5 TED Talks on ripping up the rule book

Trying to pick our five favourite TED Talks on ‘ripping up the rule book’ was always going to prove a challenge: the very nature of TED means that so many of them are about stepping outside our comfort zones and challenging the status quo.

So instead we’ve found five playlists that fit the brief and have then highlighted one of the talks within each of them. If you like that one, chances are you’ll enjoy the rest within that list.

We’ve also deliberately selected various talk lengths. So hopefully there’s something here that will grab your interest, even if you’ve only got a few minutes to spare.


Ready for a change? These talks will help you move out of your comfort zone and embrace the beauty of sharing who you are with the world.

Try something new for 30 days (3:27)

Is there something you’ve always meant to do, wanted to do, but just… haven’t? Matt Cutts suggests: “Try it for 30 days.” This short, lighthearted talk offers a neat way to think about setting and achieving goals.


These amazing, inspiring feats of daring and determination will take you everywhere – from the high skies to the deep sea.

Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair (9:38)

When Sue Austin got a power wheelchair, she felt a tremendous sense of freedom ­– yet others looked at her as though she had lost something. In her art, she conveys the spirit of wonder she feels wheeling through the world. It includes thrilling footage of an underwater wheelchair that lets her explore ocean beds… floating free in 360 degrees.


Push the boundaries with these talks about individuals willing to break the rules in the name of good design.

A guerilla gardener in South Central LA (10:45)

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA – in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, defiance, beauty. And to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys”.


These quirky talks remind us that life is funny, weird, sweet… and, often, absurd.

Hack a banana, make a keyboard! (13:15)

Why can’t two slices of pizza be used as a slide clicker? Why shouldn’t you make music with ketchup? In this charming talk, inventor Jay Silver talks about the urge to play with the world around you. He shares some of his messiest inventions, and demos MaKey MaKey – a kit for hacking everyday objects.


These talks flip old conventions – reimagining them for a brighter, better tomorrow.

How to run a company with (almost) no rules (21:42)

What if your job didn’t control your life? Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler practises a radical form of corporate democracy, rethinking everything from board meetings to how workers report their vacation days (they don’t have to). It’s a vision that rewards the wisdom of workers, promotes work-life balance – and leads to some deep insight on what work, and life, is really all about.

This small selection of TED Talks is just the tip of the iceberg; there are so many others that we could have picked about ripping up the rule book.

But hopefully they’ve given you a flavour of the inspirational talks you can expect at TEDxLeamingtonSpa this November…