TED Talks to Inspire Your Sports Career

To Understand the Past and Future of Sports

••• TED talks can inspire you - like a virtual coach.

One of the recurring themes in my advice to sports career hopefuls - and those looking to advance their careers in any field - is to develop a habit of learning. 

And in turn, that results in my suggesting books as a way to develop deeper thinking on new and interesting topics that may impact your career or for gaining deeper insights into your current role. For example, many sales professionals devour books on selling.

This advice results in two problems. First, some people just are not "readers" and so they do not develop the recommended habit. Second, in our time crushed work lives the dedication required to start and finish a book - even one you love - can be daunting.

But there are alternatives to reading that can serve the same purpose - developing critical thinking and exposing you to new ideas. One such option is the famed TED talks.

If you are not familiar with the concept, experts (and ordinary people) give short (usually less than 15 minutes) talks at live events, which are then captured and cataloged and available to world as a free resource.

And so without further ado, here are some TED talks for you to watch that will benefit your career. I've highlighted two talks from historical figures in the sports industry, two talks about what the future of sports will look like and a talk on providing value for customers, an important topic for businesses in any industry.

Each is offered with a short explanation of why it was chosen.

John Wooden  The Difference between Winning and Success Wooden, a legendary basketball coach at UCLA, tackles a topic that takes a concept from the fields of sports and suggests broader thinking on how to characterize winning and success in your personal and professional life.

It is awe inspiring to have Wooden, who passed away in 2010, sharing his wisdom on you computer or smart device.

Billie Jean King  This Tennis Icon Paved the Way for Women in Sports  King was a star tennis player and more importantly is a social activist promoting equality for women on the field and in the business of sports. In this interview-style talk she brings history to life and addresses Title IX's impact on American sporting life and culture.

Rajiv Maheswaran   The Math Behind Basketball's Wildest Moves  Maheswaran gives an excellent and illustrative talk on the way data and analytics are changing basketball decision making. This talk has important implications for coaching and scouting across sports and serves as a wonderful introduction to how sports fans will process information in the future.

Chris Kluwe  How Augmented Reality Will Change Sports ... and Build Empathy  Kluwe, a former NFL punter, gives an overview of some applications of augmented reality in sports and a look at the unexpected consequences that may result from its use. This talk is an interesting peek at the future of virtual reality in sports and society.

Bill Silver  The Source of Economic Value  Silver is not a former professional athlete.

Nor does he work in the sports industry. But his powerful talk about the creation of value is a great reminder of what customers and organizations are seeking to build when they enter into exchanges and relationships. And his ideas certainly have ramifications for those who work at all levels of the sports industry.