Once upon a time, business leaders committed to lifelong learning and growth read books. Many of them still do, but in a busy world where we’re being pulled in multiple directions, having the time to settle into a comfortable reading chair with the latest business bestseller isn’t always an option.
What if there was something as educational and informative as a book, but as mobile as music? Something you could access on your phone while stuck in traffic during your commute, or while unwinding on your way home. There is, and it’s called a podcast.
You might already be a fan, consuming daily content via an audio app on your phone or computer. In fact, the consumption of podcasts continues growing. According to Edison Research, in 2016, 21 percent of Americans above the age of 12 listened at least monthly to a podcast. That’s an increase from 17 percent the previous year. Since 2013, listenership in podcasts has increased 75 percent. They are now a favorite way to get your information fix when it comes to business tips, success strategies and other insights into mindfulness, health, or simply a favorite sports team.
If you’re a regular, then you are sure to have your own stable of tried and true places where you listen every week, or maybe, every day. One of our favorites here at NOLN comes from a guy who is used to hard, dirty work.
Many readers remember the guy doing jobs nobody else wanted to do. Mike Rowe parlayed his role of the working “every man” in the Discovery Channel series, “Dirty Jobs.” Taking on tasks that were dirty, disgusting or downright weird, we found him scrambling into sewers, painting bridges or collecting alligator eggs. Now, he’s now hosting his own weekly podcast called “The Way I Heard It.” You can find it at: mikerowe.com/podcast
In interviews, Rowe says his weekly podcast (new episodes are available for download every Tuesday) are for anyone who has “a curious mind and a short attention span.” For those of us of a certain vintage, Rowe names the late Paul Harvey as an inspiration and his longtime syndicated daily broadcast, “The Rest of the Story” as an example of what he’s modeling “The Way I Heard It” after. Rowe indicates he’s always been interested in that kind of storytelling. In keeping with the idea for podcasts, his are short and fun to check out. Generally, they’re six or seven minutes long, and the longest ones are all less than 12 minutes.
In addition to Rowe’s podcast, we’ve put together a mix of some our favorites from 2017.
Tim Ferris has been called “the Oprah of Audio,” given the influence and reach of his shows — in 2016, The Tim Ferris Show had more than 80 million downloads. The dude’s podcast is popular!
Quoting poet, W.H. Auden, who tells us that “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” Ferris offers a host of topics and thought leaders to help you maximize your life and tilt your routine in the direction of success.
Ferris’s podcasts aren’t short, pithy blasts like Rowe’s. They dig deeper, delving into the success of others. Ferris interviews both the well-known and the not-so-well-known, but all his guests are intriguing, working outside the tried and true.
For as much content as he has archived on the site, navigation is easy and grouped according to subject.
“Six Pixels of Separation” is all about marketing. If you’re serious about marketing and pushing your business out to the masses, then you’ll want to make this one a regular, weekly stop.
These hour-long podcasts touch down on blogging and developing digital content. Before host Mitch Joel began podcasting, he was blogging at “Six Pixels of Separation — The Twist Image Blog,” which he began in 2006. Podcasting became a natural progression for him. He is now considered by many as Canada’s most influential social media expert.
Joel’s podcasts clock-in at just under an hour. This seems to be the sweet spot for podcasts, as you can split them up for commutes, walks or sitting for a short period, while “fueling-up” with positive energy and ideas.
Rory Vaden’s weekly podcast is designed to get listeners to take action in their lives. Part insight and inspiration, Vaden shares ideas on ways to increase self-discipline and make better use of your time. All of this is focused on helping his listeners achieve goals.
Vaden is the co-founder of the Nashville-based sales training company, Southwestern Consulting. He is first and foremost a motivational speaker in the vein of Zig Ziglar, Og Mandino and others.
Like many of his podcasting brethren, Vaden is also an author, a best-selling one at that. “Take the Stairs: 7 Steps for Achieving True Success” deals with integrity and how it is depleted due to our escalator culture, which he defines as “a society of shortcuts and procrastination.” When faced with the decision to ride an escalator (the easy route) or taking the stairs (the hard way), “most people take the path of least resistance.”
If you’re always taking the escalator, tune-in for a month and learn ways that get you “taking the stairs.”
Malcolm Gladwell is “somebody” in the world of writing and books. Several of his books have been best-selling ones. His debut book, “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” written in 2000, is still a book that resonates with readers, well beyond the normal sales lifespan of most books.
