Entrepreneurial creativity can’t thrive in a vacuum. It needs data and knowledge, and constant exposure to new ideas and perspectives. If you spend 100% of your time focusing only on your narrow niche, you’re likely to miss opportunities that are hiding in plain sight.
I find that podcasts are a great way to expand my mind, especially while engaging in otherwise idle activities: driving, hiking, running, or working out on the elliptical, for example.
I’ve discovered some favorites over the years. They’re all available for free via your preferred podcast app (my personal favorite for Apple devices is Overcast).
Here are my picks for the Top Ten Podcasts for Entrepreneurs:
- Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman: Masters of Scale is a business and finance podcast hosted by Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and venture capitalist at Greylock. In each episode, Hoffman introduces a theory on how businesses can scale from zero to a gazillion and tests its validity by interviewing founders about their path to scale.
- Gimlet Media’s The Pitch: Each episode takes you behind closed doors and into the world of startups: how people sell their ideas, what makes investors tick, and how these initial conversations can bloom into business deals—or die on the vine.
- Gimlet Media’s StartUp: StartUp is a documentary series about entrepreneurial life. The show has been downloaded tens of millions of times since its launch in 2014. Start with Season One and binge the entire series.
- From Scratch: This radio program features in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs spanning all types of ventures, from restaurants to social media. You’ll get some great insights into how these founders overcame various challenges as they built their businesses.
- Seth Godin’s Startup School: This recording of Seth Godin leading a series of startup workshops is required listening for all entrepreneurs.
- Stanford eCorner’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders: This is a weekly, hour-long deep-dive into entrepreneurial topics in the form of interviews with insightful business leaders. Highlights include Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn on “Live Life in Permanent Beta,” Guy Kawasaki on “Creating Enchantment,” Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson on “Innovation in a Disruptive Environment,” and Eric Ries on “Evangelizing for the Lean Startup.”
- HBR IdeaCast: The Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast consists of weekly interviews, mostly under 15 minutes, with leading executives and researchers covering all aspects of business and management.
- NPR’s Planet Money: This twice-weekly podcast covers an amazing array of micro- and macro-economic issues, both domestic and international, in ways accessible to all listeners. Each episode begins with a brief “economic indicator” – a number currently making headlines, with a description of its relevance. It then takes a deep dive into the day’s topic. Some episodes, such as those dealing with the toxic debt securities at the heart of the financial crisis, form a storyline that spans many months. Others examine the economics of various industries, explore policy issues that may seal the fate of the European debt crisis, or explain the historical origins of the practice of tipping service providers from an economic perspective. Most episodes are about 20 minutes in length.
- Freakonomics Radio: Economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner explore “the hidden side of everything.” For example, do more expensive wines actually taste better, or does price influence perception? And would adding a lottery feature to savings accounts increase savings rates?
- The Public Speaker’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Improving Your Communication Skills: Practical tips for improving all aspects of your communication, from casual speech, to public addresses, to email, to marketing copy. These are critical skills for success in any area of business, and these podcasts are a great investment of your time. It’s an older podcast, but the content is timeless. If you like this one, you’ll also like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing – another essential for people who communicate for a living.
So step away from your computer for a while, pop in your earbuds, and go get some fresh air while you fill your mind with some new knowledge. I guarantee these podcasts will make you a better entrepreneur.
If you have some favorite podcasts that I might have missed, please share them in the Comments section below. Happy listening!