I was first introduced to podcasts about three years ago, and since then, it’s become one of my favorite forms of media. I was an avid reader growing up, and I loved that podcasts had such a narrative and easy-to-follow style. When I first began listening to them, it reminded me of the radio shows I used to listen to growing up, where the on-air personalities would laugh and joke with each other and everyone tuning in felt like we were among good friends.
My first podcast was NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz. My good friend had introduced me to the show when I was in the very early ideation phase of my business and was needing inspiration for how to raise money and develop it. She sent me the episode where Guy Raz interviewed Bobbi Brown, luxury makeup pioneer and mogul. I listened to the episode while I was stuck in LA traffic and for once, the bumper-to-bumper crawl didn’t bother me because I was so occupied. Brown’s calm and candid recount of her rise to success in the beauty industry was so motivating to me that it helped catapult me forward in taking actionable steps to develop my business.
After that, I haven’t put down podcasts since! I am going to share some of my favorite podcasts that I recommend you listen to if you’re needing encouragement, inspiration, or just general business guidance when it comes to starting, developing, or scaling your business.
As we should all know by now, entrepreneurship isn’t for the weak, so having an ecosystem–even if it encompasses people you don’t have a personal relationship with–to support you through the endless and countless points of confusion and being overwhelmed, definitely helps!
Here are my top five business podcast recommendations that provide exactly that:
1.As I stated at the beginning of this article, How I Built This with Guy Raz was my first experience with podcasts, and it’s still one of my favorites! The title speaks for itself: Raz interviews countless successful founders of million-dollar, and sometimes billion-dollar companies and breaks down how they did it. They go through everything: their upbringing, their first jobs, how they came up with their business idea, how they began developing it, their lucky breaks, how they scaled, and so much more. You leave feeling wowed at how amazing the entrepreneurs’ journeys have been, and it inspires you to one day be on their level.
Aside from the amazing guests and insight you gain from the interviews, Raz always ends each episode by asking the guests if they believe their success was based on luck or talent. It’s such an important question to ask because the answer is always both. There’s no amount of work or talent that can get you to the top. Luck (or favor/blessings if you’re religious like I am) HAS to be involved.
2. Work Smart with Morgan DeBaun is a new favorite. She recently launched her podcast a few months ago, but she’s been one of my favorite founders to follow for the last couple of years now. She’s black, she’s young, and she is BOOKED AND BUSY! As the co-founder of Blavity, a media company for black millennials, she’s a public figure because of her unique position as a young black founder, and because of the way she’s positioned herself in the industry as a thought leader and an expert.
There are many founders who lead successful businesses, but they don’t leverage that knowledge and create a platform. She’s done an excellent job of building a community of entrepreneurs and constantly spouting gems for those of us who are trying to go big with our businesses.
On her podcast, it’s a mix between episodes where she rides solo talking about her own experiences building and scaling her business, and episodes where she brings on subject matter experts to discuss highly-talked-about topics in entrepreneurship like when to start paying yourself, when to hire a Chief Technology Officer (CTO), and raising money for your startup.
3. Smart Passive Income (SPI) with Pat Flynn is another favorite that I stumbled upon a couple years ago. I think Apple Podcasts suggested it to me because they saw I was interested in business content. Turns out, they did well by sending this one my way! Flynn has this fun, (slightly nerdy) energy that’s easy to follow and keeps you captivated. He created SPI several years ago when he was laid off from his cool architecture job and realized he had a knack for e-commerce and online marketing.
His show has a slightly different scope from How I Built This, in that he interviews successful entrepreneurs who aren’t as well known. Their companies aren’t typically in the hundreds of millions in revenue category, but they’re people who have been able to scale their businesses enough to make a living, and some of them still hit lower seven figures (which is an incredible feat that I’m not undermining at all.) Listening to SPI helps you take actionable steps to grow your own business, and also grow as a person and become more well-rounded overall.
4. Access and Opportunity with Carla Harris by Morgan Stanley. I discovered this podcast in the Fall of 2020, but it’s been in production since Summer 2018. I can’t remember how I first discovered this podcast, but I remember listening to my first episode last November during my regular four-hour drive from Washington D.C. to Raleigh, NC to visit my family.
This one holds a special place in my heart because listening to it directly connected me to my first venture capital (VC) firm. And when I say directly, that’s in the literal sense. If I hadn’t listened to that podcast, I would not have heard the episode interviewing Precursor Ventures‘ managing partner, Charles Hudson, and I would probably have never thought to reach out to them to pitch my own business.
In that episode, Harris interviewed Hudson about his prior experience working for VC’s, and then his experience founding his own VC for underrepresented founders at the pre-seed level without previous startup experience. If you know anything about VC, that’s nearly unheard of, so listening to that episode inspired me enough to reach out to them to consider adding my business to their portfolio.
To my surprise, they liked my business enough to reach out to me for an interview! I would have never reached that level of exposure and connection if it were not for the literal access and opportunity the Morgan Stanley podcast provided. Even if you’re not ready for VC or if you don’t have a viable business yet, listening to this podcast will get you moving in that direction!
5. To round out this list, I’m going to talk about First Pitches with Lolita Taub and Eric Bahn. On this show, they bring on famous founders of multi-million-dollar startups (many poised to become billion-dollar startups) and as the title implies, they talk about their very first pitches. If you’re a founder yourself, you likely already know that your first pitch was HORRIBLE (I know mine definitely was.)
This show does a great job of showcasing “glow up” stories, reminding us that where we started is not so important! I came across this podcast because Eric Bahn, one of the hosts, is a general partner (GP) and co-founder of Hustle Fund–an early-stage tech VC firm that I had discovered several months ago from a tweet one of his other co-founders and GP, Elizabeth Yin, tweeted.
Hustle Fund hosts some of the most helpful webinars I’ve ever attended (and I attend a lot.) Because of their premium content for startups, I’ve become a regular attendee, and was among the first to learn of their podcast they launched at the beginning of this year.
I know this article ended up being quite long, but if you’re trying to actively grow your business, this is a worthwhile read. Check out all five of these podcasts on your next work commute, long drive, or grueling workout!