Every day, more than 150 million people commute from their homes to their offices. Each day, on average, those people spend around 26.9 minutes going to and fro, in what I like to call the "in-between."
We're neither here nor there; we're on our way from one point to another, usually sitting in traffic, reading email on a train or bus, or simply zoning out in the back of a carpool.
In my opinion, this in-between time offers the perfect opportunity to brush up on your leadership skills, take on a fresh perspective, and dig deep into the things that matter the most to you in business. The best way to do that is to find some great podcasts to listen to as you shuttle from one place to another.
Podcasts are booming
You have probably overheard all of your co-workers and friends talking about podcasts lately. That's because podcasts have seen a significant uptick in popularity in the last few years.
Podcasts are easily consumable when you are on the go. Whether you have 15 minutes or an hour and a half, you can find a podcast that will meet your needs, feed your interests or teach you something new.
Podcasts also fit comfortably into our busy daily lives. On your way to pick up the kids after work? Listen to part of a podcast. Waiting for your train from the city? Dive into that article you couldn't read by listening to the interviews on a podcast. Anytime you want to make the most of that in-between space, you can just plug in a pair of headphones or connect your smartphone to your car and take advantage of any sort of downtime you might have. You can choose an educational podcast, something light and funny, a dark mystery, or something that lifts your spirits. It all depends on how you want to spend your time.
Podcasts have also begun to build communities of people with similar passions and interests. In an increasingly separated, divided and fractioned world, finding a connection with someone who listens to the same podcasts you do is a welcome breath of fresh air. As a result of an engaged and enthused fan base, a podcast becomes better and more targeted and offers more engaging content. The podcast then becomes a beneficial feedback loop and in turn engages more people and builds a bigger community.
Podcasts are also very personal. Many people listen to them in what I refer to as public-private spaces – in their cars, on trains, on flights, as they wait in lines at the grocery store, etc. They plug in headphones and experience the podcasts in a personal way while still interacting with and paying attention to the outside world. The experience of being present, both in the story being told in a podcast and the events happening around you, can really affect the way you take in the lessons and stories from a podcast. This makes podcasts an incredibly powerful tool to improve your business and leadership skills, and it's why I recommend the following podcasts to help you level up.
I am specifically drawn to hearing leaders talk firsthand about the things they have learned and how they have applied those lessons. I go for podcasts that feature guests from a wide variety of backgrounds, and I listen to a lot of podcasts with strong hosts who aren't afraid to ask direct questions.
Top leadership podcasts
Because podcasts have become so popular, it can be challenging to wade through them to find the right one for you. I listen to a lot of great content, but these are a few of my favorite podcasts.
1. Recode Decode with Kara Swisher
Swisher is a longtime technology business journalist who has interviewed everyone from Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. She was formerly a writer with The Wall Street Journal and has an uncanny way of getting people to talk. Her conversations with some of the top leaders in the tech world have both unsettled companies and made them more robust.
Swisher has a straightforward, no-nonsense style that presses leaders to answer the hard questions, offering direct insight into their leadership style. You can get a lot of great information straight from the horse's mouth, especially if you work in the tech industry. Recode Decode publishes a new podcast five days a week, and you can find it both on iTunes and online.
2. HBR IdeaCast
I am a tremendous fan of the Harvard Business Review, or HBR. It often offers incredible insights, smart research and insightful interviews with top business leaders all over the world. I've learned a lot from its podcasts, and it publishes them once a week.
If you're looking for some fascinating insights into becoming a better leader, check out the following podcasts from the recent collection:
- "A Theoretical Physicist (and Entrepreneur) on Why Companies Stop Innovating"
- "How One CEO Creates Joy at Work"
- "The Right Way to Solve Complex Business Problems"
- "How Companies Can Tap Into Talent Clusters"
You can find the HBR IdeaCast on both Stitcher and iTunes.
3. No Ego
This is an excellent podcast for those of us who strive to balance our leadership with our hearts and keep drama at bay. Cy Wakeman is an author and speaker who challenges leaders to find the right work-life balance and get rid of anything that is not serving you in your life and in your career. She has tips for how to mentor and promote the growth of your employees and sits down with some interesting guests, like Dr. Fred Luskin, who discusses the choices we make to be happy.
No Ego comes out once a week, and you can find it on Stitcher and iTunes.
When it comes to finding the best leadership podcasts, it all comes down to personal preference. Whatever you choose, make sure that it aligns with your interests and your passions, and you'll be sure to find a great podcast to help you boost your leadership skills going forward.