If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, but don’t have the time or budget to commit to a formal program, podcasts can be a terrific resource. Maybe you want to explore potential career paths or develop your leadership skills, but your employer doesn’t offer much in the way of development opportunities. Podcasts are generally free, portable, and exploding in growth—with more than 750,000 active titles as of June 2019, according to the website Podcast Insights.
So whatever your career path or area of interest, there’s bound to be some relevant and thoughtful content out there for you to enjoy. And you can listen whenever and wherever your schedule allows. Listening to podcasts is easy—just download the Apple, Android, or other podcasts app, and search for the podcasts listed here or discover some on your own. You can download them when Wi-Fi is available, then listen to them off-line while commuting to work, for example.
Podcasts can provide a quick burst of inspiration, a new way of looking at common workplace challenges, or a chance to “eavesdrop” on conversations with some of the brightest, most interesting thought leaders in all kinds of professional fields. They can also provide a great ice-breaker for that senior leader you’ve been wanting to approach, or a valuable insight to share at the next management meeting.
I’ve spent the last few months sampling work-related podcasts and found these 10 worth recommending:
- Work/Life. Award-winning Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author Adam Grant has recorded two seasons of this thought-provoking and insightful series about making your work life more enjoyable. An organizational psychologist by training, Grant offers a refreshingly candid, smart take on topics ranging from “How to Love Criticism” to “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” and “The Office Without A**holes.” Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in what makes people tick in professional settings.
- How to Be Awesome at Your Job. Former Bain & Company consultant Pete Mockaitis logged thousands of hours delivering one-on-one coaching sessions and group workshops to executives in various industries. His podcast shares helpful insights into common workplace problems and bureaucratic pain points, helping listeners achieve greater impact in whatever they do. Each episode features Mockaitis interviewing a successful corporate leader, author, or expert on a specific topic, like building resilience, managing self-doubt, or conquering “career derailers.”
- The Learning Leader with Ryan Hawk. Hawk brings his unique perspective as a successful athlete and former pro football quarterback who battled head-to-head for the starting QB position with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and ultimately lost. His experience of overcoming this setback and rebuilding a career in an entirely different field reinforces the importance of always learning, striving to improve, and preparing for excellence, even when the outcomes aren’t what you had hoped.
- How I Built This. NPR’s Guy Raz has become something of a podcasting phenomenon in recent years (he also hosts The TED Radio Hour and a science-themed kids podcast, “Wow! in the World”). Years of public radio journalism have honed his storytelling instincts, and the production quality of this show is top-notch. Raz spends a lot of time with his subjects, resulting in a series of intimate and probing conversations with the founders behind successful brands, such as AirBnB, Chez Panisse, Spanx, and Burt’s Bees, to name a few. “I’m interested in human experiences,” Raz told the New York Times last year, “and building a business is rich with natural drama.”
- Girlboss radio. Hosted by Sophia Amoruso, CEO and founder of Girlboss, and Neha Gandhi, editor in chief and COO of Girlboss, this show “for and about ambitious women” manages to be funny, laid back, relatable, and inspiring all at once. There’s a warmth and lightness to the banter that works, whether they’re talking with Valerie Jarrett about finding (and raising) her voice, author and journalist Elaine Welteroth on taking a career leap of faith, or venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton on her unlikely personal journey.
- Women at Work, from Harvard Business Review. Hosted by a talented trio that includes Harvard Business Review editor Amy Bernstein, along with contributors Amy Gallo and Nicole Torres, Women at Work brings in leading voices and subject matter experts to explore some of the most compelling and thorny issues facing women in the workplace today—including episodes like “The Art of Claiming Credit,” “Sisterhood is Scarce,” and “Your Parental Leave Stories.” From big picture, issue-oriented conversations to concrete tips and best practices, this show feels relevant, useful, and well worth the time.
- Better Life Lab. Co-produced by Slate magazine and the Washington, DC–based public policy organization, New America, this podcast is part of a much broader “Better Life Lab” project, with the ambitious goal of creating “. . . a culture that enables people to combine work and life in meaningful ways in order for individuals and families to thrive across the arc of their lives.” Whatever the topic, in each episode, host Brigid Schulte keeps the conversations grounded and compelling, whether she’s talking with executives, academics, restaurant workers, or ride-share drivers.
- The Thrive Global Podcast with Arianna Huffington. This show grew out of Huffington’s 2014 book Thrive, written after the hard-charging media mogul realized she’d hit a wall in terms of exhaustion and realized she needed a serious reset. She spent time exploring current research in psychology, sports, and physiology, and began to reorient her own priorities around relationships, health, and well-being. If you prefer your podcasts with a touch of celebrity, this one could be for you; Huffington’s guests have included Katie Couric, Katy Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Malcolm Gladwell, and DJ Khaled.
- You’ve Been Served. Host Keesa Schreane has a marketing background and describes herself as a “social purpose business advocate.” Her show has an intentional focus on what she describes as the “high-power values” of kindness, compassion, and service, and bringing social purpose and sustainable practices into whatever line of work you do. This one is notable for its emphasis on service, a thread that runs through all kinds of work, and for Schreane’s wide-ranging guest list, which includes journalist Soledad O’Brien; author Seth Godin; Google Chief Evangelist, Brand Marketing, Gopi Kallayil; and boxer/athlete Laila Ali.
- Hiring on All Cylinders. A terrific listen for anyone involved with talent recruiting, this series is well into its fourth year of hosting lively, thoughtful conversations on everything you’d ever want to know about HR—from interviewing and back channel references to change management, the impact of AI on recruiting, the value of college degrees vs. apprenticeships, and more. Episodes are on the shorter side (10–20 minutes each), so it’s perfect for lunch breaks or down time.
These are just a few of the shows I enjoyed—but there’s something out there for every career interest and kind of worker. With a little searching, you’ll find something to spark conversations, stir up new thinking, and transform even the most traffic-choked commute.
Elisabeth Flynn is a Philadelphia-based writer and editor who has spent the last 15 years working in the nonprofit/social innovation sector, including stints at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Mazzoni Center, an LGBTQ-focused health and wellness provider.