Upgrade Your Skills: Top Podcast Picks

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

If I had to pick my top three favourite inventions in the last fifty years, it would be the Peperami, Nintendo Switch, and Podcasts.

There's nothing I like better than sitting down, plugging in my headphones and listening to the latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience.

Podcasts are a great source of knowledge that we can listen to almost anywhere, any time. It's almost impossible not find something that would pique your interest and lead you on a path of discovery.

However, if you've not yet jumped into the world of podcasts it's totally understandable. There are so many podcasts available that it can be difficult to know where to start.

Don't worry. This article will shine a torch on the best that podcasting has to offer, so you can spend your time listening to podcasts with the knowledge that you really are learning from the best.

Here are my top picks...

Art of Manliness

Don't be put off by the title (or the logo), as this podcast is not about manliness or how to become an alpha male, but about practical advice to help you make sense of life. Sometimes it can lean slightly more towards male related topics, but the majority of the content is relevant to just about anyone. Each podcast features an interview with an expert in a particular field, always ending with actionable takeaways you can apply to your life straightaway.

Topics include communication, mental and physical wellbeing, interpersonal skills and a multitude of other subjects. Brett McKay, the host of the podcast, does a fantastic job with interviewing his guests. He allows them to speak and seems genuinely interested in everything they say.

If you've ever wanted to know how to get people to listen to you, how to perform best under pressure or even what a Hot Hand is, then this podcast is for you.

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line is a podcast from the BBC hosted by economist and news host Evan Davis.

Each podcast concentrates on either a type of business such as the airline industry or the fitness sector, or business topics like diversity, investment or accounting. There is normally a guest panel, with different outlooks and experiences, so you get exposed to a 360 degree overview of the subject. What makes the podcast particularly enjoyable is Evan Davis as the host. He has a real talent in asking the simple questions without sounding patronising. He's also not afraid to challenge and interrogate while at the same time remaining friendly and amiable. There are over 300 episodes available, so this is a great resource if you need to learn more about a specific subject or industry whether it is for a meeting, interview or just out of curiosity.

Career Tools

The premise of the Career Tools podcast is to help you be more effective and productive in your job. They have a podcast for just about any business skill you can think of. A random episode search I did introduced me to podcasts for advice on how to write the perfect CV, guidance when you get a new manager, what to do if you cry at work and even a series of podcasts on the perfect handshake.

If I have one criticism of this podcast it is that the hosts can be slightly condescending at times. Their assumption is that most people are doing things wrong and their method is the only way to approach the subject. This should not put you off from giving the podcast a try as there is a wealth of great information in the hundreds of episodes they have recorded. If nothing else you should download an episode so you can listen to their funky theme tune.

The Art of Communication

The Art of Communication launched in November 2019 making it the newest podcast on this list. The main host is the actor Robin Kermode who appeared in The Iron Lady alongside Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent. The podcast focusses primarily on how to communicate effectively with other people, whether that is in meetings, presenting to a group or in a one on one setting. It is clear from listening to Robin Kermode that he knows his stuff and practices what he preaches. What I really love about this podcast is that he gives specific and practical advice that anyone can use.

A couple of minor complaints about the podcast is that they don't tend to be released with any regularity and they are fairly short, coming in at about 15 minutes each. A lot of the material covered tends to be similar to the techniques he covers in his excellent book, "Speak So Your Audience Will Listen". That in itself is not a bad thing, as his book is one of the best possible on the subject of communication. But if you have read his book, you may not learn much in some of the earlier episodes.

The Jordan Harbinger Show

This podcast has a very similar feel to Art of Manliness. And in fact, you often find the same guests appearing on both. Jordan Harbinger used to be the host of The Art of Charm (not to be confused with Art of Manliness) before he decided to go his separate way and set up on his own. In doing so, he has managed to build up a very respectable brand and often gets very high-profile guests on his show, including the late Kobe Bryant, New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell and celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The Jordan Harbinger Show started off as a self-improvement podcast, helping to guide the listener on topics such as leadership, negotiating, influence and networking. However, over the years it has gradually morphed into a broader, Joe Rogan-style chat show. This is not necessarily a negative change as it has opened up the opportunity for a wider range of subjects. You just may need to carefully pick and choose the ones you listen to.

A Couple of Other Recommendations

There are plenty of other podcasts in the self-improvement space, and I'm sure many are equally as good as those I have mentioned. That being said, there are a few more that I would like to mention simply because I know they are good, but I am not yet familiar enough with them to talk in any great depth.

The School of Greatness is a podcast that leans more towards mindfulness and wellbeing than the others I've mentioned. This is an important subject that people are quite rightly taking more seriously and for that reason I do have an occasional listen to this one.

Lewis Howes hosts this podcast and he has some great credentials. As an ex-athlete, author, public speaker and philanthropist, you can be sure that the guests he has on are of a very high calibre.

Lastly, we have The Art of Charm. This started off as a dating and relationships podcast but as the audience grew it expanded into what it is today, which is a platform dedicated to building your confidence and improving your social skills.

There are over 700 episodes so there is a really extensive back catalogue. I do find that recently episodes have started to become a bit repetitive. However, there have been some really outstanding guests, which have encouraged me to dig deeper into a particular subject.

Conclusion

Each of the podcasts on the list will give you a unique perspective on so many different subjects, so it would be almost impossible not to find one episode that will make you reflect and reveal a whole new way of thinking. You may not agree with all the guidance that is out there, but there will be some that could change your outlook and open up even more opportunities for success.


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