5 podcasts to make you smarter in 2021

Published on 2020-12-22 by John Collins.


In addition to producing my own podcast, I also listen to a lot of thought provoking podcasts. As we are entering 2021 soon, I think now is the perfect time to recommend to you my favorites.

Firstly in terms of selection criteria, I have once basic metric I use:

"Is listening to this podcast making me smarter or not?"

If I am going to invest a lot of time into listening to a podcast, especially long-form podcasts where a single episode can last 2-3 hours, then I want to ensure I am getting a return on that time investment. I like to be entertained, but when it comes to podcasts, my desire to be educated is greater.

So let's begin.

1. The Lex Fridman Podcast

The Lex Fridman Podcast started out focusing on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, but subsequently has branched out into other topics. Regardless of the topic being covered, Lex is the master of long-form podcasts, as each of his episodes can last two or even three hours long. If you have the time and the patience to commit to that duration, you will be rewarding with intelligent conversations between amazing guests and an insightful and thoughtful interviewer.

As of writing, Lex has ~140 episodes in his backlog and it is growing all of the time, as he is very prolific. This is my favorite podcast right now, I strongly recommend it.


2. The Knowledge Project

The Knowledge Project podcast, which is hosted by Shane Parrish, also has a long-form interview format that allows the host and guests to explore each topic deeply. I discovered this show only recently via Shane being interviewed on the Capital Allocators Podcast (see below), but I am already hooked due to the intelligence of the host and the excellent guests.

As of writing, there are ~100 episodes in his backlog for you to enjoy, with new episodes being released every two weeks. An excellent podcast, and I am really enjoying working through that backlog.


3. The McKinsey Podcast

McKinsey, the famous business consultancy firm with decades of history, produce their own podcast on business management that is really very good. I like that the episodes are relatively short, and typically have a panel of speakers per episode. As of writing, there are ~220 episodes stretching back 5 years in their backlog, containing hundreds of hours of business management and leadership wisdom from some very smart consultants.


4. EconTalk

I love economics, and it was that love that drew me to EconTalk, a podcast that has been hosted by Russel "Rus" Roberts for the past 14 years! Rus is a legend in podcasting, having hosted over 760 episodes as of writing. The topics are wide-ranging, the guests are diverse, and the host is always well informed with challenging questions delivered in style, producing a regular dosage of civil discourse that will inform and educate you each time.


5. Capital Allocators Podcast

On the face of it, this podcast may seem to be limited to investment-related topics but it offers a whole lot more.  The podcast host Ted Seides has interviewed some amazing guests that have led me onto other new topics (for me), and experts in those topics to follow.  As of writing there ~170 episodes in the backlog, and I'm sure like me you will discover many hidden gems.


Do you have any other suggestions that I should be listening to in 2021? Let me know on Twitter: @TechLeaderPro