Whether you’re looking for tips and tricks from some of the most successful people in the world, unique and interesting info to share at the water cooler, or just something fun to have on in the background while you hammer out a menial task, here are seven podcasts to help you get through the workday.
If you’ve ever been at a party where you didn’t know a lot of people, you’ve probably asked and been asked “What do you do?” And while this question is typically answered with a job title and a one-sentence summary, some jobs warrant a little more detail. Each episode of “Working” focuses on the typical routines of a day in the life of someone with a unique job. For example, the first episode detailed Stephen Colbert’s average workday. Others include occupations as diverse as an inner-city doctor, a 54-year-old rock guitarist, a child-abuse detective, a stand-up comedian, a bail bondsman, a helicopter paramedic, and a porn star.
Author of “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Tim Ferriss hosts this show that’s all about achieving success. Each episode focuses on an exceptional performer from a wide variety of areas – from investing and business, to relationships, to reinventing oneself. Throughout each interview, Ferriss looks to pinpoint the strategies and tactics that enables the guest to achieve at such a high-level.
Now on its second season, “Startup” is an open and honest inside look at what it’s like to start a business. The first season followed host Alex Blumberg as he created Gimlet Media, the production company that now produces the podcast, and the second centers around a pair of women working on creating a new dating company. This podcast is a great opportunity for anyone who’s ever dreamed of starting their own business to get a firsthand play-by-play of the dedication necessary to succeed.
Created by the people behind “This American Life,” “Serial” was perhaps the first so-called “water-cooler podcast.” The popularity of “Serial” was largely thanks to the show’s unique format, which follows one true crime story for the entire season, with each episode taking a new angle and exposing new twists, complications and inconsistencies between what various people involved remember. The, well, serial nature of this podcast gave it the feel of a TV drama, and garnered similar fandom to shows like Game of Thrones or Sherlock.
While “Backstory” may not be the topic of water cooler discussions that “Serial” is, it is nevertheless a great resource for brushing up on the topics of the day – specifically, as the name suggests, from a historical perspective. Each episode the hosts of “Backstory” explore the roots of today’s topics by sharing related entertaining – and sometimes surprising – anecdotes from history. The show’s intelligent but fun format makes it a worthwhile listen for everyone, from history professors to those of use who flunked History 101.
As the name suggests, “Hardcore History” gets a little more serious about history than “Backstory” – but don’t let that scare you away. Like “Serial,” “Hardcore History” takes several episodes to fully cover one topic. And while host Dan Carlin doesn’t usually pick topics as CSI-esque as “Serial,” they’re nonetheless intriguing – and made only more so by Carlin’s intense delivery style. Just look at the titles of some of the podcast’s’s compilations – “Wrath of the Khans” (about Genghis Khan and the mongols), “Blueprint for Armageddon” (about World War I), “Death Throes of the Republic” (about the fall of the republic of ancient Rome) – and tell me you’re not intrigued.
One of the most recognizable and influential podcasts out there, WTF features frank discussions between comedian Marc Maron and some of today’s most prominent and interesting pop culture figures. His guest list leans heavily toward fellow comedians, actors and writers, but the subjects they cover are much more expansive. Oh, and President Barack Obama stopped by for an episode earlier this year.
Sometimes even podcasts can’t do the trick. Check out “4 Essential Steps to Surviving an Epic Workday.”