5 Podcasts That Will Make You a Better Person in 2019

January is self-improvement time. And now that over a quarter of the U.S. population is listening to podcasts on a monthly basis, I thought…

January is self-improvement time. And now that over a quarter of the U.S. population is listening to podcasts on a monthly basis, I thought that as a self-improvement junkie it was only right that I share a few of my personal recommendations. So here you go:

1. The Rich Roll Podcast — I found richroll after reading his epic autobiographical book, Finding Ultra, in which he describes his journey from a 40 year-old overweight addict to one of the world’s top ultra marathoners. Roll is as West Coast and progressive as they come. He uses words like “stoked” and sleeps in a tent in the backyard of his Malibu mansion. He is also an incredibly intelligent and thoughtful person. His conversations cover the spectrum from athletes to celebrities with a consistent theme of achieving personal excellence. I’ll pick and choose my episodes here. I’m not a huge 2-hour podcast guy, and he’s got a lot of them, but you can usually skip the first 10 minutes (of ads) and be fine. When it comes to episode selection, the best-of-the-best usually get shared and discussed all over social media so keep your radar up there.

2. The James Altucher ShowJames Altucher is the nerdier, less-hip and more tame version of Howard Stern. That’s a compliment by the way as I think Howard is the best interviewer of our time. I originally found Altucher from his book Choose Yourself — and if you need inspiration for anything even remotely entrepreneurial, you should leave this page immediately and go buy that book. Altucher, despite being overly salesy in newsletters and online (and taking some flack for being associated with cryptocurrenies and cannabis) is a wonderful interviewer. He is incredibly curious and his questions are on point. While my wife assesses him to be a bit too “nasally,” I see Altucher as likable in a “lovable loser” kind of way especially when he comes clean about his past business and relationship failures with an honesty that few seem to match.

3. Akimbo — Somehow I hadn’t read any of Seth Godin’s work before I found this podcast. He’s sort of the Tony Robbins of marketing. I love the format of this show because it’s so different from anything else out there. It’s 20 minutes and it’s just Godin, no guests. Each episode begins with a seemingly random story or set of facts, and over the course of the show, Godin weaves it altogether into a bite-size life lesson that you can take with you. If you are a “maker of things,” this show is for you.

4. The Daily — Okay, this is not a personal development podcast, but hear me out. IT’S THE BEST PODCAST OUT THERE. And by listening to it you will be a much smarter, more informed person. That counts as self-improvement to me. The New York Times continues to set the standard when it comes to high-quality, riveting and relevant content covering current events. Host Michael Barbaro has quickly become the Oprah of podcasts. His questions are informed and appropriate but he gets out of his guests’ way so that we hear from the experts. The Daily’s focus is most often politics, with deep, behind-the-scenes insights on subjects like the Mueller investigation, Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and broader issues like immigration. The show definitely leans left on the political spectrum but even if that’s not your cup of tea, great journalism is great journalism. And as a podcast nerd, the production quality of this show makes me drool.

5. Anything with Yuval Noah Harari or Naval Ravikant. This last one is not actually a show recommendation, but if you’re not consuming the insights of Harari, author of Sapiens and Home Deus among others, or Ravikant, the Zen-like Godfather of deep thoughts on Twitter, then you are missing out in a big way. These guys are tackling the most fundamental questions that we face as humans — who we are, why we’re here and how we can spend our time on this planet most effectively. Both have appeared on countless podcasts including several of the shows I’ve mentioned above. I can’t recommend these two highly enough.

Finally, there’s a selfish reason for this article. I’m trying to figure out what I should listen to next. I’m getting increasingly interested in Shane Parrish (of Farnam Street blog fame) and his podcast The Knowledge Project. But what else should I be listening to in 2019?

Here are my criteria:

  • Ideally episodes under 1 hour in length

  • I can learn something I didn’t already know that I can apply to my life

  • There are potential physical or mental health benefits

  • Hosts that are likable

Share your ideas and I’ll plan to write a follow up with some of the best gems I’ve found. Happy listening in 2019.