Podcasts are an incredibly undervalued learning resource. Many people simply don’t realise the gems of wisdom, incredible knowledge and deep insight to be gained from the vast multitude of podcasts out there.
One of the most popular is the Tim Ferriss Show, with yep, you guessed it, Tim Ferriss. Tim became known for his book the ‘4 hour Work Week’ in 2007, and he has gone on to write 3 more books since then: 4 Hour Body — a book about optimising performance, and getting in shape as fast and as smartly as you possibly can; 4 Hour Chef — despite the title, this book is all about learning, or perhaps more specifically, how to learn — and cooking of course; and his latest book Tools of Titans — after speaking with over 200 guests on his show, Tim deliver a meticulous dissection of all the lessons, advice and wisdom he’s learned. However Tim is much more than an author; he’s an entrepreneur, public speaker, investor, board advisor, tango champion, teacher, human guinea pig, polyglot and perhaps to encapsulate it all, a lover of learning. His unique character, charm and vast knowledge reflects heavily throughout every single one of his 200+ podcasts.
Tim is well known as one of the first to make famous the idea of ‘lifestyle design’, but perhaps a better way of putting it, is that he is passionate about helping you maximise output, minimise stress, achieve your goals and ultimately, live a happy fulfilling life. Evidence of the latter is reflected in his huge advocacy of the ancient philsophy of stocism and the works of the Roman Philsopher Seneca. He has made more than a few podcasts of his own dedicated to the philosophy of Seneca, and he’s also published audiobooks of Seneca’s letters. It’s hard to deny that Tim’s mission in life is to help you change yours. Here are 7 thought-provoking, inspiring, wisdom-packed podcasts that will get you on the way.
Talking of Seneca, Alain is the Seneca of the 21st century; a philosopher, filmmaker, essayist and well-known writer. He is the founder and captain of the school of life, an organisation who are dedicated — through their over-generous website content, in-house courses, fantastic youtube channel and impressive online store — to helping others live well through the wonderful world of philosophy. In this chat, Alain gives you insight into exactly how philosophy does just that. Listen with an open mind and expect to be compelled by Alain’s beautiful style of delivery.
Tim chats with the one and only Tony Robbins for his 3rd interview. Tony needs no introduction, but for those unfamiliar, he is the father of the self-improvement world, a world-renowned public speaker, trained hypnotist, financial advisor and all-round awesome dude. Here Tony talks about the worlds biggest lie, how to juggle the onerous responsibilities that comes with success, why life is hard, how to get out of a rut and how you can transform your state of mind instantaneously.
In just under 80 minutes Arnold tells you his life story. He talks about his upbringing and how a suppressive environment, pessimistic parents and a potential career in the Army fueled his desire to conquer the world. He shares the failures, setback and victories as he went about becoming Mr Universe; how he got into acting; the story of becoming the governor of California, and much much more. Just listening to his stories are inspiring enough, but he also gives you advice on how you can literally have anything you want in life, no matter who you are, you’re circumstances or your ambitions. Be sure to check out round 2 with Arnold, which is a self-recorded podcast where Arnold answers questions from Tim’s audience, and a few more lines of inquiry from Tim himself.
Naval Ravikant is the co-founder of Angel list, a serial investor and entrepreneur. He has been very successful in the investment game: Uber, Twitter, Stack Overflow, codeacademy and Yammer are just a few of his key investments. As often is the case with many successful investors, he holds a vast array of knowledge and wisdom learned from his numerous business endeavours; and he doesn’t hold any of it back in this chat. Naval is also a veracious reader and hardcore pragmatist, and in this podcast he shares with Tim and his listeners deep philosophical insight into the topics of happiness, success, education, virtue and more. With each piece of advice, he gives practical tips that you can take away and apply immediately to your life — such as must-read books, how to change habits, how to think about happiness and how to build a business. Like with many of the popular podcast guests, Tim has done a round 2 with Naval, which is no less valuable, perhaps even better, than the first.
Tim’s first podcast with Derek Sivers is a gem, but this one is a diamond. Derek is an entrepreneur, writer, founder, musician and philosopher. He built his company CD baby from scratch, learning how to code, hire staff, be a CEO and handle the onerous responsibilities of a multi-million dollar business along the way. 22 million dollars to be precise, which is what Apple paid to acquire it in 2008. Derek talks about how he built his company, the lessons he’s learned in business and life, what success means to him, how we would start again from scratch, how to communicate like a boss and many other topics, which he delivers in a brilliantly self-narrated short 40 minutes.
One of his most popular podcasts to date, this talk with Debbie Millman could change your world view and your life. Debbie has spent her life in the esoteric, colourful and ever-evolving world of design. She’s the author of 6 books, a teacher of the master branding program and host of the Design Matter podcast. She is also the co-founder and president of Sterling Brands. In this show she speaks to Tim about her life in design, how she achieved her dreams, and why Manhattan is the greatest place in the world; what success means, how to overcome abuse and dealing with rejection. Debbie also shares the one exercise that changed her life: the ten-year life plan. The basic idea is that you write a meticulous essay on your life ten years from now, describing how you’re living, how much money you have, what you have achieved and every other detail you can think of. Debbie teaches this to her students after being taught it herself from renowned designer Milton Glaser, and having unbelievable success with it. The students who do it, she says, always report 10 years later just how impactful it was; for most of it turned out to be true. This episode is utterly packed with stories, wisdom and profound insight; and for that reason, it’s absolutely one you don’t want to miss.
On the surface, Jocko Willink is perhaps the toughest, most baddass human being you’ll ever come across — and that is just his appearance. His tone of voice matches his appearance, and it is this voice that makes his narrative, stories and advice so listenable, compelling and almost addictive. It is not his tone of voice, but the sense of truth, frankness and honesty; the clarity, sharpness and simplicity, that will ensure Jocko’s name will never be forgotten. Jocko is a former SEAL and was a leader in the most brutal fight in the Iraqi war — the battle of Ramadi. In this episode he shares the ins and outs of the his time in the army and at war in Iraq, why he got into the army and why got out; leadership, dealing with loss, health and fitness, having a family, civilian life and modern day America are just a some of the areas Jocko covers. And he does so in the form of deeply emotional stories, anecdotes and personal accounts, all of which, you really don’t want to miss.
There are 200+ more episodes of the Tim Ferriss Show waiting to be listened to and a big handful of them could easily have made this list. So as a bonus, here are 3 more superb talks that are well worth your time:
Editor of esquire, interview king and master storyteller Cal Fussman chats with Tim about his life, the lessons he’s learned and how immersion can change your life.
No-bullshit, straight talking and extremely talented are 3 ways to describe the one and only Kara Swisher. Known as the co-host of recode and popular journalist in SF, in the episode Kara shares stories about Steve Jobs, dealing with hate and sex.
In addition to not being evil, Dr Zimbardo explains how applying just a few basic principles of psychology to your life can change it for the better. Phil Zombardo is one of the world most known psychologists; very smart, prolific author and a heavily sought-after lecturer.
[P.S.] For each episode of his show, Tim curates a carefully crafted list of all the key takeaways, notes and references, and posts it on his blog. If there are books, people or ideas that you heard about and you’d like to learn more, you’re almost certain to find them in the ‘show notes.’