Podcasts that could change your life!

Think of podcasts as gym for the brain.  Selected wisely, they could even be described as CrossFit for the brain!

What are podcasts?  They are basically audio files that can be freely downloaded.  I usually listen to them on my phone when I am in the car or going for walk.

Why should you listen to them?  They are free.  They have great content. They help pass the time when you are commuting somewhere.

Where should I start?  It totally depends of what you want!  There are many genres that might be of interest.  As a starting point, here are the podcasts I listen to regularly.  All of these have many interesting episodes so I suggest browsing through all of them – there are some classics here.

Planet Money. These come out regularly every week and cover an array of business issues. Here are 3 great episodes to get you started:

DECEMBER 23, 2015 #671: An Insider Trader Tells All
Today on the show: A man who got caught insider trading explains everything — what he did, how he did it, and why. Though he’s still struggling with that last one. (This was the Audit Partner for Herbalife and Sketchers.)

DECEMBER 2, 2015 #216: How Four Drinking Buddies Saved Brazil
Two decades ago, shoppers in Brazil would run ahead of the worker who raised prices every day. Inflation was crazy. Today on the show: How four economists –who were also drinking buddies– fixed it.

NOVEMBER 18, 2015 #416: Why The Price Of Coke Didn’t Change For 70 Years
Prices go up and down. But for 70 years, the price of a bottle of Coca-Cola stayed a nickel. On today’s show, we find out why. The answer includes a half a million vending machines and a 7.5 cent coin.

How I Built This has interviews with the people that started some amazing businesses – Airbnb, Zappos, Dermalogica, Lyft and more.  I listen to it first thing every Monday.  Get it here.

The Economist offers the best weekly publication you can get your hands on as a professional.  If you have never done so, please give it a read and be prepared to learn more in a few pages than you have for the past week!  They have a free podcast that looks at the week ahead, and this helps me to keep updated on world events.  You can get it on iTunes here

Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast called Revisionist History.  If you have enjoyed his books, you will enjoy his thoughts on a range of issues – like the high price of university fee’s.  The latest episode I listened to involved the Toyota sudden acceleration case, which cost the company more than R20bn.

Michael Hyatt is the former CEO of a publishing company that decided to refocus his career and help others develop leadership and productivity skills.  I use a lot of his productivity hacks and can recommend his “Shave 10 hours off your workweek” ebook, which you get for free if you register on his website.  His podcast “This is your life” has had over 10 million downloads and the archive can be viewed here.

Tim Ferriss is an interesting character.  Essentially he will interview a world class performer – authors, sports, military etc – and try to distill the big lessons that they have learnt.  The podcasts are long – some over 2 hours – but if the interview is with someone you are interested to learn from, it is brilliant to really delve into their ideas.  At the same time, if you aren’t interested in the content,  you should quit quickly.  I therefore recommend scrolling through the archive and starting with the episodes that contain people you know and respect.  Here is it!

Andy Stanley releases a monthly podcast on leadership.  If you are leading in any capacity, he does a great job of helping you get better.  His interview with the former CEO of Home Depot, Frank Blake, is a great starting point.

Tim Keller was introduced to me on honeymoon – my sister gave us a wedding gift of an iPod with his talks on it – and I have not stopped listening.  He leads a church in New York, a city with fascinating people, many of which are young professionals, and Keller answers many of the questions they have about the meaning of life.  His podcast is here.

Which ones am I missing?  Please let me know in the comments!

Paul Maughan


  1. Hi Paul, I listen to:
    John Piper-Sermon of the Day (really helps when pace is hectic and I long for the word. Love how he breaks it down).
    Ted Talks
    Addicted to Succes (various entrepreneurs viewpoints about managing their time, growing their businesses, overcoming obstacles, personal growth-it’s not a faith based podcast, so occasional language issue.
    Xero Gravity (business tips aimed at SMME’s)

  2. If you have the appetite, all of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons are now available free online: http://mljtrust.org/sermons/
    Better biblical exposition combined with powerful Gospel proclamation (and pastoral care) you would struggle to find. He is especially brilliant on Romans. Played at 1.5X is optimal – get a 40 minute sermon in 25 minutes or so.

  3. Thank you for the podcast tips team! Great advice Ross – I forget to mention that I listen to all my podcasts on 1.5X speed. It only lets me down when they play music but at least the chipmunk voices are amusing!

  4. Paul, great post – thank you.

    I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review podcasts – thoughtful, short articles on management and leadership.

    Another source of great audiocasts is Audible’s new “Channels” feature. These can be accessed, for free, from the Audible app and include WSJ, MIT Tech Review and so much more.

    Lastly, because your post was about podcasts that could change your life, I wanted to share a blog that continues to change my life. After falling in love with Charlie Munger’s work, I stumbled upon Shane from https://www.farnamstreetblog.com/. He writes about better thinking, and I’ve particularly enjoyed his work on biases and mental models.

    Thanks again for sharing these podcasts.

  5. Thank you Sam! I’ll investigate those podcasts and agree 100% with the Farnam Street blog tip. I get his weekly email every Sunday (and its the reason why my weekly email also goes out on a Sunday – I presume he thought long and hard about it – and I just copied him!). For those who aren’t familiar with Charlie Munger – here is the transcript of a Harvard University speech he gave entitled 24 Standard Causes of Human Misjudgement – http://www.rbcpa.com/mungerspeech_june_95.pdf – it literally is a University education in and of itself. Give it a read and read the books he refers to in it as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *