The 30 Best Podcast Episodes of All Time
Discover, Listen, Get Smarter
- Decision-Making: Ray Dalio, the founder and owner of one of the biggest and most successful hedge funds of all time, just wrote an update to his book called Principles. He has used this framework for success for decades and is now sharing it with the world. He spoke to one of the smartest blogs on the internet, Farnham Street, about it over the course of an hour. Radical Transparency is the name of the game, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Expect apps to be released for you to use it in your organization soon.
- Focus: You’ve likely heard of flow before. It’s the concept of extreme focus where time seems to slow down that lets normal human beings achieve superhuman abilities. It’s the Michael Jordan in Game 7 stuff, for instance. A science journalist named Steven Kotler wrote a book called The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance and in this episode of The Art of Manliness podcast from 3 years back, the conversation explores how others have achieved flow not just for superhuman feats but also to save their own lives. It describes how you too can achieve an optimal state of Flow.
- Charm: We live in a world controlled by humans. So if you want to get anything done in this world, it helps to be open-minded and open-hearted to connect with others and do wonderful things together. This episode with Olivia Fox Cabane who has lectured at Stanford, Harvard, Yale and MIT, wrote The Charisma Myth in 2012. In it she describes how you can “master the art and science of personal magnetism”. They say opposites attract, but after this little nugget hits your ear drums, you may not need to worry about that any longer.
- Communications: Ok, while not technically a podcast episode because it uses the concept of moving pictures to create, ahem, a video, we had to include this. Simon Sinek is the man. Start With Why, if you’re not familiar was a landmark TED Talk that shot him into internet superstardom. He argues that we’ve been communicating backwards this entire time and in order to help people understand what we’re doing and buy what we’re selling, we need to flip the order and start with the why, not with the what.
- Health: Our bodies aren’t just a playground, they’re also our temple. And we only get one of them. So we should be very careful about what kind of gasoline we put in our high-performance vehicle. More studies are being released about the benefits of shifting more towards a plant-based diet, but even if you agree, there is prevailing societal pressure for men to eat meat. In this episode from Food for Thought, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau redefines why meat doesn’t make a real man.
- Money: Joe Rogan, whom you may know from the UFC days and some really gross eating contests on network television a few years back, has a podcast. He goes deep on a variety of topics. But in this nearly 3 hour episode, there’s a gentleman Andreas Antonopoulos who explains Bitcoin. Please note that this episode is nearly 4 years old but the fundamentals of digital currency are still all the same.
- Mental: Tim Ferriss has written some pretty great books, like the one you’ve probably heard of, The 4-Hour Work Week. He wrote another more recent book called the Tools of Titans where he interviewed very famous and successful people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Peter Thiel, Maria Sharapova, Malcolm Gladwell, Marc Andreessen, and Jamie Foxx. In this episode, Tim describes the learnings on Mediation, Mindset, and Mastery that he heard from many of these people. If you haven’t yet heard of Transcendental Meditation, we offer you the chance to learn a bit more about it. From Arnold.
- Life: Steve Jobs isn’t here anymore. And he never did a podcast. But he did give a 14-minute commencement address in 2005 at Stanford. He told three stories. Just three. No big deal. Captured within those few minutes and stories are nuggets of wisdom for living your life in a way that means you look back on it proudly. If you want to do something with your life, and even if you’ve heard it before, give it another listen. If you feel lost, and not sure which choice you need to make next, this might just help.
- Tech: Transformative change and disruption come standard in the tech community these days. Even though history may not repeat, it certainly does rhyme. In this podcast episode hot off the presses, you have a thoughtful VC from Andreessen Horowitz, Benedict Evans, chopping it up with Tim O’Reilly who founded O’Reilly Media. Together, they talk about “technologies that are perhaps more transformative than any we’ve seen before — and how we think about the capabilities they might have that we haven’t yet even considered”.
- Space: Almost everyone you meet knows the name NASA is synonymous with space. What they don’t tell you is that they do, in fact, have a plan that they’re executing against. With the recent resurgence of interest in SpaceX and Blue Origin, we’re in for a fun future decade. In this Star Talk episode with Neil deGrasse Tyson, he chats with a NASA Administrator, Major General Charles Bolden about what they’re doing next.
- Death: It’s an inevitability for us all. Steve Jobs called it life’s great change agent. The tick-tock of the biologic clock never stops. In this extremely interesting podcast where Cara Santa Maria brings heady science topics down to earth, she interviews a woman named Caitlin Doughty, a mortician who wrote a book called From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death. She’s disrupting death in the tattooed streets of LA.
- Science: The Guardian is a pretty great British news outlet. But you might not know that they also produce a science-focused podcast. In this wonderful episode they explore the head-scratching world of Quantum Computing. What happens when a particle can be in multiple places at the same time, and what does that mean for apps of the future? There are implications for artificial intelligence, which makes it all the meatier for a deep listen.
- Food: Sometimes we all crave some french fries and greasy fast food. Sure, it’s not good for us, but darnit if it doesn’t make us feel great while we’re eating it. In this How Stuff Works podcast episode (we recommend the entire podcast of course), they explore How Junk Food Works. Wait…whaaat? Yes, how it works. Listen in for more.
- Future: If you’ve spent any time being a futurist or predicting “what comes next”, then it’s highly likely you’ve come across two chaps named Ray Kurzweil (Google Brain fame) and Peter Diamandis (X Prize fame). In this hour and a half conversation between the two futurists, we get a glimpse into what might be coming for our own lives in the 2030s.
