Our morning rituals in many ways help us to set a pulse for the remainder of the day. Whether that’s enjoying a warm cup of coffee, packing a meal for lunch, or taking the dogs for a walk around the block, we sometimes unknowingly rely on these rituals for helping us to wake up and become mentally and physically in-tune before we dive into a day of work. One of these practices that many of us enjoy is the act of opening Spotify (or another streaming service) and passing the time during our commute to work by listening.
Many of us use this opportunity to catch up on the news by listening to a news podcast, while others choose to listen to the radio or a music playlist. Over the past year or so, I’ve used this time to listen to some of my favorite inspirational and informational podcasts that get me motivated, boost my mood, and make me feel more excited about tackling the day ahead. That is not to say that these podcasts are not ideally suited for other times of day (I also tend to listen to them during my gym workouts – weird, I know), but I intentionally choose these types of podcasts over other music or distractions during my commute to work for a number of reasons.
For one, the experience of listening to the news in general varies greatly in the type of emotional response it elicits. It can be frustrating, inspiring, sad, or even boring, and I don’t find this variability particularly beneficial in preparing for the day. Secondly, given my busy schedule and the lack of time in my day that’s left over after work obligations, I’m simply not left with much time to learn and be inspired. I’m sure many others are in this predicament as well.
Whether you choose to listen to your favorite podcasts in the mornings, in the middle of the day, or while you’re unwinding from work, the amount of inspirational content creators out there is growing rapidly, leaving a multitude of fantastic motivating podcast options suited for any time of day. As someone who works in the advertising space, I personally tend to gravitate towards many self-improvement and self-help podcasts that are adjacent or related to what I do. I am also interested in many of the modern spiritual and self-development voices out there, so I hope to share some of those suggestions with you as well. However, regardless of your niche or specific interests, you’ll find that these suggestions cast a wide net in terms of the breadth of content and topics they cover, all for the sake of inspiring you to be more creative, motivated, and ready to take action.
Tim Ferriss is a name with particular notoriety in personal business and self-help space, and his podcast is by far my most listened to show. He is a New York Times Bestselling author (The Four-Hour Work Week) and is also an angel investor and advisor to many well-known technology companies like Uber and Facebook. Many of his philosophies and ideas are intended to increase skill-learning and efficiency, and help people push themselves to venture into situations in which outcomes are undefined or ambiguous. Thematically speaking, his book and podcast both echo sentiments that are highly centered around identifying and focusing on high-performing actions, lifestyle design, and financial independence. His podcast features big names ranging from Seth Godin to Tony Robbins, all of which share invaluable and inspiring insights that will motivate anyone, regardless of specific interest.
One of my favorite episodes on The Tim Ferriss Show is How to Say “No,” Market Like a Professional, and Win at Life, featuring bestselling author and marketing thought leader Seth Godin. In this episode he talks about discipline, finding high value audiences, but most notably the importance of regularly putting ourselves out there into the world to gather insights and learnings. One of my favorite quotes from this episode is when Godin says “…you have to be in this cycle of making a mess in order to slowly organize it into that thing that over time feels like the right thing.”
Tony Robbins is a highly familiar name for most people interested in personal development and goal-setting. He is the chairman of a holding company with sales exceeding $5 billion each year, the author of six bestselling books, and is the leader of a number of self-help intensive seminars such as “Date with Destiny.” His podcasting style is different than many others such as Tim Ferriss in the way that some of his episodes are snippets of him interviewing other notable thought-leaders in business and self-help, while other episodes feature an interviewer (who is not Tony Robbins) asking questions to a guest of notoriety. It is assumed that when Tony Robbins is not in the podcast as the interviewer, he made the curation decision to invite that guest onto his podcast and generally guided the choice of questions asked.
One of my favorite episodes of this podcast is Amplify Your Strengths featuring Todd Herman, the founder of The Peak Athlete. He discusses why humans have a difficult time adjusting to high-stress situations, and how we actually have the capacity to create who we want to be in any situation in order to achieve our goals.
If you are not already reaping the benefits of this podcast, check it out immediately. The Ted Radio Hour is hosted by the legendary Ted Talks, with each week zeroing in on a topic of interest, approaching that topic from all levels and viewpoints that truly explores the breadth of an idea. What I love about this show is the speakers they feature – one moment you’ll find yourself listening to the scientific findings from the head of a research division at an ivy-league school, while the next you’ll be hearing from the head product designer at Apple. This show truly leaves no rock unturned with every topic and idea they tackle, with a myriad of conversations to explore that appeal to any audience.
One of the most captivating recent episodes I enjoyed on this podcast was The Person You Become, which explores the process of shedding parts of our old selves and embracing new ones as we age. The first guest we encounter is a woman named Janine Shepard who tells a vivid and emotional story of how one day her life was changed forever when she was involved in a tragic accident, and how this experience set her on a trajectory that she never would have otherwise explored.
In contrast to The Tim Ferriss Show or The Ted Radio Hour, this podcast is oriented to a far more niche audience. It is led by Pat Flynn – a big name is affiliate and online marketing who has inspired thousands of people (myself included) with innovative ways to build and engage with an audience, monetize, and create value for customers. In addition to interviewing big names such as James Clear, some of his most inspiring podcasts feature him interviewing his students who have seen success starting their own online businesses, many of whom were able to quit their full-time jobs and go full-time with their own passion.
One episode that I found to be particularly useful and inspiring is called The Riches are In the Niches in which Pat Flynn talks about the advantages of starting a niche website or brand for a small, defined audience. His rationale mostly speaks to the advantage of agility and deep understanding of a specific topic, compared to bigger brands that can only get so specific once they reach a certain size.
The Science of Happiness is one of our favorite “feel good” shows and is produced by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. A new speaker is featured every episode in which the podcast explores how different people approach self-compassion, emotional intelligence, and other topics in the realm of happiness. Many of the strategies and practices covered by the different speakers are easily actionable, leaving the listener with meaningful and impactful learnings that they could apply in their own life. For new listeners, a great introductory episode is Being Kinder to Yourself. It’s a beautiful exploration into stress and anxiety management, in which psychiatrist Elizabeth Guinto shares practices in how to be kinder to oneself.