A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about how I got in shape and lost weight I had been wanting to lose for years. I did so by putting an end to years of negotiation with myself. If you have not read that article, you can find it here. It will give you a bit of context for this one.
When I started my physical health journey, I also started, without knowing, a mental development journey. At the time, I had not fully grasped that the mind, the body and the soul are actually interconnected and that when you start focusing heavily on one part, it’s hard to make it a success without focusing on the rest. I always thought, I know it sounds naïve, but that the saying “mind, body and soul” was just something people said to make themselves sound clever. Until my physical health journey started, I had never realized it was actually more than a saying, but a reality.
This mental development journey started without me realizing because it started with podcasts. As one starts getting in shape through running, biking or training daily, one can listen to music, enjoy the silence or if you are anything like me, you get mentally bored 5 seconds after the start of a physical activity. Getting mentally bored immediately as you start training is not optimal if the goal is to get in shape as it means that for the next 30, 60 or 90 minutes, you will be battling your mind every second of the way. Unless you have the mind of a monk, which I really don’t, the likelihood that you will quit your training session before the end goal is really high as you will be too bored to finish. This happened to me while running over and over again. To combat this, I initially crafted, using way too many hours, an amazing playlist called “Running” to which I ran on 3 songs and gave up as my mind was bored to death… Music was not going to get me in shape.
I can’t remember what made me think of trying podcasts and I can’t remember which podcast I listened to first but over the last 18 months I’ve listened to more podcasts than I can count. Happily, my podcast app keeps track of my statistics and I have listened to over 312 podcasts in the last 12 months, summing up to more than 450h. I admit it with pride, I am a Podcast maniac…
Podcasts are not only a great content format, they have actually saved my health journey as they have allowed me to be mentally engaged while my body trained. The combination of mental and physical engagement has proven to be a magical formula for me! By being both engaged mentally and physically, it turns out that I can run 30min without quitting, I can lift weights for 60min without being bored and I can row in my basement 45 min without feeling mentally tortured. In addition, it turns out that my favorite podcast genre is mainly composed of inspirational longform interviews where I can learn new things and reflect upon also after I am done training. Total win!
I have always dreamed of starting my own business, so over the course of 18 months, I have listened to every episode of “How I built this” learning about multiple successful entrepreneurs and how they built the business they built. I listened to all of “Startup” which documents how Alex Blumberg, a NPR Podcaster started his own Podcast company, Gimlet Media, now owned by Spotify. I have binged on Tim Ferriss podcast show to learn how people strive to succeed, how they deal with failure and what drives them. I have spent countless hours listening to Shane Parish and his Podcast “The knowledge Project” learning from great thinkers how to build mental models and make decisions.
As I have trained my body, I have also nourished my mind with thoughts, wisdom and knowledge I would never have acquired in any other ways. It turns out that podcasts are my favorite content form as it allows me to learn while I do other things and it turns out my mind remembers best what I have learned in audible format. I associate concepts I heard with the scenery I saw as I heard the knowledge. As I biked over Nyhavn in Copenhagen I learned from Esther Perel that cultivating eroticism in a relationship is like preparing a good meal, it requires time and planning. As I biked in the national park of Kalvebod fælled, I have learned from Malcolm Gladwell that if a country elects a female president, it doesn’t mean the door is now open for others to follow, but that it simply gives the status quo justification to close the door again. As I ran on dirt paths, I have learned from John Green what globalization effort it took for pineapples to make their way on pizza and create the Hawaiian pizza. And as I rowed in my basement, I have learned from Seth Godin that boundaries are important - they create edges and it’s at the edge that tension, creativity and new ways of thinking lie.
I continue to listen to podcasts but not as religiously as I did at the beginning of my health journey. I take breaks at times as I realized that an overload of information is not beneficial and I can’t remember what I have learned well or recall who said what. That being said, I have come to realize that if I go too long without a podcast, my brain stagnates and the fire in me is replaced by restlessness and I get depressed. I have learned that I am a person who needs to learn all the time, who needs her thoughts challenged and who needs to expand her perspectives almost daily.
That’s what podcasts are for me, brain candies that keep my brain fueled and happy.
For those of you who are not into podcasts or for those of you who are and are in search of the next great series to listen to, I have made a list of podcasts I recommend to everyone. Take a look and make your pick:
How I Built This with Guy Raz : NPR - Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built. I recommend the following episodes:
And almost every other episodes
The Knowledge Project Podcast - Farnam Street - The Knowledge Project Podcast with Shane Parrish helps you master the best of what other people have already figured out. Listen and Learn. I recommend the following episodes:
The Tim Ferriss Show - Longform interviews with various guests. You can learn about anything with this show. I strongly recommend the following episodes:
WorkLife with Adam Grant: A TED original podcast - Discover how to achieve great results by strengthening your own personal leadership skills. Get certified in Personal Leadership by organizational psychologist Adam Grant. I recommend the following episodes:
Revisionist History Podcast - Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell's journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. I strongly recommend this episode, especially in these crazy pandemic times we live in: The Obscure Virus Club
The Anthropocene Reviewed - The Anthropocene Reviewed is a podcast hosted by author and YouTube personality John Green in which he reviews different facets of the Anthropocene, the epoch that includes significant human impact on the environment, on a five-star scale. I recommend to start with this episode: Hawaiian Pizza and Viral Meningitis
How's Work by Esther Perel - In the new podcast How's Work?, iconic couples therapist Esther Perel brings new perspective to the invisible forces that shape workplace connections, conflict and more
Rabbit Hole - The New York Times - What is the internet doing to us? The Times tech columnist Kevin Roose discovers what happens when our lives move online.
This Is Actually Happening - A weekly podcast that probes the chaotic interiors of the human experience to find out what happens when everything changes. Try this episode 146: What if you thought your mother was a robot? It's weird, but so interesting! https://art19.com/shows/this-is-actually-happening-podcast/episodes/5a05f626-555f-4885-8bf7-c54f2d2fb5d6
TRAINED - On “Trained,” Nike senior director of performance Ryan Flaherty sits down with these athletes — along with psychologists, researchers, physicians, trainers and others to talk about focus, performance and life. Try this episode. it truly inspired me! Arianna Huffington | Why You Need to Care About Self-Care
Business Wars - Business Wars gives you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights -- or to ruin
Without fail - Candid conversations with people who have done hard things: what worked, what didn't and why. Hosted by Alex Blumberg.
Wind of Change | Crooked Media - Did the CIA write a power ballad that ended the Cold War?
Hope you enjoy some of the above. If anyone is looking for more or other recommendations, hit me up! As I have listened to over 450h of podcasts in the last 12 months, I have a lot more good suggestions to give.
P.S. see my original article on LinkedIn here! You can see some comments and recommendations from my connections and followers