Golden Nuggets: Ten Podcasts that Expanded My Thinking

Traffic in Metro Manila causes billions of pesos in lost profit each year. On an individual level, it is a huge waste of time and energy that could be used for economically value-adding activities. I spend hours on the road each day–hours I could spend reading a good book, engaging in meaningful face-to-face conversation, or facilitating workshops with my team. It is tempting to conclude that traffic sucks one into an energy rut, but in every problem lies a corresponding opportunity. Thanks to technology, productivity can now be squeezed into what would have been idle time.

I’ve been an avid listener of podcasts for a while now–80% of my time on the road absorbing knowledge from storytellers and thought leaders from various disciplines, in a quest for golden nuggets I can arm my mental faculty with for all kinds of battles. In this list, I share with you a couple of my favorite channels as they have been to me a fountain of wonderful thoughts. Not everything I learn here can be churned straight into an application, and therein lies the beauty–they allow the mind to travel to some other context, to situate myself outside the day-to-day routine, and to discover ideas far beyond the influence of my environment.

In no particular order:


1. Invisibilia by NPR

Humans are more than just flesh and bones. Between the anatomical and the spiritual is the enchanting realm of human psychology–emotions, inclinations, and other vicissitudes. Invisibilia explores the things about us that are hidden and unseen, and pull them to the surface to examine and dissect.


planet money

2. Planet Money by NPR

NPR bags the award for fantastic audio journalism. The show tackles the most interesting, intricate, and inconspicuous ways the game of money is played in large and small parts of the world. One witnesses how people get creative, destructive, and radical for dough as he discovers what happens behind the curtains of trade and commerce.



3. From Scratch by NPR

Start-up founders are the rock stars of today, as only one in every ten tech companies survives, and only one in hundreds making a truly great impact. The show picks the brains behind the most promising start-ups of today and takes one through their past, present, and future.


radio hour

4. TED Radio Hour

Being served disparate mind-bending shorts can get overwhelming, as the mind absorbs one snapshot of a grand idea to the next. In a search for coherence, one can count on Radio Hour reduce the mess by tying together video threads under a same, general umbrella, letting one grapple with one theme at a time.


philosophize this

5. Philosophize This

Gone are days of reading highfalutin paragraphs a hundred times over and still. not. getting anywhere near the point. Allow this guy’s passionate zeal for dumbing ideas down finally get us to feel sophisticated in thought, as he summarizes philosophical concepts and explains–in layman’s terms and with modern examples–the ideas our great classical thinkers so finely held from us inadequate ones. He is like our intellectual Robin Hood–democratizing wisdom for the masses in an entertaining way.



6. Worklife by Adam Grant

What’s it like to work for some of the most dynamic and effective teams in the world? Adam Grant takes listeners through surround-sound company tours and breaks down the intricate facets that make and break an organization’s culture and environment, and gives us plenty of best cases to draw inspiration from.


revisionist history

7. Revisionist History

Malcolm Gladwell is a masterful storyteller. One can always count on him to make the mundane or over-rated interesting, meaningful–whatever it is–from french fries to the president of the United States. He can sift through the seems, uncover hidden things, and spot delicate, inconspicuous patterns between disparate fields. His level of weaving threads is a form of artfulness as there seems to be no limit to his creativity, no one framework for organizing information. The listener is often left on the edge of his seat by the powerful impact of his narrations–this show is a pleasant indulgence of what used to be thought-trash.


asia rising

8. Asia Rising

China is plotting a world-takeover. Japan’s population is primarily aged. India has a big trash problem and consequently, a big industry potential. I had once been so exposed to great American politics and economy, yet I know little about my country’s neighbors. This podcast uncovers the issues that plague the most exciting continent of the century. Curiosities satisfied!



9. World Economic Forum

I’ve always been keen on understanding things on a grander scale. As an entrepreneur, anything and everything can be an opportunity, and tuning into the past, present, and future of macroeconomics is putting on a new set of lens to seize opportunities with.


let my people think

10. Let My People Think

Ravi Zacharias, Christian author, and apologist, intellectually defends the existence of God, explains His deity. It serves as both reminder and encouragement, as the man–fully attuned to the cries of critics and the conditions of our world today–preaches with such exuberance the ever-pressing need for a Savior to fill our heart, soul, and mind. This is the only one on my list capable of stroking one’s heartstrings.

That is my top ten, dear reader. Now, I’m all ears for your picks!

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