Perhaps a common theme among successful podcasters is their intellectual curiosity. They’re all people who never tire of learning (and then, sharing) about the world they’re living in.
It’s not surprising that Gladwell, who remains attuned to America’s Zeitgeist, would eventually find his way to podcasting. And like with his books, you’re always guaranteed an interesting ride with any topic he takes on.
“Revisionist History” launched in 2016, and 10 episodes were produced. The 2017 season just concluded, and there are another 10 episodes available. Each one is a journey through the overlooked and misunderstood — it might be an event, a person, an idea, or even a song. The question is always, “did we get it right the first time?”
For an essayist of considerable skill, especially someone who tends to write in a longform framework, his podcasts are fast-paced and generally run 30-45 minutes. Think of them as Gladwell’s audio “CliffsNotes.”
In “The Smoking Tire,” host and producer, Matt Farah, draws on his experience as an automotive journalist who developed his cred with his “every man’s” approach to car reviews and commentary. With driving experience touching on thousands of different stock and modified vehicles, Matt brings that orientation to each podcast topic.
Be forewarned, “The Smoking Tire” isn’t an abridged podcast. Each episode is 90 minutes long, with the hosts often going off-track. But that’s also part of the appeal for those who dig their inside-auto content and broadcasts.
No matter how successful you ultimately become, if you don’t have your health, then you are nowhere.
Rich Roll is a graduate of Stanford University and Cornell Law School, who at 40 was an overweight, physically wrung-out entertainment attorney who couldn’t make it up a flight of stairs in his home without thinking he was close to having a heart attack. From there, he transformed himself into a 51-year-old, accomplished vegan, ultra-endurance athlete, plant-based nutrition advocate, best-selling author and a living example of the power that basic changes in food choices and exercise intensity can transform lives.
Roll’s podcasts turn the accepted ways of living on their head — whether it’s myths about how we should eat to be healthy, what’s normal in terms of physical capabilities as we age or the limitations we’ve come to accept in chasing the American Dream.
Like Gladwell, Roll encourages the possibilities from seeing the world differently. His guests are varied, representing the brightest and paradigm-altering leaders from athletics, politics, health, wellness, nutrition, spiritual and mindfulness world.
As Roll states during the beginning of each podcast, he hosts these weekly broadcasts to “help all of us (myself included) unlock and unleash our best most authentic self.”
Prefer Flipping Pages?
Books aren’t dead, and reading is still the preferred method for many in accessing new information. Here are three recent business books that dovetail nicely with any podcasts you might be following.
Tom Rath churns out best-selling books seemingly as easily as the rest of us breathe. “Are You Fully Charged?” is best seller No. 6. Like his previous books, the acclaimed researcher/author again considers the role of human behavior as the key element in our health, well-being and our success in business.
In his latest book, Rath reveals three keys that matter most to our daily health and well-being. No, it’s not having the most money, either. In fact, wealth has little to do with our well-being and success in Rath’s understanding.
“Are You Fully Charged?” is about engagement and looks outward — in how we react towards others, whether what we’re doing is meaningful and the changes we can bring to living that will help us be our best selves.
Everyone committed to personal growth and perpetual improvement should have at least one of John Maxwell’s books in their library. Better, you should always be carrying around a copy of one of his books that have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.
There’s a reason why Maxwell’s how-to series continues to sell and are favorites of both younger and more seasoned business leaders — the truths he uncovers are timeless — and Maxwell has the gift for distilling them down into edible portions that don’t require weeks to plow through.
You are what you think, so pick up a copy of this one, and read it in two nights. Or keep one in your car, briefcase or backpack, for those times when you have 15 minutes. Maximize that time, and before you know it, you’ll have internalized some important concepts that will become ingrained in your thinking well into the future. It will positively impact your life.
It might appear counter-intuitive that non-conformity and moving against the grain are keys to success, but Wharton School professor and author, Adam Grant, turns the old “go along to get along” philosophy upside-down.
Did you know that what web browser you use tells a lot about you and whether you’re a conformist or not? By the way, if you have downloaded Chrome or Firefox, you’re apt not to be the kind of person that accepts the default — like the pre-installed Internet Explorer.
This and other studies from across business, politics, sports and entertainment, offer a path forward for parents and teachers, as well as business mentors, in how to nurture originality. You’ll learn from Grant that stifling dissent and squashing a culture of openness for sharing ideas isn’t going to move your business in the direction of success. In fact, it’s likely to result in the opposite.