We are lucky to live at a time where there is so much great information available to us, many times for free, right at our fingertips. Through online courses, e-books and podcasts, anyone with a little time and dedication can become knowledgeable in the field of their choosing. Podcasts, one of my favorite mediums, are typically free and are many times produced with very high quality. Lately, I’ve taken a strong interest in improving my business skills. I have found some exceptional business podcasts that are giving me an MBA education on my ride to work each day. Here are five of my favorites (in no particular order).
1: The Look & Sound of Leadership
This podcast, delivered by Tom Henschel, sends out a new episode about once a month. Like most business podcasts, this show is targeted at executives, but anyone working in an office environment will find tips here that are useful.
The show’s tag line, “Be perceived in the workplace the way you want to be perceived” fits the show perfectly. This show has a distinctive teaching style. The host has an acting background, which he uses to act out scenes experienced during his years as an executive coach. Listening to an episode of “The Look & Sound of Leadership” feels less like a lecture and more like eavesdropping on a conversation between an executive and their mentor. This unique angle makes it stick out from the rest of the podcasts in my rotation and something I always look forward to listening to.
2: Manager Tools
The hosts of Manager Tools, Mark Horstman and Mike Auzenne, are co-founders of a management consulting firm. Twice weekly they teach the same skills they teach to their clients. I like this podcast because it gives straightforward, actionable advice. With over 400 shows in their archive you may not know where to jump in, but they do try to help out. Their website gives listeners the ability to select a topic (i.e. Time Management) and filter their entire archive, bringing back the shows tagged with this term. They also have an iPhone app which is basic, but a nice way to quickly search for a show on a particular topic.
This podcast is always informative and should be included on any list simply due to the amount of quality content they bring to the table.
3: Beyond the To Do List
Like the name suggests, Beyond the To-Do List has a focus on productivity but goes beyond simply getting things done. The show’s host, Erik Fisher, is the Social Media Manager at Indiana Wesleyan University. While social media does come up on the show fairly often, he goes far beyond this to hit on some really interesting topics. Erik interviews successful people and attempts to get to the bottom of what makes them successful. What are these people doing that allows them to be so productive in their careers? I don’t believe Erik has any formal training as an interviewer but he really is a natural. I enjoy this show for the wide range of different guests he brings on and I always try to keep up with the newest releases.
4: Back to Work
If you haven’t listened to Back to Work before it is a bit hard to explain. The hosts, Dan Benjamin and Merlin Mann discuss everything from GTD, procrastination, to their shared love of The Aviator. Dan runs the successful 5by5 podcast network, with many individual shows worth listening to. Merlin is well known in the productivity domain, most famously for his “Inbox Zero” concept. What makes their delivery unique is the way in which they can transition from the proper way to exit a public restroom (it comes up more than you would expect) to a discussion on prioritization of projects. Their delivery is never boring; the listeners remain engaged for the entire episode.
If you are looking for a serious discussion of business topics than this podcast isn’t for you. But, if you are looking for a wide-open conversation where no topic is off limits than you will quickly find yourself looking forward to Tuesdays and new episodes of B2W.
5: HBR Ideacast
HBR Ideacast is a weekly interview with some of the best thinkers in business, backed by one of the best-known publications in the business world, Harvard Business Review. The topics covered span from office politics, economics to meditation. Some of the interviews come off very formal and scripted, with the interviewer seemingly only there to give the guest a jumping off point. Besides this minor criticism it is a great podcasts with extremely knowledgeable and interesting guests.
If you are looking to improve your career or management skills I hope you give some of these podcasts a chance. If there are any you feel should be added to the list I welcome your comments below.