I recently had the privilege of spending the evening with a group of incredibly bright women who are working towards their Executive MBAs at a prestigious university in NYC.

As I shared some insights relating to attention management, mindfulness, and happiness, I found myself referring to some of my favorite TED talks.

For today's post, I thought it would be fun to share my 5 favorite TED Talks that relate to Productivity, Happiness, and Success.

For those of you unfamiliar with TED Talks, here's a short summary from their website:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.


This 12 minute talk has been watched by over 14 million people. Achor is funny, smart, and incredibly insightful. Watching this talk will empower you to take small steps to improve your own level of happiness and view the world with greater optimism. I loved his book, The Happiness Advantage.


Shonda Rhimes is probably best known for Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder; she's an incredible writer. When you watch her TED talk, you can't help but see and hear the voice of some of the characters in her hit shows.

What I enjoyed most about her TED Talk (and her book, Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person) is her authentic discussion about how she re-engineered her life to find greater balance. Her description of "the hum" (which is also referred to as flow or being in the zone) is truly poetic.


Amy Cuddy, a Harvard professor, shares her personal experience about overcoming a traumatic brain injury as a young adult. After being told she was unlikely to graduate from college, Cuddy earned a BA from University of Colorado and a PhD and MA from Princeton University. She addresses "imposter syndrome" which many of us have felt but never realized was a feeling experienced by so many.

The outcome of her extensive research is that your posture influences how others perceive you and also how you perceive yourself. After watching this talk, if I am nervous about a meeting or presentation, I strike a wonder woman pose and know I'll be fine. You can find out more in her book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges


Adam Grant is a professor at The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. This TED talk covers some of the topics in his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World. Presented with great humor, Grant shares his research findings about procrastinators and why coming late to the game can result in huge success (like Facebook and Google.)

He claims "To be original, you don't have to be first, you just have to be different and better."

Grant's talk gave me valuable insight into the behavior of one of my four kids (I won't say which one.) It just might be that the 'push-every-boundary' and 'let's see how long I can procrastinate' attitude of a teenager will be the trait that leads to future success. I sure hope so!


Duckworth defines "grit" as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Her research suggests that grit (as opposed to IQ, social intelligence, or talent) is a positive indicator of future success. Those who have the ability to stick-with-it and stay motivated over long periods of time are thought to be gritty. These individuals are undeterred by failures and setbacks.

How can we make future generations "grittier?" When kids believe they have the ability to learn and grow, they develop a growth mindset which is more likely to result in grit. Next on my reading list: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.
Like TED Talks? Look for opportunities to attend a day of TED talks. This was in Philly last Spring.
Like TED Talks? Look for opportunities to attend a day of TED talks. This was in Philly last Spring.

In addition to viewing a lot of TED talks, I am also constantly scouring the internet for new articles, studies, and books that relate to productivity and happiness.

Please let me know if you come across something of interest!

Author's Bio: 

Hi, I'm Sharon Danzger and I founded Control Chaos in 2006. As a productivity consultant, I provide group training and individual coaching.

My diverse background in financial services, non-profits, and small business enables me to offer a unique perspective on finding efficiency and balance. I tailor my approach to be industry specific and culturally focused based on my actual work and client experience.

I spent the early part of my career in financial services working for The Prudential Insurance Company of America. I spent time in a variety of areas including commercial real estate, underwriting, corporate social responsibility, and group insurance.

My work with non-profits has ranged from leadership development, governance, and training to financial analysis and oversight of an $18 MM budget.

I hold a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Real Estate from New York University. I am also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).

I have earned a Certificate of Study in Chronic Disorganization from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Recently I completed Monash University's "Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance," University of Virginia Darden School's "Fundamentals of Project Planning and Management," University of Pennsylvania Wharton School's "Contagious," and University of Michigan's "Inspiring and Motivating Individuals." I am a lifelong learner and am always looking for ways to learn and grow.