When I was in school, I hated book reports.
Don’t get me wrong, reading and writing are two of my favorite things to do. But it was all fun and games until there was a deadline and a grade attached. Why was school turning my favorite activities into work?
Whether it was the assignment factor taking the wind out of my sails or whether the rebellious part of my human nature was kicking in, there was no doubt: learning was much more fun if I was the one calling the shots.
Fast forward a decade or so. It’s 2018, and I still love taking charge of what I learn. Curiosity recently led me into exploring Japanese hiragana, kickboxing, and the impact of musical genre on storytelling (just to name a few of the totally normal things on my mind lately).
As my bedroom library will attest, studying the old fashioned way (i.e., books) is still one of my main addictions—I mean—learning strategies. But, as you know, adulting is no joke. I can’t always squeeze in all the reading time I would like.
Enter: podcasts, stage left.
Podcasts swooped in to rescue me, providing new ideas to mull over while I’m on the go. Hitting the commitment sweet-spot between a sound bite and an audiobook, podcasts deliver a curated overview of a topic in a portable, fast-paced, and often hilarious fashion.
Don’t let your curiosity die in the torrent of college assignments. Here are a few of my favorite podcasts for keeping the learning magic alive. Grab your device and check them out!
Podcasts to Inspire Thinking, Creativity, and Leadership
If you want to hone your leadership skills, tune in to Michael Hyatt’s podcast! He’s a bestselling author and leadership coach with practical tips for influence, life balance, and communication.
If you’re an entrepreneur or marketer, you need to hear what Donald Miller has to say about building your brand through the power of storytelling as he interviews leading business experts like Seth Godin and Patrick Lencioni.
TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz dives into the human mind and soul, taking the listener on an adventure of creativity, psychology, and social improvement.
Despite having a name that must have given him fits in kindergarten, Carey Nieuwhof has become a leader in the Christian business world. He interviews guests and shares his own insights in this thought-provoking podcast. This podcast will stretch you as a world changer!
Podcasts on Entrepreneurship, Money, and Life Hacks
This podcast covers the beginnings of well-known companies such as Starbucks, Airbnb, and Instagram. Each episode explores the surprising origins and audacious plans of the business world’s movers and shakers.
Freakonomics Radio is less about economics and more about freakishly-awesome information that helps you be a more well-rounded and nerdier human. It’s kind of like yoga for your brain. Not content to simply observe the world, the hosts dive into the middle of controversy, scientific discoveries, weird psychological facts, ethics, and news that you never thought would be useful.
This podcast, hosted by Shankar Vedantam, examines the inner workings of the brain for insights into our ideas and behavior. Recent episodes include “The Ostrich Effect,” “Dream Jobs,” and “Fake News: An Origin Story.” Prepare to subconsciously psychoanalyze everything for the rest of your life. You’re welcome.
If Freakonomics is the yoga of the economic podcast scene, Planet Money would be CrossFit. Warning: Once you get past the shock of finance being not only interesting but also funny, you may catch yourself using phrases like “gross domestic product” or having opinions on currency value and tariffs. Now you too can join the brainy souls eagerly waiting for an economics podcast to drop into the void of cyberspace.
Podcasts about Art, Culture, and Awesomeness
Malcolm Gladwell reminds me of an eccentric uncle. He is a man of big hair and even bigger thoughts. He provides fresh insight into both familiar and unheard-of historical moments, helping the listener ponder the past like never before.
This is one of my favorite podcasts! Narrator Jason Weiser repackages narratives from all around the world, from ancient mythologies all the way to modern lore. Topics range from Viking wars to the (somewhat questionable) exploits of the Greek gods. Best of all, this podcast is hilarious as Jason quips and questions the logic of the ancient tales, all the while recounting the events in modern dialogue.
From the creator of Myths and Legends, the Fictional podcast summarizes the plots of famous fictional works. Re-told in modern English (which makes everything funny), Fictional is a must-listen for those who appreciate the written word. A cross between an audio book and a verbal CliffsNotes, this podcast informs and entertains the listener with literature such as The Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes, The Time Machine, and many others.
This podcast explores the meaning and adventure of food—or more precisely, why humans eat the way they do. It is a tasty and mind-opening journey into a world that’s not just for gourmets, but for real people eating really good food. It’s also a commentary on culture and relationship. Delve into the origin of nachos, the ethics of waiting in line at the grocery store, why dating should include eating, and the proper way to chew a stick of gum.
The above list is just a glimpse into the thousands of educational and highly-entertaining podcasts produced every day. Even if I don’t 100% agree with a podcaster’s particular conclusions, I have a blast learning about possibilities I never would have considered before.
If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend finding a good free podcast app. Try iTunes for you Apple fans and Stitcher for the Android lovers. Before you know it, you’ll have hours of audio under your belt, and you might be surprised what you discover about the world around you.
Now give yourself a pat on the back for growing your mind even without a grade and an impending deadline attached.
If Shelbie has a cup of tea, a good book, or a deep conversation, she is a happy camper. With a background in accounting, classical music, and blogging, she believes learning is one of life’s greatest adventures.Read more by Shelbie