About a week ago, I had coffee with someone I consider to be one of the most influential and well-connected people in Zurich — Clemens M. Schuster. During our meandering conversation, we got on the topic of podcasts. I told him that it was my girlfriend who got me listening to them. For the past year and a half, I’ve been a big fan of the series of digital audio file. Clemens asked me to share my list of podcasts, and I still haven’t done it, so I thought I’d post about it and share it with everyone.
First, though, I’d like to say that I listen to podcasts, in general, to inform myself about politics, technology, and business from the concrete to the abstract. That said, here’s my list:
- The Economist Radio: I have a subscription to The Economist and this the podcasts are a good way of getting a quick overview of the magazine and other perspectives on the news.
- The Daily: by the New York Times: Again, I have a subscription to The New York Times, but often don’t have time to read it. This 17 to 20-minute podcast gives a quick overview of the day’s news usually with a more in-depth interview.
- The Globalist: This is an hour-long daily news podcast that is reminiscent of a morning TV news show. Major news items are talked about, there are a few interviews, and the hosts tend to have an opinion and dry sense humour. It’s produced by Monocle 24 to which I have a monthly subscription.
- The Foreign Desk: Another podcast by Monocle 24, this focuses on international politics and changes focus from week to week. The interviews are interesting and provide different perspectives on issues that are often not covered by other news outlets.
- Planet Money: A popular NPR podcast that talks about issues in and around money and the economy. I find the stories interesting and surprising because they discuss subjects that I don’t often think about. On a recent episode entitled “Pub in a Box” there is a segment about bar design.
- How I Built This: If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to listen to this NPR podcast. Each episode is between 30–45 minutes and is a one-on-one interview with successful founders telling their stories. I like the breadth of people interviewed. Once you listen to a few of them, you start to pick up on commonalities that these people share.
- The Entrepreneurs: This podcast is also done by Monocle 24 and is similar to How I Built This, but the entrepreneurs tend to come a little more from Great Britain and Europe than from America. The people interviewed on this podcast also work more in the design and fashion industry, though not exclusively.
- Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson: If you think you know the real story behind famous businesses, your eyes will be opened listening to this podcast that unveils how technology and corporate culture have collided to change industries. No KODAK didn’t miss the digital camera. This podcast is produced by Dell Computers.
- Side Hustle School: This podcast was recommended by my friend, Dimitri Burkhard of Newly Swissed. The episodes are generally under 10 minutes and talk about how people have come up with business ideas that are allowing them to make some extra cash on the side.
- HBR IdeaCast: Another podcast from a magazine to which I subscribe, the HBR (Harvard Business Review) IdeaCast discusses recent studies in business and management. One of the most recent episodes, entitled “Dealing with Conflict Avoiders and Seekers” is one that I wish I’d listened to ten years ago.
- Freakonomics: It’s the podcast that’s spun off from the popular books. If you’re interested in economics and its core components of supply & demand, costs & benefits, and the underlying incentives, you’ll like listening to this podcast. Host Stephen J. Dubner finds fascinating guests and adds a sense of humour to the topics being discussed.
- Exchanges at Goldman Sachs: I feel quite tepid about this podcast. It’s a series of interviews with people from inside Goldman Sachs on a variety of topics. I like the industry insights, but many episodes are dry and not worth listening to.
- The Urbanist: A fascinating podcast about cities and the issues that surround them from urban planning to bylaws. The podcast is about 30 minutes and is published once a week mostly with a theme. There is also a shorter approximately 5-minute podcast called “Tall Stories” as part of this one that provides a deeper look at a particular feature in a city, like “Zurich’s Drinking Fountains.”
- This American Life: Host Ira Glass and his team tackle a wide array of stories breaking them up into several acts. The podcast feels like the audio version of a long and in-depth newspaper or magazine article.
- Waking Up with Sam Harris: My friend John recommended this podcast to me just the other day. I like that Sam Harris doesn’t have any advertising. He tackles a wide variety of topics and hashes through them with his guests. His most recent interview with Tristan Harris entitled “What Is Technology Doing to Us?” was eye opening and one worth listening to, if you’re interested in the ethics of the way the internet and apps are programmed. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear an interview with my friend Kate Darling entitled “Living with Robots.” These podcasts will challenge you to think and question certain assumptions.
- The Rachel Maddow Show: As I’m writing this, I’m not sure if I will continue to subscribe to this podcast. I like Rachel Maddow’s tenacity and reporting style, though lately, I feel like it could be condensed. It’s also very Trump focused.
- Can He Do That?: This podcast is produced by The Washington Post and questions the power of the American President and is specifically aimed at Donald Trump. If you’re interested in American politics and understanding what the constitutional restraints are on the president and how those powers have changed throughout history, listen to this podcast.
- NPR Politics Podcast: This podcast is published a few times a week and gives context to the political happenings in the US. The hosts do a good job explaining the issues of the day, but like the previous two podcasts, this podcast quickly leads to a degree of outrage as it is very Trump focused.
That is my current podcast list. The podcasts I enjoy the most are the entrepreneur-centric ones because I feel like there are lessons that I can take from them and apply to my own business. The thinking podcasts like Waking Up and This American Life are useful for broadening your perspectives. Lately, the American political podcasts have become very redundant and exactly what Tristan Harris warns about in his interview with Sam Harris. I might stop listening to them.
If you’ve read this list and have any recommendations for good podcasts, please leave a message.