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One of my favorite things about business, and SaaS in particular, is that the skills that distinguish a good executive running a steadily growing company from a great one running at hypergrowth depend well beyond basic product knowledge and strategic acumen. The exact same can be said about running a successful partner program. Classic virtues, leadership, wisdom, and insight are critical for top-tier leaders—the kinds that drive sales and success from the top down. And one of the best resources for a busy executive to see how top thought leaders understand and manifest these traits can be found in TED Talks.


TED Talks have been inspiring business leaders for more than a decade as thought leaders from all walks of industry dispense jewels of wisdom not just about their personal accomplishments, but about the mindsets and philosophies necessary to succeed. SaaS executives—especially those looking to gain the intangibles to hit the next level—should love the following three must-see talks that offer musings on technology and leadership for every facet of building a high-performance partner program.

Jay Silver: Hack a Banana, Make a Keyboard!

The way things work isn’t written in stone – rather, it’s often a matter of perspective. That’s a prime takeaway from this exceptionally fun TED Talk given by Jay Silver, founder and CEO of JoyLabz, and creator of the Makey Makey invention kit. In telling the story of creating the invention kit, Silver explains how rigid, conventional thinking about the capabilities of a given tool can rule out all of the other potential creative options. Silver states that “sometimes what we know gets in the way of what could be,” a statement as true in sales and business as it is in technology.

Silver illustrates that there’s not just the potential, but the need for creative decision-making in every task. Watching Silver’s TED Talk can get you thinking about not getting locked into one way of thinking, and staying open to the full world of possibilities in creating sales strategies, selling, and partnering.

David Pogue: Simplicity Sells

Some TED Talks are truly ahead of their time. New York Times columnist David Pogue’s “Simplicity Sells” was recorded back in 2006, and his description of a world in which technology is coming on too fast for people to make sense of is perhaps more accurate today than it was then. Amid a few entertaining song parodies on piano that tear into the tech world’s top names, Pogue discusses how developers can give consumers what they want in an age where average users are less tech-savvy, but far larger in number, than back in the DOS era, and complexity just keeps getting layered on.

It’s fascinating to see how far some of the technologies Pogue was demonstrating have come even in the span of a decade, but the advice he gives is just as compelling. Being able to determine what users really need, rather than what a business decides they need, is critical for developers – and partners, too.

When looking at how a given SaaS solution fills a specific customer need, or what features, add-ons and support consumers are looking for and how partner programs facilitate their needs, aiming for simplicity goes a long way in a channel where projects, deployments and multi-player business relationships can seem anything but simple. 

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Technology is always changing, but great leadership is timeless. And so is this TED Talk by author and consultant Simon Sinek, which answers the question of what makes great leaders and innovators throughout history in disparate areas like one another, and what separates them from the rest. According to Sinek, the biggest names in history, from politics to business and beyond, start with the why, not with the what. Being driven by a purpose rather than having a product and trying to figure out why it’s important as the final step in the equation, is what makes real, inspiring leaders.

Is this applicable to SaaS sales? Undoubtedly. A strong brand with a strong reason behind it can thrive. Such solutions can go beyond just acting as the foundation for profitable partnerships and can become an inseparable part of the enterprise landscape. It all starts at the executive level, and Sinek’s TED Talk will get you thinking about how.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Ali Spiric
Marketing Specialist at Allbound

Ali Spiric leads Allbound’s content marketing to cultivate awareness for the ultimate PRM solution. Ali is a digital marketer that thrives in the B2B space.

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