A year ago, I had never listened to a podcast in my entire life. They seemed like this weird thing that old people might do (if you’re old and that offended you – sorry). And yet, podcasts have quickly become a massive new media phenomenon that was arguably catalysed by the success of the narrative podcast called Serial. If you’ve never gotten into podcasts and want to get hooked, that series will do the job.
Podcasts are such a pleasurable way to accompany your commute on public transportation, whilst exercising or doing the chores around the house. Like millions of other newly converted listeners, after finishing listening to Serial I felt like a man who had just been given the sweetest taste of a new drug. Where could I get more of this incredibly engaging content?!
Being a person who is somewhat obsessed with business and entrepreneurship I started to build up a library of all the entrepreneurship, business and startup related podcasts that I could get my hands (or ears?) onto. During this year I’ve consumed more media through podcasts than blogs and books. It’s a behaviour change that I suspect a lot of other people have gone through as well.
So. After listening to all these podcasts for hundreds of hours – which are the best ones that will make you a smarter entrepreneur? Without further ado, here’s the list;
1. How To Start A Startup
If you’re into billion dollar startups – this podcast is a fanboy’s dream come true. It features lectures from the cream of the Silicon Valley crop. Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, Ben Horowitz, Sam Altman, Marc Andreessen, Brian Chesky and a swath of other household names take turns in teaching a class of fresh faced Stanford students the fundamentals of starting a startup.
Listening to these episodes is the best way to expose yourself to the thinking and best practises of some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. If you don’t operate your business out of Silicon Valley, then this podcast is the best free way to educate yourself in the ways of high growth.
The lectures cover everything from idea generation, acquisition, culture, personal development, raising capital and later stage advice. It’s very hard for me to pick a favourite from this series, they’re all fantastic.
Listen: How To Start A Startup
Number of Episodes: 20
Average Length: 48 mins
Kevin Rose is a well known ‘startup guy’ in Silicon Valley, most well known for founding Digg back in the day. In Foundation he conducts in-depth private interviews with some of the best founders in the ecosystem.
One of the great things about Kevin’s interviewing style is that it doesn’t really feel like an interview, instead it feels like you’re just chilling at a bar and listening to your friend share a story. He makes sure to ask the questions that a an entrepreneur just starting out can get the most value from.
Two of my favorite episodes are his interviews with Elon Musk (Tesla, Paypal, SpaceX, SolarCity) and Kevin Systrom (cofounder of Instagram).
Number of Episodes: 43
Average Length: 50 minutes
3. Startup Podcast
This was the first business podcast that I listened to. It follows the story of a podcast host turned entrepreneur who starts a business that produces podcasts (it’s like podception).
Every founder will be able to empathise with the journey that the host (Alex Blumberg) goes through – getting knocked back by investors, negotiating with cofounders about equity, dealing with unhappy customers and the eventual success that comes from a lot of hard work and luck.
There are two seasons so far in this podcast. The second season follows the story of a YCombinator startup called DatingRing. It’s not as good as the first season, but it’s still entertaining. Throughout both seasons you’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition as the startup narrative plays itself out.
I’m really looking forward to season 3 – I have a hunch that it’s going to be their best one yet as they take their learnings from what worked in the first two seasons and use them to produce an even better show (no pressure guys!).
Listen: Startup Podcast
Number of Episodes: 30
Average Length: 28 minutes
4. The Pitch Podcast
This is the newest kid on the podcast block. They’ve only got a few episodes out so far but I think the hosts are onto something that is going to be very successful. Normally it’s rare to hear other entrepreneurs pitching to investors unless you happen to be an investor yourself. Often times when you start pitching to investors you’re doing it for the first time – that’s why this podcast is so valuable.
Each episode features a newish startup pitching their idea. The hosts then follow up with a few questions and go a little more in depth into the entrepreneur’s business idea. The episode culminates with two investors recording their feedback on the pitch and the idea – and saying whether or not they’d invest in the business.
