Remember when we talked about podcasts to listen to on those days you want to learn absolutely nothing? Well now it’s time to get your brain back in working order. These 10 podcasts will each teach you how to be a better person in some way: a better sleeper, a better friend, even a better world citizen. Look at you, improving yourself already!
Be a better person: An Army of Normal Folks
An Army of Normal Folks is the place where Bill Courtney — author, speaker, and former volunteer football coach of Manassas High School (and the subject of the 2012 Academy Award-winning documentary Undefeated) — reminds us that taking action in ordinary but meaningful ways, such as volunteering, donating, and changing even only one other person’s life, can make a big difference. Bill’s positivity is contagious; he is basically Ted Lasso embodied. But he’s talking to real people (including, in the first three-part series, an Instagram-famous cop who believes in community policing) to prove that we all have a part to play in helping America overcome its problems.
Be a better sleeper: 12 Hour Sound Machines
Brandon Reed was a perpetually tired dad of two young boys who was desperate to find a solution to get him sleeping through the night. He couldn’t find any high-quality sounds that were long enough and free of interruptions, loops, or fading in and out to accomplish it. So he created a podcast with perhaps the world’s most straightforward title: 12 Hour Sound Machines (No Loops or Fades!) Almost overnight, the show began resonating with others from all over the world for a wide variety of applications — it’s for athletes, students, entrepreneurs, the anxious, people who have a tough time focusing, anyone who needs a restful night of sleep, and maybe especially parents of newborns. (Once, Brandon changed the frequency of the white noise. Within an hour got a text from a new mum who had found his phone number on the internet wondering why her baby suddenly was unable to sleep.) This podcast could change your life. Goodnight.
Be a better parent: Is My Child a Monster?
Is My Child a Monster? is a new parenting therapy podcast in which you are a fly on the wall in licensed clinical social worker Leslie Cohen-Rubury’s office, listening in as she sits with parents who share their stories in therapy sessions, voicing the age-old parental fear: Is my child a monster? It’s like Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? but specifically for parents, and you can trust Leslie and her years of experience working with thousands of families. She’s heard it all, nothing will surprise her, and she knows what it feels like to be worried about a kid and to want to better understand them (she’s a mum, too). Through multi-episode sessions with parents, Leslie discusses cases of anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles among children from ages 4–18. Each session, parents and listeners learn strategies to try, then hear how things went in the followup sessions.
Be a better member of society: Were You Raised By Wolves?
There are a lot of etiquette puzzles out there, and Nick Leighton and Leah Bonnema want to give everybody the tools to solve them on their own. On their podcast Were You Raised By Wolves?, they provide solutions to both sprawling and hilariously-specific social conundrums, from dealing with excessive talkers, to establishing healthy boundaries with coworkers, to the proper way to eat Cheetos (with chopsticks?), always searching for the bigger principles at hand. It’s not a bunch of hand-wringing over outdated do’s and don’ts, but practical, simple advice for things you can do to make yourself more likable (and liked).
Be a better shopper: Add to Cart
What’s in your online cart, and what does it say about you? On Add to Cart, comedian-writer-director Kulap Vilaysack and veteran journalist SuChin Pak get vulnerable by sharing theirs, and having honest, revealing discussions about what’s worth the money and what’s not. They bring on a variety of guests to find out what they’re buying (where does Scott Auckerman get those fancy suits?). The show will either inspire you to pick something out for yourself (or someone else) or make you realise that nobody needs more crap, and Vilaysack and Pak’s conversations about money get to the root of why we’re to drawn to that “Add to Cart” button in the first place.
Be a better lifehacker: All the Hacks
Want to optimise your insurance policies, take an epic trip to Italy, buy back time, have a difficult conversation, build a second brain, or find the perfect rental? Listen to All the Hacks, the show where Chris Hutchins goes on deep dives with experts who have saved listeners millions of dollars while helping them upgrade their lives. Chris knows the perfect questions that will get his expert guests to reveal how to spend less time and money while adding a little joy into your life. No matter what part of your life needs an upgrade, there’s an episode for it. (And while I’m at it, give a listen to Lifehacker’s own Webby Award-winning life betterment podcast The Upgrade, currently on hiatus.)
