elizabeth is well deserving of a spot in this list, and she could have easily been further up, but her talk seems like the most fitting to complete your foray into creativity.

In her talk, Elizabeth discusses an angle on creative expression that no one else has touched on. It relates to the aftermath of experiencing success and it requires some serious self-management to get a handle on. This is something you’ve probably noticed before in life, when you think about one hit wonders and what happened to them after that.

Elizabeth’s talk gives some great insights and ideas into how to handle creative success and the subsequent pressure to keep producing at that level. This is well worth watching, so once you have cracked it and have experienced creative success, you can keep it up without bombing from the pressure.

As you can see, I’ve got a bit of a thing for Sir Ken, I have an ongoing love affair with his work to rival the one I have for TED talks. Sir Ken even tops my TOP 10 book list and hogs the first few places : /

I think this is for a number of reasons.

Details Of My Other Love Affair

Ken’s talks are educational, insightful, beautifully articulated and they make me laugh. This combination is a bit like holding the ace of spades as far as I’m concerned, especially that last element.

Another reason they top the list is because Sir Ken’s talks set a great foundation for the rest. Sir Ken deals with the starting point of the problem of dislocated creativity, our schooling. We waste a good twelve years of our lives learning how to do things that don’t energize and inspire us… learning how to stuff our dreams away and stamp out our creativity so we can endure those years of schooling.

Really, it’s just like twelve years in training for what to expect for the rest of our lives… Unless we’re blessed to have held onto enough hope and determination to do what we love anyway… or unless by some stroke of luck, the schooling system actually did steer us in the direction of living the life that speaks to our deepest truth. Sadly, Sir Ken says during his second talk, of the many people he meets, very few have been able to find this place within themselves to live from.

If you have the time and inclination to watch these first two talks in my top 10, I assure you it will be a great foundation for us to launch into the ones that follow in the list next week. Once again, I’d love to hear any comments you have at the end, and I’m going to leave you with a fabulous Sir Ken quote about creativity.

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Cheers, Neroli.

About Neroli Makim

Neroli Makim is an intuitive artist and writer who loves exploring Creativity and its relationship to personal fulfillment and professional success. She educates people about Creativity, what it is, why it’s important and how to access it within themselves. For more information, visit

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  • Hi Neroli,
    I think, what I can observed from your post is maybe trying to refer most of us to the 10 books or video as listed. I really have to go through these book one afetr the other before I could grasp the message they sent across. However, thank you for revealing these books.

    • Hi Alphonsus, I’m going to restructure the article a little after Yaro added some helpful feedback on the layout for the top 10. It’s just the first 2 links we’ll look at this week, & I’ll go through the others in the following weeks to outline what’s in them. Cheers, neroli

  • I got Ted’s blog in my Google Reader and keep up with whats happen around the net. But I never thought someone will create a top 10 of his content..that’s a new one for me.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Ha-ha, i’m not sure what you mean about Ted’s blog, I think we’re talking about different things, TED is an organization…your Ted sounds like a person:) Cheers, neroli

  • I’m a huge fan of TED. I’ve literally watched hundreds of their talks and presentations. They are like a battery to me as I go there every time i feel overwhelmed or desperate so i could refresh my ideas and get some motivation. I’ll definitely check everyone you’ve mentioned on your list. Thanks

    • Same here David! I love how inspired I get from TEd talks. The people on there just do so much cool s***t it makes you realize there’s really no excuse to live a dull life:) cheers, neroli

  • When I saw the title, I said to myself – “Self, you should check to see if she included Sir Ken Robinson in that list”. If I clicked through to actually read the list, and he wasn’t there, I would’ve dismissed this post completely, lol. What do I find? Ken is in there, not once, but twice. He’s the man. I haven’t listened to the others, but since you have him as one and two, I will actually bookmark this post to go back and check em out later. I love TED.

    • Ha-ha Leslie:) that’s so funny i even emailed Sir Ken’s co-author and told him about it…I hope he passes it on to Ken;) Glad I didn’t let you down.

