How Podcasts Can Fuel Your Personal Growth

As you may know if you are a regular reader of my blog, I started a weekly podcast on February 14th. It is called, "This Is Your Life.” Since that time, I have become a more regular podcast listener myself.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/iPod Signage, Image #4112642

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/4112642

As Mike Elgan, opinion columnist for ComputerWorld, said,

Podcasting is the most under-appreciated, under-utilized media ever. Some people never try it. And many who do wind up giving it up unimpressed. Too bad. A new study found that students who listen to lectures on podcasts test better than those who listen in class. Podcasting is a powerful educational medium, second only to books, in my opinion. But unlike reading books, you can listen to podcasts while doing the dishes.

Here are six reasons I enjoy listening to podcasts:

  1. You can find shows for your specific interests. Compared to radio programs, podcasters have almost no overhead. As a result, they don’t have to appeal to a broad audience to recoup their investment. They can target small, narrow niches. All it takes is a someone with a passion and some expertise. As a result, there are podcasts for almost any topic imaginable.
  2. You can listen whenever you want. Podcasts are truly an on-demand medium. Unlike radio, you don’t have to tune in when the show is broadcast. Instead, you can subscribe or download episodes and listen whenever it is convenient for you—whether on your morning run or on your daily commute.
  3. You never have to miss a show. Similar to blogs and news sites, RSS technology makes it possible for you to subscribe to your favorite podcasts and be notified when a new episode is available. In fact, most podcast apps will automatically download these episodes as soon as they are published. If you get behind, no problem. You can listen at your own pace.
  4. You feel connected to the podcaster. Dan Miller pointed this out to me when he was explaining why he loved podcasts. Media doesn’t get much more intimate than having someone else’s voice inside your head via earbuds. Because of this phenomenon, I feel like I really know the podcasters I listen to regularly. I have found myself even more connected than what I experience through following blogs.
  5. You can listen while you are doing something else. This is also why I love listening to audio books. I am able to redeem those times when my mind is otherwise idle—while exercising, on a commute, stuck in traffic, waiting in line, working around the house, mowing the lawn, etc. As a result, I feel like I am constantly being exposed to helpful and even inspirational content.
  6. You can easily share shows with friends and colleagues. If you listen to a great radio show, how do you share it? You can’t—unless, of course, the show also records a podcast. The content evaporates as soon as the show is over. With a podcast, you can share a link to the most recent episode or even shows buried deep in the archives.

The bottom line is that you have more control. You can listen to what you want, whenever you want, as many times as you want.

But what if you have never listened to a podcast? How do you get started? In the old days of podcasting—say a few years ago!—it was a hassle. You had to subscribe to a show in iTunes, download episodes to your computer, and then connect your device, and sync the two together.

Those days are over. Now you can subscribe and download shows directly onto your device, thanks to several inexpensive apps. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Install a dedicated podcast app. I use Downcast on my iPhone. However, Pocket Casts and Instacast are also options. All three programs are excellent and sell for the exact same price: $1.99. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy these programs are to use.
  2. Subscribe to a few shows. Use the programs search function to browse by category (e.g., “Business,” “Health“, or “Technology”) and see the most popular programs. Or search manually to find the more narrow, esoteric programs.

    Here are ten podcasts I am currently subscribed to:

  3. Find a regular place to listen. Just decide when and where you will listen to podcasts. I listen every morning when I am exercising. I no longer have a commute, but I also listen while running errands in the car.
  4. Share your favorites with your friends. This is the easy part. Because I get so much valuable information from podcasts, it is natural for me to talk about them. Increasingly, I am finding myself talking to friends about the shows we are listening to.

If you haven’t tried podcasts, I suggest you give it a two-week trial. Experience the value first-hand. Perhaps this medium won’t work for you. But it might just open up a whole new world.

Question: What are some of your favorite podcasts? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Tom Perry

    Podcasts are wonderful!!  I listen every day at lunchtime for 20-60 minutes, plus on the drive home and running errands – just plug my phone into the car stereo & hit “play”.  I also listen while doing chores around the house or even mowing the lawn – though sometimes I can’t concentrate in those situations and end up having to listen again.  ;-)

    In addition to some of the great leadership resources out there, the “medium” of podcasting also allows me to sit under some extraordinary Bible teaching that I would not normally have access to.  Pastors and churches (big AND small!) from all over the country make their sermons available via podcast.  It’s an awesome way to study, learn and grow via listening to some of the best Bible teachers and Gospel preachers out there.  You can download an entire weeks/months-long series of messages and listen to them straight through in a matter of a few days.  It’s also a great way to stay “caught up” on the talks from your own church when you are out of town or serving in another part of the church.

