In the February issue of SUCCESS, we profile nine podcasts for personal development. We touch on the best shows to help you face fears, find clarity and motivation, become more productive, and become the leader you want to be in life and in business.
But in a landscape that includes thousands and thousands of good listens, there are countless other benefits—besides a little entertainment—to popping in a pair of earbuds during your spare time. Here are a few of our favorites which can help in the most unexpected ways, offering lessons and perspectives that not only can help make you more knowledgeable about the world around you, but also a better critical thinker and decision-maker.
iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars; 25–60 minutes
Hosted by Stephen Dubner, with frequent appearances by Steven Levitt, Dubner’s co-author of the books with the same name, this is one of the most downloaded shows in the podcastosphere, thanks to its focus on examining common problems and human quirks and offering the hidden reasons and answers to each of them. Following the release of their latest book, Think Like a Freak, the authors have shifted the show’s focus toward teaching listeners to solve problems like an economist. Among the recent topics they’ve tackled are “How to Fix a Broken High Schooler, in Four Easy Steps,” “How to Make People Quit Smoking” and “What You Don’t Know About Online Dating.”
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
iTunes Rating: 5 stars; 90–270 minutes
Each episode, released about once a quarter, is a book unto itself. Carlin, a political commentator and amateur historian, takes his time to tell the complete story of such earthshaking subjects as World War I, Genghis Khan and the Dark Ages in Europe.
This American Life
iTunes Rating: 5 stars; 45–75 minutes
Week-in and week-out, this NPR-affiliated show, hosted by Ira Glass of WBEZ in Chicago, is one of the most downloaded podcasts across iTunes. Reporters traverse the country to tell the compelling, quirky and often touching or humorous stories of average Americans.
Stuff You Should Know
iTunes Rating: 4.5 stars; 25–65 minutes
This production of HowStuffWorks.com is hosted by Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant, writers for the ever-illuminating website. Twice a week, the two take deep-dive looks exploring the intricacies of subjects both topical and random. They tackled the history and modern state of soccer when the World Cup began in the summer. When Ebola hit U.S. shores in the fall, the pair explained viruses. In between, they mixed examinations of Monopoly, the National Security Agency, TV ratings and panic attacks among other unexpected but interesting subjects.
iTunes Rating: 5 stars; 20–65 minutes
Music plays a key role in the storytelling of this documentary series, which releases new episodes hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich roughly twice a month. As iTunes reviewer Ben Ferguson puts it, “This show is at once educational, stimulating, and entertaining. The editing may be one of my favorite things about it, actually. It definitely keeps you on your toes, and it’s most definitely not one of those podcasts you sit through for an hour and suddenly realize you haven’t been paying attention to any of it.”