Everyone loves podcasts, right? For people with desk jobs and long commutes (like myself), they’re a godsend. If you were interested enough to click this link, you probably have a few favorites of your own. I’ve soaked up hundreds of hours of podcast content at my job, particularly self improvement. I’ve gleaned many a post topic or book recommendation (so many book recommendations), so today, I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. It’s a mixed bag of different topics here, but all are beneficial in their own unique way.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of these productions/organizations (sans one). I am only here to advocate their podcasts, not to promote any other services or products the creators offer.
This one’s at the top because it’s always the first I recommend to people seeking to make a change. Jordan Harbinger, his crew, and many guests give you the powerups for dating, networking, socializing, charisma, and more things we nerds need to be better at. The name may conjure images of pickup artists, but the content runs the gamut across social situations of all kinds. The fundamentals of their message are collected in what the call the AoC Toolbox, and on Fridays the team takes questions from listeners. Chances are someone’s situation will resemble your own and you can benefit from the advice just as much as the person who sent in the question. They also offer a free program called the Art of Charm Challenge, a series of thirty exercises to bump up your social skills.
Recommended episode(s): The AoC Toolbox
Here’s another social skills podcast, but it focuses more on dating specifically. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell author Tucker Max and evolutionary psychologist Professor Geoffrey Miller drop advice for men to be successful with women, dating and relationships. As the podcast website puts it,
This is the advice that men wish they had heard when they were 16, that teaches them all the important lessons about sex and dating they are desperate to learn.
Tucker Max is as entertaining to listen to as you’d expect, but the advice is not at all douche-y as his books may lead you to presume. The team is no longer producing new episodes (Max stated they said all that needs to be said and continuing would lead to regurgitating the same advice over and over again), but the content is golden.
One additional note: The podcast content is primarily male-geared, but the advice is just as relevant and useful for women.
Recommended episode(s): Q&A: What Skills Should All Men Have?
Social skills are all fine and dandy, but they must come from a place of self confidence, acceptance, and inner peace. Spiritual psychologist and life coach Christine Hassler left a lucrative career as a Hollywood agent at age 25 to pursue a passionate life, which she found in helping others. She’s written several books aimed at Generation Y and Millenials, and runs retreats and personal coaching. Her philosophy in coaching, retreats, books, and podcasts is to teach people to let go of limiting beliefs, patterns, and issues that hold us back.
So Money host Farnoosh Torabi (we’ll get to that production in a bit) described Hassler’s podcast perfectly: A therapy session in every episode. The best episodes are live coaching sessions with clients. Just like The Art of Charm‘s listener Q&A, advice for these people’s issues can help you too in surprisingly deep and fulfilling ways.
Recommended episode(s): Why you haven’t found the “one”
That episode Horn Drills me in the feels every time.
Face it, a lot of us Millennials suck with money. Our debts and crappy employment situations don’t help. Farnoosh Torabi rose from the ashes of the 2008 recession to build a career of advertising our generation about finance. Her podcast interviews pick the brains of top influencers and business minds for their secrets of success. So Money is the wrong place for “saving money on gas” and “doubling your double coupons,” but Torabi expertly provides the financial advice to build a “richer, happier life.”
But once again, the best content is listener Q&A. Farnoosh always has helpful, practical advice that helps with specific situations instead of big picture planning.
Recommended episode(s): Ask Farnoosh
I’m tired of the word ‘millennials.’ How do podcasters and writers not get sick of it?
The Internet’s best blog on masculine topics has an equally great podcast. The goal of both is simple: teach listeners how to become better men. Host Brett McKay invites guests to discuss life hacks, social situations, financial wisdom, history, self improvement, nutrition, and fitness. To borrow Kamina’s description of Team Gurren, it’s the home of all things manly. The variety of the podcast keeps the message and content from becoming stale and will have you returning week after week.
