Like a lot of people, I recently got hooked on podcasts through Serial. I’d also been tapped on the shoulder about podcasting as a big trend for the year via Mike Street’s contribution to #dynamics15 (see page 25).
Since then, I’ve been a regular listener to a variety of shows. Yes, I listen to This American Life every so often (the recent Game Face episode is a good place to start), and Freakonomics. Everybody does, right? What follows are some podcasts you may not be familiar with that offer equally compelling content. For me, it’s about having a broader set of perspectives to draw from as I think about strategy, how popular culture is evolving and the changing ways people are communicating and making meaning. I’ve broken the list into four (4) categories: Marketing, Business, Design & Creativity, Culture, and Inspiration. Here goes.
The Point of Attachment is produced by UTA Brand Studios, and explores the factors that draw people to brands through, as they note, the lens of culture, design and storytelling. While it’s not a regularly scheduled podcast, the past episodes are worth hearing. For example, check out their two-parter (here and here) on understanding luxury, especially as it relates to cars, as well as a discussion of what it would take to rebrand Valentine’s Day for the modern age.
Six Pixels of Separation. This is the podcast by noted marketer and author Mitch Joel in which he interviews marketing folks who are thinking about the ways all things digital are disrupting and reshaping marketing. Mitch comes off as a little dry and nerdy, but he is really smart. More importantly, he gets great guests. One of my favorite episodes is this conversation between him, the Cluetrain Manifesto’s Doc Searls, and David Weinberger, where they dig deeper into this seminal book as well as have a great discussion about the future implications of technology. Definitely one to hear. Mitch has also had other notable guests such as rising branding guru Denise Lee Yohn (on the “minimum viable brand” concept for startups ), internationally acclaimed business strategist Don Tapscott, futurist Gerd Leonhard, and many others.
On Brand. I only recently discovered Nick Westergaard’s podcast that focuses on branding—for brand builders by brand builders. The first episode I just heard was his conversation with the head of marketing for Frederic Fekkai on the changing nature of luxury. Other interviews include brand evangelist Guy Kawasaki, and McDonald’s VP of Strategy, Steve Levigne.
@KeyInfluencer Show The super-smart James Andrews has jumped into the podcasting waters, and brings his digital-first, former music industry exec perspective to bear on his interviews. What’s cool, too, is to hear someone who’s so bullish on their city—in his case Atlanta—as a international destination for culture and business. All of this conversations are solid, but for me highlights include music industry groundbreaker Shanti Das, Kembo Tom of GTM Marketing , and former Essence editor Angela Burt-Murray .
HBR Ideacast. I mean, it’s Harvard Business Review, right? I think they’re really smart about how they use the medium. For example, they’ll do a condensed overview of each month’s issue, which gives you a sense of key themes and content. Separately, they’ll interview authors of the magazine’s pieces or those regular bloggers in their stable. In any case, you’re in and out in about 15 minutes. Highlights: Evernote’s Phil Libin (I’m a huge Evernote fan and user!) , Hollywood producer Brian Grazer , new research into your brain’s ideal schedule, and a look at what stifles ambitious women.
Voices of KPCB. Kleiner Perkins is one of the best known venture capital firms in Silicon Valley, so I check it to see what they’re focused on. I’ll say this upfront: Everything they’re covering isn’t useful (or interesting) to me (I have no interest in how to manage engineering talent at fast growing companies, for example). But they’re always worth keeping an eye one. For example, check out their perspective on CES provided a great overview, as well as last year’s look at the evolution of messaging and sharing.
Musonomics. This is a recently started podcast out of NYU’s Steinhardt Music Business program. Real solid business perspectives on what’s happening in the music industry May was the podcast’s first month, so there are only two episodes currently, but they’re timely: One looks at Record Store Day and the resurgence of vinyl, and the other looks at Tidal and the streaming wars.
Minorities in Publishing. I only recently got turned onto this podcast by Jenn Baker and Bev Riveto, two publishing industry professionals (Jenn recently read at the literary series I support through Bold As Love Magazine) who talk with authors and other publishing insiders about industry diversity (or lack thereof). Solid interviews all around, including conversations with Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas; a discussion of the experiences of minorities in graduate publishing programs; and literary agent Monica Odom.
