Young Corporate
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Young Corporate

5 Podcasts to Power Up Your Business Knowledge

Squeeze in 30 minutes of auditory learning per day to keep track of industry trends and grow your career

How do you KNOW that?

In our house, it’s regular to hear my wife ask this exact question.

She’ll ask it in the middle of a conversation, when I’ve slipped in a random tidbit I learned that day. Or over (virtual) dinner with friends, when I bring up a topic of conversation. Or when we’re playing bar trivia, and I get a totally random and obscure question right.

Every time it’s the same response. How do you KNOW that?

This topic has become a bit of a running joke between us. A fun little back-and-forth. I once told my wife (an extrovert) that the reason I had so many random facts floating around my head is that all the time she spends talking to people, I (an introvert) spend reading.

She laughed.

I may need to amend my statement, though. Because, to be honest, I don’t read that much anymore. Sure, I skim through my LinkedIn news feed and the Apple News page and Medium. But I don’t reach for business books with the same regularity I did in the past.

And yet, I’m still able to drop little knowledge bombs throughout the day.

My secret? Podcasts.

The 30-Second Pitch for Podcasts

Podcasts have become my defacto source for keeping up with business news, learning new skills, and growing my general knowledge bucket. Not only is there a HUGE amount of information available through podcasts. But they fit into my life in a way that other info sources do not.

Every time I go for a walk or workout in the garage. Podcast. When I’m folding the laundry or doing the dishes. Podcast. Long road trips or short jaunts to the grocery store. Podcast.

They just work for me and my life. I’m busy — with two kids, two dogs, a day job, adjunct teaching, and writing on Medium — so finding creative ways to fit in learning is a must.

And podcasts can work for you too.

Nearly 30% of individuals are auditory learners— meaning they learn best from listening to information. And a strong auditory learner can absorb up to 75% of the material being shared. So, if you’re an auditory learner, listening to podcasts is a no-brainer.

Even if auditory isn’t your preferred learning style, you may still want to look into some pods. While content provided in a visual or kinesthetic manner — like a book or hands-on demonstration — might help you learn better, if you can’t fit it into your life, it’s not doing you much good.

Remember: less-than-ideal learning is still better than no learning.

So, to get you started on your podcast journey, here are five of my favorite pods focused on business topics.

We’ve got:

Let’s go!

1. What’s News (from the Wall Street Journal)

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Use It For: keeping up with today’s business news.

Of all the podcasts on this list, What’s News is the one I reach for most often. And the reason is simple — this is the easiest way I know to keep up with the emerging business news of the day.

My thought process is this: if I’m going to participate in the business world, I need to understand the events taking place in and around it. I need to be educated on the broad topics that are impacting the company I work for and the economy I live in. I also want to be able to talk with friends and colleagues about these topics in an informed way.

So, when I’m cooking dinner or taking out the trash, I reach for What’s News. Episodes are posted 1–2 times per weekday, which means there’s always something new to catch. Plus, every episode is snack size … less than 20 minutes in length.

In 20 minutes, I can learn that some employers are requiring proof of COVID vaccination. Or I can hear expert opinion on how the Chauvin verdict may change police prosecution. Or I can dive into how the White House plans to curb greenhouse gasses.

You get the picture.

The other reason I love What’s News is that the pod is extremely high quality. The Wall Street Journal — you might have heard of it — has a tremendous reputation for journalistic integrity and research. And the news arm of WSJ is generally considered to be “center” on the political spectrum, meaning you are getting relatively unbiased information.

Combine this with the strong reporting and brisk pace of the podcast, and you have a recipe for success. While What’s News is probably the most professional (aka least funny/personable) podcast on this list, it’s far from stuffy. Instead, the pod gets straight to the point and doesn’t waste your time with any filler.

Check it out here.

2. No Stupid Questions

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Use It For: understanding yourself and co-workers better.

What do you get when you put a psychology professor in the same room with an economics-loving journalist and have them tackle mailbag submissions? The answer is No Stupid Questions.

Steven J. Dubner, the co-author of the three Freakonomics books and host of the Freakonomics podcast, has spent the last ten years of his career talking to economists about every subject imaginable. So he’s the perfect counterpart to Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance and a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

(Angela actually received a mention in the first-ever Young Corporate post, where we highlighted her as a must-follow on LinkedIn).

This pod is amazing for a few reasons. Not only are the hosts incredibly smart and knowledgeable on a whole range of topics (economics, psychology, sociology, etc.), which they cram into a 30–40 minute run time. But they’re also willing to poke fun at themselves and share insights from their own personal struggles.

In a recent episode, for example, Steven opened up about a show he’d worked on for years, but ultimately had to shut down. He was honest and explained how he was not the right person to host the show, why that created problems, and how he would fix it if given the chance (spoiler: he’d step down as host).

It’s this level of personal insight, supported by expert facts and research, that elevates No Stupid Questions. I walk away from every episode having learned about a new research study, but also a bit about myself. And the show does an amazing job of fact-checking statements at the end to ensure you leave with the right info in hand. Definitely worth the investment.

Check it out here.

3. Planet Money

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Use It For: learning about finance and economics in a fun way.

Let’s face it, finance and economics are not the most approachable subjects. Maybe it’s all the spreadsheets. Or having to figure out what GDP stands for. Either way, most of us don’t want to spend our time listening to content about these topics. It’s just kind of boring.

