I shortlist some of the fine talks I see. If you’re looking for inspiring, motivational speeches you might enjoy exploring my Talkshelf. A few of these are my all-time favourite mind-expanding talks and ideas.

Innovation Speeches

Steve Job's 2005 Stanford Commencement Address

Steve shares three personal stories and the lessons he learned from each.


  • 1) connect the dots 2) love what you do 3) we are all going to die
  • "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life."
  • "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
  • "Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
  • "Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death"

Steve Jobs. 2005. [Text as delivered]

Lifelong Learning  Speeches

Why you will fail to have a great career by Larry Smith

Funny and punchy speech from Canadian Economist and University of Waterloo Professor about going after your passion.


  • You will hear all the reasons why you should find your passion and do what you love. You will also have all the excuses not to.
  • Passion is the highest expression of your talent.
  • Passion is not the same as interest. "Are you really gonna go to your sweetie and say, 'marry me, you're interesting!'"
  • "Do you ever wanna look at your spouse and your kid and see your jailers?"

Larry Smith. 2012. Why you will fail to have a great career. In TEDxUW.

Thinking Speeches

The Danger of Silence by Clint Smith


  • "In the end, we will remember not the word of our enemies, but the silence of our friends," said Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1968 speech reflecting on civil rights movement.
  • Tell your truth and be honest about the times when you failed to do so.

Clint Smith. 2014. The Danger of Silence. In TED@NYC.

The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


  • A human being is multi-dimensional. One story cannot possibly define everything that comprises one.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 2009. The Danger of a Single Story. In TEDGlobal.

J.K. Rowling's 2008 Harvard Commencement Address

J.K. Rowling shares the benefit of failure and the importance of imagination.


  • The benefit of failure is that it strips away the non-essential.
  • The importance of imagination is our power to empathize with our fellow humans. Imagination is morally neutral. We can use it to manipulate others or to understand and sympathize.
  • "If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change."

J.K. Rowling. 2008. [Text as delivered]

This is an ongoing project.

If you enjoyed this, you might like my Quoteshelf.