Hmmm….what does driving a lot have anything to do with being knowledgeable or being a good leader? Isn’t driving just a waste of time?
The answer is podcasts.
Upon retrospection, a majority of my knowledge and education actually came from business or industry podcasts. I can seriously say that I have learned more useful things from my podcasts than my 3 years of studying International Economics at UCLA. I also learned a lot by reading books, blogposts and articles online, but they had high opportunity costs and I couldn’t afford to do it on a daily basis due to the scarcity of time.
However, podcasts are great because you can be doing all kinds of stuff while listening to them. You could be working out, waiting for a friend, shopping, or you could just be driving around. You can be doing all these mundane tasks, but at the same time, absorb world class information and knowledge.
The nice thing about these podcasts is that they are a compilation of decades of experience and tons of research, all condensed into a 20-60 min blast. In some podcasts, successful entrepreneurs let you know what are the most valuable lessons they have learned in the past 20 years in 60 minutes. In others, you have Partners at large consulting firms discuss all the cutting edge topics in the industry, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars in research. If you absorb all this over an hour a day while working out or doing mundane tasks for 5 years, there is no way you won’t become more enlightened and speak beyond your age. So in essence, you don’t need to be smart. You just need to be a medium of VERY good information.
This is like a RPG game where you can learn skills that are always working without you clicking on them (gamers call it Passive Skills). Passive skills are ideal because you can only use 1-3 active skills at once, but if you want, you can activate 20 passive skills at once and it helps your quest-conquering without disrupting your usual behavior. Yes, I understand some of you prefer to listen to music while doing those mundane tasks, but listening to music probably won’t make you a better person 5 years later. Listening to educational podcasts will.
After going through dozens and dozens of podcasts, here are some that I feel are the best, both in being informative and being interesting. Keep in mind the best way to get them is to search them on itunes.
Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership Series: This is one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to. Successful entrepreneurs like the founder of Palm, IDEO, Facebook, LinkedIN, Mozilla and tons of others come to talk about the most valuable lessons they have learned throughout their entrepreneurial experience. Entrepreneurs are pretty dynamic people, so the tone is really interesting and engaging. The stories are exciting, and the audio quality is very high. Most importantly, the lessons taught are invaluable.
Mixergy: This is probably the most USEFUL podcast for entrepreneurs. Andrew Warner is a friend of mine (but I am in no way biased) and makes sure that his audience learns HOW successful entrepreneurs build their businesses. Instead of focusing on big generic concepts that’s always about “get a good team”, “be passionate”, Andrew digs deep into the interview and finds out exactly how these entrepreneurs do things tactically. His goal is that after the interview, everyone should be able to do the exact thing. 100% recommended here.
Harvard Business Ideacast: This podcast discusses some cutting edge topics on leadership, particularly relating to running a large organization. It also talks about new trends like Going Green, Business Ethics, and some times gives you interesting Case Studies. People tend to have interesting personalities and its pretty engaging.
Business Success Tips: This is the podcast I listen to when I am taking a break from intensive learning or when I’m down. This is actually one of the funniest podcasts I have ever heard. It is a clear example of being FD – combining work and play. A group of successful small business consultants and entrepreneurs gather together over some wine, and talk about anything they care about. A lot of bashing and not necessarily politically correct (they claim they have no more female listeners), but you do learn a lot and get tons of fun from it. What’s impressive is that they have one of the best sound qualities because Lee and Andy are awesome tech guys (and Paul likes to buy the coolest gear).
Wall Street Journal This Morning: This is the best “getting updated with everything that is going on” podcast I have heard. They record one every morning talking about the latest news in the business and tech world. They’re usually a bit long (45min) for a quick morning update, but they are also pretty entertaining and have good music that goes along with it. I usually catch up with 1-2 episodes every week to make sure I know what is going on.
Entrepreneurship and Business Course: This is the best podcast on entrepreneurship that explains everything you need to know about how to create a startup step-by-step. This is actually based on a real course on entrepreneurship in Carnegie Mellon. Professor Juliano is an interesting person but he can be somewhat dull. The good thing is that he really likes explaining so you will get a complete set of knowledge with this. The title is not very creative though.
Mckinsey Finance Podcast: This is a high quality podcast that talks about Finance and how to make sure an organization runs well. They talk about things like Return on Investment, Six Sigma and all that good stuff. The sound quality of the podcast is disappointedly bad, and they make some mistakes in editing. Furthermore, they speak in a very dull and non-engaging fashion because they need to be “professional.” Still, good content if you are wide awake and is excited about the topic enough to take these 20 min shorter blasts.
Deloitte Insight: This is a podcast that covers large industry topics. What executives and managers are worried about, and how to run a company more efficiently. Deloitte has high competency in Management, IT, and Human Resource, as well as Risk Management. This is a great podcast to be aware of what are the big issues on the 5 year horizon. They talk about things like the Global Shortage of Talent and how to make sure your digital files are secure. The problem with this podcast is again its incredibly boring, or “professional.” Everyone speaks in a monotonous fashion, and the laughs sound forced and awkward. Also, each episode is 60 min so you will learn that you can only stand topics that you are already very passionate about.