    Some of my favorites/recommendations are:
    Catalyst
    Andy Stanley Leadership
    Perry Noble Leadership
    Lifechurch.tv
    Newspring Church
    Passion City Church
    North Point Community Church (both the “recent” and “best of” podcasts)
    Drivetime Devotionals (from Saddleback Church)

    I have enjoyed many others, but found that I had to limit myself to 8 or 10 at a maximum so that I could “keep up” with them all at a reasonable pace.  I’m going to add yours, Michael, b/c I have just recently seen it pop up on my radar – and I also just learned about Andy Andrews’ podcast today, so I’ve gotta try that one, too!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tom, for giving my podcast a try. Let me know what you think.

  • http://www.turningthepage.info/ Barry Pearman

    I add them into my Kindle touch and listen to your podcasts when I am driving. 

    I also listen to Rob Bell at Mars Hill. 
    Thanks for the great podcasts. 

  • Agatha Nolen

    Thanks, Michael for writing about podcasts. I do a three-times per week blog and my platform allows me to record and attach a podcast of the “reading”. I don’t have a huge following yet, but a number of friends subscribe and like to listen on the way to work or while they exercise. I like podcasts, too and have them authomatically download through itunes like John MacArthur and Andy Stanley. Do you see any value in “reading” your daily blog post and making it available as an alternative to the written version? I know you talk about your separate weekly podcast, but how do you feel about recording each of your stories too?
    My podcast is at: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/agatha-nolen-on-relationships/id403871382

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I’m pretty much out of bandwidth, so I don’t think it is something I could do. Thanks.

  • http://www.beyondthesinnersprayer.wordpress.com/ Barb Raveling

    I really like the Life of a Steward podcast. Loren Pinilis gives good advice on time management from a Christian perspective.

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    Hey Michael

    Some great ones on this list. I’m one of those weirdos who hosts a podcast but doesn’t listen to that many.   I noticed you started yours a while back. If you’re up for it, I’d love to have as a guest on BlogcastFM. I think you’d have some really profound insights to share with our audience about publishing, blogging, and everything else. 

    -SRini

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words and for your interest. Please contact Joy at joy at michaelhyatt dot com. She makes the decisions on my media appearances. Thanks again.

  • tjohn5

    I have a micro cassette recorder with  me on my commute to remember thoughts (type them up later).  I’ve actually thought of carrying one with me while running.  My memory is good – just short!

  • http://twitter.com/paulhelmick Paul Helmick

    Bought into the concept of ‘automobile university’ long ago – and have found that Podcasts rule – via bluetooth headset or bluetooth in the car – started out and listened to several years of Stanford’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders - 
    http://ecorner.stanford.edu/ - and have found that it’s most amazing and time saving way to learn and connect with others… have since found dozens of other extremely high quality podcasts and have made them a staple of the 30-45 minute morning and evening commutes.  Michael – truly appreciate your sharing your insights in this format as well – certainly drives engagement higher and really let’s you communicate with people in a incredibly effective way.

  • Dave Cochran

    I couldn’t agree more about podcasts.  I’m a producer of my own podcast and listen/watch several others.  The biggest problem with podcasting is there is no sustainable business model for podcasting unless you can act as your own business manager/advertising manger all while producing your show.  

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You can use it like Dan Miller does to drive engagement and sell his conferences and other products. Thanks.

  • Holger Meier

    I love the medium of podcasts.  I listen to them when I travel and when I run. 

    It is amazing how close you get to know these daily podcast presenters.  I live in Durban, South Africa, and recently met the team from one of my favourite podcasts  MoneyLife by Crown Financial Ministries at a speaking engagement here in Durban.  It was like meeting “old friends”.  

    I listen to TWIG, The Dave Ramsey Show, The EntreLeadership Podcast, This is your Life and the ZA Tech Show on a regular basis.  

    If I hear or read of an interesting person, e.g. Marcus Buckingham, I search itunes for their name. It is amazing how often you find interesting interviews recorded as a podcast.  What an amazing resource.

