The podcasts that move the needle for me

January 22, 2018

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of podcasts. I listen while I’m driving, while I’m working out, and whenever I have a spare few minutes. Often I found myself drawn to podcasts that deal with personal and professional growth.

Here are a few that are moving the needle with me this year, followed by my favorites in 2016 and 2017, many of which I still listen to. I’d love to hear from you about what your favorites are.

2018 … so far

  • Waking Up – With Sam Harris. Sam explores some of the most important questions about the human mind, society, and current events.
  • Masters of Scale –  With Reid Hoffman. Reid talks about how companies grow from zero to a gazillion. According to his website: “The series unfolds like a music-infused detective story as Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders. Masters of Scale is the first American media program to commit to a 50-50 gender balance for guests.” Love it.
  • Finding Mastery – With Michael Gervais. This is an interesting one. Gervais is a high-performance psychologist, and his podcast explores how the best in the world master their craft, including the mental skills they use to push the boundaries.
  • Conversations With Tyler – With Tyler Cowen, Holbert L. Harris Chair of Economics at George Mason University. From his website: “Cowen engages today’s deepest thinkers in wide-ranging explorations of their work, the world, and everything in between. Past guests include Peter ThielJeffrey SachsNate SilverCamille PagliaSteven Pinker, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • We Study Billionaires – With Preston Pysh and Stig Brodersen. The topic is, of course, billionaires.


  • The Learning Leader Show – With Ryan Hawk. Ryan focuses on interviews with leaders with an eye toward understanding the journey they’re on so listeners can understand their own journeys.
  • How I Built This – With Guy Raz. From his website: “Guy dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the movements they built.”
  • The Tim Ferriss Show –  Yeah, he’s the author guy. On his podcast, Tim likes to “deconstruct world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use.”
  • Intelligence Squared – They feature debate and “intelligent discussion” on politics, journalism and the arts. Fascinating stuff.
  • Freakonomics Radio – With Steven Dubner. Dubner explores the “riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports.” Quirky and deeply interesting.
  • Revisionist History – With Malcolm Gladwell. This is not your ordinary podcast, and Gladwell is not your ordinary journalist. Each episode is a re-examination of the past … and what really happened. I love this  line about the show: “Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.”
  • TED Talks Daily – This is a go-to for me. Fascinating subjects from fascinating people.
  • Note to Self – With Manoush Zomorodi. Manoush focuses on a pet subject of mine – technology and how it’s impacting us in good, bad and unexpected ways.
  • The Meaningful Way – With Luke Iorio. Luke interviews “experts, life adventurers and everyday people” who follow the road less traveled toward a more meaningful life.
  • Long Now: Seminars About Long-Term Thinking – They only do two podcasts monthly, but they’re worth the wait. The goal is to encourage mankind to think and act long-term.


  • Good Life Project – In-depth, unscripted, deeply-inspiring conversations and insights from acclaimed artists, entrepreneurs, makers and world-shakers.
  • The School of Greatness – With Lewis Howes. Subjects: Inspiration, business, entrepreneur, health and relationships.
  • HBR Ideacast – A weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from Harvard Business Review.
  • YPO 10 Minutes from the Top – columnist Kevin Daum brings you fun and compelling interviews with the world’s top executives of YPO.
  • Upwire: Hacking Human Nature  – With Robert Cooper. This podcast explores the neuroscience of Hacking Human Nature to find better ways to make breakthroughs and unlock your true potential in life and work.

If you have a favorite, please post it in a comment below so we can all learn from one another.

— McKeel