Every month I do a rundown of what I’ve been consuming that’s bringing value into my life. This focuses on things that help me lean or cause me to take time to think. This could be books, podcasts, documentaries or more.
In January, I listened to a bunch of audiobooks (8)! Somewhere along the line in February I decided to change things up and focus on podcasts. I’ll typically do this when I listen to a string of good books and then can’t seem to get into a new one. I rated 5 books in January a 5/5 – which is a lot considering in all of 2017 I only rated 25 books that high.
Lucky for me a bunch of great podcasts had been building up! I’ve recently begun switching from Downcast to Overcast for listening to podcasts as I catch up and work on my backlog. Overcast is very well designed. There is even a setting that reduces pauses in what you’re listening to – which allows for slightly faster listening. When you’re listening to dozens of hours of podcasts, those little differences between 2x and 2.15x add up.
Here’s what stood out from last month:
After more years than I can count of following Cait Flanders (I think Google Reader was a thing when I started), I noticed she had a podcast last year! I binge listened to it before FinCon and met her briefly at FinCon this past year. Cait and Carrie both are fun to listen to, while being honest (obviously) and vulnerable in their storytelling – something I’m trying to improve on.
Favorite recent episode: Episode 505: Making Mistakes
I’ve been reading Our Next Life for a while. Tanja, who only recently emerged from anonymity, is one talented woman. She has a great writing voice, and that comes through in her podcast. Kara, the other half of The Fairer Cents, I was only introduced to through her panel (moderated by Tanja) at FinCon. I’ll be honest, I usually don’t like panel discussions. They tend to be disjointed Q&As where the goal is to get everyone’s opinion on everything. This one wasn’t like that, and I quickly tweeted out a response afterward:
I’m looking forward to seeing where they go with it. I’m loving the difference in stage of life between Kara and Tanja, which makes for a lot of difference in the discussions.
Favorite recent episode: Episode 4: Emotional Labor
This whole SEO part of blogging is pretty deep. The parts I understand are great, but there’s still a lot I don’t know, or haven’t actively worked into my flow. MozPod has been helpful in having that constant reminder of little things I can try to do. I prefer that approach, where I can continually add small tools to my toolkit until eventually, I’m proficient.
Favorite recent episode: Structured Data 101: What is Schema?
When I first found Radiolab, I binge listened to every single episode that had ever aired. I love Jad and Robert. They’re the kind of curious guys who get excited to tell you about something they recently learned, but do in such a way you can’t help but be excited as well. I’d let a few months of lab’s pile up. They were some of the most fun I’ve had in a while listening to people rave about science.
Favorite recent episodes:
- Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – The Gun Show
- The Curious Case of the Russian Flash Mob at the West Palm Beach Cheesecake Factory
- Oliver Sipple
Similar to Radiolab, Freakonomics is amazing in a different way. While Radiolab often looks at the natural world or peoples actions, Freakonomics focuses on groups of people and their behaviors. As a product manager, thinking about things in groups is required skill, and this one actually helps with that. Their combination of storytelling and analysis makes coupled with unexpected takeaways keeps me interested throughout.
Favorite recent episode: What Can Uber Teach Us About the Gender Pay Gap?
In July 2017 I decided to try writing more here on Minafi. To help me stay focused and inspired, I searched for podcasts with “blog” in the title. I was pretty surprised at how few came up. I queued DYEB and crossed my fingers it’d be good. Instead, it was great! Pete has a ton of energy, and it shines through in his interviews. It’s kind of passion that when I listen to it, it makes me more passionate. I was fortunate enough to be on his podcast later on, and hang out together some at FinCon.
Favorite recent episode: Caitlin Pyle, The World’s Best Affiliate Marketer.
I haven’t given 99% Invisible the time it deserves, but after everyone I know kept mentioning it I decided to give it a shot. Rather than trying to catch up, I’m picking up episodes ordered by popularity and catching the highlight tour.
Favorite recent episode: Norman Doors: Don’t Know Whether to Push or Pull? Blame Design.
I’ve known about Darren Rowse for a while. Back in the late 00’s I worked at a company called PayPerPost (now Izea), which connected bloggers with advertisers to make money. Darren was a famous name even then in the “make money blogging” community after he posted a picture of himself holding a Google Adsense check for over $100,000.
I mistakenly tuned him out, thinking he was all about making money. I couldn’t have been more wrong. After binge listening to every episode of this podcast (yes, all 200), it’s clear Darren is a craftsman in the blogging world. He focuses on constant improvement, balancing life with work, and creating scalable practices – all things I’m passionate about. His calming voice doesn’t hurt either. If you’re blogging, I’d encourage you to check it out.
Favorite recent episode: What You Should Include in Your Email Newsletters
Back at Code School, we were fortunate enough to go through a number of management training and coaching activities. It’s amazing to me that more companies don’t do this. Being a manager, and learning to problem solve with a team in ways that help them feel empowered is a learned skill. In most companies, it’s assumed that if you’re promoted you’re already good enough.
My first coach at Code School was Laura, so when I heard she had a podcast I downloaded every episode. There are few people that have helped me improve a skill as fast as Laura did. Improving in these areas isn’t solely going to help as a manager either – they help in all walks of life with how you communicate with others. They’ve surely improved my writing voice here on Minafi as well.
Favorite recent episode: Triangulation is Toxic! (note: you really should listen to this one if you’ve ever had any communication issues at work)
This one was recommended by I Dream of Fire a while back and had been sitting on my phone for months. I started it with absolutely no idea what it was, or where it would go. I’d actually recommend you do the same. If I had to describe it, I’d put it as a combination of Serial, Goonies and the Last Starfighter.
Favorite recent episode: Just listen to the whole thing – it’s only seven 30-minute episodes.
I only listened to one episode of this one, but it was helpful. I’m trying to improve my data visualization techniques lately, and part of that involves a better understanding of the basics. This episode listed out a number of techniques that, while basic, are building blocks for doing more advanced and elaborate things.
Favorite recent episode: What Makes A Visualization Memorable? with Michelle Borkin
When I changed roles from a developer to a product manager I listened to a lot of podcasts on being a PM. I didn’t realize it was a such a huge field! TiPM was the one that stuck with me and caused me to come back each week.
The format is what does it. Every week there is a new guest who focuses on an area of the PM role. It could be data, research, customers, A/B testing, or something even more specific. I love that this podcast is more about the craft of being a PM than usual interviews with people. They bring in someone who is passionate about the subject for the week and they talk about it. That focus, and even outright phrasing it in the title of the episode, adds a clarity to their conversation which is refreshing.
Favorite recent episode: Asking the Right Questions is Product Management
Similarities & Focus
Looking at these, my podcast listening tends to fall into a few buckets:
- Podcasts that use data or information to tell stories
- Inspiring topics that lead to action
- Podcasts with 2 women hosts!
What podcasts have stood out for you recently? Are there any you’ll drop everything and listen to when new ones are released?