Six TED Talks for Legal Pros

Hire An Esquire’s curated list of must-watch TED Talks for a better, happier career.

We’re all short on time these days for reading and reflection, which is probably why TED Talks have become so popular: these rich, inspiring talks are delivered in under 18 minutes, which science tells us is about as much as our attention spans can handle.

If you need a dose of good ideas today (or a reason to productively procrastinate), here are six TED talks on how to manage and work smarter.

Be an opportunity maker

Kare Anderson, a writer for Forbes, argues that opportunity-makers are those who can seize more opportunities. By actively seeking situations with people unlike them, they're building trusted relationships and can bring the right team in and recruit them to solve a problem better and faster.

Why jobs of the future won't feel like work

As David puts it: “If we really want to robot-proof our jobs, we, as leaders, need to get out of the mindset of telling people what to do and instead start asking them what problems they're inspired to solve and what talents they want to bring to work.”

How too many rules at work keep you from getting things done

Yves Morieux suggests that clarity, accountability, measurement were fine when the world was simpler. But business has become more complex. “It is much more demanding today to attract and retain customers, to create value. And the more business gets complex, the more, in the name of clarity, accountability, measurement we multiply structures, processes, systems.” He offers a better way: cooperation.

How to make work-life balance work

Nigel Marsh says work-life balance is too important to be left in the hands of your employer and offers four observations on how we can realistically make it happen.

The puzzle of motivation

In this talk, Dan Pink (who opens with his stint in law school) discusses how social science has refuted the traditional reward-and-punishment system in business. He argues that to perform the tasks of 21st century well, we need a new approach to how we manage and do work, by allowing for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

How to make hard choices

Whether you’re making a decision about your career, or something else, Ruth Chang offers comforting advice about how we can make the hard choices.

Bonus talk: Four ways to fix a broken legal system

Phillip K. Howard, a lawyer at Covington & Burling and author of The Death of Common Sense, suggests four ways we can restore sanity to a oft-frenzied legal system. Among them, he proposes “rehumanizing” the law: giving the judges and officials in charge the freedom to use their judgment to interpret and apply the law in accord with social norms.

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