5 Podcasts That Are GUARANTEED to Make You Smarter

I spend a ridiculous amount of time in my truck driving from state to state as I make my way to my office in Georgia, a friend’s house in Mississippi, and my in-law’s place in Wisconsin. Regardless of the destination, most weeks you can find me headed down the interstate with a fresh cup of coffee in the center console, the seat heaters on blast, and a podcast on the stereo. I think this obsession with driving and learning is genetic, as I can vividly remember my dad bringing home new books on tape from the library before we headed out on our weekend adventures to a NASCAR track somewhere in the  Southwest.

I have been addicted to podcasts since 2016 and focus most of my listening time on podcasts that provide a learning opportunity. If there was a degree available at #DrivetimeUniveristy (search Twitter to see what I have been listening to lately), I would be working on my doctorate. I wanted to share five of my favorite podcasts that are guaranteed to make you smarter simply by listening.

DISCLAIMER – I pride myself on learning from a diverse group of teachers, some of which lean politically hard left or right. Don’t focus on what you disagree with in their personal lives, simply keep your ears open for those plentiful thought nuggets that you can apply to making your life more productive, rewarding, or fulfilling.

1. Tech News Briefing by The Wall Street Journal

I am a self-proclaimed tech junkie who enjoys keeping up with the rapidly evolving world of technology. The format for this show is built around delivering the information you need as quicky as possible without a bunch of filler. These 15-minute episodes allow The Wall Street Journal’s reporters to highlight leading companies, new gadgets, and all things tech related. This bit-sized tech update is an easy way for me to stay in the loop with tech-related advancements and then turn to other sources (such as YouTube) for a deeper dive into a specific topic. If you love tech, I highly recommend that you check out this podcast.

2. No Turning Back by the McChrystal Group

After reading Team of Teams and hearing firsthand accounts about how retired Four-Star Army General Stan McChrystal led the Joint Special Operations Command in the mid-2000s, I have eagerly sought out additional ways to learn from this leader. I continue to be impressed by the quality of the guests who are interviewed and the thoughtful nature in which General McCrystal and former Navy SEAL Chris Fussell discover what traits great leaders have in common to tackle the most pressing organizational and institutional challenges we face.

3. MCTI Teamcast by Preston Cline, Coleman Ruiz, and the Mission Critical Team Institute

I had the privilege to learn from retired Navy Officer Coleman Ruiz who served in an advisory role during my time at ISM Connect. Coleman continually provided valuable guidance as I worked to become a better manager both to my direct reports as well as to the teammates that held me accountable. Coleman serves as the Director of Performance at the Mission Critical Team Institute (MCTI). The definition of a Mission Critical Team is a “small (4-12 agents) integrated group of indigenously trained and educated experts that leverage tools and technology to resolve complex adaptive problems. Mission Critical Teams operate in immersive but constrained (300 seconds or less) temporal environments where the consequence of failure can be catastrophic.”

On the MCTI Teamcasts, Coleman and Dr. Preston Cline interview individuals who served on or support mission-critical teams. This podcast gives me an insider’s look at some of the characteristics that separate high performers who continually operate in highly stressful environments and provides me a framework to emulate some of the beneficial behavioral traits.

4. Sway by The New York Times

Host Kara Swisher was described by Newsweek as Silicon Valley’s most powerful tech journalist. She currently resides as an opinion writer for The New York Times and is the host of Sway. This industry insider is able to interview the most influential tech giants of this generation and certainly doesn’t pull any punches as she continually asks hard-hitting questions to the most powerful people on the planet, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Hillary Clinton, and Marc Cuban. Kara’s interview with John Matze, the CEO of Parler, provided me an informed perspective on the controversial social network and ultimately a better education on why Parler was suspended from Apple and Google’s app store and kicked off of Amazon’s webhosting platform.

5. Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

This member of the PayPal mafia went on to co-found and become Executive Chairman of LinkedIn. He is currently a partner at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners and is on the Forbes 2019 list of world billionaires. He interviews founders to show how they go from zero to a gazillion. I have always been enamored by the startup story, especially when I am able to get the gory details of the early days before tech entrepreneurs were flying around on private jets and hosting developer conferences packed with audiences waiting to know about their Next Big Thing. Recently, Masters of Scale pivoted a portion of their programming to focus on stories that share how businesses adapted their model to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This series is entitled, “Masters of Scale Rapid Response,” and gives the audience an insider’s look at what corporations big and small are doing to survive in these unprecedented times. I want to specifically recommend an interview that host Bob Safian did with above-mentioned retired General Stan McChrystal.

I really, really, really enjoy learning from this diverse group of professors and these five recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg as it relates to my podcast playlists. I would love to know what your top five podcasts are and if these recommendations were on your radar prior to reading this post. Please shoot me a text, drop a comment, or give me a call to let me know you are reading and enjoying the content that I have been creating.

Until next time.

Never stop learning,