Watch These and You May Want to Sell All Your “Stuff” and Start Living!

I’ve always been a big TED Talk fan, borderline addict.

Actually…let me start over. Hi, my name is Derek Cobia and I am an addict. Last night, I crawled into bed at 5:30am after an all-night TED Talk binge on the topic of minimalism. I kept searching for a handful of perfect TED Talks for this post. I guess you could say I was chasing a high.

Prior to last night, my TED Talk watching was primarily “best of” speeches found on Netflix. But after I watched “Minimalism“, I started to wonder if there were any other thought-provoking videos out there that talked about my lifestyle. TED is the first resource I turn to for stuff like this.

I started out browsing for terms like “living small”, “minimalism”, and “frugal living”. Then, I searched google, which lead me to a few blogs; that really got the ball rolling. The search for my TED Talk high ended with YouTube. Like a drug dealer waiting on the corner of MLK taunting their addict clients’, “up next” sat in the corner of my screen as I sat “fixed” on the TED Talk that was playing at the time. I wish I could say that I got my fix. I wish I could say that this is THE “best of TED Talks” on minimalism but unfortunately, my habitual quest will continue.

Every “minimalist” has been told “you’re crazy”. Some people can’t take the negativity. “You’re crazy” carries enough weight to kill the idea before it turns into anything. Although I was strong enough to go through with the minimalist transition, there are still moments when I think, “maybe I AM crazy”.

I’ve toggled back and forth, primarily living on the side of “No! THEY’RE the crazy ones!” But it’s not always that easy. These TED talks validate every thought I’ve leaned against to justify this lifestyle, many of which I’ve already blogged about. With titles like “Sell Your Crap. Pay Your Debt. Do What You Love.”, “Is Your Stuff Stopping You?”, and “Have The Balls to Follow Your Dreams”, it felt like I could’ve just as easily been on that stage telling my story.

TED Talks often stage the brightest and most creative minds in the world. This was the first time I had watched any of these particular “talks”, so I couldn’t help the cocky thoughts from entering my mind when I heard what might as well have been my words come from their mouths. Then again, maybe every minimalist has come to same conclusion.

The most convincing part of these TED Talks is the fact that every minimalist has a unique storyline that leads to the same punchline. Whether you’ve personally experienced the simple life, read my story via this blog, talked to a full-time traveler who lives in a van or RV, or watched TED Talks about living small, the story leads to the same conclusion: MINIMALISM IS FREEDOM!

Ok…to the good stuff. Here are the best TED Talks I’ve found about minimalism (so far).

Warning: If you watch these videos, you may end up wanting to sell all your “stuff”, quit your job, and start living!


Adam Baker: Sell Your Crap. Pay Your Debt. Do What You Love

I’m listening to this TED Talk for the first time as I type this sentence and I’ve already decided it’s my favorite. If there’s one TED Talk you should listen to, it’s this one. If you keep up with my blog and agree with my general philosophy on freedom, you’ll absolutely love this. And if you haven’t read any of my other posts but you enjoyed this TED Talk, I recommend reading “How Full-Time RVing Set Us Free” and “What Do You Want Life to Look Like?”.

TED description: In 2008, after the birth of his first child, Baker and his wife decided to sell everything they owned, pay off their consumer debt, and spend a year traveling abroad as a family. They began sharing their journey in early 2009 on the blog Man vs. Debt, now 15000 subscribers strong. In sharing their ups and downs in the areas of personal finance, consumerism, clutter, travel, minimalism, and passionate entrepreneurship, they realized they aren’t alone in a desire to explore and grow.

Elizabeth Dulemba: Is your stuff stopping you?

When my wife and I had the discussion about our life’s direction, we realized our lifestyle didn’t align with our values. Values were something we just kind of assumed as we grew to know each other over the years. But having that conversation was crucial. We realized quickly that “stuff” was holding us back from finding our purpose (or even searching for it). When you define your values, you start to change the way you look at life. Dulemba does a great job illustrating this point.

TED description: Award-winning author, illustrator, teacher and student Elizabeth Dulemba recently sold and gave away nearly everything she owned. And yet, she’s no minimalist.

She’ll walk you through how she did it, and share how you too can open yourself to opportunities by evaluating your stuff – debunking the illusion of value we place on material possessions.


Andrew Morrison: Tiny House Movement 

The tiny house movement is due to a realization that there’s both a priceless and economical cost for time. A big house requires you to work to pay for it, work to clean it, work to furnish it, etc. In this speech, you’ll learn about the average cost of a home, the average time you spend in it, and how much more efficient and financially beneficial it is to live small. If you pay for what you value, you probably won’t pay for an extravagant lifestyle. As a financial planner, I can tell you that we all have one financial goal in common: retirement. So what if you could get rid of all your “stuff” and retire now? Or, what if you actually enjoyed work? If that were the case, do you think you’d want to retire? If you’re the analytical type, this TED Talk is for you…and it just may lead to an early retirement.

