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How I Swarm a New Topic with Podcasts

Swarm Podcasts

I see podcasts as conversational versions of articles and books. And I enjoy snacking on them like the food samples at the grocery store. Sometimes those samples fill you up, or they could inspire you to try a new recipe. Likewise, podcasts can satisfy your curiosity or entice you to dig deeper into a topic.

Avoid Bad Podcasts

Taking advantage of my work commute, I couldn’t see why someone would choose a podcast over an audiobook. The editing cycle for books ensures that the published ones come out well crafted. Meanwhile, a lot of podcasts offer crummy, unedited interviews. Why listen to raw conversations?

One conversation really opened my eyes to the power of podcasts during a flight in 2018. I queued up a podcast to add some color to a book I had started recently. On the Chase Jarvis Live show, Ryan Holiday discussed the highlights of his book Ego is the Enemy and added a few insightful anecdotes. The podcast conversation added deeper layers to my reading experience. As a bonus, Ryan endorsed several other books that I felt compelled to get and read.

When someone endorses a book in conversation it motives me much more to read it. Today I find more than half the books I read from endorsements in podcasts. (Most of the other ones come from the bibliographies of books I enjoy.)

Conversations that Inspire

From one of Ryan Holiday’s email newsletters I learned about Tyler Cohen which led me to his interview with David Perell. From their conversation, I learned the importance of daily writing which has tremendously influenced my daily behavior.

Inspired by the question of “what’s your production function?” or more specifically how do you get so much done, I learned the habit of writing first thing each morning, which I still do today.

Swarm on Writing Advice

When researching how to write better, I held off on diving into the canon of writing books such as Draft No. 5 by John McPhee. Instead I listened to his interview on the Tim Ferriss Podcast with Jim Collins where they discussed the lessons from McPhee that work for them.

In another episode from Tim Ferriss, I heard Michael Lewis describe his writing process. I stole his technique of printing out drafts at night. The next morning the writing looks different on paper than on the computer.

I found further writing process tips from Malcolm Gladwell on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Gladwell will often switch between digital tools and pen / paper to get a fresh perspective on his writing.

These different perspectives gave me context when I eventually read Draft No. 5, along with other great writing advice books. (My favorites include Bird by Bird and Zinsser’s On Writing Well).

** You might also like my post on writing – Advice from Asimov to Share your Problems **

Podcasts to check out

Another great benefit of podcasts is that you can hear from people who have not written their experiences down anywhere. This applies specifically to busy startup founders who will show up for a podcast interview but are less likely to write their stories and lessons.

Here are a few examples, notably the founder of Ring, Jamie Siminoff, and the founder of Shopify, Tobias Lütke.

1) Entrepreneurial Podcast Episodes

2) Conversations related to Writing

3) Broad-Spectrum Discussions