It took me a while to discover, and grow an interest in, the act of listening to material read out loud. I've always listened to music, obviously. And I’d heard of audiobooks and radio shows before. In general, however, the concept sounded extremely boring. Why in the world would I want to listen to another human’s voice talk to me about something? It’s not an active conversation. It can’t possibly be entertaining; there’s also no way I could ever replace a good playlist with a podcast.
As I explored creative entrepreneurship with my #sidehearthustle (long story…) of photography and digital brand strategy, I found myself entering into communities of women a lot older than me, whose stages of life had them driving to work and meetings with a fire to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn. Being passionate enough about a career to pursue it without anyone guiding you but you own self sparks a very interesting drive that consumes you. You want – truly want – to use your time productively, lovingly, and always in-line with where you want your business and life to go.
Being a part of this world none of my college friends were involved in inspired me to find my own ways – as a student – to ingest the same strategic insights and productivity as the women above me. I was going to figure out how to use my (very limited) amount of time to learn, too. In hindsight, I totally stressed myself out, and I encourage each of you reading this to take time to rest, without striving for utmost productivity every second of the day. But if we’re being honest here, that’s exactly what I did. I don't regret that decision, because it's culminated in this blog today, but... be mindful. Use your time beautifully. Anyways, enter: podcasts.
I started with an old school classic, How I Built This with Guy Raz. You’ll find, for obvious reasons, this podcast kicks off my list of favorites. Truthfully, it was the only podcast title I was familiar with at the time, since I’d heard my parents mention it and NPR numerous times on family road trips (conversations I honestly had tried to tune out, but still grasped this bite of insight from). The first episode I ever listened to was an interview between Guy Roz and the founders of Instagram. I figured, if I was going to use my time to listen to something “boring,” I might as well learn about the app that consumed my free time, at all times.
I was blown away – and instantly hooked. The episode was about an hour long, and with short walks to class, I found myself trying to meander the long way around just to listen to a few minutes more. I finished the episode during that first day I started it, coming to the realization that I did, in fact, have at least one hour of “free time” to listen to interesting things.
The remarkable thing about that experience though, was that I didn’t necessarily “learn” anything. It was simply a story, about two guys with an idea and a past, and they used what they had to build something as best they could. Sure, that “idea” turned into a concept that altered our generation tremendously (for better or for worse), but I couldn’t help feeling inspired by the sheer impact of hearing how it all happened. I wasn’t planning on building the next Instagram, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to build impact.
From that episode onward, I binge-listened (if that's even the way to explain it) as many episodes of How I Built This as I was intrigued to listen to. I learned how Sara Blakely founded Spanx (fun fact: the day her product was officially available in one department store, she paid all her best friends to go buy them so the store would think they were in high demand. Talk about #confidence…) (another fun fact: it worked). I also listened to interviews by the founders of Cliff Bar, Airbnb, WeWork, and countless others.
After several weeks of using every ounce of my individual ear-bud time to consume this one podcast, I decided I was totally into podcasts. I loved being able to listen to a story. It was like listening in on a fascinating conversation between people you’ve always looked up to, except nothing more was required of me than to listen. That, itself, wasn’t even required. I could pick and choose what I listened to and how long I listened to it. I loved it.
Through the past 2 years or so, I’ve kept up my love of podcasts by listening to them when I want to, never forcing myself to listen to an entire episode or season if I don’t find it interesting, and switching up content topics every time I can. So far, I have yet to be bored of “listening to another human’s voice talk to me about something.” Part therapeutic, part comedic, part intellectual, part entertainment… podcasts offer whatever you want them to offer. Sometimes I listen to them while running, on my way to-and-from class or work, or in the morning while I'm getting ready for my day,
I encourage you to take my list as a starting point or just dive in yourself and explore what’s out there. I hope above all else - you’re inspired by what you find.