TED description: This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Andrew and his wife, Gabriella, are the creators of “hOMe”, the 207 SF (+110 SF in lofts) modern tiny house on wheels. They live and work in hOMe full time, off grid, and debt free. With the extra time and money that they have they travel and enjoy time together as a family.

Andrew Morrison has been a professional builder for 20 years and has been teaching people how to build their own homes in his hands on workshops since 2004. In that time he has personally taught over 1,400 participants how to hand craft their own homes and has seen again and again that anyone with passion and perseverance can build theirs too. Andrew and his family’s personal experience with tiny housing came while living in the “American Dream” home. Frustrated by feeling like slaves to it, they got rid of 90% of their worldly belongings, bought a pop up tent trailer and spent nearly five months reassessing what “home” meant to them while living in Mexico.


The Minimalists: A rich life with less stuff

Young and successful is often the image/title that ever millennial dreams of. At 28, I was on my way to achieving the “American dream” – a beautiful wife, 2 homes, plenty of square footage, a great backyard for the kids to play in, and a bunch of other nice “stuff”…but I was miserable. My life consisted of 10 hour days at the office and another 2-4 hours of drive time fighting Atlanta traffic. And then I was laid off, started a business, and I experienced the backlash of using debt to pay for that “American Dream” when my business didn’t perform as we had hoped. Long story short, it lead us to exchanged money for freedom…and that changed everything. Millburn and Nicodemus tell a similar story about leaving the corporate world behind…and starting a blog.

TED description: Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, better known to their 2 million readers as The Minimalists, are the authors of several bestselling books, including EVERYTHING THAT REMAINS. They spoke at TEDxWhitefish about minimalism, the value of community, and discovering what makes people rich. For more info about The Minimalists visit


Grant Blakeman: Minimalism – For a More Full Life

In this short TED Talk, Grant Blakeman describes a day that illustrates the differences between abundance in “stuff” and “negative space”.

TED description: Grant Blakeman discovers the power of minimalism and how staying simple is actually more effective than overcomplicating something.


Pico Iyer: Where is home?

A more introspective take on “home”. This one really gets you thinking. Iyer points out that traveling is a modern privilege that we should embrace; a privilege where we can find a home that allows us to be ourselves. “Only by stopping movement,  can we see where to go. And only by stepping out of ourselves and out of this world, will we find what we most deeply care about…home.”

TED description: More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.


Dianna Davis: Have the balls to follow your dreams

A speech about a dreamer who was pressed to be like everyone else – “Get a job, get married, and raise a family”. As someone who got tired of the corporate world after 4 years, I can relate to Davis’s realizations, motivations, and ambitious efforts to live MY LIFE, regardless of whether it’s different. This 20min theatrical story about following the norm and redefining success is both entertaining AND inspiring!

TED description: After four years of working behind a desk, she started to get that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach, the kind you get when you know you’re not supposed to be where you are. She wondered, “Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life?” On her journey to answer one of life’s biggest questions, she comes across a red ball, and from then on her life was never the same.

Predisposed with a set of cultural, religious and societal expectations, having the ‘balls’ to challenge these expectations has been Dianna David’s triumph over the past decade. Being inspired by the art of play opened up the doors to seeing infinite possibilities of a life she has always desired to live. As a Transformational Entertainer, Motivational Speaker, facilitator for empowerment workshops, kid whisper, humanitarian, freestyle dancer, and human being, she travels the world inspiring people of all ages to live a life of passion and purpose.


Angela Horn: The less you own, the more you have

Horn tells the story of how her childhood upbringing of abundance was a motivational factor that drove her to live a more simple life. Like many full-time RVers who sold all of their “stuff”, Horn experienced “the good life” – stress free, debt free…just free! And after transitioning to the minimalist lifestyle, she realized she was able to do all the things she never seemed to have money to do when she had a bunch of “stuff.”

TED description: Angela expands on the upsides of downsizing and how living with less can positively affect your life.



  • Tamara Mason

    Thanks for the inspiration! I plan to come back and explore these after work today. I do not have the RV live yet.

  • Christina Augustyniak Ehinger

    I love that you’ve organized this list for minimalism inspiration! I never would have thought of it. I can’t wait to dive in and listen to these talks. Great idea!!

  • Liz Cole

    I watched the Dianna Davis one. Good chat. Can’t wait to watch more.
    PS Excellent blog post idea! Wish I would have thought of it.

  • I have that “Minimalists” documentary on my watch list on Netflix. They do a pretty good podcast too!

  • Heather Ledeboer

    I’m scared to even get started as I do want to sleep tonight but I’ll second your vote for Adam Baker’s talk. It is one I remember seeing in the past and I agreed so wholeheartedly with him.