In praise of podcasts for professional development: No, hear me out!

Podcasts for professional development - Steve Davis with Keith Conlon and Nigel Dobson.

One of the most efficient, enriching, and entertaining ways of using commute time or exercise time is to make sure you double up your activity by listening to podcasts for professional development at the same time.

Imagine for a moment that you are heading to your office and listening to a podcast about social media marketing in which a new tool is mentioned that will help you manage your content curation tasks more efficiently.

Wouldn't that have made your dead time powerfully productive?

Yes, it would have, and this has been my experience since I discovered podcasts in 2006.

Podcasting has been the key to me staying at the cutting edge of social media marketing throughout my career

I don't recall ever sharing this publicly but I will put it on the record now. I could not have led South Australia with its first ever social media marketing workshops or crafted content that won 10% of a national program of small business workshops, had I not been a podcast tragic.

I have listened to at least 15 hours of podcast material every week and the majority of these podcasts have been on topics like:

  • Marketing
  • Social Media
  • IT
  • Communications
  • Science
  • Philosophy
  • Design Thinking
  • Politics
  • History
  • News

I consider access to well made, well researched, thoughtful podcasts as akin to getting access to a table of elders that you can sit around and from where you can soak up insights and questions to propel you in your areas of interest.

While the first 10 years of my listening was largely focussed on marketing, communication, and IT, over the past few years I have broadened my listening diet and I'm finding the extra nutrients from different disciplines has really added zest to my thinking and my consulting.

Who would have thought that listening to a podcast about palaeontology could have led to an insight that helped professional services client?

And who could have guessed that a comedic history podcast could have led to insights that one of my clients now uses in their sales training?

But how can I make room in my life for podcasts for professional development?

Here's how I do it.

  • When I wander around the house I have my smartphone in my breast pocket or tucked into the neckline of my t-shirt and I listen to podcasts that way. Yes, I have airpods but my ears are not kind to any small headphones so I just go with audio in the wild!
  • When I cook I play podcasts via a Bluetooth speaker in my kitchen and the same goes for my shower (I have a Bluetooth speaker there, too).
  • When I drive I listen to podcasts through my car audio system via Bluetooth. The beauty is that without touching anything, the moment the car starts it finds the smartphone and starts playing whatever podcast I'd been listening to, right from the point at which it had previously stopped. This means I can listen to 2-hour podcasts without worrying about missing anything; it will all be there when I return!

The only areas I maintain as podcast free zones are:

  • Around home when there is a family member near me who is available for (and interested in) having a conversation - family time trumps virtual voices
  • On my morning walk. I have found there is much more value from my morning walk when I do it in silence. My brain is able to talk to me as it filters through thoughts and starts looking for patterns in experiences, etc. More often than not on morning walks you'll see me getting my smartphone into my hands and recording some voice memos to capture the cascade of ideas that usual flow from these quiet moments in which the brain is being stimulated by exercise and the mind is being stimulated by the various elements of nature about me, especially the glorious bird life near us.

Three podcast episodes worth listening to

I have found these podcasts for professional development very helpful over the past few weeks and thought I'd share them with you as a way of finishing this article. Let me know what you think about them, or if you have some other favourites (except for true crime, I just can't get interested in that genre).

Jody Steinhauer: Building a Business Empire Centred Around Happiness (The Design Your Thinking Podcast). Jody was inspiring for the way she held true to her principles but still thrived.

Now with More Gender Bias! (Marketing Over Coffee). Apart from the gender conversation there were some interesting takes on developments within social media.

Don't be evil (Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin by Seth Godin). An evergreen reminder of how we all have blindspots, and what to do about them.

And a bonus one: AJ's World of Dinosaurs (The Adelaide Show). I couldn't let this opportunity to showcase my daughter's takeover of my podcast in pursuit of her love for all things dinosaurs.

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