4 Podcasts That Inspire Some of Today’s Top Innovators

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I love podcasts. Ask anyone. In fact, I’ve written about them for Inc, extensively, in the past. And yet, as an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for new podcasts that will spark my creative juices. As I’m getting ready for the first-ever Innovation Congress in New York City this July (which, disclaimer, I happen to be co-producing) I thought I’d speak to some of the innovators speaking at the conference, to find out which podcasts inspire them the most, and why.

#1: In Our Time

Jon Roberts, the Chief Innovation Officer of Dotdash (known as About.com until the last few months) recommends In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg. Each week on BBC Radio 4, Bragg and a different group of experts discuss a topic, ranging from Russian literature to astrophysics. “It’s like a cold refreshing shower for my mind,” says Roberts. “It really helps take my mind off my day-to-day problems – the problems that get in the way of making progress on the more important challenges.”

For any innovator, it’s important not only to recharge but also to think about different ways to approach a problem, and In Our Time offers the listener both of those things. Not only can it open you up to ideas or people you’ve never even heard of, it also introduces you to new ways of thinking about things. And for Roberts, “listening to problems that span all history, art, culture, and time is a perfect way to reset your perspective on the problems in front of you on a given day.

#2: How I Built This

For Jen Rubio, co-founder of luggage startup Away, podcasts are an essential part of travel — which, unsurprisingly, she does often. Away recently launched its own podcast, Airplane Mode, which includes great stories about how and why we travel, from people all over the globe. But the podcast that she returns to most often is NPR’s How I Built This. According to Rubio, “it’s always helpful to hear from other entrepreneurs about their successes and setbacks” — and indeed, this is useful information for any innovator.

#3: Radiolab

Besides being America’s most listened-to public radio station, WNYC is heaven for podcast-lovers. So it’s hardly surprising that Peter Weingard, the station’s Chief Marketing Officer, would pick one of his company’s mainstays. “I may be biased here, but Radiolab is a must for any innovator,” says Weingard. “It’s a show about curiosity and uncovering the unexplored, blurry [lines] between science, philosophy, and human experience.” And indeed, anyone who’s ever listened to Radiolab knows exactly the kinds of fascinating depths the show is able to plumb, often taking what seems to be a question with an obvious answer and turning it completely on its head.

Don’t just take Weingard’s word for it. “Radiolab is one of my favorite podcasts for making me think in new ways,” says Jason Keath, my co-conspirator on Innovation Congress. “It’s an engaging documentary style podcast that focuses on science stories.” Keath also cites the show’s use of music to inspire creative thought, and how it “always talks about something I’ve never heard of, some strange new discovery or scientific problem being solved in a weird way.”

Weingard says that Radiolab’s ability to send people “on a mind-bending journey outside your own mind is the perfect elixir for innovative thinking”, something it shares with other selections in this list. Radiolab is a must for anyone (not just innovators) who is interested in finding solutions to problems that may seem difficult to unpick at first but then unravel upon closer examination. Radiolab will make you question everything you know, and then apply that same questioning attitude to everything you do.

#4: Masters of Scale

Another Innovation Congress speaker, The Muse’s Chief Content Officer Sharon Feder, is a self-professed podcast fan. One of her new favorites is Masters of Scale, a podcast hosted by the co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. The most recent episode features an interview between Hoffman and Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, about Netflix’s corporate culture; previous guests have included Crisis Text Line’s Nancy Lublin, Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. I can attest how thought-provoking and inspiring Masters of Scale is on an ongoing basis.

Do you work in the innovation arena and use podcasts to inspire you? I’d love to hear from you and hear which podcasts help you out the most. Stop by Innovation Congress and let me know.