As a busy professional and mom, I find it nearly impossible to carve out time to read for pleasure, let alone for personal growth.
Thankfully, I’ve discovered that there are other ways to continue learning that don’t require me to magically invent the 30-hour day.
According to USA Today, podcasts have quietly become mainstream, and thanks to smartphones they are easy to listen in the car, on a train, on a plane, while folding laundry or when working out. Apple alone boasts more than a billion podcast subscribers on iTunes.
Taking advantage of the significant amount of time I spend alone in the car and on airplanes, I’ve become addicted to podcasts. Reluctant at first to give up listening to music on my commute, podcasts have become the norm and fill the information void, both personally and professionally, that I experienced for a long time.
The wide variety of podcasts available is like a buffet at which you can expand your mind and laugh a little too. These snackable bites of information often run under an hour, and because they’re free, you can abandon one without guilt if it doesn’t taste good after the first few bites.
Five podcasts on my plate regularly include:
- Accidental Creative. Author and motivational speaker Todd Henry covers a range of topics including leadership, fostering creative work and enhancing productivity. His thought-provoking questions are combined with helpful guidance to be a better leader and collaborator. You get this advice in short, digestible episodes, which for me is much better than trying to read it in a book.
- Awesome Office. This podcast started by social entrepreneur Sean Kelly also focuses on leadership, with an emphasis on building a positive and desirable company culture. Interviews with leaders at companies with positive reputations, such as The Honest Company, offer strategies and tactics for creating a more gratifying corporate culture.
- NPR’s TED Radio Hour. Host Guy Raz pulls from TED talks given by a variety of interesting speakers and focuses each show on themes such as “astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, new ways to think and create.” He has expanded conversations with each speaker, taking their ideas a step further and bringing them to life. My recommended menu starts out with the Hero’s Journey, followed by the Seven Deadly Sins, and finishes with a thought-provoking analysis of Maslow’s Human Needs.
- NPR’s How I Built This. Guy Raz also hosts this fantastic podcast about “innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists and the stories behind the movements they built.” If you’re an entrepreneur, it is hard not to be inspired by the triumphs, failures, insight and tales of chance shared by the founders of companies like Warby Parker, Patagonia and Samuel Adams.
- The History Chicks. Bad-ass women throughout history motivate me. Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider introduce listeners to historical and fictional female characters, discussing the challenges, failures, successes, context and all the juicy bits that they find interesting about the life of the subject. I prefer the episodes on female rulers, and my favorite piece of each episode is the media recommendations at the end. Whether discussing books and movies, historical fiction or biographical nonfiction, they push you to explore and learn more on your own.
According to Edison Research, which has continuously studied podcasts since 2005, the “highly targeted nature of podcasts, combined with the trust that listeners have in their favorite hosts, provides the ability to gain access to an engaged and receptive audience.”
Why? Podcasts are picked by the listener, and thus more relevant to personal interests than what is heard or seen via channels with a broader, mass audience.
Interested, but not sure where to start? Type a keyword into the search function on your podcast player and see what your personal buffet is offering today.