But that’s where NPR would disagree. Through their show, Planet Money, the non-profit media organization is putting a new spin on an old subject. Rather than focus on math or equations or theory, Planet Money dives into the stories behind the facts. And that’s where the good stuff is.

(Planet Money also made an appearance on a recent Young Corporate article where we provided free alternatives to paid business websites).

By focusing on the most interesting stories, Planet Money is able to create pods that are fascinating to listen to and drop critical knowledge throughout. The topics tend to vary in length, from 20 minutes to almost 2 hours, but each one is full of human stories and business details. It’s a bit like learning by osmosis.

Planet Money also has a habit of bringing up timely or off-the-wall topics.

On the timely side, I laughed when I saw their recent episode on extended car warranties because I get those calls on a daily basis. I’m still frustrated with the experience, but I now have a better picture of what’s going on behind the scenes. This same approach applies to the minimum wage and Tik Tok.

And on the off-the-wall side, it’s hard to beat episodes like their The New Shape of Pasta or Why Printers are the Worst. I now know that my printer is never going to get any better because the printer company makes all their money selling ink. Go figure.

So, if you’ve written off learning about the markets or the economy, it may be time to reconsider. Give Planet Money a chance. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll learn something along the way.

Check it out here.

4. How I Built This with Guy Raz

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Use It For: finding out how businesses start and grow.

Even if you have no plans of starting a business, or working for a startup, there is still a TON of value to be found in How I Built This With Guy Raz. Guy Raz is a journalist who spends his days interviewing all manner of founder to figure out, exactly, how they built their business.

Here’s the thing . . . learning business from inside an established company can be tricky. You often step into a single department that’s part of a larger whole. And, unless your leadership does a tremendous job communicating, you may not fully see how your work fits into the larger picture.

You may not know the strategy or the nuts and bolts of a company in your industry. And that’s totally fair — companies are complex.

Luckily, Guy has a fantastic ability to get founders to open up about their companies. How they got started. Why they structured the company the way they did. What challenges they faced getting started. And where they’re headed in the future.

This is the kind of discussion that can help a business person see the forest for the trees. Especially as they get exposed to new industries and ideas.

One of my favorite recent episodes was a tell-all conversation with author and founder Tim Ferriss. I had previously read a number of Ferriss’s books and found some good insights in them. But Ferris had also shifted his focus to a “hustle” mindset and that was a bit frustrating.

It was fascinating, then, to hear his startup story. And also what’s he’s learned in recent years. Ferriss has recently shifted his tone to focus less on work and more on health. It’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m glad I got the chance to hear Ferriss’s full journey, start to present.

Tim Ferriss is just one of the numerous interviews available (ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours). Guy has spoken to the founders of Canva, Patreon, and UPPAbaby just to name a few. Scroll through the backlog of How I Built This and you’re sure to find a company or industry that piques your interest.

Check it out here.

5. Dear HBR:

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Use It For: tackling the real challenges of the workplace.

Honestly, this last one can be a bit of a tough hang. It’s not that the content isn’t good — it 100% is — it’s just that not many of us what to spend our time thinking about the darker side of work. You know, issues of discrimination, bullying, difficult teammates, and bad bosses.

But the reality of work is that most of us will face one or more of these issues at some point in our career. It’s best to be prepared.

Dear HBR:, by Harvard Business Review, is another mailbag-style podcast, this time tackling listener questions on a whole range of work-related topics. The pod does a good job balancing heavier topics (like sexism) with lighter career and office ones (like remote feedback).

No matter the topic, Dear HBR: brings a thoughtful and considerate lens to the discussion. The pod offers a rotating cast of career and social experts to help listeners navigate the difficult aspects of work. And they provide specific words or phrases to use in each kind of situation.

Dear HBR: also has the high polish of a Harvard Business Review podcast. And even though it doesn’t publish quite as often as the other podcasts on this list, it has a back catalog of excellent topics, with every episode right around 30 minutes in length.

If you’re looking for a starting point, check out the episode on Influencing Up. This episode talks about how to engage with leaders up and down a company to help them see your point of view. Influence is one of the most difficult parts of navigating an organization, and this pod provides a number of good tactics to put into play.

At the end of the day, investing in a podcast like Dear HBR: can help you figure out how best to navigate the workplace and tackle the tougher aspects of your job. It’s a bit like working out — it may be painful at the time, but you’ll see the results in the long-term.

Check it out here.

Bonus! 3 Tips for Starting Your Podcast Journey

  • 1 pod a day. Knowledge is beautiful in the way it accumulates. You don’t have to boil the ocean from day one. Start small, working a single podcast into your business day. And, over time, you’ll start to notice the little ways your added knowledge comes in handy.
  • Experiment with 1.5x speed. If you’re looking for even more bang for your buck, try speeding up the pod. It will save you time, and allow you to get to more good stuff. I, personally, listen to all my podcasts on 1.5x speed and have not noticed a drop in comprehension.
  • Dig deeper. Podcasts have this funny habit of sparking further interest. I’ll hear about something on a pod — maybe a casual reference to a book or an emerging field of study — and this will send me on a Googling frenzy. I’ve learned so many interesting facts this way, and you can too.

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Career Resources. Pro-Tips. Discussion. Made for Millennials and Gen Z.

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Stephen Mostrom

Stephen Mostrom

Program Manager @ BofA | Obsessive Learner | Professor | Talking about Work, Career, and Education | Featured in The Startup, PGSG, and Entrepreneur’s Handbook

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