You’ll learn a lot from this podcast about how to communicate your ideas effectively. Learning how to structure a good pitch, how to master your tone and what are the common questions an investor asks. Plus it’s a good way of keeping your finger on the pulse of what ideas other entrepreneurs in the trenches are working on.
Listen: The Pitch Podcast
Number of Episodes: 4
Average Length: 18 minutes
5. Planet Money
I won’t lie, it took me a while to get into Planet Money – but now I’m definitely a big fan. Produced by NPR, Planet Money has been around as a podcast for years and they seem to be getting better and better. Each episode is a highly entertaining examination of one part of the economy.
Whilst it seems hard to imagine that anything that talks about the economy might be funny – that’s what makes Planet Money so good. They find the most interesting and relevant topics that have money as their central theme and turn them into highly entertaining and educational short stories.
One of my favourite episodes is a journey into the origin of a t-shirt. Where the cotton is grown, where it’s manufactured and how it eventually ends up in your wardrobe. Some of their recent episodes have also been a great analysis and commentary of the economic situation in Greece.
Listen: Planet Money
Number of Episodes: 600+
Average Length: 15 minutes
6. The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim Ferriss is the ultimate generalist and lifestyle optimiser. I read his book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ when I was 19, it had a massive impact on my life. It’s the first book I always recommend to anyone looking to start a business. It feels like I’m always buying new copies because I never seem to get them back – hmmm!
His podcast interviewees are from an incredibly diverse spread of disciplines and you’ll find a generous sprinkling of entrepreneurs throughout his episodes. It’s undoubtedly one of the best podcasts in the business niche. His interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger was particularly good.
Listen: The Tim Ferriss Show
Number of Episodes: give or take 100
Average Length: Over an hour
7. Foundr Magazine Podcast
Disclosure: I’m a little biased in recommending this podcast, that’s because I’m a friend of the host and producer – Nathan Chan. I met Nathan earlier this year when I moved to Melbourne. His attitude and work ethic are nothing short of inspiring. In less than 10 months he has built a community of over 300,000 people who are eagerly consuming the content that he puts out into the world for budding entrepreneurs.
Considering he runs his media empire from Australia, it’s quite incredible how he’s managed to score interviews with such an amazing line-up of entrepreneurs. Some of those include Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, Marie Forleo & Seth Godin.
Nathan in particular is great at selecting entrepreneurs to interview who have excelled in a very specific niche or field. For example, one of his most recent episodes features an interview with the cofounders of Frank Body – who built a beauty business off of Instagram that is on track to turn over 20 million in revenue in it’s second year of operations. He always asks questions that can be easily turned into action steps for any entrepreneur who wants to recreate the success of the interviewee.
Listen: FoundrMag Podcast
Average Length: 40 minutes
If you need to break up all the business themed content and clear your head then I’ve got two more recommendations for you. Currently my two favourite non-business podcasts are TED Radio Hour and Mystery Show.
I used to love devouring new TED talks, but I admit that I struggle to find the discipline and time nowadays to sit in front of the computer and watch them. Each TED radio hour episode is a beautifully curated selection of TED talks around a central theme. Hosted by the wonderful Guy Raz, you will be inspired and amazed by the ideas that each episode presents. I particularly love how each episode seeks to explore the cutting-edge thinking happening on all possible perspectives of a particular problem.
Mystery Show is another podcast produced by the same people who created the Startup Podcast. Each episode features the host Starlee Kine attempting to solve a very random mystery. At first I was honestly bewildered at how Starlee could make this podcast entertaining – but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. My favourite episode is definitely the one about the Belt Buckle (trust me – it’s a beautiful story that will make you laugh and want to cry).
The easiest way to listen to these podcasts is to use the Podcasts app if you’re on Iphone or to download the Stitcher app if you’re on Android.
That brings us to the end of my recommendations for podcasts that will make you a smarter entrepreneur. If you’ve enjoyed reading this list then please do share it on Twitter or Facebook.
Are there any podcasts that you would put on the list? Leave them in the comments below.