podcasts that make me smarter and more interesting

7 Podcasts that make me smarter and more interesting

Pretty sure I would be at least 70% dumber if I didn’t listen to so many podcasts.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to drive, eat, cook, or work out in silence. Perhaps that’s a problem, but we’ll unpack that another day.

But the upside of this incessant need for some kind of audible stimulation is that it gives me tons of opportunities to check out new podcasts.

Over the last several years, podcasts have become my favorite medium to learn. I still love to read physical books, but the ability to listen to podcasts and multitask when I’m doing menial tasks is *chef’s kiss*

And although I love a good mindless entertainment podcast as much as the next person, I’ve really tried to put a good amount of really valuable shows on rotation.

So here are 7 of the top podcasts that I would recommend you listen to if you want to be:

  • Smarter
  • More creative
  • More interesting
  • And more thoughtful.

#1: Creative Pep Talk

If you’ve ever heard me talk about podcasts before, you’ve probably heard of this one. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve shared episodes with.

This show is hosted by an author and illustrator who hosts solo and guest episodes where they dive into tactics to build a lucrative, sustainable, and fulfilling creative practice.

👇 What it helps me do:

Build my creative confidence and learn how to solve problems that are endemic to creative work like burnout, inspiration, motivation, and comparison.

#2: In Writing with Hattie Crisell

If you’re a writer of any kind, you need to listen to this podcast. This pulls back the curtain and gives you a behind-the-scenes peek at writers’ processes.

And I’m talking all kinds of writers — from novelists to journalists to joke writers to obituarists.

👇 What it helps me do:

Find ways that I can switch up my writing routines, find new sources of inspiration, and get some solutions to problems that are highly specific to writing.

#3: Stuff You Should Know

This one is kind of a wildcard but stay with me here.

Each episode of this show puts a spotlight on some random thing. It can sometimes be highly relevant things like contagious viruses. But often the topics seem like they could be pulled out of a hat. And that’s the beauty of it.

A quick scroll through their library shows you anything from Yo-yo’s to wine to learning a foreign language. And they get deep. They’ll go into the whole history and surrounding mythos of the topic.

👇 What it helps me do:

Get so much random knowledge that I would never necessarily seek out a whole podcast/books/articles on. But I get all of these tidbits of fun facts that I can share with friends, and even sometimes use in my work!

I love when I’m having a conversation and one of these topics comes up and I get to throw in a “did you know that…” and blow everyone’s minds with this niche knowledge.

#4: Think Fast, Talk smart

If you’re in any kind of position where you need to communicate — which I’d venture to say is almost anyone who comes into contact with people on a semi-regular basis — you need this podcast.

It’s hosted by a lecturer from Stanford who brings on expert guests to talk about real-world communication challenges and opportunities. The topics have a wide range, covering anything from giving feedback to pulling on people’s heartstrings to why fillers words like “um” aren’t so bad.

👇 What it helps me do:

I am in a career where communication touches pretty much everything I do, in both written and spoken contexts. So this is one of the most valuable tools I have in my back pocket.

I can click on any episode and it will give me the ammo to communicate more effectively, more empathetically, and more confidently.

#5: The Money with Katie Show

I know that personal finance podcasts can often get into icky, hyper-capitalistic territory. I tend to stay away from finance bros for this exact reason.

BUT

This podcast is not that. Katie is a finance influencer who is just chill. She takes a really practical and ethical approach to personal finance.

And she also isn’t scared to get a little political at times, something that many financial podcasts tend to stay away from despite it being almost impossible to entangle from finance.

👇 What it helps me do:

In short, get my financial shit together. This is not to say that I was ever bad at personal finance. I’ve always been super fiscally responsible. But there were so many random things like freelance finances and investing that I was quite honestly really ignorant to.

This shows helps me understand all of these concepts — and consider new concepts that never popped into my mind before — in a really non-intimidating way.

#6: Maintenance phase

This is a new listen for me, but such a good one.

I consider myself slightly interested in health trends, but I’ve always been more of a headline reader than deep diver. And this podcast made me realize how dangerous that can be.

In each enlightening but still really funny episode, the hosts unpack a health myth and debunk it with research. They uncover where data has been repackaged, manipulated, or at times just straigh-up falsified to show us why many of these health and wellness trends are honestly bullshit.  

👇 What it helps me do:

In addition to learning what healthy habits actually are, this constantly teaches me to think critically about the information I’m hearing. Thanks to this podcast, I know that even scientific research from accredited institutions cannot be taken at face value, and if you really want to learn, you’ve gotten to look at it through the lens of ~context~

#7: How to talk to people

This special season of the podcast by The Atlantic covers all of the different facets of human connection and communication.

There are some practical episodes like “how to make small talk,” and also some episodes about topics I’ve never given much thought to, like why nontraditional living situations may not be as weird as we think they are.

Every episode feels like great life advice from your favorite wise aunt.

👇 What it helps me do:

Despite being a highly social person, like everyone else I can always use more insight into how to navigate relationships and being a part of a community.

This show gives me an empathetic lens to look at situations through and consider how I can be a better presence in other peoples’ lives, how I can move through the world more confidently, and how to view the relationships in my life.

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