5 Podcasts That Help Make Me a Better Software Consultant

I love podcasts. Whether I’m commuting, exercising, or doing the dishes, I probably have a podcast going. This comes to at least two hours a day of listening time. Here are some favorites that help me provide great consulting to our clients in the pre-project consulting phase.

1. How I Built This

Here, Guy Raz (former host of NPR’s Ted Radio Hour) interviews founders of a diverse range of well-known companies like MailChimp, Title Nine, Zillow, and method. We learn about founders’ backgrounds and their entrepreneurial journeys taking their company from idea to household name. We also learn about the tough choices they made and the risks they took. This podcast constantly reminds me that, when it comes to product development and innovation, it’s important to be scrappy in the early stages. Launch sooner than you think you should, don’t be precious about your idea, and take calculated risks. My favorite episode is about Panera Bread, where we learn all about how the fast-casual concept was born and how, in the early days, they tumbled spinach in used dryers.

2. Darknet Diaries: True Stories from the Dark Side of the Internet

This is the nerdy version of the true-crime podcast. Host Jack Rhysider interviews guests (sometimes the good guys, sometimes the baddies) about cybercrime. The storytelling is entertaining (and terrifying) and helps me understand the different attack strategies that cybercriminals use. It also helps me advise clients of the importance of good cybersecurity practices and regular security audits for their software. I really liked Episode 103: Cloud Hopper, which told the story of a security analyst who helped an organization diagnose and recover from an attack on their cloud services.

3. The Journal and Tech News Briefing

Published every business day, The Journal and Tech News Briefing help me stay abreast of what’s going on in the world. The Journal always has interesting perspectives on world and U.S. news, typically with an economic slant. Tech News Briefing — well, it’s exactly what the title says. Both help me stay aware of and understand current events and how they might affect my clients, my industry, and the world.

4. The Pitch

The Pitch is like “Shark Tank” but in podcast form. Listen to entrepreneurs give their pitches and investors give their feedback. Listening to enough episodes is like getting a masterclass in how to pitch to venture capitalists and the pitfalls to avoid, as well as how to understand and evaluate the potential of an idea or an early-stage product. The principles I learn from this podcast help me when I’m trying to understand the value proposition of early-stage software products, and I often recommend it to the startup founders I meet to help them hone their pitches. Episode #52, “Fitbit…for dogs” is a fun exploration of everything it takes to launch an IoT startup.

5. 99% Invisible

A podcast about good design, 99% Invisible is hard to describe, but it’s the social studies class I wish I had in school. It’s all about how small decisions in design and architecture can have an enormous impact on our society for good or for bad. It’s a reminder to me that as we partner with our clients to create new things and launch them into the world, the work we do and the decisions we make matter (no matter how small they seem). As a bonus, host Roman Mars’ voice is incredibly soothing. All of the episodes are good, so I recommend starting with the most recent one or checking out their staff favorites page. They have an enormous back catalog with something for everybody.

So there are my favorite podcasts that help me be a better consultant. What podcasts do you think I should add to this list?