My Favorite Podcasts for Business & Creative Thinking

There’s something overwhelming about digital media these days. Whether it be trying to figure out which of the dozens of new Netflix releases might actually be worthwhile, or having all music from all time available at a tap, or trying to catch up on news & events in your Twitter feed – there’s just a lot out there. It’s too much for anyone to keep up with. I feel the same way with podcasts – there’s an unbelievable amount of great material out there, and frankly I pity the poor person who has enough of a commute to really take advantage of it all.

Some friends and I were together for lunch a few weeks back and struck up our favorites, so I figured I’d share some of mine with the world. Here’s a few of my favorite podcast episodes, which I find really worthwhile as a burst of inspiration and creative thinking during a commute or a trip around town.

Note: All links are to iTunes / Apple Podcasts. 

Freakonomics Radio: When Willpower Isn’t Enough from March 11, 2015 – There’s a topic in here called temptation bundling that has really stuck with me over the years. It’s a really simple idea: pair something you want to do with something you should do. I’ve used it this year to shed more than 20 pounds by pairing Netflix show watching with my elliptical workouts. I now have an almost pavlovian reaction to the idea of watching a “binge-worthy” show that I’ll need to be working out to see it. Great episode, and the Freakonomics podcast is my absolute favorite.

How I Built This: Barbara Corcoran from April 24, 2017 – Guy Raz is a supremely talented interviewer and the production / editing of these podcasts is great. In this particular episode, I found Barbara Corcoran to be a tremendously inspiring person – both that she overcame many technical & professional obstacles to create her business, but also plenty of drama in her personal life. Double-underline hustle. This is a great episode to start on if you’re interested in hearing some worthwhile business founder stories. As an aside – I can also recommend you skip the episode about Rolling Stone Magazine – there’s absolutely no drama in that one. You can tell even Guy is getting exasperated by the lack of conflict or adversity, which for a supremely talented interviewer is no small feat. 

Decrypted (Bloomberg): … Build a Startup Outside Silicon Valley from February 27, 2017 – This series from Bloomberg bounces around many different topics any given week, but this episode certainly feels relevant to someone like me who is “tech” but no longer in the Bay Area. There’s another great stretch of Decrypted episodes from April – May 2017 that seemed to focus on a lot of Chinese & Asia-tech topics, always of interest to me given the time I’ve spent in Macao, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Silicon Valley may have an edge today, but the startups of the future are more mobile than we may realize.

Planet Money: #682 When CEO Pay Exploded from February 6, 2016 – This is another well produced podcast with a consistent format and a worthwhile use of the ‘Subscribe’ button. I think the topic of CEO pay is an interesting one, and this is a good fact-finding episode for that discussion. The only issue with Planet Money is that some of the episodes are more like testing-grounds for other NPR shows, so don’t be surprised if you get something other than economics or business topics. It can often be a good diversion, but if you’re in a mood for steak, no point in someone handing you a piece of kale and saying ‘try it!’

So those are my staple podcasts – Freakonomics Radio, How I Built This, Decrypted, and Planet Money. Here’s a few more that I’m just starting on:

Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell – Much like having Steven Dubner host the Freaknomics radio podcast, having Malcom Gladwell host this show really provides an authenticity and perspective that prompts deeper thinking and consideration. I’m only a few episodes in (starting at the beginning) but already I’m enjoying the narratives, and the Gladwell hook is always enjoyable.

Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson – Again, another world-class author has taken to narrating his own podcast, and the results are a thoughtful journey through a bi-weekly topic of disruption. Clear storytelling and a great emphasis on the full history of the topic makes this one a worthwhile listen even for stories you think you already completely understand.

So those are a few of my favorites. I hope if you’re stuck looking for some podcast amusement you’ll give them a shot, because I’d love for their audiences to keep growing so they’ll keep producing them! What I really can’t fathom is how these high-quality productions stay in business? The podcasts themselves typically only include a couple commercial plugs, and even those are done in a low-key and unobtrusive manner. I hope whatever the rewards are, these creators continue to produce great stories and share them on this medium.

Do you have any suggestions for me? Please leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter with your suggestions ( Thanks for reading!