11 Podcasts My Smart Friends Listen To


I have brilliant LinkedIn connections. The kind that makes me want to work harder, and learn more. So I asked them in a LinkedIn post, “What’s your favorite podcast?” I wanted to get the best podcasts for new listening.

Their answers have stretched my thinking. Or at the very least, given me a new podcast to binge listen to while I workout on the treadmill.

I broke up their feedback based on their “podcast persona” and share links if you want to add them to your listening queue.

Best Podcasts for the Headline Junkie

Best News Podcasts

I have an IDEO U colleague that is a get-to-business type. She’s warm and friendly, but she’s also a firecracker and ready to dive into things when you meet up.

She turned me onto a daily ritual that I now have, listening to NPR’s Up First and New York Times’ The Daily.

About 30 minutes of my morning is dedicated listening to these news podcasts M-F. Good stuff, and if you read the bio on The Daily’s host, Michael Barbaro, you’ll find that he ends every show, “with a splash of gin.” That is my kind of daily reporting.

Best Podcasts for the Whole Brain Thinker

Best Brainy Podcasts

I have another IDEO friend that is biz ops meets CPA with a side of pottery craftsmanship. Left and right brain thinker, her suggestions were just that:  Freakonomics Radio and Song Exploder.

In both cases, I subscribe, and just cherry pick the episodes that interest me most and skip the ones that don’t directly pull me in. Freakonomics, like the book, is a podcast from an economist that explores the hidden side of everything.

Whereas Song Exploder is a podcast series that dives deep into music. It’s where “musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made” and is so enlightening if you like music.

These two suggested podcasts are great yin and yang additions to my playlist.

Best Podcasts for the Lifelong Learner

Best podcasts for learning

An educational technology consultant that is curious about all things related to learning suggested I check out Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and NPR’s Hidden Brain.

I was already listening to the first but was surprised I missed the NPR gem. The Hidden Brain podcast synopsis says it best, “Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”

The topics are varied and a nice glimpse into things I don’t otherwise spend my time thinking about — I guess that’s the point, right?

Best Podcasts for the Dark Horse

The dark horse podcasts

Another friend that I met at IDEO has since moved to a social impact organization. He’s the IT guy that defies all IT guy stereotypes. He’s friendly, approachable, and has hidden interests that add layers of human complexity. He shared a lovely, cerebral podcast list including WTF with Marc MaronWe Have Concerns, and The Phileas Club.

These suggestions are definitely in my queue for some listening in the future. But the Anna Farris Unqualified podcast suggestion was a standout for me. As the host, she interviews Hollywood folks to get their take on relationship advice.

I needed more interesting fluff in my listening queue, and this was just what I was looking for and needed. A recommendation like this, from the IT guy, well that made it all the juicier.

Best Podcasts for the Positive Realist

Positive Podcasts

We all have the friend. She’s a doer, a mom, and a freelance graphic designer. And she’s got side hustle keeping her busy in her “down time” and beyond. She can dream big – but then set realistic goals around it. Her suggestion was right on point – Live Inspired by John O’Leary.

O’Leary is a bestselling author and his podcast hopes to help listeners, “wake up from accidental living so you can do, be, achieve, and impact more through your life.” (NOTE: I added a comma to the quote I pulled from the podcast description. I just can’t let a missing Oxford comma go by.)

I’ve only listened to one episode so far, and it was a worthy listen. I won’t be able to tune into every episode, a girl can just get so inspired before being exhausted, but the one I heard was great, and I’ll keep it on my list.

So there you have it. Have other podcasts to suggest I check out? Please comment and let me know what you listen to!

NOTE: I originally posted this article on LinkedIn, available here.