I listen to podcasts pretty regularly – while driving, cleaning, walking, hiking, and even as a “bedtime story” a few nights per week. I tend to prefer visual learning, so it took me awhile to adapt to audio podcasts. I think I have finally found my stride by incorporating listening with everyday low-level tasks like those I described above. I am now able to get through several long-form podcasts per week.
Here are my current favorites:
The Tim Ferris Show
I listen to this podcast more consistently and enthusiastically than any others. Tim has an eclectic mix of guests who dive deep on a wide array of interesting topics. I find his interviews tremendously fascinating and thought-provoking. Some of my recent favorites include Amanda Palmer on How to Fight, Meditate, and Make Good Art, Dr. Adam Gazally (The Maverick of Brain Optimization), Dr. Astro Teller and Danielle Teller (What do Google X, Medicine, & Great Relationships have in common?), and Chris Sacca on Being Different and Making Billions. In fact, when scrolling through his archives to recommend stand-out episodes, it was difficult to choose as I have enjoyed them all. I especially like this short episode of Ryan Holiday reading Thomas Edison's Formula for Greatness, which I have listened to a handful of times.
Fair warning: I find a few things about this podcast grating and I tolerate them because the interviews are super high quality. His advertisements and endorsements take up the first and last 5-10 minutes of each episode. Not only are they contrived and corny, but they remind that he's a douchey opportunist. Tim Ferris is a very successful entrepreneur and certainly doesn't need to sell himself or his listeners out that way he does. I would rather pay for episodes than listen to him pontificate about hipster underwear. He also loves to hear himself talk and has a tendency to shift focus to himself too often. I appreciate and respect that he has pulled together some great people and conducts interesting and nuanced interviews, but I don't really like him, so it is distracting when conversations veer in that direction.
For all the ways that Tim Ferriss annoys, Krista Tippett delights. She is so incredibly thoughtful and explores a more of the spiritual side by asking what it means to be human. She emanates compassion and asks important questions with grace. Some recent stand-out episodes are Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn – Beauty in Banjo and in Life and Maria Popova – Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age. One thing I particularly like about On Being is the ability to choose between the full unedited interview or a shorter, edited version.
Cheryl Strayed (of Wild fame) developed a cult-like following writing an anonymous advice column for The Rumpus under the name “Sugar”. In 2012, she published a moving compilation of that work in Tiny Beautiful Things, and in 2015, Sugar was revived in audio form for this heartfelt advice-based podcast. I recommend starting at the beginning to Meet the Sugars and then listening them all. The episodes are shorter than I would like, but the lighter content and format work really well for running errands or cleaning.
I am always trying out new podcasts and there are several others that I like or love that didn't make my top favorites list. They deserve a nod. In no particular order:
Do you have a favorite podcast?