8 TED Talks Every Woman Should Watch in Her 20’s

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One main concern I had following graduating college was this: how will I continue to learn and expand my knowledge without going to class, listening to lectures and writing papers? I knew I wasn’t going to graduate school, but instead heading straight into the workforce. So how would I be able to learn anything new outside of my career without school there to help? One of the most convenient and inexpensive ways to make sure your knowledge doesn’t become stagnant is to watch TED Talks! They range from seven to eighteen minutes, each on topics from exploring underwater caves to stories of human trafficking and everything in between. TED Talks are a perfect source of entertainment and education for millennials with a few minutes of spare time a day to learn something new, hear an inspirational story or laugh till you cry. Here is a list of eight must-see TED Talks every woman should watch in her 20’s:

1. “Why 30 is not the new 20” by Meg Jay

“Claiming your 20’s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do for work, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.”

Clinical psychologist Meg Jay provides a bold and empowering message in this talk that all twentysomethings need to hear. Despite what society may say about your 30’s being the point in your life where you start to settle into your career, get married and have children, Meg begs to differ. Rather than cruise through your 20’s on autopilot and then take hold of the wheel when you blow out 30 candles, Meg suggests that we should really take advantage of these formative years that have such a giant impact on the rest of our lives. She offers three valuable pieces of advice to make the most of our 20’s. Get some identity capital; AKA do something that adds value to who you are. Whether that be volunteering or taking that amazing cross-country job. Second, utilize your weak ties, which are our friends of friends of friends. Most of the time the new person you date or the job opportunity you hear of come from outside your inner circle. Lastly, pick your family. Meg makes a powerful statement when she says, “Picking your family is about consciously choosing who and what you want rather than just making it work or killing time with whoever happens to be choosing you.” Check out Meg’s book the defining decade below.

2. “Why we have too few women leaders” by Sheryl Sandberg

“I think a world where half of our countries and our companies were run by women, would be a better world.”

In her first TED Talk appearance, Sheryl Sandberg made the bold decision to talk about her experience as one of the few women at the C-level of business. She points out that while women have come a long way regarding career choices, rights, and equality, we still have a long way to go. The statistics for women in leadership positions globally is saddening. The main way Sheryl suggests fixing this problem? Making sure women stay in the workforce and don’t drop out before they have the opportunity to make it to the top tier of corporations. The three messages she emphasizes during her talk are to sit at the table, make your partner a real partner and don’t leave before you leave.  If you love this talk as much as I did, you can also check out Sheryl’s other talk or read her book, Lean In.

3. “How to find work you love” by Scott Dinsmore

“The first part of this three-step passionate work framework is becoming a self-expert and understanding yourself, because if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re never going to find it.”

Do you ever feel unhappy in your current job? Scott Dinsmore was in a similar situation but rather than sticking with a job that made him miserable, he quit and dedicated the next four years on discovering how to find work that was personally fulfilling and meaningful. Don’t feel too alone if you are unsatisfied with your job because 80% of people don’t enjoy their work according to research conducted by Deloitte. Scott emphasizes that you don’t have to strive to change the world like Gandhi or Steve Jobs but instead just do something that matters to you and makes the impact that only you are capable of making.

4. “How to stop screwing yourself over” by Mel Robbins

“If you have one of those impulses that are pulling you, if you don’t marry it with an action within 5 seconds, you pull the emergency break and kill the idea.”

I had never heard of Mel Robbins before watching this talk; however, I don’t believe I will soon forget her. Her brash and honest style of talking is refreshing and is kinda the kick in the butt we need sometimes. The entire talk is centered on the fact that a third of Americans (100 million people) feel dissatisfied with their lives right now, and Mel’s solution is being a little selfish and digging deep to think about what you really want and motivating yourself to get it. If you ever think to yourself, “I’d love to get healthier” or “I would love to have a better relationship with my parents,” Mel might just be that extra push you need to get what you want. During her talk, as if she wasn’t motivating enough, she fills you in on the fun tidbit that the chances of you being born at the exact moment in time you were, is one in four trillion. Why waste those incredible odds and not make our lives everything we want them to be? Check out Mel’s book below. 

5. “Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating” by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself.”

The brilliant mind behind the book Eat, Pray, Love strikes again with her vulnerable talk discussing success and failure and how to carry on regardless of the outcome. Elizabeth Gilbert explains that while Eat, Pray, Love was an incredible break in her otherwise underwhelming writing career, she felt immense pressure for her next book because she knew it would be a disappointment in comparison. Due to her extreme passion and love for writing, however, Elizabeth pressed on and continued to create great books regardless of if they fail miserably or succeed beautifully. Writing is Elizabeth’s home, something that she loves more than she loves herself. The point she makes is we all have to find what our home is and always return to that place because it is the one thing you can devote all of your energy and passion toward and ultimately the outcome is inconsequential to your happiness. Check out Elizabeth’s book below.

6. “One Life-Changing class you never took” by Alexa von Tobel

“Right now 84% of college graduates said that they need more help when it comes to personal finance but they’re not getting it.”

As much as we hate to admit it, money will be important throughout our entire life. Despite that fact, personal finance is rarely taught in high schools and colleges across the United States. Most of us will learn about money from our parents and loved ones. Alexa von Tobel, CEO, and Founder of LearnVest attributes this lack of education on finances during young people’s formative years is why many individuals develop negative money habits that can have damaging implications for the rest of their lives. Alexa offers five key financial principles that can benefit you and your money for years to come: live with a budget, prioritize debt repayment, build and maintain and emergency savings fund, negotiate your salary and start saving for retirement now. Check out Alexa’s book below.

