I love listening to podcasts. I no longer have the patience and time to sit down and read a book or magazine, but I love listening to a good story and learning new things. So, aside from the fact podcasts are free, I can listen to them whenever or wherever is convenient (like on my commute or when I have some mindless work to get done). And since I work in the technology industry, tech podcasts are another avenue for self-development, inspiration and ideation. Even if you are not a big "techy", it's good to be aware of how the tech industry is changing our world. 

If you're a curious, life-long learner like me and enjoy knowing things, particularly when it's shared by others who are thinking deeply about a topic and presenting it in an entertaining way, you will appreciate these, in my opinion, best five tech podcasts, too. These are all relatively new and are gems for those of us interested in the intersection of technology, startups, efficiency, design, and psychology.

1. Cortex (Relayfm)

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This new podcast is about working less and being efficient. It centers around popular YouTube edutainment content creator, C.G.P. Grey, as podcaster Myke Hurley interviews him about his unusual work habits and routine. Since both guys are self‑employed, they explore the methods they use to get work done.

Grey has a particular way of using his technology hardware and software. He goes into detail about his reasons for being so intentional with the design of his workspaces and devices. While some of them are a little extreme for me, it feeds my thirst for being more efficient and productive. In fact, I changed the setup of my phone and reorganized my office so I can be more focused and get more work done in less time.

Now more than ever, we have so many different ways to procrastinate and to be distracted. We waste brain space and attention on notifications and feeds that ultimately don’t take us where we want to be in life. Cortex starts the conversation about how we can change that, and when we start being more intentional with the setup of our devices, we get more work done (and get work done faster) so we can live life on our own terms. Cortex isn’t about working harder but working smarter.

How to Get Started Tip

I recommend starting this podcast at episode one, “Cortex 1: I Don’t Really Like Work." Episodes are around 1 and 1/2 hours each.

2. Note to Self (WNYC)

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Formerly called New Tech City,this podcast explores the effect of technology upon our brains in a quest to uncover smart choices that will help you think and live better. Several episodes explore how technology can make it harder for us to focus on tasks, inspiring WNYC's Bored and Brilliant Project which sends a week of challenges to help you detach from your phone and start thinking more creatively. Participants have discovered that they are more creative and better at problem solving when they put their phones down and allow their minds to wander and even get a little bored. I’m all for spending less time on Facebook and mindless email checking so I can devote more time to creating.

In addition to the Bored and Brilliant Project, Note to Self has some exciting reports on new technologies and services designed to make our lives better. While some of them can get a little creepy (like profiling your personality and helping other people write emails to you so you receive their message better), it’s exciting to see how technology products and services are trying to bring us closer together. Of course there’s a flip side to that, too...

How to Get Started Tip

I recommend starting with these three episodes: "Bored and Brilliant, Early Findings,” “Meet Crystal: The Internet Algorithm that Sees You Into Your Soul,” and “Stingrays: The Conspiracy Theorist Who Was Right All Along.” Episodes are around 30 minutes each. 

3. 99% Invisible (Roman Mars / Radiotopia)

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Roman Mars explores the often unseen and overlooked aspects of design and architecture in the world, many of which have a profound effect on our lives which we may not realize. He dives into the 99% of activity that shapes our world and is invisible to most, then the 1% that is visible, to reveal how its design either reshaped our culture or missed the window and now exists as a novelty. While Note to Self looks to the present and future of technology, 99% Invisible explores the present and past and seeks to answer the questions of “How did we get here?” and “Why wasn’t this successful?” 

Like many of these podcasts, it's independently produced and supported by donors through Kickstarter and on their site. Since this podcast is so new, and because I have a special place in my heart for startups, here's a link to support the creators of 99% Invisible so they can keep the podcast going strong.

How to Get Started Tip

I recommend starting with the episode “169: Freud’s Couch.” The website usually has images that go along with the podcast, and I recommend checking these out, especially for the architecture episodes. Episodes are usually anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes each.

4.  Startup (Gimlet Media)     

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The next two on my list were recently launched by former This American Life and Planet Money producer, Alex Blumberg. Each season, StartUp follows a different startup business to give us an inside look at the blood, sweat and tears behind creating your own business. The first season follows the beginnings of Alex's own company, Gimlet Media, from pitch to growing company. The second season follows Dating Ring as female entrepreneurs try to revolutionize the online dating experience. It’s enlightening to get this behind-the-scenes view of the startup entrepreneur's life and the process of creating and launching a company.

How to Get Started Tip 

Venture investor Chris Sacca delivers a great story describing Uber’s CEO and the type of person that succeeds in startups, but I can’t in good conscious recommend the end of the story as a place to start. Start with "Episode #1: How Not to Pitch to a Billionaire." Episodes are around 30 minutes each.

5. Reply All (Gimlet Media)    

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Reply All is Gimlet Media’s podcast about how people shape the Internet and how the Internet shapes people. The Internet encompasses so much information and has changed so many lives. It’s fascinating to hear stories about how people use it differently and the subcultures that develop and spin off from it.

How to Get Started Tip 

If you love understanding how technology can essentially lifehack solutions for peoples' lives, I recommend starting with "Episode #8: Anxiety Box.” It’s about a guy with a high level of anxiety and how he used the Internet to hack his anxiety and overcome it. Episodes are around 30 minutes each.

A Tool for Accelerating Inspiration and Ideas

I’m excited about the time we live in. I’m excited about the products and services we can create with technology and I believe that great ideas can come from anywhere - even a podcast. My goal is always to create something that betters our world and our experience so I use these five podcasts to inspire ideas, connect the dots and accelerate my growth in finding new ways to work smarter and problem solve. A lifestyle centered in growing my knowledge base and understanding "how things work" puts me in a better position to play a role in solving big and small problems for our community and clients, alike.  

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