One of the simplest, most powerful ways to gain insights about challenges and opportunities in your work or life is through a device that is with you nearly every waking hour of each day: your smartphone. The insights I’m talking about come from podcasts that are available anytime, anywhere, from your phone (or from a variety of your other devices.)
Over one half of Americans have listened to at least one podcast, and nearly 30% of us have listened to a podcast in the past month.
Podcasts are powerful because they offer engaging, sometimes immersive stories from people who lived them. Often stories are explained through the lens of the latest cutting edge research.
Because it’s so easy to do, I listen to podcasts several times a week, particularly during my daily 2-mile walk or hands-free while driving to a meeting. I gravitate toward podcasts that spark ideas as I think through goals I have for myself and members of my team. Listening to stories of others who have ‘been there and done that’ can validate a hunch I have, or cause me to rethink a strategy, or even a relationship, at work.
The insights you gain from a podcast can help you get where you want to go in your work and life – better and even faster. Podcasts can
- Motivate you to keep going after a setback
- Validate an idea you have
- Challenge you to think more broadly
- Make you laugh out loud
- Give you interesting things to talk about at dinner
- Get you out of a rut
- Cause you know and appreciate yourself better
- Generate empathy from you toward others
- Remind you you’re not alone
As you listen to the stories and ideas of regular people and also subject matter experts, you feel as though you have been mentored by listening to their experiences and advice.
Podcasts stretch you to consider ideas and issues from points of view that may be different than yours – something that many of us believe we need more of these days!
A single podcast can be just what you need to hear to challenge you to go beyond your comfort zone and try something new.
I listen to a variety of podcasts and it turns out that many of my favorites are written, produced, and hosted by women. Here are favorites that I recommend for people who want to gain more insight about themselves, their team, or their work:
This engaging podcast asks the question: Can we learn to make smarter choices? And of course, the answer is YES, and that is a fascination of Wharton professor and host Katy Milkman. She shares stories of irrational decision making–from historical blunders to the kinds of everyday errors that could affect your future. She explores key lessons from behavioral economics about decision making.
She also interviews stellar guests like Nobel Laureate and economics genius Richard Thaler. One of my favorite episodes is A Clean Slate about an overlooked strategy that can give you a head start in achieving your goals.
Every conversation is filled with unexpected gems in this podcast created and hosted by Laura Cox Kaplan, (who has led in a variety of organizations from the Securities and Exchange Commission to a top accounting firm). She Said/She Said is a conversation with, about, and for women, although I highly recommend it to men as they would benefit from the insights that emerge. Laura and her guests offer a refreshing diversity of views and perspectives that celebrate the unique ways in which we lead, inspire, and have a positive impact on the world.
Two of my favorite episodes include Building Risk Tolerance And Grit Through Competitive Sailing. This is an engaging interview with Louisa Gould, who has had an unlikely career as Wall Street analyst turned America’s Cup Sailing team member, turned competitive sailing and Yacht race photographer, and now entrepreneur. Louisa has used her versatility, diverse skills, agility, and business savvy to not only support her art, but to inspire and support others who share her love of art and the sea.
You don’t have to be a sailor to gain insights from Louisa’s story.!
Also, listen to Hacking Anxiety With Dr. Alicia Clark – Dr. Clark has spent the better part of 25 years working with clients to understand anxiety and how to manage it. She has some surprising perspectives and offers a fresh road map for how to take a different view of anxiety, and reclaim it as a potent force for living our best lives.
She explains how in this interview which draws from her book, Hack Your Anxiety: How to Make Anxiety Work for You in Your Life, Love, and all that You Do.
Hosted by Gretchen Rubin with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. The essential message in all of Rubin’s podcasts, and books, is that there is no one size that fits all answer for building a happier, healthier, more productive work and life.
Rubin is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project, detailing her experiments with simple, everyday actions to generate more happiness, Better Than Before, on how to change habits in a way that works for you, and the recent best-seller, The Four Tendencies which posits a new theory on why we do what we do and how to get ourselves to do what we want.
I’ve been a consistent listener since her first podcast when she discussed the seemingly simple yet deceptively hard concept of knowing yourself better. It turns out that knowing and accepting your own idiosyncrasies can make you (and everyone around you), happier.
Rubin offers a quick and easy guide to subscribing to her podcast.
Start with the Best of the Happier Podcast collection.
4. Harvard Business Review Women at Work offers stories, conversations, and practical advice about being a woman in the workplace.
It’s hosted by three of HBR’s finest: Amy Gallo, Amy Bernstein and Nicole Torres.
One of my favorites: The Upside of Working Motherhood; which features two women scholars who look at an aspect of working motherhood that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: the positive pieces. There are lots of reasons women should feel hopeful about having a career and children.
And, Sponsorship: Defining the Relationship is about gaining clarity on the difference between mentorship and sponsorship with ideas on how to be a sponsor, or how to be sponsored, in your company.
This podcast is hosted by Freakanomics co-author Steven Dubner, and one of his best interviews ever is Does Hollywood Still Have a Princess Problem? It’s Dubner’s interview with Academy Award winning actor Geena Davis who has made it her life’s work to improve the portrayal of women in film. The work of Ms. Davis (and others’) is finally moving the needle! Dubner also interviews his daughter who has studied how women are represented in film (and was fascinated by Disney princesses as a little girl.)
This is a small sample of some of the extraordinary podcasts by women – and one man. I also enjoy a variety of other podcasts that give me insights about other aspects of my work in private equity and as a corporate director. And there are a seemingly infinite number of podcasts for writers. Someone said that time is your most precious, nonrenewable resource, and one of the best ways you can spend your time is by listening to one of these podcasts.
I’d love to hear from you – what are some of your favorite podcasts?
I’m an entrepreneur in tech (zero to $200M) and social impact and a board director for public and private companies with combined assets of $11B and revenues of $2.5B. I’m fascinated by and write about technologies and insights that help people, teams, and companies grow. Sign up for insights and strategies in my monthly newsletter. You can also sign up to get a daily quote that will help you recognize, capture, and act on insights to make your work, relationships, and life better.