Podcasts are back: They are in vogue and they are profitable. While the Great Podcast Renaissance can be traced back to the true crime juggernaut Serial, podcasts of all shapes and sizes are on the rise.
It doesn't take much to figure out why there's been a resurgence in their popularity. Between long, boring commutes, mundane household chores, or other routine activities that are best enjoyed with a side of audio entertainment (like walking intermittently during the work day to prevent death by sitting), we need and want something to help us whittle away the time. Podcasts, which are essentially on-demand radio, are just the thing. You can choose what you want to listen to exactly when you want to listen to it. An incredible amount of podcasts on every topic imaginable — philosophy, comedy, books, design, sports, tech, knitting — are out there for your listening pleasure.
The Fizzle Show
If you’re looking for a show that runs the gamut of business building, The Fizzle Show is a good place to start. Promoted as a podcast for creative entrepreneurs who want to earn a living doing something they care about, hosts Chase Reeves, Corbett Barr, and Barrett Brooks have published 90 episodes to date. The trio covers a broad range of topics, from identifying and understanding your target market to how much to promote your own content and what really happens in the first year of business. Most of their advice is immediately actionable, and better yet, they have jokes! The guys are simultaneously funny and inspirational. As one reviewer aptly observed, “I’ve fallen into this podcast, and I can’t get out.” They publish a new hour-long Fizzle episode every Friday.
Because you can never find the time to churn out enough info/product/blogpost/graphics, the Fizzle guys talk about ways you can shake ideas loose, get them down on paper, and decide which ones to start developing. This episode will resonate with anyone who has had any sort of road block with content marketing, and assist in catching elusive ideas.
If you are looking for an addictive serialized story, I recommend Startup as the paragon of narrative audio. Startup chronicles This American Life alum Alex Blumberg’s experience of launching his podcast. As “A series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about business starts one,” Startup is a firsthand look into the fascinating — and uncertain — world of building a venture-backed business. I think it's the best narrative-driven podcast out there. It’s the inaugural offering from Gimlet Media, a podcast network that Blumberg and co-founder Matt Lieber raised a cool $1.5 million to launch. A new 30-minute episode is released every Monday — make sure to start from the beginning.
Spurred on by comments from potential investors like “I think startups are a team sport,” Blumberg documents his experience of finding a co-founder, both to bring in some solid business skills and to alleviate the emotional burden of starting a company. Enter Matt, a former radio producer and MIT MBA who knows how to write a business plan. This episode provides great observations, like “Pitching a business and suffering from a delusional mood disorder look remarkably similar.”
If you’re feeling trapped in your 9-to-5 cubicle, Grit! will be right up your alley. Hosted by Dan Benjamin on the 5by5 podcasting network, Grit! is a call-in show about the challenges of re-inventing your career, being decisive, and getting the heck outta your day job to start something awesome. Callers can ask questions to spark discussions about their freelancing/entrepreneurship/side-project dilemmas with Dan & Co., who (usually) offer solid advice. Benjamin assesses the risks and rewards of pursuing your passion and offers frank advice. If you have a long commute to a terrible job, you’re wondering why you went to college for this, or you have daydreams of entrepreneurial freedom, Grit! is the show for you.
Favorite Episode: "Gumption (#5)"
I’m going rewind a bit with this recommendation and declare "#5" as my favorite episode. Producer Haddie Cook and entrepreneur Garrett Dimon join forces with Benjamin to assess callers’ professional predicaments and corporate quandaries. Here’s a great sound bite: Dan: “You called me, out of the blue, and you were at your wit’s end. Do you remember what I’m talking about?” Garrett: “Which time?”
Invisible Office Hours
Any entrepreneur will tell you that the road less traveled has growing pains, uncertainty, and epic ups and downs. Hosts Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis, now in the second season of Invisible Office Hours, publish weekly-ish episodes geared toward motivating unconventional thinkers to sail through the rough patches on the entrepreneurial journey. Jason and Paul cover a wide variety of topics ranging from creativity, productivity, time management, and overcoming the fear of failure. They have a wealth of firsthand experience building businesses and offer a pragmatic perspective that will encourage you to keep on trucking.
If you’ve ever fantasized about taking a cold turkey break from the social media, this is your episode. It might seem impossible to build a business without being glued to social networks, but according to Zook and Jarvis, it's definitely possible. The duo discuss various “social media detoxes” they’ve tried — imagine a Twitter-free life! — and the effect that these breaks had on their businesses, productivity levels, and general state of being. This episode also marks the first appearance of Zook's Stormtrooper microphone.
Are you feeling that entrepreneurial spark yet? (Or at least a burning desire to productively multitask while installing new DIY closet shelving?). Let's talk podcasts in the comments. Let me know if you're digging these episodes, if I missed any of your favorites, or if — say it ain't so — you still voluntarily listen to the radio. If it's the latter case, trust me on this one: Podcasts are here to stay, so you might as well queue up this list and hit play.