Tuesday, September 22, 2020

My Top 5 Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

Podcasts. They are everywhere — covering any and all imaginable interests of the people who produce
them. With just a quick search of the ITunes podcast library, I can, at the push of a button, learn about the "curious lives of beekeepers" or listen to the hosts of MuggleCast, a weekl
y ride into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, debate who is the best professor at Hogwarts. We joke that everyone and their mother has a podcast, but the amount of informative, curated content about whatever tickles your fancy accessible at our fingertips is a phenomenon not to be overlooked. 

Podcasts fit well into the busy lives of entrepreneurs, and as they build
their business(es), podcasts can provide incredible insights and advice about company expansion. Below is the definitive list (and by that I mean my own personal list which is by no means definitive) of the top 5 podcasts for entrepreneurs: 

Acquired. I will be honest, Acquired is far and away my favorite podcast on this list (which is why I list it first). While the others that follow are great sources of information and enjoyable listens, Acquired is truly a podcast to which I look forward. Acquired’s tagline is “Every company has a story.” And, the hosts, Ben and David, are incredible story tellers. Each episode is nearly two hours long and is packed full of history, personal anecdotes (both Ben and David are successful VC’s) and true insight into what makes some of the greatest tech companies and founders of our generation tick. Or, as my old college roommate, an early stage investor himself, so eloquently describes, “two dudes absolutely nerding-out about venture capital.” If you are looking for a great place to start, begin with the story of Uber, which, as told by the hosts, begins in the late 1800’s. A few teasers: the idea for Uber began with late nights partying and James Bond; Uber’s recent legal troubles stand in stark contrast to the early days of the company; and a certain VC, a lead investor in the company, had tried and failed to invest in the company many times prior. Just listen — you won’t regret it. 

How I Built This. Produced by NPR, How I Built This also offers a deep dive into some of the world’s best-known companies and other startups. Instead of the third-party view offered by Acquired, the host of How I Built This, Guy Raz, showcases a different company or founder, in a more traditional interview format. Guy does a great job at showcasing each guest’s unique backstory, and his interviews tend to get at the heart of what makes each entrepreneur successful. If you haven’t already given it a listen, try starting with the episode featuring Ben & Jerry’s Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. While it is hard not to love their product, it is harder still to not love the company’s commitment to social responsibility, environmental consciousness and employee empowerment. If nothing else, it is a good lesson on how a company’s principles can be held intact as they grow.

The Tim Ferriss Show. Tim Ferriss is the ultimate hacker. I first came to find out about the ultra-popular entrepreneur, investor, author and now podcaster through his aptly titled second book, “The 4-Hour Body,” in which Tim provides his system of diet and exercise hacks for peak health and fitness. While the book received much criticism for some of his recommendations, what was clear is that Tim is the ultimate self-experimenter and a unique and creative thinker. This unique and creative way of thinking (and more likely his deep network of Silicon Valley head-honchos) has allowed Tim, as an angel investor, to invest in or advise startups such as StumbleUpon, Evernote, Shopify and TaskRabbit. He has since moved from Silicon Valley and has scaled back his investing but his podcast is still rife with tactics and tricks entrepreneurs can use. It covers a wide range of topics, from the benefits of intermittent fasting to strategy surrounding attending as many high-level meetings as possible (without being invited). While every episode may not interest the entrepreneur, there are certainly some which are worth a listen. 

Equity. Equity is a phenomenal news source for all things capital. The hosts Alex, Danny and Natasha, each TechCrunch reporters, do not waste any time on pleasantries — launching, at the start of each podcast, into the happenings of that day or week within the world of startup and tech funding. Similarly to the several newsletters which hit my email inbox on a daily basis, the hosts stick mostly to the headlines — tending to offer opinions on whatever is “hot” that day. Unlike the rest of this list, topics and companies are usually covered on surface level. Nonetheless, Equity is an easy listen and informative for those looking at the broader venture capital (and sometimes public company) markets as a whole. 

Finding Mastery. Begrudgingly (I will explain), I must admit that “Finding Mastery” is an incredible tool for anyone seeking high-performance. “Finding Mastery explores how the best in the world master their craft.” The Finding Mastery podcast is produced and hosted by Dr. Michael Gervais, a “high performance psychologist working in the trenches of high-stakes environments with athletes, artists, and CEO’s, training the mindset skills and practices essential to pursuing and revealing one’s potential.” In my former life (as a hockey player), I had the chance to work with Dr. Gervais, and let’s just say that our philosophies did not exactly align. That aside, Dr. Gervais does a phenomenal job probing some of the world’s top performers on how to perform your best when the chips are down. Whether it be overcoming the challenges presented by growing a company, developing leadership skills or fine-tuning your skills, Finding Mastery’s guests (the list is incredibly impressive) and their stories are chock full of valuable and applicable wisdom. Listen, and if you can get past some of the host’s idiosyncrasies, I guarantee you will pick up some valuable nuggets applicable to not just entrepreneurship but life as well.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention a few locally produced podcasts which do a great job highlighting the Minneapolis startup community. The Tech.MN Podcast, The Founders Mentality and Coffee & Closers are all locally produced podcasts offering a look into some of the strategies and successes of local entrepreneurs. 

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