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I’m always looking to learn about new podcasts and so I wanted to share six of my favorites. In general, I like podcasts that teach me things I didn’t know or help me see things I thought I knew but really didn’t. Here they are in alphabetical order with a little about why I love them.

 

99% Invisible
99% Invisible is the podcast that got me hooked on listening to podcasts in the first place and came recommended from Andrew Stadel and Tina Cardone. The name comes from how much (99%) of the designed world is unnoticed (invisible) by us. A great example is this recent episode about how so much of the world is specifically designed for men’s needs with women being completely ignored. If you disagree with my statement, then you’ll love the numerous examples in the episode even more.

This podcast has helped me appreciate some of the thoughtful decision making that I take for granted in our world and be more intentional about the choices I make when creating something.

 

Ear Hustle
Ear Hustle shares humanizing stories about what life is like inside of a federal prison. It features co-hosts Earlonne Woods (who is/was incarcerated in San Quentin), Nigel Poor (a volunteer at San Quentin), and now Rahsaan “New York” Thomas (who is incarcerated in San Quentin). It’s been very eye-opening to thinking about their stories and hear what it’s like. No topic is off limits, from how people get cellmates to what it’s like to be married in prison to what LGBTQ life is like.

It has helped me to appreciate what prisoners go through, how they’re treated, how they are supported and given other opportunities, and what comes next.

A really interesting plot twist has been that after 21 years Earlonne Woods had his sentence commuted towards the end of season 3. He’s continuing with the show by talking about the challenging transition after prison.

 

Freakonomics
I’ve read every Freakonomics book, so when I heard about the Freakonomics podcast, I couldn’t wait to listen to it. The podcast is primarily run by Stephen Dubner and focuses on some of the same issues. I’ve enjoyed listening to discussions around the pros and cons of a universal basic income, behavioral economics (LINK), and the pros and cons of giving kids money for better grades.

One episode that still sticks with me is called The Upside of Quitting. The episode’s premise is that as a society, we stigmatize the idea of giving up on something. In reality, we all have to decide when it’s time to quit something. It could be a relationship, a job, a hobby, a lifestyle choice, or more. Saying no to the right things is often more challenging and important than saying yes to everything else. This has been something I’ve struggled with as I want to please everyone and sometimes get overcommitted. I enjoyed this economic take on quitting.

Again, I’m super interested in rethinking things I thought I knew and seeing what else could be learned.

 

How I Built This
Guy Raz uses the How I Built This podcast to interview the founders of many companies you’ve heard of including Instagram, Airbnb, Zumba, Atari, Crate & Barrell, 5-Hour Energy Drinks, Yelp, Power Rangers, Whole Foods Market, and Samuel Adams and they tell their story. It includes the highs and lows and really helps you realize that no one knows what they’re doing. All successes seem obvious in retrospect.

For example, when he interviews John Zimmer, the co-founder of Lyft, you have to realize that the idea of the company goes against everything your parents told you as children: never get in cars with strangers. If you had invited me to invest in Lyft early on, I would have said that the business idea was crazy and would never work. Yet, here we are.

As a business owner myself, with Grassroots Workshops, I find inspiration from this show because I also hope that one day we’ll help so many people that the idea of allowing educators to learn from the educators they love will also seem obvious in retrospect.

 

Revisionist History
I’ll start by stating that I’m a Malcom Gladwell fanboy. His style of writing is exactly what I crave. He takes things you thought you knew and blows them up to show you all the reasons you were mistaken. I’ve read all of his books, and when I heard he started the Revisionist History podcast, I was in.

Some memorable episodes include Free Brian Williams where he examines how fallible our memory is and why Brian Williams’ recollection of what happened in his reporting may not have been lying (SPOILER: what happened to Brian Williams happens to all of us, just much less publicly). I also enjoyed Puzzle Rush where he shows how the LSAT and law school are intended to help find the best potential lawyers but instead seem to act as gatekeepers that prevent people who could be amazing from having the chance. It’s bad because we’re probably turning away thousands of great lawyers.

I have learned soooo much from him.

 

Sleep With Me
So a podcast called Sleep With Me might sound sketchy until you hear that the subtitle it “The Podcast That Puts You To Sleep.” I’d describe it as bedtime stories for adults that are interesting enough to keep your attention yet boring enough that you fall asleep.

Personally, I have a lot of trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. My biggest problem with falling asleep is that my mind races, replaying events from the day, thinking about what’s going on the next day, and pondering the future. Before this podcast, I might be up for an hour or more before falling asleep. Now, I pop this on and soon enough I’m listening to stories that crowd out my thoughts. Soon, I am drowsy, turn it off, and fall asleep.

I should say that it took me four or five listens to go from “What the heck is this guy talking about?!” to “Oh, I get it. This could work.” Now it triggers a Pavlovian response where as soon as I think about listening to it, I get drowsy.

 

Conclusion
I hope you’ve liked this breakdown. One pro tip that took me a while to learn from my friends is that you can adjust the speed of what you listen to. So, I tend to listen to most podcasts at between 1.2x and 1.6x speed, depending on how slowly people talk. For example, Guy Raz talks at a leisurely pace, so even at 1.5x speed, he is easy to understand. That means that I can listen to his podcast 50% faster and, roughly, I can listen to three episodes in about the same time it used to take me to listen to two of them. The only exception to this rule is the Sleep With Me podcast. I listen to that one at 0.6x speed because it makes his talk even slower and makes me even sleepier.

Do you like any of these podcasts? Are there any that you think I should check out that are similar to these? Any tips you’d recommend? Please let me know in the comments.


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