When we hear from successful entrepreneurs, it is often inspirational axioms or broad strategies peppered with occasional personal stories. However, it is important to remember that even the most influential founder is just like you or I - and that they also regularly believed that their company would fail. In short, every startup experience is extremely personal.
How I Built This, hosted by NPR's Guy Raz, is a terribly addictive podcast simply because it strips away the pretense and focuses strictly on how a person got from point A to point B.
Each half-hour show is just Raz talking with a famous founder about their humble beginnings. It is Shark Tank's Mark Cuban discussing his nerdy, misunderstood obsession with technology (and with self-management), Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher sharing his four year legal battle that almost grounded the new airline before it began (luckily, he was a lawyer), and it is legendary chef Jose Andres explaining how he failed as a leader (and slowly grew into the role).
Similar to the equally riveting Startup (by NPR alum Alex Blumberg), How I Built This reflects the honest, bumpy and unstable ride experienced by even the most admired founders. It is fascinating to hear Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie's List, say that she doesn't consider herself an entrepreneur, or that the first years consisted of her, alone, manning multiple phones in a tiny room managing the now-famous service recommendations. Raz is able to extract an incredible amount of humility from even the biggest entrepreneurial egos, showing that everyone is very similar under any bravado or accolades.
What's brilliant is that, by focusing on the personal journey, the smart lessons and actionable strategies automatically rise to the top. You end up learning the most just by hearing how these luminaries got to where they are today. Listen to the weekly broadcasts and try not to be inspired to take on your next startup idea.