Oh the joy. The life affirming, mojo inducing joy of the “new episode” notification that bursts onto my screen. It’s the “you’ve got mail” of the... hmmm decade after the noughties?
Something for another time...
It means as late as the train might be, as early as the babes might wake, as long as that last meeting might feel, we are going to truly get to it. Hubbada hubbada. No small talk allowed. Straight to the action.
Me and my imaginary friends are going to really get to crux of whatever issue takes my fancy.
Need a cup of ambition? I *know* just the guy. Unclear on Brexit (aren’t we all)? I *know* the gang to bring you the inside scope. Fancy some witty repartee bounced off a solid grounding in current affairs - without the hangover and bar bill - I *know* two super eloquent millennials who will have you laughing out loud like your best friend just cracked that joke.
Okay, okay, so I’m using “know” slightly loosely here but, the truth is, I’ve found a way to soak up dead time and turn it into something nurturing. I can now bring great conversation into a walk to get the train, or a sprint round the supermarket. It can’t replace actual face to face connection - of course not. BUT, like a good book, podcasts can feed your curiosity, broaden your horizon and help you break away from the day to day grind - with less risk of bumping into a lamppost while walking...
So here are my top ten episodes to put a spring into your step. I would love to hear yours. Please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Desert Island Discs - Professor Louise Richardson: Wise words from the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University on the power of education and the importance of putting your assumptions to the test. PLUS I challenge you to find two more soothing voices to share your morning cuppa with than Prof Richardson and Kirsty Young.
A mile in my shoes - Saige Divine: a weekly podcast by the Empathy Museum, an exhibition holding a diverse collection of shoes and the stories of their diverse owners. Visit, slip on a pair in your size, and walk a mile whilst listening to the owner’s story. You can imagine the first two stages and just download from wherever you get your podcasts from. I was meant to be walking but this one stopped me in my tracks.
Tribe of mentors - Adam Robinson, The Power of the (Unconscious Mind): Start-up guru, Tim Ferriss, talks to chess master and statistician, Adam Robinson. Robinson has spent a huge amount of time in his own head. Working through problems and models over and over again is not the most sociable of pursuits - he talks about his recent discovery of “other people”, the excitement it now brings him to share his thoughts and the power of opening up the process. It also made me want to run out the door and Positivity Punk someone. Listen and all will be clear.
Intelligence Squared - how to think like a freak: live recording of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (authors of “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics”) on how their mind bending theories start and how we can all think more like a freak.
The High Low: shout out to my first and still best imaginary friends. Pick any episode. I can’t choose one. They are all blooming brilliant.
Ruth Rogers - Desert Island Dishes: A great spin on the classic Desert Island Discs but rather than picking their favourite music, it is about their favourite meals that have sustained them thus far and what they would tuck into before setting off for the desert island. Margie’s purring voice as she describes food is absolutely transportive, even if you are having beans for dinner. She speaks with inspirational chef Ruth Rogers on how she set up Michelin stared River Café. Ruth talks about her desire to “find a community, not an office” when she and her husband (famous architect Richard Rogers) moved to London from Paris. The River Café was initially a staff canteen to the designers, architects, framers and graphic designers that worked on the wharf.
Pod Save America: To dip your toe in the murky political waters from over the pond I really recommend this listen. Four former aides to President Obama — Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor — are joined by journalists, politicians, comedians, and activists for a freewheeling conversation about politics, the press and the challenges posed by the Trump presidency.
How I built this – Richard Branson: Listen to the blood, sweat and tears that go into making a successful business from the people that shed them. Each entrepreneur shares their own words of wisdom from their journey, but Richard Branson is particularly captivating.
The Spectacular Marketing Podcast – Hugh Richard Wright: Get killer marketing insights, for free! Foodie and restaurant marketing guru Mark McCullough interviews the movers and shakers from the restaurant scene. This particular one is all about the importance of relationships in the marketing mix.
Where should we begin?: Described by The Atlantic as “the Rosetta Stone of feelings” American therapist Esther Perel shares live therapy sessions with gracious couples who are willing to share in the hope it can help others. Incredibly revealing about the intimate human emotions that drive us, and simply jaw dropping hearing a master in her trade help people untangle themselves in real time.