7. “Listening to Shame” by Brene’ Brown

“Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I’ve come to the belief—this is my 12th year doing this research—that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage—to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.”

Being vulnerable can be a terrifying thing. Brene’ Brown, whose first TED Talk on the power of vulnerability became a viral sensation, says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene’ brings up such a great point that explains why TED Talks are so popular and powerful. She identifies that TED is the failure conference. Everyone that gets on stage to talk has failed in some form at some time. Despite how scary vulnerability is, great things can come from it. Shame will tell you that you aren’t good enough, to sit back down and be quiet. Brene’ says that our goal in life should be to dare greatly. One way to make sure that happens? Silence shame with empathy and watch those around you stand up, be vulnerable and dare greatly. Check out one of  Brene’s books below.

8. “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me; I’m a model” by Cameron Russell

“And if you ever are wondering, ‘If I have thinner thighs and shinier hair, will I be happier?’ you just need to meet a group of models, because they have the thinnest thighs, the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes, and they’re the most physically insecure women probably on the planet.”

The first minute of this video will make you really want to hear what Cameron has to say. She comes on stage wearing a tight-fitting, scoop neck black dress with 8-inch heels. She then changes into an ankle-length skirt, modest cardigan, and flats. Her point? She completely transformed what she looked like and thus what people thought of her in a matter of moments just based on her clothes. She says, “image is powerful, but also, an image is superficial.” Cameron addresses both positive and negative experiences while modeling for the past ten years of her life. Appearances in society today are picked apart and judged in every way possible for both females and males. Cameron candidly acknowledges that she fits the mold for the “typical modern model” but is quick to admit it doesn’t always make her happy and that the industry she personally benefits from only furthers unfair racial, gender and sexist stereotypes in our society.

All of these TED Talks have valuable lessons we can all learn from as we navigate through our 20’s. Next time you are tempted to click “play next episode” on Netflix or during your morning treadmill session, watch a TED Talk instead and I’m sure you’ll learn something new. Be sure to check out the other talks by some of the individuals above or explore the thousands of other TED Talks offered online.

Want more book recommendations from Ted Talk peakers? Check out our list below:

What do you think of these TED Talks? Are there any other videos that have really impacted you in your 20’s? Let us know in the comments!




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  • Alli Smith

    There is so much great info for women in this post! I taught a Personal Finance elective class to high school students because I realized the need for them to know about personal finances. I hope they remembered some of what was taught.

    • Alyssa Richardson

      Alli that is phenomenal you did that and I’m sure they do remember what you taught them! As Alexa talked about personal finance is a skill that needs to be more of a focus in schools. Glad you liked these talks!

  • I haven’t seen all of these! Definitely pinning for later so I can watch when I need some inspiration. I love TED talks!

    • Alyssa Richardson

      TED talks are so great! Definitely watch these videos and share any others that are your favorites!

  • These sound like fabulous talks with so much useful information for women. I will be sharing this list with a few of my friends. So many great links here!

    • Alyssa Richardson

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing Jenn! Glad you found these talks informative :)

  • Abby

    I love using TED Talks in my classroom, but I’ve never thought about applying them to my own life. This is a great list!

    • Alyssa Richardson

      TED Talks are such a great resource in so many different ways on thousands of topics. Glad you liked these, Abby!

  • Jaime Nicole

    TED Talks are such an incredible resource for so many things. I am happy that you highlighted a handful of great ones!

    • Alyssa Richardson

      Thanks so much for reading, Jaime!

  • The episode “How to Find Work You Love” is one that I have watched before and loved. I think these are so educational for all age groups.

  • Heather @ Kraus House Mom

    TED Talks has such an array of “learning opportunities” for everyone. These are very informative for women.

  • Rebecca Swenor

    The TED talks are awesome for any woman. I love the different topics that they come in and this post I will have to share with my nieces. Thanks for sharing these talks.

  • Jeanine @ sixtimemommy.com

    How interesting. I hadn’t seen any of these. I think I need to sit down and see them though, even though I’m fresh out of my 20s…. I think these could be interesting and useful.

  • I’m all the way behind on life, I’ve not listen to any of these. I’m in my 30’s but it is never to late to learn a lesson about life.

  • My husband on son watch TED talks all the time and have been trying to get me to watch with them for months, to no avail. Perhaps these TED talks would be just the right in for me! Thank you for sharing these great videos! :)

  • rika agustini

    I’ve been following TED Talks for years ;) very inspiring and change the way i think about career and technology

  • polarbelle

    TED sounds great! I would have loved to have had a resource like this in my 20s and 30s. I think 20s has to be the most challenging decade I’ve experienced so far.

  • Doing work that you enjoy is so important. I wish someone would’ve stressed that to me in my 20s. These are all great take always and as a woman in her late 30s I tell younger women these things. The question is am I too old for them to take me serious?!!

  • Ashley

    Point #3 was really helpful to me. I am 29 and I didn’t cruise through my 20s but I definitely didn’t take the wheel! I don’t want to spend 20 years working somewhere I don’t like

  • Jennifer Pritchard Kearney

    Wow thank you for sharing all of these. I’ve followed some here and there, but it’s really helpful to have a list like this compiled.

    • Alyssa Richardson

      Absolutely Jennifer! Thank you for reading and glad these talks were helpful to you!

  • I am lucky that my dad always told me its important to do what you love because you have to do it 50 years plus! Never heard of TED it looks so good

    • Alyssa Richardson

      That is great advice and so true. Always important to do what you love. TED is such a great resource for everything you could ever want to watch, definitely check out some of their other TED Talks!