When the podcast wave began, I wasn't into it at all. Because, to be honest, until recently, I never saw the point of them--a seemingly cheap version of reading. After all, they couldn't possible compete with the rush of a literal page-turner, or so I thought.
Thanks to a middle-of-the-day plane-ride with no books and no laptop battery power, I finally relented.
I eventually settled on an episode of the Tim Ferriss show with Mark Andressen as his special guest. Two minutes in, I started warming up to it. Five minutes in, I was hooked. I listened to three more episodes on my flight, and that was just the beginning.
The appeal wasn't just that listening provided entertainment, it also challenged my thinking, exposed me to new ideas, and helped me deep dive on subjects I suddenly longed to know more about.
And all of that has enabled me to take my networking conversation game to the next level. Because, let's face it, you'll be far more memorable if you bring up something interesting (like a fun fact you picked up from a cool podcast), than if you just give your typical industry elevator speech.
So read on for suggestions to help you up your small talk game, no matter where you are or who you're chatting with.
For instance, on an episode with Caroline Paul, author of The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure , as well as former San Francisco fire fighter and global adventurer, he broaches the topics of cultivating bravery and pushing past fear. If you're struggling to make a change in life or seeking a better way to problem-solve, this podcast can help you get there. It's been a tremendous resource in helping me talk my friends and colleagues through difficult career choices.
Their candid discussion on getting through each day's news cycle in this trying time has enabled me to better emphasize with and talk about social issues I may be less familiar with. As such, I've found it's helped me be more thoughtful and inclusive, especially when it comes to more sensitive issues.
3. The Payoff
The episode, Love & Money, Credit Sexiness, and Financial Infidelity, offers an in-depth look at the role money plays in dating and relationships, including actual recordings of "the money conversation" that took place on the co-hosts' dates.
For me, this intentional removal of the awkward factor has me openly talking to my own friends about how learning to negotiate within the bounds of a personal relationship will help them when it comes time to negotiate on a professional level.
Since most people are familiar with the classic show, I've found it easy to engage in the heavy-handed topic of what it means to be politically correct by referencing that very episode.
A recent one that aims to decipher the growing emphasis on "coding" addresses a question I've found useful in my own professional circle: Is it imperative to be able to write lines of code or simply be code-literate?
With long-time NPR host and bureau chief Guy Raz digging into how these success stories got their start, this show offers an inside look at what it takes to bring an idea to life.
Each episode homes in on the pivotal make-or-break moment for the entrepreneur, with plenty of learning to be had. Their stories make for great small talk fun facts. To wit: If Mark Cuban can make it through dodging bill collectors while on the brink of bankruptcy, you can get through this month's fundraising.
Ever since I listened to the episode with multitalented artist Andrea Pippins, I've been reflecting on my goals and how to achieve them.
My friends and I openly discuss this million-dollar question: How do you reach your professional aspirations and achieve work-life harmony?
A great example is the episode The Food We Eat, it brings in the perspective of scientists, psychologists, and food entrepreneurs to cover topics including the changing American diet, food for connection, and how insect protein will transform the food industry.
As I hope you can tell from this list, there is a podcast out there for everyone, and listening is about so much more than sheer entertainment. Tuning in has gotten me through long commutes and apartment cleanings, but it's also given me an advantage when I meet new people or need to hold my own in conversation.
I'd highly encourage you to give one a listen, just don't forget to tweet me your favorites at @samir077.