With 2017 upon us, many people are looking to improve themselves in the new year. This may include getting in better shape, giving up a bad habit or two, or chasing your dream to start a new business. One small thing that I can recommend is to better yourself professionally by consuming high-quality content that can help inspire innovation and make your business better.
Podcasts are one of my favorite avenues to do this, because they can be consumed almost anywhere, whether that’s on the morning commute, at the gym or even at your desk while checking through emails. I’m personally subscribed to almost 30 podcasts across a ton of topics, but I recently found three podcasts in particular that I think could help anyone improve their professional selves in about 2 hours a week.
The Art of Charm
What it is: The Art of Charm, or AoC started out as a personal growth podcast that, as the name suggests, focused on helping listeners be a charming person. A lot of this advice originally revolved around dating, but the show evolved to encompass so much more. There’s a natural connection between the skills needed in the dating world and networking for business, and this podcast is full of helpful advice that will boost your confidence in the meeting room, at a networking event, or yes, even on the dating scene.
Why I like it: In my opinion, many of the best podcasts are the ones that have great interviews and AoC host Jordan Harbinger is one of the best. It’s pretty clear that he’s taken his own advice from the get-go on how to connect with people and conduct a great interview with authors and entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin. Each episode is a fun deep-dive into a special skill that is sometimes as obvious as how to be productive, or as nuanced as how to turn introversion into an asset in the business world or the power of giving great gifts in business. Plus, Harbinger does weekly smaller episodes on Mondays (appropriately titled “Minisode Monday”) that focus on a quick and actionable skill to help grow your toolbox.
Time Investment: The longer episodes usually run around an hour, but they only come out once a week. Minisode Monday episodes usually are no longer than 15 minutes and sometimes are as short as 5 minutes. There are also Fanmail Friday episodes that are quick as well, although as the AoC will point out at the beginning, they aren’t the best to start out with since they reference topics in previous episodes.
Favorite Episode So Far: I’ll admit I haven’t listened to this podcast for very long, so I’m still digging back into older episodes that seem relevant, but the episode that got me hooked was the very first one I listened to, “How to Keep the Conversation Going.” There have been a couple of others that have been great interviews since then, but this one felt like the most widely applicable episode that really solved a problem we all deal with from time to time: keeping a conversation going in a productive and engaging way.
Harvard Business Review Ideacast
What it is: The HBR Ideacast is definitely more data-driven and analytical than the Art of Charm podcast, but it focuses on business industry trends and innovations that can change the way people think about their business, processes, management and customers.
Why I like it: Unlike the Art of Charm, which is an extremely personal and anecdotal dive into a topic with an author, the HBR Ideacast gets straight to the point of the episodes and is more consistently focused on the organization at large than personal growth. The episodes are anywhere from 15-30 minutes, so it’s not an extremely hefty time investment. Think of this podcast like TED Talks that are all about business and management.
Time Investment: Once a week for between 15-30 minutes. Like keeping up with a short show, it’s definitely worth listening in each week during your morning commute.
Favorite Episode So Far: Again, this is a podcast that I’ve recently started diving into, but Episode 555: “What Superconsumers Can Teach You” was absolutely fascinating to me. I’ll be diving into this idea a little bit in the Jan. 3 Facebook Live video on Business Resolutions, because it is a way of thinking that can fuel great business growth for small businesses, but runs contrary to how one might approach customer acquisition and management.
How I Built This
What it is: How I Built This from NPR is a weekly interview with an entrepreneur that discusses, as the title might suggest, how they built their business. They deal with some pretty powerful and influential people, from the founders of Warby Parker to Sam Adams to Patagonia to even Mark Cuban.
Why I like it: The first two podcasts on this list are very much about talking to experts, generally dabbling in theory and studies and can be very academic in their findings. They are incredibly useful, but it really helps to see some of these ideas, or even opposing ones, in action for people running multi-billion dollar businesses. Every episode starts with the roots of the company and really explores the hurdles that each entrepreneur faced on their journey from nothing. If you soak in the entertaining episodes, you’ll probably find one idea, practice or obstacle that you can apply to your own business. If not, maybe you’ll find something to avoid should it pop up in the future.
Time Investment: These episodes are all right around 30 minutes in length and come out once a week, so very easy to add into your weekly routine.
Favorite Episode So Far: There’s a theme here, but this is also a podcast I’m just diving into, but the episode on Patagonia’s Yvon Choinard was fascinating. This man is wildly successful while disconnecting for about 5 months a year, not worrying about sales growth, never going public and even offering to repair the brand’s clothes for free forever. He takes a truly unique approach to his business, but when you hear him explain it, the process starts to make a ton of sense. If you’re building a business from the ground up in 2017, listen to this episode before you even make your first hire.
There are plenty of other great podcasts out there, and if you have some of your favorites that we didn’t mention, leave them in the comments below!