Recommended episode(s): How men and women socialize differently
Anyone who has read a few posts on this blog knows I’m an adamant proponent of mindfulness, either through meditation, journaling, self reflection, or whatever else. Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes have crafted a mindfulness podcast based around the old Cherokee proverb of The Two Wolves, a story of the choice to give into our doubts and fears or our compassion and love. The team pulls in a wide swath of unique guests who share pragmatic and inspiring advice as well as tools to help promote personal growth. Let this podcast help you slow down, calm your head, and cultivate a more optimistic perspective.
Recommended episode(s): Taylor Hunt: A Way from Darkness
Tech innovator and and coffee entrepreneur Dave Asprey knows a thing or two about self improvement. He spent over $250,000 on a personal journey that took him to private brain EEG facilities hidden in a Canadian forest to remote monasteries in Tibet, from Silicon Valley to the Andes, all for the simple question: What are the simple ways to do better at, well, everything?
Bulletproof Radio combines the knowledge of knowledge of doctors, biochemists, nutritionists and meditation experts. This podcast is all about optimizing your life to become the sans pereil version of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, to cultivate the “bulletproof” state within yourself.
Recommended episode(s): Sleep, Sex & Tech at the Bulletproof Conference
If you’ve read the book or listened before, you’re probably wondering why I included Freakonomics Radio on a list of self improvement podcasts. Simple: Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt use economics to explore the “hidden side of everything,” such as the murder and extortion of avocado production or the abundance of “safety” features on cars resulting in more reckless drivers. Every episode is a reminder that things in life are rarely what they seem to be, and to always think critically to look past the surface.
Recommended episode(s): The Three Hardest Words in the English Language (“I don’t know”)
And now some bonus recommendations that don’t necessarily relate to self improvement. Too much self improvement content can lead to a major burnout, after all.
These are technically two separate productions, but I lumped them together because both are the brainchildren of former talk radio host and history buff Dan Carlin. Dan comments on current events in Common Sense with his not-so-easily-identifiable political positions (the “Martian perspective” as he calls it), while Hardcore History deals in historical topics delivered in grand, sweeping narration. Both are instantly addicting, but prepare yourself for infrequent new installments on both. Don’t worry, the wait is always worth it.
If it wasn’t evident from last week’s post, I’m a hardcore kaiju groupie. I feel like Godzilla and his giant monster ilk don’t get enough love, so it’s great to find a podcast dedicated to the genre. Episodes cover news, interviews, and convention recaps, but my favorite are the movie discussions. The crew watches a kaiju flick, then discuss their opinions, as well as read listeners’ reviews. If you need more giant monster goodness in your life, give them a listen.
Recommended episode(s): Daikaiju Discussion: King Kong Escapes
Hardcore fans of Harry Potter obsess over the series with fervor greater than most religious folks, so why not take it to the logical conclusion and read the books like a Bible study? Hosts Vanessa Zoltan and Casper tel Kuile read and discuss chapter by chapter to find inspiration and instruction in even those mundane descriptions of the Dursleys’ uppity muggle lives. Despite the religious overtones, the show doesn’t preach and can be enjoyed by people of all faiths and the secular alike.
Recommended episode(s): The Boy Who Lived (Book 1, Chapter 1) (Might as well take it from the top)
Vanessa or Casper, if you’re reading this, I challenge you to the the 30 Second Chapter recap game and wager I can do it in twenty on any chapter. @Drill_Soul on Twitter if you accept.
If you’re a fan of Power Rangers and Super Sentai (like I am), you might like this podcast by my dear friend Rick the Barkeep. Maybe he looks a little too deep into it, but he always finds something complex and significant in a kids show that’s ran for nearly 25 years/40 years. You’d be surprised at some of the odd implications that popped up over the years. I made guest appearances on a lot of older episodes too, so there’s that.
Recommended episode(s): Worst (and Best) Power Rangers Suits
Between these twelve podcasts, there should be plenty to inspire, empower, and of course entertain you for hours upon hours upon hours. At the very least, I hope these talented creators can make your workday or commute a little better.
What are some of your favorite podcasts? Let me know in the comments.