Podcasts: Where to Start (8 Great Episodes)

I’m still shocked when I find out that many of my friends and colleagues do not listen to podcasts and have no interest in starting. To me, this is purely a missed opportunity for them. It would be comparable to saying that they aren’t interested in a great show on Netflix, or that they wouldn’t be willing to check out an amazing music playlist. Why not? It’s great content that enriches your life.

In the podcast world, like TV and radio, there is something for everyone, whether it be for entertainment value in shows like the first season of Serial, which tells the true story of a teenager in Baltimore who might be wrongly convicted of murder; or whether it be to gain knowledge and insight, like the many TED Talk channels that exist. No matter what your interest is, there is probably a Podcast show that everyone would enjoy.

The beauty of the podcast platform is that it is highly unregulated and also mostly unadulterated from advertising. Unlike on the radio, where the advertisements seem to take up as much time as the real content, ad time in podcasts are only a small fraction of the show. Most podcast hosts are producing their own content without a big broadcasting organization dictating their format or their content.

In addition, podcasts give us insight into some of the brightest and most interesting personalities today, all at the convenience of our own schedule. You can either stream or download the episodes to play anywhere at any time, and you can pause and resume as needed. You can be a fly on the wall listening to Lebron James talking with his friends on the Open Run podcast or you can listen to a closed-door interview with the CEO of GoDaddy on FORTUNE Unfiltered.

Some will say “I just don’t listen to podcasts,” and I believe that it is almost certainly because they don’t know where to start. It is true that there are hundreds of shows and thousands of episodes and choosing a winner to start with can be daunting. To make matters more complicated, I will admit that for every great episode I have heard, I have probably heard three episodes that bored me to tears. Those were the ones I quit immediately and moved on. Again, just like TV shows, you will have your gems and you will have your duds.

For this purpose, I am listing eight episodes that I enjoyed listening to in the last year, and I simply hope that it helps you get started. In addition, I list at the end a number of shows that I’ve listened to or subscribed to at some point. These episodes and shows aren’t for everyone, but if you share any of my interests, you will probably find some value in at least one of them. Enjoy.

    1. The Scariest Navy SEAL I’ve Ever Met… And What He Taught 
      The Tim Ferriss Show
      September 25, 2015
      Jocko Willink was the SEAL platoon commander in one of the bloodiest war zones in Iraq. To put his significance into perspective, Jocko was American Sniper’s Chris Kyle’s boss, and his stories and life lessons he shares are amazing.
    2. Seal
      The Forward Podcast
      August 15, 2016
      Lance Armstrong interviews singer Seal in an honest look at Seal’s childhood struggles as well as his current passions.
    3. The Big Man Can’t Shoot
      Revisionist History
      June 29, 2016
      Malcolm Gladwell exposes the idea that people often refuse to do things “the right way” because we are more focused on what others might think about us if we are different than we are on success.
    4. Simply Happy
      TED Radio Hour
      December 29, 2016
      The show compiles a number of various TED Talks to discuss practical ways to make yourself happier.
    5. What Are You Waiting For?
      Freakonomics Radio
      August 10, 2016
      A hilarious economical and sociological investigation into the absurdity of waiting in long lines.
    6. John McAfee: The Most Interesting Man in the Universe
      The James Altucher Show
      September 16, 2015
      An interview with the security software McAfee’s founder, a man who got his security clearance because he listed “all of them” under the CIA’s background check question “which illegal drugs have you taken?”
    7. #1 How Not to Pitch a Billionaire
      StartUp Podcast
      August 29, 2014
      The beginning of one man’s honest journey to start a new company, and the unfiltered audio of his embarrassing flop when he pitched billionaire Chris Sacca on why he should invest.
    8. Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard
      How I Built This
      December 11, 2016
      An interview with the founder of clothing brand Patagonia, and his unique perspective on running his business, which includes offering an onsite daycare service for his employees. 


Lastly, if none of these eight episodes are interesting to you, there are hundreds of others that may appeal as well. One you subscribe to these podcasts you will see the endless repository of great episodes.

Below is a list of shows that I have subscribed to and enjoyed at some point in the last few years (in no specific order):

  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  • How I Built This
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
  • Jocko Podcast
  • The Art of Charm
  • Serial (season 1, but not season 2)
  • 99% Invisible
  • Open Run
  • FORTUNE Unfiltered
  • The Forward
  • TED Talks (audio)
  • TED Radio Hour
  • HBR IdeaCast
  • Ben Greenfield Fitness
  • The Fat-Burning Man Show
  • The James Altucher Show
  • We Study Billionaires
  • NPR Planet Money
  • StartUp Podcast
  • Revisionist History
  • This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt
  • Reality San Francisco
  • The EntreLeader Podcast
  • Makers of Minnesota
  • Smart People Podcast
  • 33voices
  • Barbell Shrugged
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Freakonomics Radio
  • Side Hustle School
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • The Dave Ramsey Show

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