Product School

10 Powerful TED Talks To Make You a Better Product Manager

Ellen Merryweather

Author: Ellen Merryweather

January 9, 2023 - 8 min read

Updated: January 24, 2024 - 8 min read

As a product manager, you’ll want to continuously be seeking out new ways to learn, new information, fresh ideas, and inspiration. It’s a constant learning process, and it’s important to stay open and stay motivated.

Ted Talk

While there are many resources out there, including books, blogs, podcasts, influential people on social media, and tons of online publications, there is something we love about TED Talks. The way they inform, send a message, and motivate us to do and be better.

Their videos not only apply to things in life like the global economy or being a social leader or better person, but they can also help you become a better product manager. Here we list the ten amazing TED Talks for Product Managers, why they are so great, and what the big takeaway is. Take a look:

1. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

We start out with one of the most notable talks on leadership by the expert on the topic, Simon Sinek. You might recognize him as the author of “Start with Why,” his most recent book, “Leaders Eat Last” and his many accomplishments in the world of leadership.

Why watch? Hear about how all the great and inspiring leaders act by hearing his discussion about the Golden Circle, of “Why, How and What?” Sinek has uncovered the similarities and patterns between the great leaders who have reshaped the world in powerful ways, in their personalities and behaviors. He brings his discoveries to the stage and talks about how you can apply it to how you act in the world, and how to become an “inspired leader.”

2. Chris Hadfield: What I learned from going blind in space

“Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts.”

Why watch? Sometimes it’s good to break out of our bubbles, and hear from someone with a different perspective entirely. Chris Hadfield is a retired astronaut, was the first Canadian in space, and also served as the Commander of the International Space Station. You’re not going to get a more unique perspective than that!

In this talk, Chris describes how he managed to keep cool in an extremely stressful situation, something the rest of us Earthlings can relate to very well, especially in product management.

3. Sheena Iyengar: The Art of Choosing

“Choosing is a creative process, one through which we construct our environment, our lives, ourselves.”

Why watch? Sheena Iyengar is a well-known psycho-economist who has been advising business and consumer-goods marketers for over two decades. She is famous for her research on what drives our decisions, which she outlines with real-world examples in her book  “The Art of Choosing.” This talk is a journey through the science of how and why we make the choices we do, what inspires those decisions and what businesses and people should take consider when offering options.

It will change the way you look at simply picking out a Coke or Pepsi forever.

4. Margaret Gould Stewart: How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)

“Design is creativity in service of others.”

Why watch? Facebook’s director of product design, Margaret Gould Stewart has managed the design of 6 of the largest websites in the world. She is known for her thought leadership on design by asking a simple question, “How do we design user experiences that change the world in fundamental ways?”

Here she explains three fundamental principles of designing for a huge global audience, how data comes into play and techniques for implementing change among millions of users. You’ll also hear why the team in charge of the infamous “Like” button spent over 280 hours on redesigning the button to keep with with their evolving brand.

5. Guy Kawsaki: The art of innovation

“So as you go through life, and you’re trying to jump curves,ask yourself, “Am I creating something that’s deep and intelligent,and complete, and empowering, and elegant?”

Why watch: Guy Kawasaki has worked at Apple, with Google as an advisor, and has vast experience as an evangelist and entrepreneur. In this talk, he takes us through how we can actually achieve innovation and encourages us to think harder about why we should innovate.

The most valuable piece of advice he gives, is that it’s better to ship innovative products with some not-so-good features, than to not ship innovative products at all. The important thing is not to create perfection on the first try, but to jump to the next curve.

6. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

Why watch? Seth Godin is one of the most influential leaders among marketers and bloggers all over the world. Mary Kuntz of Bussiness Week named him “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age, ” and said he “is a demigod on the Web, a best-selling author, highly sought-after lecturer, successful entrepreneur, respected pundit and high-profile blogger.”

Godin has the ability to take ideas, develop them and creatively get them out into the world. His concepts have been making companies evaluate how they communicate with people and what types of messages become extraordinary versus ordinary.

7. Navi Radjou: Creative problem-solving in the face of extreme limits

“Silicon Valley innovation philosophy: fail early, fail fast and fail often.”

Why watch? Navi Radjou co-authored Jugaad Innovation, to show how quick thinking helps overcome challenges. His studies include “frugal innovation” and ways to get value and be creative with limited resources, which is the heart of most startups today, and a concept that can be applied across many steps in product development.

8. Refik Anadol: Art in the Age of Machine Intelligence

“Data can only become knowledge when it’s experienced, and what is knowledge and experience can take many forms.”

Why watch? If you’re not inspired by and excited about data in 2020…you should be! This talk by artist Refik Anadol takes you through the inspiration behind his work, which turns data into pigment. Watch how machine learning simulates unconscious events and how big data can bring back someone’s memories.

As a Product Manager, you need to be a visionary. Tap into Anadol’s love of data and use it to inspire your own enthusiasm for what machine learning can do.

9. Christiaan Maats: How product design can change the world

“Meaningful products are based on a belief system we can identify with, and they serve a purpose that we can empathize with.”

Why watch: We found in our Future of Product Management survey, that most Product Managers want to change the world, and impact it in a positive way. This talk by Product Designer Christiaan Maats will have you looking at the way we use and build products in a new light, and inspire you to build sustainably and to think about how to build your ethics into your product.

10. Kristen Berman: Don’t listen to your customers, do this instead

“We need to move from relying on asking people questions and move to studying what they actually do. This is behavioral design, this is the future.”

Why watch: Kristen Berman is a behavioral economist who is here to tell us why user surveys and customer focus groups are no longer the future of gathering data. Social media is supposed to connect us, and yet 40% of Americans report experiencing regular loneliness. We’re surrounded by apps and devices to keep us fit, and get obesity rates are growing. In this talk, Kristen tells us how behavioral design will help us build products that really make a difference.

Talks at Product School

We hope that list has you feeling inspired! If you’ve made it to the bottom of the list, you’re clearly a fan of great talks by expert speakers, which is why you’d love our live events. Not only are these talks carefully curated by our events team, and given by speakers such as Senior PMs at Amazon and Google, but they’re an opportunity to network and meet your peers.

You can also find full recordings of any past events you’ve missed on our YouTube channel. For example…

How to Become a Great Product Manager

“In order to obtain unusual results, do either unusual things or usual things in an unusual way.”

Why watch? George Zeng is a Product Manager at Facebook, and gives some great insights in this all-encompassing talk about what makes the best Product Managers. Ranging from how to do the unusual to get good results, to optimising the meetings process, all aspects of PM life are covered.

Interested in giving a talk? We host meetups worldwide, and also offer the chance to host online webinars and AMAs. Contact us for more information.

Product Podcast Season 7

Updated: January 24, 2024

Subscribe to The Product Blog

Discover Where Product is Heading Next

Share this post

By sharing your email, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service