5 Podcasts That Will Help You Think Differently About Your Career

Throughout my years as a career coach, I’ve always been interested in learning what other people do for a living. While even I can admit that, “What do you do?” may not be the best question to lead with when you’re meeting someone for the first time, I’m compelled to ask it at some point because I truly am interested in their professional lives and what excites them (or doesn’t) about work.

Once I discovered the vast world of podcasts, I started listening and voraciously gathering information about careers, finding one’s passion, and using one’s career to contribute to making the world a better place. I’ve also contemplated how to apply key points from non-career episodes to some aspect of the world of work and vocation. Below is a list of some of my favorites—check them out this summer to spark your career exploration:

The Good Life Project

This is the one that got me started on my podcast kick. Each episode features a “changemaker” with an extraordinary life created by a profession or passion project with meaning, vision, and inspiration.

My favorite episodes:

  • The Power (and Heartbreak) of Being Called To Serve  opened my eyes to the dire need for medical supplies throughout Africa, as told in Danielle Butin’s poignant story of starting her nonprofit, Afya Foundation. Her passion for her work led her to manage the logistics necessary for finding funding and supplies to run her organization.
  • In Working for Free: The Good, The Bad, and The Truth, Good Life Project’s founder Jonathan Fields addresses how to take a strategic look at the work you do for “free” to identify the alternative value-add components: a “test kitchen” to experiment your ideas with your target market, publicity, and other forms of “non-cash compensation.”

Radiolab

This “show about curiosity” may not directly focus on careers, but allows the listener to take episode topics as fodder for further exploration.

My favorite episode:

  • Buttons Not Buttons inspires the listener to take a closer look at the portals of life that exist around us- buttons, such as the ones in elevators and on your podcast player. The hosts visit the Elevator History Museum leading to the discovery that most “door close” buttons on elevators don’t even work! What other ‘door close’ buttons exist in life? What do we have at work that serves as a source of comfort or familiarity rather than a functional purpose?

Invisibilia

I was instantly intrigued by the fascinating concept of this show! Invisibilia is a podcast that invites the listener to explore the intangible and challenge us to “feel differently.” It promises to explore ideas, assumptions and beliefs by, “interweaving narrative storytelling with fascinating new psychological and brain science.”

My favorite episode:

  • The Power of Categories wins by default as I am a new listener to Invisibilia and have not had the opportunity to listen to other ones yet. This episode addresses our need for categories, the need to both differentiate oneself yet identify with something. For example, what does it mean to be a “dog person” or a “cat person”? Taking it further: How do the ways you categorize yourself affect your career choices?

Note: If you have a favorite Invisibilia episode you want to recommend for me to listen to next, post in the comments below!

The Moth

One of the most famed organizations “dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling” The Moth’s themed showcases allow the audience an intimate glimpse into ordinary life as lived by novice and veteran storytellers alike.

My favorite episodes:

  • Listen Here, Fancy Pants! is a lively yet emotional account of Anthony Giglio’s  (a wine and spirits connoisseur and writer of “Food + Drinks” for Details Magazine) journey of acceptance and making peace with his father. How has your career path been shaped by your childhood, familial expectations, or even lack of communication among those who are supposed to care about each other? If you had the opportunity to really talk with a family member, how might it affect the decisions you make?
  • About to Eat Cake is a hilarious journey among friends after one experiences a failed relationship. Their hours-long ride to nowhere in particular meanders to a Baptist church, where the question, “Who gets to decide what I need healed?” comes up. What if we were to reframe our assumptions about what needs to be fixed in the world? Perhaps what we see as a “deficit” would cause more harm if we were to “fix” it.

Chef’s Story

Hosted by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center, Chef’s Story is a series of flavorful interviews with extraordinary chefs “about special memories, beliefs, inspiration and the passions that made them the success they are today.”

My favorite episodes:

  • Episode 94 – Soulayphet “Phet” Schwader’s narrative of growing up in Kansas after immigrating from Laos illustrates how his natural talents for cooking emerged. He later had to make the decision of which culinary school to attend. While he could have selected the Natural Culinary Institute of America, his assessment of the student-to-faculty ratio caused the New England Culinary Institute (with a 7:1 ratio as opposed to 30:1 ratio) to win out. If you are contemplating going back to school, would you add studio-to-faculty ratio to your list of criteria? What are other important considerations for you?
  • Interested in the business of food? Episode 90: Traci Des Jardins identifies the important business acumen necessary whether you are interested in opening a restaurant or take on any other entrepreneurial endeavor. Traci is also on the board of La Cocina, a San Francisco-based nonprofit business incubator that helps low-income food entrepreneurs develop formal plans for and grow their businesses. What lessons from Traci’s kitchen can you bring to your own nonprofit career?

What podcasts have you been listening to? Which will you be listening to this summer? Join the conversation by posting your favorite podcasts in the comments. Also share your favorite episode and your key takeaway!

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I became acquainted with Idealist in late 2000 while working in the career development office at a private liberal arts college in NYC. I used it almost daily to help students and alumni find meaningful careers. After a 12-year stint in higher education, I worked as a career coach for professionals in various industries (and still used Idealist). During one of those many searches, a listing really caught my eye- the one for the newly-created position, Careers Program Coordinator. So... I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I took on the role of Manager of Career Content for Idealist Careers, creating career content for job seekers, leaders, and other nonprofit professionals. Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I've shared with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Now, as Manager of College and Professional Development, my focus is on lifting the advice from Idealist Careers "off the page". Drawing from my experience in career development, I propel job seekers and career changers towards taking control of their searches with confidence and removing fear, uncertainty, and other blocks to success via in-person workshops and seminars, webinars, and conference programming. My great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise I doctor it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, exploring neighborhoods for hidden gems, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows me to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.
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Comments

  1. Great list!

    I love Gretchin Rubin’s Happier podcast. She hosts it with her sister and they dig into studies and discuss personal experiments on how to be happier.

    One episode that had me thinking differently was Stop Reading That Book! How often do we push through on things that we think we’re “supposed to do” but don’t actually bring us any enjoyment, fulfillment, or bring us closer to our goals? Refusing to finish a book I don’t enjoy reminds me to think differently about my time.

    1. Thank you Allison! I just added it to my subscription list and will be checking out the latest episode.

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