In the early part of the twenty-first century we all seem to lead time stressed lives. The press of business competes with the demands of ever increasing amounts of information that need to be absorbed. There never seems to enough time in the day to read everything that seems as if it might be important. So the question becomes, “How does one stay current with business thinking, or better yet, get ideas from some of the latest research?” Fortunately, technology has provided a solution.
Most people that work today spend significant time in commuting and this provides anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours a day when time is available to listen to podcasts. For those people who are not familiar with podcasts, they are electronic files that you can download to your computer, iphone and ipod and listen to anywhere, be it in the car or working out. There are an amazing variety of podcasts available, but here is a sampling of some of the better ones that that I have found that deal with business issues. Almost everything I list here is available through ITunes, and in the style of the ITunes store, I will sort them into Basics, Next Steps and Deep Cuts.
HBR Ideacasts: Put together by the editors of the Harvard Business Review, I find this series particularly well done, with interesting topics that make me stop and think.
Freakonomics Radio: Produced by the authors of the Freakonomics books, these podcasts put an interesting spin on the dismal science.
Knowledge@Wharton Interviews: I’ve listened to relatively fewer of these as they have not been as well done as the HBR series, but there are occasional interesting interviews.
Wall Street Journal Editors Picks: Didn’t have time to read that interesting article in the Journal you saw at breakfast? You can usually get it here as the WSJ editors interview the authors of the article.
TED Talks: While not strictly speaking business podcasts, these speakers are engaging enough and knowledgeable enough on their subjects to get you thinking about things in a different light. Everyone engaged in business should occasionally be subject to new perspectives and these podcasts will give them to you.
BBC World Weekly with Gideon Rachman: A good way to get a non-U.S. perspective on the news events of the week, which often involve the world of business.
Stanford University Business Management: There are currently only 12 podcasts available in this series, but the ones available are quite good. (Stanford University also has a series on Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs which I have just begun listening to, which looks to be as good, but I haven’t heard enough to officially place it on the list.)
Yale Business & Management: Many of the podcasts in this series focus on very narrow topics, so you really have to hunt for what you think may be relevant to your situation, but when you find it, the speakers are quite good.
The Economist: Find the magazine too dense to read? Try the podcast.
The Bowery Boys History of New York: If you are going to deal with Wall Street, you need to understand New York and this delightful series gives you New York City history in bite-sized chunks.
And just to prove that it’s not all about business, here are some of my other favorites from my ipod.
A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon: Comic genius (in a Midwestern sort of way) from Garrison Keillor.
The History of Rome: Want to know if the sex, sand and sandals in the HBO series are accurate? Listen to this podcast and catch up on your classical history.
Car Talk: Who doesn’t love Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers?
BBC In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg: Features erudite scholars being forced to speak in plain English about a variety of (sometimes) obscure topics.
Oxford Biographies: Catch up on your British history by hearing about people you’ve been told were important, but you don’t know why.
NPR Columns – Driveway Moments: Features the best human-interest stories from National Public Radio’s programming.
While everyone will have different tastes in what they want to listen to, the main point is that you don’t have to listen to that classical rock song for the 200th time, you can actually put your brain to use and learn something useful.