A little over a year ago, I began to listen to podcasts in addition to NPR, sports radio and talk radio while commuting 10 to 15 hours each week. I used to fill drive time with whatever was on the radio at the moment; just something to pass the time. That began to change when a friend told me about a podcast she listened to regularly. I took her advice and picked a few episodes of the Catalyst Podcast (see below) that looked interesting.
What Are You Allowing into Your Head?
I soon found myself hooked on opportunities to learn from regular doses of incredible content instead of just listening to whatever was broadcast as time passed. I downloaded more Catalyst podcasts and found other interesting podcasts mentioned by the hosts and guests.
Listening to podcasts slowly began to crowd out the radio. In about 9 months, I had listened to the entire 200+ episodes of the Catalyst podcasts, each about an hour-long.
In October of last year, I made several key decisions, one of which resulted in switching my listening habits to prioritize podcasts above other media. My 15+ hours commute each week is now an investment.
Update Note: I started my own podcast in 2016, The Success to Significance Podcast, focusing on the stories of individuals who have enjoyed successful careers and who are leveraging their knowledge, skills and passions into greater significance.
A “Purposeful Learning” Mindset
Now, I listen exclusively to podcasts. Why? Because I figured out that I need to be intentional about the ideas that I allow into my head. I invest my drive time on learning and absorbing those things that are excellent and praiseworthy, purposefully crowding out random babble that is so easy to access yet yields so little lasting value.
In his 1956 recording of the Strangest Secret, Earl Nightingale said “We become what we think about. A person who is thinking about a concrete and worthwhile goal is going to reach it, because that's what he's thinking about”. Clearly, randomly listening to whatever I found on the radio to pass the time does not fit this mindset. Earl Nightingale drives the point home that we are what we think about by continuing: “Each of us must live off the fruit of our thoughts in the future, because what you think today and tomorrow — next month and next year — will mold your life and determine your future. You're guided by your mind.”
These words remain true today some 50 years later; I'm taking them to heart and am determined to have a purposeful learning mindset. I am guiding my thoughts and fueling my future by allowing positive role models into my head.
My Top 5 Life Changing Podcasts
I have listened to every single podcast in the list below, typically sampling a handful and then downloading all episodes from iTunes. I then listen from beginning to end of the entire set. By doing this, I gain familiarity with the podcaster and their guests, and experience the growth of the podcast itself as each podcaster makes improvements over time. I often test drive podcasts and keep the ones I find engaging and in line with a purposeful learning mindset. Each offers unique learning opportunities.
What distinguishes a “Top 5” podcast for me? Simple! I eagerly anticipate the release of each episode and expect each one to have actionable content from which I can learn, apply and share.
#1: The Catalyst Podcast
The first Podcast I downloaded is The Catalyst Podcast; it sparked the discovery process leading to all others. I have listened to every one of the 200+ episodes, hosted by Brad Lomenick and Ken Coleman. Catalyst has featured hundreds of thought leaders, pioneers and role models who make a difference locally and globally and who demonstrate a mindset of purposeful impact.
Each Catalyst Podcast delivers actionable leadership and cultural insights. One of the most interesting aspects of the Catalyst Podcast is the variety of topics covered within the context of leadership. Most episodes feature a GenX/GenY leader who is “uniquely and courageously engaging culture in their community”. Some of the well-known interviewees include Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Tony Dungy, Jim Collins, and recently Simon Sinek and Nancy Duarte. There are a host of other guests like Tony Romo, Soledad O'Brien and Jimmy Carter that will enlighten and challenge you to see opportunity, take action and lead authentically.
#2: This is Your Life with Michael Hyatt
This is Your Life focuses on intentional leadership. Michael Hyatt has one of the best podcast tag lines: “The goal is to help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence.” These goals are not just words; Michael Hyatt delivers in every single podcast, offering some of the best actionable content I've found. I am living with more passion, greater focus and learning how to lead via influence because of Mike's influence.
The community Michael has brought together around his podcast, blog, books and other resources is active and I augment what I learn with the comments this vibrant community adds to each podcast. Mike invites questions and comments on upcoming topics, participating in the ongoing conversations. I've gained so much by listening to the podcasts and engaging with the community that I have joined Michael Hyatt's Platform University, an outgrowth of his most recent NYT bestseller Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World a community for those interested in expanding our Reach, Influence and Impact. Check the list of current podcasts; you're bound to find several that will influence your mindset.
#3: 48 Days To The Work You Love Internet Radio Show
Dan Miller is also an NYT best-selling author with three books: 48 Days To The Work You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays and most recently, Wisdom Meets Passion. I first “met” Dan through reading his 48 Days book in 2007 as we were selling our startup and it greatly influenced my career move after the sale. Dan is acutely aware of the real changes in work models and consistently addresses integrating dreams and passions into goals and actions, encouraging his listeners to embrace a future intentionally created. Dan's podcast has changed how I advise entrepreneurs on their startups and how to leverage our changing world to their advantage. Listen to a few recent episodes and to the “One Minute Audio Tips from Dan” on the right side of the page.
#4: Ray Edwards Radio Show
Ray Edwards is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Writing Riches. He just celebrated his 52nd weekly podcast; a full year of sharing detailed tutorials on the what and how of running and expanding his business, revealing the spiritual mindset behind his success, and encouraging his listeners to pursue their passions with purpose and excellence. His website has extensive tutorials and tools to help you improve writing, influence, selling. Ray's intentional success mindset is contagious; I am learning a great deal from him.
#5: The Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast
Andy draws on his own experiences and puts his leadership thoughts in the context of leading an integrated, balanced life that enables excellence in vocation and effectiveness leading his family. Andy is also an accomplished author and speaker, and is one of the founders of North Point Ministries where more than 33,000 people attend NPM’s five Atlanta-area churches each week.
It's All Up To You
So, what are you putting into your head? Invest a few moments in checking out these 5 podcasts. The podcast images above will open their respective iTunes pages. Sample a few and invest in yourself and your future.
I'm confident you'll be glad you chose to purposefully crowd out random babble with content that engages and builds value.
I challenge you to adopt a learning mindset.