I had a great experience studying for my MBA at Wharton. I learned about subjects I had never studied at college or picked up in my first job as an account manager at an advertising agency: Finance, accounting, marketing, organizational theory, operations, business law, negotiation strategies, and entrepreneurship.
While I landed a good job right out of business school, I also graduated with an enormous debt load hanging over my head. Every month, for the first five years after graduation, I cut a check to my debtors.
Fortunately, I managed to pay off my loans early. But I remember how those checks cut into my take home pay and pushed my plans for buying an apartment for my young family further out into the future.
MBAs aren't going away anytime soon. But there is an alternative for those of you who don't have the time or the money to plunk down on what is, essentially, a very expensive entry ticket to the corporate fast track (or the startup world, if that's where you want to go).
The alternative? Podcasts.
Podcasts are a great way to learn because you can listen to them while you're driving to work, exercising, cooking lunch for the kids, or walking your dog. It's probably the only type of content that you can consume at the same time as you're doing something completely different. (Try jogging or washing the dishes while watching a Youtube video or reading a blog post).
And, best of all, they're entirely free!
With a few taps of your finger you can find podcasts that will teach you about any subject you're looking to learn about. I like to listen to podcasts that are related to my area of interest and expertise: Digital marketing, social media, blogging, email marketing, and starting -- and scaling -- new businesses. (I love podcasts so much I started my own, Write With Impact, last year).
Here are seven podcasts that can teach you practical strategies and tactics for starting and running a successful business. It's knowledge you might otherwise have to pay $100,000 to acquire at a business school like Wharton:
1. How I Built This
How I Built This is a new podcast from NPR that features interviews with some of the icons of business. Guy Raz, who also hosts the TED Radio Hour podcast, takes you into his studio where he chats with entrepreneurs like Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger of Instagram, and Sara Blakely of Spanx. They share fascinating stories of how they got started, and reveal the insights, decisions, and twists of fate that turned their fledgling startups into billion-dollar companies.
Brian Clark is one of the first to figure out --and profit from -- the whole content marketing space before it even had a name. He turned his wildly popular content marketing blog, Copyblogger, into what today is Rainmaker Digital, a $12 million company that offers integrated technology platforms and services for digital marketers.
On his podcast, Unemployable, Brian interviews some of the most successful independent online marketing professionals around. On some episodes, it's just Brian sharing his many years of experience in the digital marketing trenches.
3. Marketing School
On each 5-10 minute episode of Marketing School, Neil Patel and Eric Siu tackle a single topic on digital marketing. Each episode is packed with valuable strategies, hacks, and resources, and they do it every day of the week. They cover topics like learning how to be a better blogger, attracting more views to your YouTube videos, and generating sales leads from Snapchat.
Their rapid-fire, back-and-forth delivery keeps the energy level high. These guys know their stuff cold and you'll learn a ton about digital marketing from them.
4. $100 MBA
Omar Zenhom went to Wharton --and then dropped out --to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. Today he's the founder of WebinarNinja, an online platform for conducting webinars. He's also the host of the $100 MBA podcast. Every day, Omar shares practical strategies and tips on anything from online marketing to personal productivity. His episodes, delivered daily, are short and punchy and always give you something you can use in your business.
5. Branding LAB
Aaron Pierson is a graphic designer, video producer, branding expert, and Amazon bestselling author of "Brand Dominance: How to Create a Disruptive Social Brand." Aaron describes Branding LAB as a "podcast for entrepreneurs, designers, innovators, and people looking to build a personal brand." Aaron alternates between 25-30 minute conversations with branding experts, and 10-15 minute solo episodes where he just riffs on what he knows best.
6. Conversion Cast
The folks at Leadpages, the fast-growing lead generation software company, know a lot about finding and converting traffic into paying customers. On their podcast, Conversion Cast, senior conversion educator Tim Paige interviews some of the most successful online marketers around.
In each 8-10 minute episode, Tim's guests dissect what made their break-out online marketing strategies work so well. Episode titles like "How Gabby Wallace Added 25K New Email Subscribers with Youtube", or "How Dan Henry Spent $509 to Make $104K (In Just One Month)", give you a sense for just how granular this podcast gets.
7. The Side Hustle Show
The Side Hustle Show: Business Ideas for Part-Time Entrepreneurs, is a podcast for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to earn some extra income and build a side business outside of their nine-to-five job. Since launching his show back in 2013, Nick Loper has interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs who have built six and seven-figure online businesses. Recent episodes feature stories from entrepreneurs on how they built membership sites, expanding your blogging audience by tapping into other people's audiences, and how to start an online store without touching any inventory.