      We could rave about Ken all day by the sounds of it! I reference him heaps in my own book on creativity. Ke sits in 1st & 2nd place in my TOP 10 book list on creativity as well…his next book was due out now but it’s been postponed til next yr which is a bummer…otherwise he could have taken out 1st, 2nd & 3rd place…especially because I think I’m in his upcoming book!
      Cheers, neroli

      • Oh wow, didn’t realized he had written books. Although that should’ve been obvious. Audible, here I come!

        Oh, and congrats to possibly being in his upcoming book. That would be super awesome. I’ll have to get you to autograph a copy for me, lol 😉

  • I love the TED talks I think my favourite is the founder of 4Chan Moot but they all are good. Also Ben Huh from icancheezeburger both are real good.

    • Hey Phil -i’ll have to watch that talk, that guy is amazing for creating the 4chan site…incredible creative impact for one person to have! Thanks for the TED tips, cheers, neroli

  • Hi Neroli
    I stumbled upon TED a few months ago due to an uncontrollable urge to keep learning at the expense of executing (workin on that!). As I declutter, TED will not go in the basket. The momentum it has promises to make it even better as time goes by

    • Hey Mark, I absolutely have to watch that I don’t do the same and use TED to avoid action-ing things that need doing! But it is brilliant regardless:) cheers, neroli

  • Hi Neroli,
    I am really looking forward to your upcoming posts as i am curious to know about the books you have mentioned in your list.

    • Stay tuned – we’ll get to the TOP 10 book list eventually:) Cheers, neroli

  • Hey Neroli,

    Glad to see you take my advice from my last blog post. You picked a good topic to do a list on and you almost nailed it, there is just one change I would recommend for next time (and my bad for not being on top of this before this article was published)…

    Rather than listing each TED talk in a link in a dot point list, you should have broken down each video into a section with it’s own heading, with the video from the presentation embedded into the section and brief breakdown explaining why you like the presentation/presenter and what the reader will learn from that video.

    It should look something like this (this is one of my favourites for obvious reason 😉

    In fact it wouldn’t hurt to make these changes anyway, even though the article has already been published.

    Keep up the good work!


    • Great tip Yaro, thanks heaps, will get onto sorting it out:) This top 10 list was the most fun post I’ve ever done, largely due to the fact that I love TED talks sooooo much! Cheers, neroli:)

    • He-he, I just flicked over to check out the TOP 50 bloggers, no wonder you like that example Yaro…very cool ranking you have there! It is a great example to work from too, will tweak this accordingly!

      • Remco

        Well……with these esthetic changes i can no longer enjoy the videos on my ipad2….

        • This is a good point – the video should be embedded and a link to the original TED entry for the video supplied as well for those who need to find the direct download/non-flash versions.


          • Stephanie

            Hi everyone,

            Please find links provided in addition to the videos.

            Kind regards,


  • I love Matt Cutts No7, he is cool.

    • Me too, his talk is really simple yet so powerful if you take it on. Cheers, neroli

  • Great list – I’ve seen most of them. I can understand having a thing for Sir Ken; I have one too. He’s just brilliant. As for the ones I haven’t seen, I’m gonna climb into bed right now and watch them.

    • Hey Marie:) yeah, it’s hard to find videos that intense TED fans haven’t watched!

      I have to keep watching them over, but it can be a bit like twitter procrastination for me…only it’s disguised as learning b/c it’S TED! Cool to see you here:) cheers, neroli.

  • Never heard of Sir Ken before this but just watched number 2 video. Imagine going to school and they tested you to find out what your strengths are. Imagine them asking you what your passions are. Imagine them trying to help you do what you enjoy as a career.

    A revolution would be nice! Long live the death of a linear education system.


    • hey Nick, wouldn’t that be amazing?

      Wouldn’t we all just love being at school if we were tested on our strengths and natural creative inclinations to start and studied accordingly? It’s a wonderful dream that may even become reality, cheers, neroli

  • Great article, I love these videos! I just delivered my TEDx Talk last month on a new model for Startups and I am hoping it helps people unleash their inner entrepreneur!

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