- Art: Are you a creative who makes content at a blinding pace, but don’t have the requisite sales and marketing skills to get new eyeballs on your work and get paid for all the time you’ve spent to get good? In this episode of Savvy Painter with Donna Moritz, she describes how to create visual content that spreads. You’ll find a number of tactics that might help you.
16. Philosophy: There’s nothing like a neuroscientist’s study of the mind to delve into the philosophical underpinnings of this systemic universe we all inhabit. It’s the criss-cross points that hold all the value. In this key episode, Sam Harris speaks with Thomas Metzinger about “building conscious AI, the self as an hallucination, how we identify with our thoughts, attention as the root of the feeling of self”, among many other topics.
17. Medicine: Lets just say, for instance, that the wheels come off of this hole ball of wax. There’s war, explosions, plane crashes, natural disasters or any number of other things we can’t easily predict. Are you prepared in these situations if something happens are are you relying on a strategy of “hope”? The great podcast is called Survival Medicine and we focus on a basic episode to get your feet wet, with major topics covered including treating shock and open wound care in survival settings.
18. Economics: Economics is really just the study of money and transactions, rolled up across an entire global economy. So, in this timely episode, the eponymous Freakonomics discusses the Stupidest Thing You Can Do With Your Money. If you’re trying to save for retirement or just invest, you’ve got to watch out for this thing, because over both the short-term and long-term, it’s going to kill you.
19. Spirituality: We prefer to come at this topic with a beginner’s mind and use it as a way for expanding our own understanding. It’s not really religion, it’s more about what, if any, mechanics are underlying this existence of ours. In this episode of On Being, which explores the big questions of meaning with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers, the 70-year old Mary Bateson describes the age of “active wisdom”. She sees longer life spans creating a new developmental stage for our species.
20. Fashion: In the Devil Wear’s Prada, the main character says that “clothes are art we live our lives in”. We’ve always liked that. You can change how people perceive you just by putting on a different outfit. Gym clothes? You’re athletic. Suit? You mean business. Tuxedo t-shirt? You might be Will Ferrell. Let’s just go straight to the source, then and have Vogue’s podcast where André Leon Talley talks to Tom Ford about his latest fashion-inspired movie, Nocturnal Animals. Fascinating.
21. Education: Unless you’re deep into the calling of teaching it’s highly unlikely you’ve married education with psychology, especially how social media might be impacting the next generation’s learning ability. In the School Psyched Podcast, a pair of psychologists cover this very topic.
22. Storytelling: We had to go mainstream for at least some of these and you can’t get anywhere near podcasts without running smack dab into This American Life. They keep a short list of their own favorites. This episode about two babies switched at birth and went home with the wrong families will engage and intrigue you. Whether or not you’re a fan of the show, give this episode a shot. It’s likely you won’t be disappointed.
23. Climate Change: Al Gore put out a documentary about a decade ago on the topic of global warming and climate change. He just released an update to it called an Inconvenient Sequel. In this hour-long conversation with MPR, he tells of where we are as a species and how our planet is reacting to it. The bad news is it’s much worse than it was. The good news is we can still do something about it.
24. Travel: Got a flight coming up and pondering the good, relaxed life of your next vacation trip to an exotic location? Perhaps just somewhere more relaxing like an AirBnB’d log cabin in the woods. Either way, this episode from Zero to Travel talks about the world’s longest honeymoon going on over 5 years now. Umm, count us in.
25. Cooking: Burnt Toast is a helluva name for a podcast. This one caught our fancy and actually made us chuckle. A tough thing to do when food is the topic. The episode is about the one US Presidency that served such horrible food to thousands of guests over multiple years that, well, it got its own podcast episode. There’s also a revenge theory you need to hear to believe. Maybe it was all part of a grand design? You be the judge.
26. Drugs: Not so much a podcast episode as a news story, but NPR’s few-minute long review of how medical marijuana extract as medicine for children with epilepsy just keeps the beneficial research coming. If alcohol is poison, perhaps marijuana is medicine?
27. Music: This ain’t a podcast. It’s a playlist. Rap Caviar on Spotify is one of the most trend setting lists on their entire platform. You might not know this, but hip hop and rap is now the single biggest and most listened to genre of music in the world. It just passed rock to take over the pole position. You might have thought Pop was the bees knees, but nope. Rap is popular. Give it a listen.
28. Manufacturing: You might see this as an outlier topic, but the reality is that every single object that you see around you had to be made somewhere. It had to be manufactured. The Advanced Manufacturing group puts out a podcast and in this Metrology (read: measurement) episode, they explore how it impacts software, sensors, and networking.
29. Nature: The scientific journal of choice for scientists everywhere, Nature is the premiere place for emerging knowledge about the world we inhabit. In this episode, they explore the link between genetics and grief, a dwarf planet eclipse, DNA sequencing and some recent news. A must listen on a range of topics.
30. Human Experience: We thought it would be fitting to end our list with something that runs over the top of all of these topics, which is, of course, human experience. And wouldn’t you know it, a podcast exists of the same name. We like, fittingly, episode 99, which covers the daily grind, spirituality, futurism, mysticism and the like. Socio-cultural experiences and topics abound. What a great outro.
So there you have it, folks. Our version of the 30 best, or at least different, episodes that might take you on a journey across time, space, consciousness, and your own life. Enjoy. Take the knowledge and apply it.