Looking back through the archives, I apparently didn’t do a ‘best of’ post for anything last year. In 2016, audio has finally become my favourite way to learn. I still spend a portion of each day listening to podcasts and love them just as much as I always have done. Back in 2014 I selected a podcast that was the best in one of five genres I listen to. This year, I’ve just gone for a flat out top 5 instead.
“CGP Grey and Myke Hurley are both independent content creators. Each episode, they discuss the methods and tools they employ to be productive and creative.”
I found Cortex via a reference on one of Myke’s other podcasts earlier this year and hopped over to see what it was all about. I was instantly hooked. Being a full-time independent creator is something I aspire to, so listening to Myke and Grey talk the the trials and joys of doing so was eye opening. Not only that, it was great to hear someone who thinks a lot like me (Grey, not Myke) when it comes to decision fatigue, organisation and mild disdain of how most other humans think sometimes. I found a kindred soul through the digital airwaves and that is a very rare thing.
My second favourite podcast of the year couldn’t be more different. Lighthearted, laugh out loud funny, The Librarian Is In has kept me up to speed in the world of books and culture during a year when I couldn’t spend as much time in bookstores as I would like:
“The Librarian Is In is the New York Public Library’s podcast about books, culture, and what to read next.”
It’s campy, informative and yet not ashamed to dive into dark topics when the books demand it. It is possibly the most inclusive podcast that I listen to, where any book is good for someone and no matter who you are, you are welcome.
At number three, we have the 2014 winner making its way back onto the list:
“The Pen Addict is a weekly fix for all things stationery. Pens, pencils, paper, ink – you name it, and Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley are into it. Join as they geek out over the analog tools they love so dearly.”
Big changes have happened for both Myke and Brad since the 2014 list, but they still have something new to say about pens and other stationery items each week. It’s been great to watch them grow and evolve over time and pull the pen community with them to lift us all up. Yes, there is a pen community. Yes, it is very niche as markets go. But I’m not sure there’s a nicer fandom out there, and the ratio of normal to crazies (there are always some crazies, just a fact of life) makes it the best of any community I’ve been part of.
Anyone reading this will probably know that writing is my passion. Anyone aspiring to be a full time writer will also know that the only way to get there is to keep learning and become more skilled at your craft. So at number four, Writing Excuses is the best podcast I’ve come across for that.
“Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.”
Most podcasts about writing are actually about marketing and publishing. Although this podcast touches on that occasionally, it is more like a masterclass on craft. Understanding how the construction of your writing controls the mind of your readers is so important. You can self-publish in ten minutes these days, but writing something great takes as much thought and effort as it always has done.
Finally, This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt is still one of the best business podcasts around.
“This Is Your Life™ is my weekly podcast dedicated to intentional leadership. My goal is to help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence.”
It’s about to undergo a change in 2017, which won’t be the first time since I started listening in early 2014. Although the focus is on leadership and business skills, there has been a definite shift towards the ‘why’ of work and life. Yes, it still is all about achievement, but instead of merely productivity tips, it now gets under the hood of what you are working towards. One of the few business podcasts that promotes the value of sleep and doing nothing sometimes, it then gives you the tips and tools to move forward with whatever it is you feel truly called to do.
So that’s my best of podcasts list for 2016. Three of them (The Pen Addict, Writing Excuses, This Is Your Life) remain from the original 2014 list. I’ve sampled about fifty different podcasts since then, so I see this longevity as a testament to the quality of content they produce. If you have a commute, a day job where you can put on some headphones and ignore the world, or if you just want an accompaniment to your daily walk, I think podcasts are a perfect way to get positive input for your brain.
As for our winner, Cortex has changed the way I will live my life in 2017, I am sure of that.