5 podcasts to get you thinking

Written by Jess Gildener,  Marketing and Communications Manager at the Social Enterprise Academy. Jess has a background in sustainable development, community partnerships and communications. She is an avid podcast listener, likes exploring the big and small ideas in life and trying to understand people a little bit more each day.


I like finding new perspectives, ideas and insights about the world - the people, the systems, the behaviours that keep us moving or hold us back. A lot of what I learn is from podcasts, I probably listen to one everyday on average. I have found five podcasts that help get me thinking, challenge my perceptions and tell a great story - I hope they do the same for you!

If you’re a podcast regular you might have heard of some of these, if not then PLEASE give podcasts a go, they are a great source of new ideas and inspiration.

My criteria were that they had to be regularly interesting, well produced and come at things from different angles. They should all be available from iTunes, Android Store and their individual websites.


1. Invisibilia

This is about the “invisible forces that control human behaviour – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions”. A recent episode called ‘Flipping the Script’ included the account of a small Danish town where young Muslim men were leaving for Syria in droves. And then the local police invited them to come home and have a cup of tea. This story, along with two others, was looking at ‘non-complementary behaviour’ and how it inspired a new business and a robbery. Other themes have included the problem with solutions and what would happen if we could switch off our fears.


2. Revisionist History

A fairly new podcast by Malcolm Gladwell, Revisionist History takes some often obscure events and looks at them through a new lens. As someone who delights in changing how we see things, Gladwell uses research data, interviews and critical thinking to pick apart the assumptions that people have made about situations. In all honesty I’m not sure that the examples he chooses are the most riveting, but it’s his way of looking at things that makes it work.


3. TED Radio Hour

This might seem a bit obvious but I included it because I listen to it so frequently and always find new and inspiring insights. Each week they explore a theme in conversation with people who have delivered TED talks and delve further into their ideas and conclusions. Recent favourites include ‘The Act of Listening’ and what happens when we listen deeply, ‘Slowing Down’ and how procrastination could be useful, and unpicking Maslow’s Human Needs theory.


4. Social Entrepreneur’s A – Z

Exploring a huge gamut of topics through conversations with social entrepreneurs, this A-Z is a quick but perceptive dip into the world of starting and growing a social enterprise. Interviewer Liam Black delves into mentoring, knowing yourself, customers, business basics and much more for a really useful overview of the questions and issues that crop up for many people in social enterprise.


5. Embedded

This podcast takes stories from news around the world and investigates them by embedding a journalist in that place and looking at it from multiple angles. I’m fairly new to this one but I was engrossed by the stories on a week spent with Medicins Sans Frontiers in Sudan and 24 hours surrounded by violent street gangs in El Salvador.


It was really hard to keep my list to 5, here are a few more!

  • Social Enterprise Conversations by KPN:  Insightful conversations with people working in social enterprise in Scotland produced by Kibble. The most recent with James Dunbar and Bill Morris was great.
  • Love + Radio:  I still think regularly about The Silver Dollar episode – the story of a black musician who develops a relationship with a member of the Ku Klux Klan, challenging them to see themselves and each other differently.
  • Motivate Yourself:  Richard Nicholls picks topics like “The Psychology of Extremism” and “What is Critical Thinking”, explains them quickly and simply with a Brummie accent and leaves you a bit the wiser.


P.S. Originally this blog was going to be about podcasts on entrepreneurship but I got rather overwhelmed by a lot of shouty people telling me how amazing their business is, and then sometimes acknowledging that the $3million start up investment was all gone because of some bad decision making. There are lots of good ones out there no doubt, I just haven’t found them yet. If you know of any, please share below!

P.P.S This article explains why stories are so good for our brains


I'd love to hear your top podcast tips, please leave them in the comments below, thanks!

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