How I Built This : NPR
"Diving into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: Airbnb, Spanx, Teach for America, Lyft, WeWork, Instagram
TED Radio Hour : NPR
"Exploring the emotions, insights, and discoveries that make us human. The TED Radio Hour is a narrative journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, and new ways to think and create." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: Disruptive Leadership
The Daily : The New York Times
"This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m." - Listen on iTunes here
Girlboss Advice and Whatnot
The Goal Digger Podcast : Jenna Kutcher
"Week after week, host Jenna Kutcher brings you the the productivity tips, social media strategies, business hacks,, and inspirational stories that can help YOU design your dream career. Along with sharing her best kept secrets, she interviews the best in the industry who will share their secrets to ensure you are seen, heard, (and hired!)" - Listen on iTunes here
Ladies Who Lunch : Ingrid Nilson & Cat Valdes
"Ladies Who Lunch lets you sit at the table and explore topics often left out of polite conversation with YouTubers Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes. Write in to join their dialogue about technology, relationships, social phobias and more as they approach life's dilemmas with compassion and a sense of humor." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: When does self-care become selfish; How to save yourself from tech addiction; Mistakes we’ve made in our career
Oprah's Super Soul Conversations : Oprah Winfrey
"Awaken, discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you with SuperSoul. Hear Oprah’s personal selection of her interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. All designed to light you up, guide you through life’s big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: Amy Schumer: A Modern Day Warrior Woman; Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling: Brave New Worlds
The Health Code Podcast : Sarah's Day & Kurt Tilse
"A fun, informative, unfiltered and real podcast run by health and fitness YouTuber, Sarah's Day and professional photographer, content creator, Personal Trainer and Sarah's boyfriend, Kurt Tilse. This dynamic duo are here to crack the code on all things health, fitness, lifestyle, relationships and building your dream career. Get ready for some serious tips, tricks and healthy hacks." - Listen on iTunes here
Kalyn's Coffee Talk : Kalyn Nicholson
"Kalyn’s Coffee Talk is an upbeat (multiple coffees not included) and uplifting podcast to start your morning, or wind down your afternoon with - covering everything from wellness, mental health and learning to live your best life free from self-judgment and doubt." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: Being a Beginner; Trusting Yourself
Creative Empire Podcast : Reina Pomeroy & Christina Scalera
"Each week, Reina + Christina bring you up close with the influencers you dream of meeting at conferences and workshops, but maybe don't have a budget to attend yet. Sprinkled in between these are teaching episodes, and mentoring that walks show listeners through common problems with solutions during their early days of business." - Listen on iTunes here
All Things Faith
North Point Community Church
"The weekly audio podcast for North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA where our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." - Listen on iTunes here
Recommended: What Happy Couples Know (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4)
Passion City Church Podcast
"In a world where the weight is often heavy, we want to lift people, speak life, stand for justice, add value and celebrate the goodness of our God in the best of times and when the road is steep. We are not perfect. But Jesus is. Come as you are." - Listen on iTunes here
"Serial unfolds one story - a true story - over the course of a whole season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. Sarah won't know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there, not long before you get there with her. Each week she'll bring you the latest chapter, so it's important to listen in, starting with Episode 1. New episodes are released on Thursday mornings." - Listen on iTunes here
Disclaimer: I have never listened to this one, but received two separate DM's recommending it. "Addicting! Great for long runs or drives or plane rides."
Up and Vanished
"Up and Vanished is an investigative podcast that explores the unsolved disappearance of Georgia beauty queen and high school teacher, Tara Grinstead. The 11-year-old cold case is the largest case file in the history of Georgia. Follow along as host Payne Lindsey, a filmmaker turned amateur investigator, examines old case evidence and re-interviews persons of interest. What happened to Tara Grinstead?" - Listen on iTunes here
Disclaimer: I have never listened to this one, either, but received enthusiastic DM's and figured I'd share it in this list too.
The plan is to keep this list updated as I go. Did I miss a favorite of yours? Let me know! I'm always active on my Insta DM's, and would absolutely love to hear from you.
Hi! I'm Chloe, a twenty-something writer and communications strategist figuring it out as I go along. I love airplanes, oat lattes, and deep chats over cheap wine.
I hope you leave here inspired to explore the world and love its people, or, keep reading all the things. It's good for you!
Follow along: @chloe.belangia