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Lifelong learning with podcast university

These days, deliberate learning and skill acquisition is a lifelong proposition. If we want to make like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey or Elon Musk, we’re told to follow the “five-hour rule” – that’s when one hour every working day is dedicated to learning something new. 

Increasingly, this comes from podcasting. Think of it as a self-guided study through pretty much everything you want to know, when you want to know it. Podcast learning is engaging and thoroughly immersive: we actively seek out educational content, pop on headphones and focus on the topic at hand. We learn via creative storytelling, expert takes and quality production. Our brains are stimulated, our skill sets expanded. 


Podcasting has become a powerful educational tool, and the curriculum is up to you. According to ABC research, 75% of podcast users listen in to learn new things. And there’s a lot to choose from. If you want to learn about stoicism, there’s a podcast for that. If you want to discover the latest growth marketing hacks, there’s a podcast for that. If you want to learn a new language, master a new recipe or discover a new meditation technique, someone somewhere has created a podcast to help you achieve your goals. 


Podcast learning democratises our access to knowledge. You don’t have to enrol in a university course, hand over a wodge of cash, or even step inside a classroom. Traditional barriers to education are gone. You just open your app and find content that can make you richer or smarter or healthier or faster right away.  


Feeding your brain this way doesn’t require sitting in front of a screen or a lugging around a library full of books. So you can skill up while driving, or walking, or working out. Learn ancient philosophy while scrubbing the bath. Enhance leadership skills while riding your bike. The ABC found 45% of people listen to podcasts on the way to work: commute time becomes education time. Your train carriage or bus seat becomes a movable uni class with your favourite professor. Everyday moments are opportunities to learn, to expand your mind and enrich your life. We know the brain responds to great audio-based content. This is your chance to give it something constructive to do.


People who listen to podcasts tend to be fairly educated (Andreessen Horowitz estimates 30% of us hold graduate degrees), and so do podcast creators. Right now, some of the smartest brains in the world are sharing their expertise by talking into a mic in an engaging sort of way and uploading it so the rest of us can follow along. Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, Arianna Huffington and Neil deGrasse Tyson all have their own podcasts. And so do thousands of other academics, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and inspirations – all available to be your personal mentor and coach when and where you want. You might even say it’s the best teaching faculty ever. All you need to do is listen and learn.

And finally, here are my favourite go to podcasts for learning:

  1. a16z - From the team at Andreessen Horowitz (Venture Capital firm based in California) this is a phenomenal podcast that discusses the latest tech, culture trends and the future. On this podcast you will hear from some of the most fascinating thinkers and industry experts spanning topics like growth marketing hacks, category creation, pricing a new service and how to achieve product market fit.

  2. Masters of Scale - Reid Hoffman (Co-founder of LinkedIn and early stage investor in some of the most successful companies on the planet like Facebook, Air BnB, and Dropbox) - unpacks precisely how certain businesses grow from zero to insanely successful global movements. Each episode is fast paced, fun and loaded with learning from the best minds on the planet. Favourite Episode? Ep 28 - How To Build Trust Fast: Daniel Ek, CEO & Co-founder of Spotify.

  3. Business Wars - From the team at Wondery, Business Wars delivers the unauthorised real story behind some of the biggest battles for business supremacy, and how this shapes what we buy. Each series focuses on two companies who are seemingly at war with one another: Facebook vs Snapchat, Hershey vs Mars, Nintendo vs Sony. The strategies, pivots and tactics deployed in the furness of competition provide a rich treasure trove of learning.

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