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In 2017, one of my self-development goals was to watch one TED Talk every week.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).

They have talks on everything from economics to communication to fashion, and if nothing else, I figured they’d help make for some great small talk (which I’m notoriously bad at).

Some weeks I had to watch two or three to make up for other weeks I missed completely, but I was able to watch 52 videos by the end of the year. If you’ve never explored TED and checked out what they have to offer, I definitely recommend it.

Since there are over 2700 videos to choose from, here are my top picks in no particular order:

10 ways to have a better conversation – Celeste Headlee

This one was so good that I shared it on my personal Facebook page. In it, the author of We Need to Talk shares ten basic rules to follow if you want to have a great conversation. Surprise! Many of them have to do more with listening than with talking. Best quote courtesy of Headlee’s sister: “A good conversation is like a miniskirt; short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.”

Why some of us don’t have one true calling – Emilie Wapnick

The idea of “one true calling” is something I have struggled with since college. After deciding to change my major about halfway through my sophomore year, it was a real challenge to pick something because I found myself interested in so many different subjects. (I landed on sociology since I already had several credits that would apply, and therefore left me room to explore with my courses.) As it turns out, I’m not the only one with this problem. Here, Emilie Wapnick explores the idea of “multipotentialites” — people who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime.

My year of saying yes to everything – Shonda Rhimes

As a mom, I’m used to my son asking me for things ALL THE TIME. But what if I committed to saying “yes” every time? It turns out that when a kid asks you to play, they usually only really need your attention for a few minutes. Totally doable. What if I said “yes” every time any opportunity came up? That’s a little scarier. In this chat, TV titan Shonda Rhimes talks about just that. *Please note, this does NOT mean you have to say “yes” to everything.

A hilarious celebration of lifelong female friendship – Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin

When I embarked on this learning journey, this was actually one of the first videos I watched. In this era of #MeToo and everything else, listening to Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin speak not only to their long time friendship, but the important of female friendship in general felt a little extra special. According to them, research has found that not having close female friends is detrimental to your health, as much as smoking or being overweight. Excuse me; I’m off to plan my next ladies’ weekend.

Have you ever watched a TED Talk? Which one? Was it any good? Any you think I should go back and check out?

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