Founding father of modern advertising David Ogilvy once said, "If you ever find a man who is better than you are - hire him." He wasn't the first to imply the power of intelligence by association. Can one become smarter merely by being around someone who tips the smarts scale? This couldn't be further from the truth in my experience. But in the spirit of sponging up intel at large, I've turned to my trusted colleagues - whom are all geniuses in their own right - to get their thoughts on podcasts that keep you sharp.
1. Invisibilia, Hosted by Lulu Miller & Alix Spiegel
Latin for "all the invisible things," this podcast, which launched in January, explores the invisible forces that control human behavior: ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and emotions. "It weaves narrative storytelling with scientific research and ultimately aims to make you see your life differently," says Leta Soza, Director of PR Engineering & Operations.
Topics have included the challenging life of a blind man who employs a taboo technique for relating the world around him, the secret history of thoughts, and the story of a woman incapable of experiencing fear. "It encourages me to question the foundations of some of my beliefs, and it makes me reconsider perceptions that feel otherwise cemented," shares Soza.
2. TED Radio Hour, Hosted by Guy Raz
"It's a great way to get a quick glance at fascinating ideas shared by some of the world's most innovative people," says Data Scientist Frank Jing.
It's everything you love about TED talks but edited for radio and amplified with new interview materials to give you a thought-provoking primer on topics ranging from why time exists to whether or not animals have morals.
Jing's other favorite podcast:
3. Stuff You Should Know, Hosted by Charles (Chuck) Bryant & John Clark
"Most of the topics seem simple but the hosts reveal rich background information that turns the subject matter into compelling stories that reveal a ton about the way the world works," shares Jing.
Comedic show names like "Mosquitos: The Worst" provide as much entertainment as the episodes themselves while historical knowledge hides under the guise of stories focused on inanimate objects, such is the case with "How Tupperware Works." This podcast has done so well, Science Channel even picked it up as a TV show.
4. Planet Money
NPR likens this show's concept to hearing a friend talk economics in a bar for an evening (and that evening turns out to be fun). It's a twice-weekly podcast that makes sense of the rapidly changing global economy in fairly layman's terms, and each show is a bite-size 15 minutes in length. "Planet Money does a great job of making economical concepts digestible and relatable," says Rachel Kirschen, PR Engineer. "You don't have to be be super sharp in this department to absorb the information."
Topics range from mundane fascinations like "The Birth And Death of the Price Tag" to the controversial parking app that ended up being legislated out of existence, all of which give context to the larger economical issues at play.
5. RadioLab, Hosted by Jed Abumrad & Robert Krulwich
Kirschen's other favorite podcast is science-inspired RadioLab. "Its episodes are about things I would never in a million years think to learn more about. It's ultimately rewarding."
Armed with an app that makes listening to podcasts as fun as posting photos on Instagram, this much-loved show examines a range of topics that inspire insatiable curiosity, from football's origin to the fragile future of the Galapagos Islands. Listeners can even take a stab at recording their own version of closing credits, an interactive approach to the one-way route of traditional radio.
6. New Rainmaker with Brian Clark
The most immediate way to build up your digital marketing chops, this show is brought to you by the beasts of Copyblogger Media (a go-to for writers and content marketers alike).
"I'm constantly sending myself reminders to read articles that will keep me at the top of my game professionally, but I never get around to reading half of them. This podcast tunes me up quickly," shares Laura Vrcek, Copy & Content Strategist.
A few favorites: "Why Every Great Website is a Membership Site" and (get ready for this brain implosion) a podcast about podcasts.
7. The New Yorker
Partial to its fiction series, Software Engineer Ryan Rapp finds inspiration in the long-loved magazine's audio spin-off, "They have really interesting people come in and read fiction. I like how that changes the stories." For each episode, a different writer is invited to select a story from The New Yorker's archives that they'd like to read aloud and discuss. Listen to "Going for a Beer" by Robert Coover as read by Joshua Ferris to get your feet wet.
And lasty, my personal favorite...
8. The Nerdist
Founded by comedian and entrepreneur Chris Hardwick, The Nerdist now hosts several series of off-beat podcasts clad with actor interviews, comedic confessions about topics like the power of improv, and writers panels that shed light on the unsung heroes of entertainment. It's like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but for your ears only (and, in my opinion, even better).