  • http://www.johngallagherblog.com John Gallagher

    I have really enjoyed your podcasts thus far, Michael.  I listen to most on your list and add Colin Cowherd’s “The Herd” for my sports fix.  I am going to have to break down and buy an iPhone.  I still have to sync my iPod so it is a bit of a hassle to stay current, especially with a daily show like the Herd…

  • Mike freestone

    I ran 8 miles yesterday and listened to Podcasts the whole time. It was a first. I usually run with music to keep the tempo up but it was great. I subscribed to over half of what you recommended and also started using Downcast on my iPad and iPhone. Trying to make the most out of my downtime and travel. Very inspiring post and I of course subscribed to your podcast.

  • Debbie from Mississippi

    I listen to podcast when I am getting dressed each morning, during long drives, and while exercising.  I listen to your podcast (recently recommended by a friend at work), and Walk in the Word by James MacDonald, and sermons by Dr. Tony Evans.

  • http://rise365.com/ Michael Good

    I love podcasts for so many of the same reasons. 

    In fact, podcasts changed my life! 

    It’s because of the podcasts I started listening to that I find myself on the journey I’m on today. 

  • Cre8tv

    Can I add a shameless plug for a different kind of podcast? I started the Song-A-Day podcast January 1 this year, and I’m creating a fresh guitar improv every day of 2012. It’s at http://www.bit.ly/asongaday or in the iTunes store under Merrick Vincent Dupea. If you get tired of listening to people talk and just want to hear the raw creative process of building songs, please drop in. There are electrons enough for everyone to download a few!

  • http://PodcastAnswerMan.com/ Cliff Ravenscraft

    Loved this post Michael!  Thanks for spreading the word of the value of podcasting in our daily lives. :)

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I’m curious. Does what you say about iPhones apply to iPods? I listen to audio books on my iPod every day as I walk the dog. I know eliminating the download to computer then syncing to iPod would make podcasts more appealing. Right now I feel like podcasts tie me to my computer rather than free me to listen as I walk or drive so I don’t listen very often. I like both your podcast list and would love to add a few to my must-listen-to list.

    • http://emuelle1.typepad.com/ Eric S. Mueller

       Depends on your iPod. If you have an iPod Touch, you can buy Downcast or another podcasting app and that should help cut your tether to iTunes. I’m not sure if there is a solution for the classic iPod or Nano.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

         Got a classic (which sounds cool if we’re talking cars but not so much under the circumstances).

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure. I would give it a shot. As as you have wireless, you should be good-to-go.

  • Pingback: How Podcasts Can Fuel Your Personal Growth | Michael Hyatt « yourdreamproject

  • http://www.shortcutblogging.com/ Dave Young

    Can you share your technical setup? What mic? What editor? Are you doing it yourself?

  • joyceglass

    Thanks so much for your podcast & suggesting the Downcast app! It is awesome!!! I now can stream instead of worrying about downloading podcast on my iPad & iPhone & they sync !! Love love LOVE IT!!

    Plus I did not like on the iPad it saved podcast in alphabetical order, & there was no way to tell what I had listened to or not. &&& you had to download daily – no way to subscribe!! Video podcast took up a lot of space & were put in a different app from audio. I understand why, but not very handy.

    Downcast Rocks!! Thanks so much!!! I have been meaning to tell you this for weeks!!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ steveborgman

    Michael, I’m intrigued by your interest in the Ancient Faith Podcast.  I have a friend who converted from Evangelicalism to Orthodoxy, and we’ve had a lot of great dialogue.  How did you get interested in Orthodoxy?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your interest. It all happened as as I read church history. I just started reading earlier and earlier writers until I found the Apostolic Fathers (second century).

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  • Lois Ridley

    One of my favorite podcasts is Marnies Friends. Another is Christian Women Affiliates podcast group of shows. They have several that I enjoy=)

  • Suzie Farthing

    Thanks for this post, Michael. I am an avid listener to podcasts, and I also produce one of my own (One Love for Nurses). Actually, I was turned on to your work and podcast by listening to Cliff Ravenscraft’s podcast, the Podcast Answerman. Thanks again for your podcast and keep up the great work!

  • Abby Hatch

    Thank you! I listen to your podcast, and had several others I was interested it. Never realized it was so easy! Pocket Casts installed. Excited to start listening. :)