Design & Creativity
99% Invisible. Roman Mars explores “the process and power of design and architecture.” His premise is that most of what makes these two areas great is 99% invisible to most people, hence the title. The episodes on lock picking, the logic behind the calendar, and the light that’s never gone out were particularly good.
Invisibilia. This NPR podcast (currently on hiatus) dives into “the invisible forces that control human behavior—ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions” through storytelling and scientific research. Highlights: The episodes on fearlessness, expectations, and the power of categories. Hope it comes back.
Monocle 24: The Big Interview. I’m a big fan of Tyler Brule’s Monocle magazine. I love that it’s a high-end, global, bespoke product that’s diversified into retail products, as well as media products. Unfortunately, those media products have proliferated. Case in point: There are 26 different Monocle podcasts. There’s no way to keep up! But I’ve settled on this newly launched interview series, which provides perspective from people involved in European arts, culture and business. I enjoyed the lead one with famed typographer Erik Spiekermann, and I’m looking forward to listening to a conversation with award-winning photographer Lynsey Addario.
In The Conversation. This series is a three-way conversation on current events in pop culture by three friends, comedians Vlad Camaano and Damien Lemon, and media entrepreneur Ali Muhammad. The trio work well together: Lemon is fiery and opinionated; Camaano, slower to judgment, balances him out with probing questions; and Muhammad is the thoughtful voice of realism. Great episodes? Their Jay-Z/Tidal discussion; the Bevy Smith (Bravo’s Fashion Queens) episode; and the one that needs to be used as a movie or book title, “Side Effects Of Fly Shit”.
#SmartBrownVoices. Marketer Mike Street recently launched this podcast in which he interviews black and latino entrepreneurs, startup founders, activists, marketers and creatives. His goal is to provide an inspirational platform for diverse business and creative perspectives, something that’s still in relative short supply in the universe of podcasting. Episodes that will give you a good sense of the series include his conversations with TV personality Paul C. Brunson; Phat Startup co-founders Anthony Frasier and James Lopez ; and fitness and life coach Jodi Brockington.
The Combat Jack Show. Don’t let the name fool you: Combat Jack is the Charlie Rose of hip hop, having interviewed a veritable who’s who of the culture. As is the case with all the best interviewers, Combat Jack knows when to listen and when to dig deeper. The result are conversations that will surprise you for the honesty that they elicit from the interviewees. Personal favorites: J. Cole, Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux, Dame Dash and Raekwon. Trust me, though, there are many more.
Tax Season. “. . .an unfiltered view from the streets of Brooklyn. . .” Indeed. When we talk about the democratization of media via technology, the examples we tend to point to are from people whose perspectives and frameworks are decidedly middle class. We tend not to think about, nor do we hear from people from tough neighborhoods like East New York in Brooklyn. As a result, it’s critical to give a guy like Taxstone a listen. You’re not going to agree with everything he says, and you won’t find him the most comforting of of hosts. What you will get is raw, unvarnished talk. It’s where the aforementioned Combat Jack went to air out Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, for example. But pick any episode, and you’ll hear why The Village Voice dubbed Tax Season “the internet’s most dangerous podcast”.
The Read. No, this isn’t a literary podcast. This is about reading, as in, telling people about themselves, i.e., calling out general fuckery, be it from celebrities or regular people. Pick an episode and you’re sure to have some LOL moments, especially when Kid Fury and Crissle take on evergreen subjects such as Beyonce, Chris Brown, or Love & Hip Hop.
The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes. Lewis interviews business people, celebrities and world class athletes with the simple goal of finding out what makes great people great. As a lifestyle entrepreneur, he says that all of this is towards his personal goal of inspiring 100 million people to live their best lives. Towards that, he interviewed everyone from comedian and author Baratunde Thurston; to cybersecurity expert Marc Goodman (you really should hear this one!); and had conversations about how to overcome fear.
The Accidental Creative. In some way, shape or form, everyone is a creative. That said, I like Todd Henry’s series that focuses on how to “build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work.” His conversations with Getting Things Done creator David Allen and The War of Art author Steven Pressfield were particularly good.