Great podcasts for you, from me

I’ll be honest, I struggle with reading books, I often find that it makes me feel tired and I frequently get distracted with something else… Perhaps feeling guilty that I have time to read and I should be doing something more productive. I need to read the same page over and over to absorb the content which means I’m never fully immersed in it. That was until I tried audiobooks and podcasts. It’s revolutionised the way I ‘read’. Now, the biggest blockers are: not liking the narrator (they can be too monotone), too loud or just not that interested in what they’re reading — then I feel it’s difficult to feed off of their energy and get really into the content.

So, I wanted to share with you my favourite audiobook and podcast finds — both as a designer and as an individual.

How I listen

Audible seemed like the perfect place to start, I had heard others used it plus it had a 30-day free trial which then moved onto £7.99 a month (which really isn’t that bad for the content you get access to). In conjunction with that, I also use the Apple Podcasts native app as seemed like the best tools for exploring the world of audio, I would recommend you subscribe to This American Life, Tim Ferriss, and Ted Talks Daily.

Autobiography & biography

The first audiobook I came across that set the path for my listening journey was Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story by Arnold Schwarzenegger. A 2 week relaxing holiday plan to Greece required beach entertainment, not a book and that didn’t require internet access. Arnold’s autobiography was absolutely fascinating, a man going from Austrian bodybuilding champion to famous Hollywood actor and then Governor of California — his mindset towards time management, how to set out and achieve your goals and what daily habits you can do to improve your day (Spoiler alert… 15 minutes of exercise!).

“If I can see it and believe it, then I can achieve it.”
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Inspired after this autobiography, I looked into finding other audiobooks from people that inspired me:

Elon Musk: Unabridged

PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, or SolarCity… Musk has managed to build some of the biggest companies (yes plural!) in the world. Musk is different from most entrepreneurs; he’s not in it for the money — he wants to change the world, and almost unbelievably he is already doing so. This audiobook gives you great insight into the way his mind works, his aspirations to make humans an interplanetary species and less dependent on fossil fuels.

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography

Jobs’ dedication to perfection and driving those around him to achieve great things was brilliant but was balanced by a character that, during his work life at least, had almost no empathy for others around him.

“My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it.” ~ Steve Jobs


Hooked: How to build habit-forming products

Great book but not the best narrator for easy listening. If you do like reading then I would recommend getting a paperback copy instead. Eyal explains how products are addictive, with a simple four-step model:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Reward
  4. Investment

Do not fear, Eyal does explain the science behind with some real-world examples of how these are implemented in products we all know — quite an eye-opener! Further reading can be found on his website or join his mailing list.

The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking

Public speaking; one of those things that are good for everyone to skill up on. More thought-provoking than instructional it puts the art of public speaking under the microscope and highlights how there are many styles and techniques that can be deployed.


Ready, set, go! I listened to this book after experiencing my first design sprint with Reason. Seeing what worked and what didn’t work through examples — what to do in situations that aren’t going well and the ‘must haves’ in order to run a successful sprint. A physical book is better for this one so you can use it practically, but it’s also available as an audiobook and on Kindle.

To me, to you

Here’s a bunch of fun stuff with no particular grouping, just some of the ones I’ve really enjoyed.

Tim Ferriss

I usually pick which Ferriss podcast to listen to by the descriptions. I would highly recommend the interviews with Tony Robbins, Jamie Foxx, Terry Crews, Dr. Gabor Mate, Bryan Johnson — Ferriss: incredible interviewing technique makes conversations feel very natural, funny and directional; you’ll always have takeaways from his podcasts. Website | iTunes

Serial & S-town Born from the same minds, both of these sessions are intriguing and very well written. Real life drama made with empathy and an open mind. I loved S-Town, there is a moment in episode 4 or 5 I think which is the best bit of audio storytelling I have ever heard, I ended up taking longer routes home just to listen to more.

Amazing Ted Talks:

Robert Waldinger: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Cleo Wade: Want to change the world? Start by being brave enough to care

When you need to feel awe about the world again

Tim Ferriss: Why you should define your fears instead of your goals

Elon Musk: The future we’re building — and boring

Peter Diamandis: Abundance is our future

Chip Heath, Dan Heath: The Power of Moments (Audiobook)

What next?

If you’d like to chat about these audiobooks with me or perhaps you have suggestions for me then leave a response or contact me at or on Twitter.

This post was originally written for the wonderful digital agency Reason.




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Todd Richardson

Todd Richardson

Designer and maker

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