Open your ears: 5 podcasts to inspire, entertain and educate. | 91/100

1. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

This is, without a doubt, my favourite podcast of all time. To be honest, I barely think Dan’s epics count as podcasts: they are so well researched, so in-depth, so entertaining, that a more apt description is probably something like an ‘audio odyssey’.

I promise you this: 4 hours on the Spanish-American war, a tale about an uprising in the German city of Munster, or what Caesar got up to in Gaul will just fly by.

Dan is an incredible storyteller, with skills honed in a career as a broadcast journalist. His evocative description, analogies and comparisons will blow your mind.

My favourite is his multi-part series on WWI, Blueprint for Armageddon, which draws not only from figures like Churchill and Roosevelt, but soldiers on the front line.  A particularly mind-boggling section has Carlin describing the great powers of Europe as prizefighters (some lumbering and powerful, others older and smaller but more experienced) and how they all interact with one another, is utterly masterful.

You can find all of the episodes currently available for free here. He’s got a backlog on his site where you can buy old episodes for about $1 too.

2. Akimbo

Image result for seth godin podcast

“Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer’s bow. It’s become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference.

Akimbo’s a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what’s happening and choosing to do something.

The culture is real, but it can be changed. You can bend it.”

Seth is one of my favourite authors. Books like Tribes, Purple Cow and Linchpin are absolute classics on macro-trends in marketing, technology and business – and what you can do about them. I’m also an enormous fan of his daily blog, which you can find here.

This podcast is everything you’d expect: short, sharp, packed full of interesting analogies and new concepts. Most importantly, it’s all actionable. You can put this stuff into practice straight away.

I’d start with episode 5, ‘Hitsville‘, on what it takes to have a ‘hit’ – and what it really means.

3. The Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan is a comedian, former kickboxing champion, UFC commentator and podcast legend. He saw the way the wind was blowing and started recording and uploading conversations years ago. His esoteric, freeflowing conversations reach over a billion people a year. Why?

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Because, although Joe doesn’t claim to be a genius himself – he gets to talk to them. That means he asks the questions that you and I would ask of the best, brightest and strangest in the world. I’ve been enthralled by conversations with AI experts, gut biologists, lawyers, MMA fighters, marines, psychologists, comedians, chefs, and countless others. There are over 1100 episodes to choose from. Take your pick!

Not only that, but Joe himself is an extremely inspirational guy: I love his attitude to work, to strenuous physical and mental activity, to setting goals and striving to achieve them, to having an open mind.

My life has 100% been improved by regularly listening to Joe. I think yours will be too.

Here are some of my favourite episodes (available on YouTube or any other podcasting app):

4. Waking Up with Sam Harris

Sam is a NY Times bestselling author with a background in neuroscience. He’s an incredibly calm and competent debater, and a proponent of enlightenment values and freethinking, teamed with a healthy understanding of Eastern philosophy and meditation.

I’m constantly inspired by his commitment to mindfulness, to a commitment to doing the right thing without the need for religious doctrine, and his desire to have interesting (if sometimes difficult) conversations with people – even those he doesn’t agree with.

That’s the only way we’ll progress.

His podcast is always fascinating, and I never fail to finish listening to one without having my mind blown at least once.

5. The Jocko Podcast

I’ve written about the impact Jocko’s Instagram account has on my day to day life:

‪What are you going to do about it? ‬

A post shared by Jocko Willink (@jockowillink) on

For a BJJ blackbelt, former Navy SEAL and all around tough guys, his podcast may surprise you: it’s all about books.

Whether it’s ancient historical tomes, firsthand accounts of survival, or the wisdom of generals like Patton, Jocko (and his co-host Echo Charles) extract valuable insights and lessons. I’ve been introduced to a lot of fantastic, powerful books, brought to tears at least once (Man’s Search for Meaning podcast below, or discussion of the Rape of Nanking), and am always impressed at how seriously he takes podcasting.

For something a little lighter, you may want to check out his ‘Q&A’ shows. There’s always valuable workout tips, leadership and business questions, and yet more actionable insights.


Open your ears

As you can probably tell, I’m an avid podcast listener. They’ve brought so much to my life over the last few years.

These 5 are only a handful of my favourites. Let me know what you think about this kind of post – if you want more recommendations, I’m more than happy to help.

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