Be a better spender: Everyone’s Talkin’ Money
Everyone’s Talkin’ Money is a show where there are judgments and no dumb questions– just smart and personal conversations about you, your money, and reaching your financial goals. From the money trauma we carry since childhood, to letting go of money mistakes we made in adultgood, host Shannah Game isn’t just talking numbers, she’s changing the way we think and feel about money. She isn’t a therapist, but these conversations get to the core of who we are, why we binge-spend, hoard money, or are afraid to look at our bank statements. Through life-changing conversations, you’ll get rid of the “rules,” drop your “mistakes” at the door and step into a new relationship with money.
Be a better world citizen: Important Not Important
Ready to fix the world? Join the Important Not Important movement, where host Quinn Emmett delivers deep conversations with the world’s smartest scientists, doctors, CEO’s, farmers (and more!) to help people make tiny changes that can make Earth more habitable. Each episode is packed with news updates and actionable tips you can use to help clean up the mess. Discussions of clean energy, coral reefs, COVID vaccines, pediatric cancer research, clean water, carbon capture tech, asteroid deflection, and artificial intelligence ethics all get to the heart of the world’s most pressing issues. Important Not Important isn’t trying to make you scared of the world we’re living in, but to arm you with the science you need to make better decisions, be a smarter consumer, and shrink your carbon footprint.
Be a better friend: Best Friend Therapy
Elizabeth Day (author and host of the popular podcast How to Fail, which will help you be a better failure) and Emma Reed-Turrell, a psychotherapist, have been best friends for over twenty years and have joined forces for Best Friend Therapy, where they tackle all dimensions of friendship celebrations, breakups, and everything that happens in between. If your own best friendship is in trouble and you aren’t ready to talk to that person about it, listen to Elizabeth and Emma to learn about how friendship is impacted by things like narcissism, guilt, clinginess, miscommunication, and more, and what to do about friendship addictions and interpersonal snafus. It will make you feel like you’re in on the friend conversation, armed with tips from two women with an outsider perspective, operating from a place of empathy, honesty, and compassion.
Be a better coworker: Work Appropriate
The workplace is littered with landmines of potential misunderstandings and screwups, and it turns out, we’re all stumbling our way through it. Anne Helen Petersen has created a space we can learn from each other in Work Appropriate, which covers the distinct work wars you’re waging every time you clock in. She’s diving in to ways to feel confident if you have ADHD or are neurodivergent, thrive in an industry that seems to be sinking, set up boundaries so separate work from life, or even just gracefully make it through a day of potentially awkward conversations. Petersen, the author of Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, is the smart friend you’d want to call after a tough day at the job. If you’re not suffering from tricky power dynamics or a question of email etiquette, your actions might be causing strife for those around you. Which means this podcast is for anyone who communicates with anyone at work, and that’s basically everyone.
Be a better cook: Dinner SOS
I’m a vegetarian and am constantly wondering whether or not I should speak up about my dietary restrictions when I’m invited to a dinner party. I just want someone to tell me what to do. Bon Appétit’s Dinner SOS is the show that tells you what to do when thorny issues arise in the kitchen — yours or someone else’s — whether the problem is a last-minute party with no menu inspiration, a toddler who will only eat buttered pasta, or a picnic with 25 people on the guest list. Name your dinner emergency, and Bon Appétit is here to help. This show will help you take the stress out of cooking and even make it fun. Consider it your “call a friend” when you’re sous viding your steak or trying to impress your in-laws.
Be a better podcaster: Podcast Bestie
Making a podcast can feel lonely, but Courtney Kocak, host of Podcast Bestie, is your friend in all things audio, whether you’re getting started as a freelance producer, looking for advertisers, nailing your audio, or trying to grow. Courtney is a prolific podcaster herself (host of Private Parts Unknown, The Bleeders, and, of course, Podcast Bestie, which is also a newsletter), so many of her conversations are driven by her own experience. She’s asking the right questions because she’s had to answer them herself, and she calls up the aces in the industry to provide case studies and step-by-step solutions to the things that have you cursing the very word “Audacity.”
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