State Street Uses TED Talks To Showcase Employee Ideas

Most of us could not try this at home. Nonetheless, it's wonderful to learn about how State Street committed the resources to organize its own TED event for its employees.

TED@StateStreet is the mash-up of two powerful brands—TED being the brand for “riveting talks for remarkable people” and State Street being the institutional investment firm rarely if ever described as riveting.

Following a TED format, 13 State Street employees “told their own stories of innovation, triumph and driving transformation” at an employee event held in November 2013. Those talks, on a range of topics, can now be seen here.

According to State Street’s page on, “Everyone knows that the challenges in our world of finance are considerable. But if we as an industry get the next chapter right, so too are the opportunities … for our clients, for society in general and for us. New thinking in finance will require change from within and fresh perspectives.”

That new thinking is needed in finance is not a new idea. TED@StateStreet seems to be a vote of confidence from State Street that new thinking could come from within its own walls.

Response 'Through The Roof'

The partner page went live in January. But more information and color is available from a Forbes interview with Executive VP and Head of Global Marketing Hannah Grove, published last week. (The image below is just a screenshot to click on. Forbes doesn't allow embedding.)

State Street is just one of three corporations who so far have participated in the TED Institute, the professional development arm of TED. Boston Consulting Group and Intel are the others.  

At about 4:30 in the video, you’ll hear Grove explain how the program came together. More than 200 of State Street’s 30,000 employees applied to present a talk. The TED team, not State Street, selected the speakers and, according to this Businessweek article, provided coaching. The speakers range in seniority from an associate to Alison Quirk, State Street’s chief human resources and citizenship officer.

Grove is especially tickled that four of the State Street talks have been added to One presentation is by Joe Kowan, a graphic designer on her staff speaking about his stage fright. Watch it not just to hear what Kowan has to say but to also see some shots of the State Street crowd looking more genuine than most TED Talks audiences. 

Response to the State Street program have been “through the roof,” both externally including from clients and internally, according to Grove. 

“It felt like we started a movement,” Grove says. “Our employees have such great ideas, and to sort of bottle that up, we’ll definitely do it again.”

Maybe not under the auspices of TED and maybe not for a public audience but would an employee talent show—which is essentially what this is—be so out of the question for other firms?

Social Media Strategy

Bonus: At 9:30 in the Forbes interview, Grove discusses the “safety-first” direction of State Street’s social media strategy. And, she brags that the firm was the first business-to-business firm to use Vine. 

Below is a Vine the firm created to promote TED@StateStreet.