3 Podcasts to Spark Curiosity and Inspiration

text saying you are what you listen to

Busy changemakers believe in making the most of their time, which is why they can often be found absorbed in books on their morning commutes. But what about people who bike to work or log hours behind the wheel en route to an office? As it turns out, podcasts similarly serve to motivate and educate. They’re a hands-free option for those on-the-go social-impact professionals still looking to make every minute count.

These three podcasts are an invitation to be inspired. Guest speakers, trailblazers, activists, and experts offer up new ways to boost creativity, spark dialogue, and increase self-awareness both at work and in life. An added bonus? Most episodes are about as long as the morning commute.

“Where Should We Begin”

Esther Perel is one of the world’s most sought-after relationship experts and couples therapists. Her books on relationships have placed her at the forefront of conversations about coupling up, breaking up, and moving on when love is lost.

Where Should We Begin” is a rare look behind the curtain of Perel’s therapeutic work. Each episode invites listeners to pull up a chair during a real-life counseling session. Couples bare all about the conflicts and impasses that make being together—and being human—hard.

Episodes focus on broken trust, unasked questions, and answers some partners are afraid to hear. It’s an intimate look at places we are often afraid to go, and Perel offers insight into the vulnerability so often required to get to the heart of what really matters. 

The podcast may focus on the issues of couples, but lessons around communication, honesty, fear, and feelings are often equally applicable to non-romantic connections—including those in the workplace.

“Wild Ideas Worth Living”

The host of “Wild Ideas Worth Living” started her career in journalism. But it was a love of surfing, being outdoors, living life on the fringe, and diving deeply into other people’s stories that ultimately brought her into the podcast world.

Each episode focuses on a single person with a wild idea who took the leap to live life on the edge. Host Shelby Stanger talks to folks who stepped away from lucrative careers to follow a dream, and people who sought to increase social impact by turning a passion into a life’s purpose.

From a Holocaust survivor turned speaker on loving kindness, to a 30-something adventurer who climbed one America’s toughest peaks sans ropes, Stanger utilizes her skills as a former journalist to draw out thrill seekers, wanderers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs in compelling conversations that serve as roadmaps for others looking to forge their own paths.

Conversations range from the ways battling addiction led to a love of trail running, to how shaming women’s bodies sparked an entire industry focused on empowering them, to the ways merging mindfulness, swimming, and education resulted in a school that offers students a new way of learning about nature and themselves.

“Wild Ideas” is exactly that—a podcast for changemakers looking to be inspired by others who have blazed their own way in a quest to make meaning while making an impact. It’s a reminder that there are hundreds of ways to live this one wild and precious life, and that all it takes to get started is an idea.

“Armchair Expert”

Dax Shepard is probably best known for his role in the hit show Parenthood, and his marriage to actress Kristen Bell. But for the past year he’s made a name for himself as the host of “Armchair Expert,” a podcast that contemplates the messiness of being human through conversations with celebrities, scientists, and experts in their fields.

Through the lens of sobriety (and an unexpected background in anthropology), Shepard guides guests in dialogues about major setbacks, life’s ups and downs, and the struggles of pursuing purpose. Discussions are raw, vulnerable, and often hilarious. 

Occasional experts in sociology, science, and business join the podcast. But it’s mostly Shepard’s decade of sobriety that makes him an expert on being human. His own struggle with addiction allows him to navigate conversations with empathy and compassion. He often touches on the difficulties guests have faced while following their passions and overcoming adversity. Shepard gets vulnerable with guests by sharing his own troubled past, and in doing so encourages his guests to get real in the room, too.

Listeners will hear how even the most successful innovators have learned the path to the top is rarely an easy one. Guests like author Elizabeth Gilbert, and famed couples therapist and social researcher, John Gottman, open up about what it’s like to take the path less traveled, and how hardship can result in growth, change, and self-awareness.

These conversations on being human, making mistakes, and moving forward can all be a welcome reminder that change happens incrementally and inspiration lives at even the most difficult turns.

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Have a favorite podcast that sparks ideas or encourages a new way of thinking? Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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Jill Nawrocki is a Licensed Social Worker and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living in Brooklyn. She is an ultra runner, freelance writer, and social justice warrior with a background in program management, direct practice, mindfulness, and advocacy.
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