Though podcasting has been around much of this century, for many, 2017 was the best year in podcast history. After all, so many existing podcasts really got into their groove, and more exciting and informative podcasts hit the airwaves. Heck, I even started my own, FUTUREPROOF.

Every year is a chance to grow, and 2018 should be no exception. For those of you looking to approach the new year with a new mindset, here are the podcasts you need to start streaming to start thinking differently in 2018:

Hosted by Harvard Business Review editor Sarah Green Carmichael, the HBR IdeaCast is, unexpectedly, one of the smartest listens out on the market today. It's not uncommon to have guests such as Harvard Business School professors Mihir Desai and Nancy Koehn, but the show liberally invites standouts from outside the Harvard community, such as astronaut Scott Kelly and Box CEO Aaron Levie.

Ear Hustle is a podcast like no other. It is recorded and produced entirely from the inside of San Quentin State Prison, the brainchild of inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwane Williams and artist Nigel Poor. The aim of the podcast is to illuminate what life is like behind bars, as well as the legislative issues faced by inmates, by exploring the stories and experiences of individual inmates.

At a time when it's all to easy to get caught up in the hysteria around current events, Pod Save America has made it its mission to restore the sanity of the listening public, one podcast episode at a time. The podcast is hosted by four former aides to President Obama, each of whom brings something different to the table.  

Billed as stories and conversations about today's queer experience, self-described BFFs Kathy Tu and Tobin Low engage in provocative discussions that help listeners understand and appreciate the LGBTQ experience.

It's admittedly the most basic concept ever: the morning news. Yet hosts David Green, Steve Inskeep, and Rachel Martin do a great job of giving listeners a sense of what's going on both in the US and abroad in a little more than ten minutes, Monday through Friday.

Host Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps most familiar as the author of such thought provoking books as Outliers and The Tipping Point, here focuses his inquiring mind on retelling past events that he considers to have been misunderstood or forgotten, with the aim of telling a story that demonstrates the complexities of history while illuminating the impact that it has on the present day. The podcast covers a wide range of topics, from civil rights to golf to social satire, in a way that is educational yet engaging. It is guaranteed to make you take a closer look at the world around you. 

Brought to us by Vox (also responsible for the also wonderful Ezra Klein Show, among others), The Impact is a wonderfully in-depth look at the world of how policy affects everyday people. Hosted by Sarah Kliff, the first season does a fantastic job of employing storytelling to show how policy impacts health care realities for millions of Americans.

Host Bernie Borges provides actionable advice that's useful for everyone from the social media intern all the way up to the C-suite. Guests are influential thought leaders from reputable brands, showcasing a wide variety of relevant and specific ideas that help to add to a holistic picture of the industry, with all of its moving parts.

The podcast that's "at the intersection of marketing and technology," Marketing Over Coffee is a wonderfully casual show that discusses marketing tactics old and new. Christopher Penn and John Wall are marketing nerds in the best sense, talking about the latest marketing news, with a specific focus on analytics and data-centric hacks. Penn is one of the best in the game when it comes to marketing analytics, and Wall is one of the best interviewers around; all together, they're the perfect combo for any true marketing geek.

If you're going to have a podcast featuring co-hosts, it's crucial that they bring both knowledge and personality to the table. That's definitely the case with Stewart Rogers and Travis Wright, both marketing technology experts in their own rights, and co-hosts of this podcast from VentureBeat. Rogers and Wright are quirky as heck, and you'll love them for it. VB Engage is the perfect mix of interviews with experts like Jason Miller of LinkedIn, digital expert Gary J. Nix, and Sysomos strategy chief David Berkowitz, as well as discussions of today's top marketing topics, from AI to blockchain to digital ad fraud.

If you've ever wanted to think differently about virtually everything, this is the podcast for you. The show professes to explore "the hidden side of everything," which is a pretty good way of describing it. A common thread that runs throughout the episodes, helmed by journalist Stephen Dubner, is that actions often have unintended consequences, from well-meaning laws to anti-police protests to even the act of standing in line.

Out of all the podcasts on this list, this one may very well have the strongest archive of episodes. New episodes show up overnight in time for your Thursday commute to work.

Mitch Joel's long-running podcast has been a staple of mine for years. Joel typically has the sharpest guests imaginable, from author David Meerman Scott to content marketing expert Robert Rose to Google digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik. These are hefty episodes, typically an hour or so in length, which is a great way to really go in-depth with some of the top digital marketing and thought leaders around.

Social Pros is one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world, for good reason. Jay Baer (Convince & Convert) and Adam Brown (Salesforce)'s show is all about the complex and at times nebulous world of social media, as well as people who depend on it for their job. But as the name suggests, Social Pros skips the hip startups, focusing instead on, well, the "pros." Guests are veteran strategists (Rohit Bargava, Mark Schaefer, Sue Zimmerman, and Diana Scholl are some recent highlights) working for large corporations like Ford and IBM, to see what they care about and what they're doing right (and wrong).

What podcasts are you listening to in order to be your best in 2018? I'd love to hear your recommendations for inspiration as I build out FUTUREPROOF.

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Published on: Jan 3, 2018