Unlock career growth: TED Talks every agent should watch

In the competitive world of real estate, just as in elite sport, sometimes it’s the small improvements – the one-percenters – that can set you apart from your competitors.

The hard part is often knowing where to start and that’s where these three TED Talks can help.

Nuanced and insightful, these talks will not only improve your overall wellbeing, they will help sharpen your skills and provide valuable insights into how to build better relationships and grow your business.

Only, they won’t do it in the traditional way you expect them to.

Matt Walker’s discussion on the importance of sleep will enhance your decision-making and cognitive abilities, which are crucial when advising clients and negotiating deals.

Judson Brewer’s talk on breaking bad habits through mindfulness can be applied to quit ineffective work habits, making you more efficient and focused.

And Rita Carter highlights the cognitive and emotional benefits of reading fiction, which can improve your understanding of human behaviour, a key skill in establishing rapport and trust with clients.

Matt Walker: Sleep is your superpower

  1. The vital role of sleep for health: Sleep is not merely a period of rest, but an active state that serves numerous essential functions. It regulates hormone levels, repairs tissues, and plays a critical role in both physical and mental health. Walker emphasises that deep sleep stages can even enhance testosterone levels, impacting sexual health and overall vitality.
  2. Cognitive impairment due to sleep deprivation: Lack of sufficient sleep has an immediate impact on cognitive abilities, specifically memory retention. Walker’s research indicates that sleep deprivation can result in a 40 per cent deficit in the brain’s ability to form new memories. This has implications not just for learning but also for safety, particularly in tasks that require alertness and attention.
  3. Sleep quality and neurological diseases: Walker explores the correlation between poor sleep and a range of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Deep sleep appears to clear beta-amyloid, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s, from the brain. However, technological advancements like direct current brain stimulation are showing potential for enhancing deep sleep and might offer a pathway to mitigating these diseases.
  4. Immune system and disease risk: Lack of sleep can dramatically weaken the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to a range of diseases. Walker highlights research showing that even short-term sleep deprivation can increase the risk of conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and infections.
  5. Sleep as a biological necessity: Contrary to the societal norm of glorifying ‘burnout culture’, Walker insists that sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. He recommends maintaining consistent sleep schedules and creating a conducive sleep environment (cool temperature, dark room, and absence of electronic devices) to optimise sleep quality.

Judson Brewer: The simple way to break a bad habit

  1. Understanding the brain’s reward system: One of the main lessons is that bad habits are hard to break because they are rooted in the brain’s reward-based learning process, a system deeply ingrained through evolution.
  2. Mindfulness over willpower: Instead of using sheer willpower to fight habits, Brewer suggests that mindfulness training can be a more effective approach. This involves becoming aware of the sensations and experiences while engaging in the habit.
  3. Emotional awareness breaks the cycle: By being curiously aware during the habit, people can shift from merely knowing the act is bad to feeling it on a visceral level. This “disenchantment” helps break the cycle of trigger, behaviour, and reward.
  4. Stress weakens cognitive control: Brewer highlights that the prefrontal cortex, which helps us control behaviors, is ineffective under stress. Therefore, mindfulness, which doesn’t rely on cognitive control, can be a more reliable tool for behaviour change.
  5. Practical applications: The talk also emphasises that mindfulness is not just a theory but has practical applications. Studies have shown it to be twice as effective as standard therapy for quitting smoking, and it’s adaptable into digital formats for wider reach.

Rita Carter: Why reading matters

  1. Reading fiction promotes mental well-being: Carter emphasises that reading fiction isn’t just a leisure activity or a way to pass time. It offers substantial benefits for brain health and mental well-being. Reading a good story can act like a form of escapism, helping to relieve stress and anxiety, while also stimulating the brain in unique ways.
  2. Enhances ‘Theory of Mind’: One of the main points Carter makes is that fiction plays a significant role in developing our ‘Theory of Mind’. This is the psychological term for our ability to understand and interpret what other people are thinking and feeling. By stepping into the shoes of fictional characters, readers can gain a nuanced understanding of human emotions and intentions, improving interpersonal relationships.
  3. Fiction activates a wide range of brain areas: Carter points out that when we read fiction, various parts of our brain light up, not just those associated with language processing. These areas include those responsible for movement and sensation, effectively simulating the experiences described as if they were actually happening to us. This means that reading fiction can contribute to a richer mental life by engaging multiple cognitive functions.
  4. Lasting changes in brain connectivity: Citing research from Emory University, Carter notes that the effects of reading fiction aren’t transient; they result in measurable changes in brain connectivity. These changes are similar to what the brain would experience if it went through the events described in the story, thereby suggesting that reading can serve as a form of virtual reality, broadening our experiences and perspectives.
  5. Fiction as mental exercise: Carter likens reading fiction to a gym workout for the brain. Just as physical exercise strengthens the body, the mental engagement required to process a complex narrative improves various aspects of cognitive function. This includes but is not limited to empathy, emotional intelligence, and imagination, making fiction a valuable tool for personal growth and mental health.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.


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