Podcasts have been one form of media that I hadn’t appreciated enough, until recently. An opportune stumbling into them began with The Energy Gang and Freakonomics Radio, and I was hooked. These podcasts, though all technology related, are all very diverse, providing a refreshing, thought provoking mix of things. Initially, as a total newcomer, what baffled me was the duration of each of podcasts. However, they can, I assure you, hold your attention through their span and you shall be rewarded. These are podcasts which entertain, enlighten, and more importantly capture your attention throughout.
Happy listening 🙂
1. The Energy Gang
Created, recorded and produced by Cleantech Media, they describe themselves as “your weekly digest of energy, cleantech and environment related stories”. My fascination for the field of energy was what lead me to this podcast. Even though the genre they cover seems to be specific, the content is gripping and diverse. They’ve got episodes discussing everything from cryptocurrency, entrepreneurship, tariffs, energy policy, electric vehicles, global deals, and so on. Why I would recommend this podcast is because, being someone who closely follows energy stories myself, this is one place to find all the energy related news together, and not as part of the subtopics they entail, like it’s done in most other news platforms or blogs.
Hosts: Cleantech Editor in Chief- Stephen Lacey, Energy Policy expert- Katherine Hamilton, Energy Futurist- Jigar Shah
2. How I Built This
When Howard Schultz visited Seattle for the first time in 1981, he visited a coffee bean store that he loved so much that he would go on to move from New York to Seattle, to first work for it, then buy it, and eventually transform it. The name of this store was Starbucks.
When Kevin Systrom’s girlfriend, Nicole, told him that she won’t post pictures very often on a photo-sharing app that he was working on, because she thought her pictures weren’t good enough, it occurred to him that the key to winning users was using filters for photos, making them believe that they were all great photographers and their pictures were all worth sharing. This app was called Instagram.
An absolute personal favorite, this podcast chronicles the stories of some well-established companies, with deeper background stories. I think my favorite thing about this podcast would the casual flow of conversation between these executives and the hosts, which leads them to giving some very precious anecdotes from their personal lives and how it has impacted the company.
Other examples of anecdotes I came across were Michael Dell, describing the brilliant business schemes that he came up with as a teenager working for a local newspaper, or the founders of Ben and Jerry’s, laughing over their lack of substantial degrees, but also churning out wisdom on succeeding as a business. This podcast gives, the founders of the companies featured, the time and narration to go into details of their origin stories, with much more flexibility and room for intricacies than a regular interview would. And that, I feel is the winning element of this podcast, offering a very intimate insight to the little things that influenced these big firms.
Host: Guy Raz
3. Nasa in Silicon Valley
Thankfully, this podcast lives up to the expectations it creates with words like Nasa and Silicon Valley together in one name. However, on hearing these two jointly, tracking animal social networks, geological and oceanographic surveying and autonomous vehicles, aren’t the most obviously striking things. We don’t exactly notice how much space technology is used in other fields, and that’s what this podcast, churned out from NASA’s AMES situated in Silicon Valley, aims to showcase. It provides engaging conversations between engineers, research scientists and other experts working on various projects in NASA, and the hosts; simultaneously it does not drift into too much technicality or sound like a lecture. Each episode starts with a little background of each guest, and how they landed in NASA or Silicon Valley. This bit is interesting because of the diversity of backgrounds of people working on various projects there. Personally, my favorite episodes would be the ones explaining rocket on rocket launches work, the concept of nano-satellites, and experiments on the international space station to observe the behavior of yeast in zero gravity, so as to get data to then genetically engineer yeast that can be cultivate in zero gravity.
Hosts: NASA’s AMES Research Centre
Mary Beth Wilhelm
4. Masters of Scale
Presented to us by the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, this podcast is where he investigates his start up theories by interviewing several founders of successful ventures. Airbnb’s Ben Chesky, Facebooks’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Y Combinator’s Sam Altman, are some of guests who’ve been here. Personally, my favorite episode would be one featuring Netflix’s Reed Hoffman, and his conversation on why maintaining a certain culture in the company, from the very beginning, and hiring employees keeping that in mind, is important.
The other favorite one, featuring the co-founder of Twitter Medium, Ev Williams,involves Reid’s theory of the never underestimating the amount of potential your first idea has. And that chasing it, being able to face all the tides of change that come your way, is worth it. This podcast is perfect if you follow startup stories, and want some wisdom from actual happenings in startups, to scale “from zero to gazillion” as they describe the journey of their guests. Another notable feature is that Masters of Scale is committed to a 50:50 guest gender ratio policy.
Host: LinkedIn Cofounder and Greylock partner- Reid Hastings
Some other podcasts that I would recommend:
- The Foreign Desk
- The Economist
- Freakonomics Radio
- The Growth Show
- Y-Combinator Podcast