Five years ago I encountered podcasts for the first time. In order to keep my finances afloat in grad school, I landed a job as a pool cleaners.

Soon I found myself alone with a bucket, pole, and brush for 15-20 hours a week, while I wandered from house to house in upscale neighborhoods around town. After a week or so of talking to my algae brush, the epiphany came to me that I could pop some earbuds in and strap my MP3 player to my arm and ….see ya later loneliness.

I have since retired from my pool cleaning career, but my love of podcasts hasn’t left me. While I don’t have a dozen hours a week to listen any more, I do still build in the time to listen regularly. At the gym, on my commute, at the grocery story (not with kids), or when I am stuck in airports or airplanes traveling.

The podcast world is bursting with potential. Over the course of a few years it has grown from an obscure medium that no one interacts with, to some podcasts reaching a million listeners every week. In spite of massive growth, the vast majority of people have not made podcasts part of their lives.

Let me share at least three reasons why you should begin to listen to podcasts in 2017.

Exposure to new ideas 

Podcasts offer exposure to vast worlds of new ideas through a common and easy to access medium – listening. But, don’t think of this like sitting in a lecture hall for hours at a time. The podcasts hosts, who are drawing in hundreds of thousands of listeners each week, are compelling, creative and engaging. These hosts are educators, marketers or leaders in their field; which means they are invested in you learning and continuing to listen.

If you want to gain knowledge in a new field, you can find a niche podcast exploring the intricacies of that field. You could explore higher education, real estate investing, book publishing, personal finance, history, writing, personal fitness, or handyman DIY.

So many of us spend our days in knowledge realms in which we are already familiar. I went to seminary and Bible college, so my tendency is to pick up books on theology or church. But, these podcasts give me hour long primers into new fields of learning that I wouldn’t pick up on my own. Over the last 6 months, I have launched my education in numerous new directions as a result of podcasts.

Without a push, many of us would never leave the ideas that keep us comfortable and familiar. Podcasts offer that push.

Find Mentors

Imagine receiving the chance to listen in on an hour long lunch with a world renowned expert and professional journalist/interviewer. That’s what podcasts can be like. My favorite podcasts format places the host interviewing a guest expert. But, this isn’t a 60 Minutes style where they are focused on a specific new story or event.

The best podcast hosts ask the type of questions I would ask. “Tell me about your growing up years?” “How do you manage your time with all of the things you are responsible for?”or “Tell me more about this chapter of your book that is most controversial?” or finally “What kind of skills are you working to develop now and how are those helping you advance your field?”

Simply put, podcasts give me mentors. Through a podcast I can learn from experts that I would never get the opportunity to sit down with personally. An amazing feature of these conversations is “What books have you written?” or “What is a great book on this subject or the book you most recommend to others?” The amount of books recommendations that come up during these conversations is so valuable. With all the new authors and subjects I have been exposed to I am confident my reading list will never run dry

Creativity

When you regularly expose yourself to new ideas, thinkers and fields of learning it expands your creative capacity.

Artists are often the only ones given permission (or the expectation) to be “creative.” But no matter your field of work or performance you will benefit from fresh and innovative thinking.

Podcasts push me to new levels of creativity. Some explicitly challenge me to think creatively. Others gently push the walls of what I thought was possible by exposing me to people who regularly do what I didn’t realize could be done.

Because podcasts are a recent innovation and in many ways still on the fringe of society, the leaders of this world are worth listening to. They are the innovators of a cutting edge field.

If you want to grow your creative capacity in your work, listen to people who will explicitly encourage you and who are daily producing creative content.

A few Podcasts to get started:

Bible/Theology — Most large Churches have podcasts available and various seminaries post their chapel or other resources.

Business/Personal Development — The Tim Ferriss Show and  This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt

Economics/Personal Finance — Radical Personal FinanceMoney For the Rest of Us, Take Control of your Money (Dave Ramsey) and MadFientist 

Journalism — Serial and Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell,

Real Estate — Bigger Pockets Podcasts, Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever

Various Topics — Freakonomics Radio or Stuff You Should Know, True Performance with Zig Ziglar

History – HardCore History, Stuff You Missed in History Class

Writing/Publishing — The Portfolio Life by Jeff Goins, Self Publishing Podcast 

*I cannot endorse the content of all these podcasts. The content, topic, and language in some episodes can be inappropriate. Listen with caution.

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