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One theme that emerges in many of TED Talks is “failure.” Even the world’s most talented and successful entrepreneurs have encountered failure. And, each time, they have had to pick themselves up and move on. There are lessons in there for any veteran entrepreneur. With that in mind, we have come up with 5 TED Talks to help veterans starting businesses overcome fear of failure.

In just the past few years, TED Talks have become a trusted resource for veteran small business owners. Those looking for insights and advice about how to run their business. Each TED talk comes in at under 20 minutes long. So it’s easy to squeeze in one of these TED Talks during a lunch break. Or anytime you have a few extra moments during the day.

1: Tim Ferriss: “Smash Fear, Learn Anything”

Many entrepreneurs will recognize Tim Ferriss as the author of the wildly popular “4-Hour Workweek”. Ferriss is also someone at the forefront of hacking business. Not in terms of cyber hacks, of course. But in terms of finding little secrets and mental models to make business easier. How else, of course, could you possibly break down a 40-hour work week into a 4-hour workweek?

Tim Ferriss offers up some great lessons for veterans starting businesses to overcome fear of failure. He discusses the role of fear in learning and life. And explains that fear can be a useful indicator. Most people assume that fear keeps you from doing things that might be harmful to you. But Ferriss argues the opposite. He suggests that fear shows you exactly what you should be doing.

Thus, if you are having a hard time taking the next step as an entrepreneur, don’t let fear hold you back. Instead, let fear be your guide.

2: Michael Litt: “Why You Have to Fail To Have a Great Career”

Michael Litt is best known as the founder of Vidyard. You might assume, then, that he has always been a very successful entrepreneur. But that’s not actually the case. In this TED Talk, Litt explains that he was not an overnight success and that most entrepreneurs are not, either.

In fact, thinking in terms of only being a “breakthrough success” can hold you back. It can make you afraid to take risks. In truth, explains Litt, many people “sneak” into business, growing slowly over time. And they learn through a process of trial and error.

In short, they fail in order to succeed. At first, that might sound counter-intuitive. But it reflects the way entrepreneurship really works. You have to learn to get up after a failure and dust yourself off. In short, you have to fail in order to have a great career.

3: Barbara Corcoran: “Rethinking Failure”

Barbara Corcoran is one of the most successful real estate executives in the world. As well as one of the business judges on the very popular TV show “Shark Tank”. As she explains in a very personal TED Talk, success has never been easy for her. But as she also points out through a number of engaging anecdotes, the best successes come on the heels of failure.

In fact, Barbara Corcoran has made failure part of her company’s DNA. She now believes that the only way to become an innovator and market leader is by “being good at failure”.

In fact, she gives each one of her business units a specific budget for failure. She wants them to go out and try things with this “mad money”. Those lessons can often become the basis for future success later. This is really an inspirational TED Talk for veterans starting a business to overcome fear of failure.

4: Sarah Lewis: “Embrace the Near Win”

In so much of popular culture today, we are taught that if you are not winning, you are losing. People who come in second place are losers. If you don’t win the championship at the end, then your whole season is a loss. That’s the type of thinking that entrepreneurs should avoid, explains Sarah Lewis, an accomplished art curator.

Lewis points to examples from the art world. Many of the best painters in the world think of their early works as “failures”. They even go so far as to throw out artworks that they don’t think are a success. But that’s just plain wrong, because each new artwork is a new step on the way to mastery.

Lewis uses the term “near win” to describe all the steps taken on the path to success. And keep in mind – “success is just a moment” – it is not an end state, just a single moment. So you need to keep pressing ahead. That’s great advice for veterans starting businesses to overcome fear of failure.

5: Marianne Cantwell: “The Power of Not Always Fitting In”

A very common problem for many entrepreneurs is feeling like they are “frauds” or that they are “imposters”. In fact, there’s even a term for this: “Imposter Syndrome”.

As Marianne Cantwell explains in a very engaging TED Talk. Many entrepreneurs and business owners may present a cool and calm exterior to the world. But deep inside, they are torn by self-doubt and insecurity.

The key, says Cantwell, is using this to your own advantage. The fear that you’re not good enough. Or the fear that you are doing the wrong thing. Can often lead to your biggest success yet. It can give you the power and inspiration to keep going and improving yourself.


These 5 TED Talks are not only inspirational. They also offer practical advice for veterans starting businesses to overcome fear of failure. When you see that some of the most successful people in the world have actually been failures at one time. It is very eye-opening.It becomes clear that failure is something that is common to

It becomes clear that failure is something that is common to everyone. But how people respond to this failure is what sets them apart. As a veteran entrepreneur, that’s something very important to keep in mind.