With Zoom pressed into service for everything from meetings to Saturday night game nights, there may come a point when you find yourself craving a break from sitting in front of a screen, but not switching off your brain.
These five thought-provoking podcasts are tailor made for that. Three are newly launched, and all of them are focused on helping listeners navigate these times, professionally and personally. Filled with ideas and insight, they may help spark some of your own:
1.“World vs Virus” — launched last month by the World Economic Forum (WEF), it aims, according to WEF, to go beyond the headlines and help listeners “understand how the pandemic is reshaping society, business, and the economy.” Its guests include economists, scientists, and academics, including, on a recent episode, organizational psychologist Adam Grant.
Grant zeroed in on the thing that many of those who responded to Convene’s survey reported was their biggest challenge: uncertainty. “As human beings we don’t like uncertainty — some people would rather feel pain than being in the dark about things,” Grant said. “On the other hand, we are highly adaptable.”
Here’s what helps when you can’t imagine the future, Grant said: “You can rewind and think more about the past. You can recognize hardships you’ve faced before, you can learn something from the lessons of your own resilience, and then — knowing of course that this is a different kind of crisis — think, ‘What did I do before? That might work for me today.”
2.“Progress Through Creativity” — focusing on brands, this podcast aired for the first time last week and was created by the producers of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the world’s largest gathering of creative marketers. In the first episode, the festival’s managing director, Simon Cooke, talked with Ricardo Dias, the vice-president of marketing at beer producer and distributor Ambev Brazil, about how they converted their production facilities to manufacturing mass quantities of hand sanitizer. “Collaboration has been the key to success,” Dias said. The beer maker is among the partners helping to build a new 100-bed treatment center for COVID-19 in São Paulo.
“Once we come out of this, we are going to see a different relationship between brands and people,” Dias said. “A brand that is not doing something right now is making a mistake,” he added. “People expect companies to step up right now.”
3. “The Psychology Podcast with Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman” — Kaufman has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia University and New York University and covers a wide range of topics in this long-running podcast. The psychologist has interviewed more than a few of the of the same experts as Convene.
For example,a recent guest was Nir Eyal, a former lecturer at at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Design School and author of Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. For the podcast, Eyal talked about how to “hack back” external triggers that capture our attention. “We have way more power over attention than we think,” he told Kaufman.
He also shared a work-at-home-trick — a toy crown with glowing LED lights that was purchased inexpensively online. When his wife is wearing “the concentration crown,” Eyal and their daughter know not to interrupt her. “It’s okay,” Eyal said, “to disconnect in order to do our best work.”
4.“Together Apart” — hosted by Priya Parker, in partnership with The New York Times. “I don’t even know where we are in the tunnel,” said Parker, a conflict-resolution expert, during a recent episode of her new podcast. “But can we create light where we are — not just at the end of the tunnel?”
The episode was about birthdays, and Parker, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters, created the podcast to help listeners transform all kinds of virtual gatherings — from alumni reunions, to sales meetings, to, yes, birthday parties, to conferences. (You can read what Parker told Convene about meetings here. ) Take note: Parker has a form on her website inviting event organizers to apply to appear on the show.
5. “TED Radio Hour”— co-produced by TED and NPR, this weekly podcast is hosted by Manoush Zomorodi, and explores big ideas by revisiting TED Talks. Lately, the series has looked at ways to help listeners understand and navigate the pandemic. Last Friday, for example, in an episode titled “Pure Joy,” TED’s head curator, Helen Walters, shared excerpts of the talks that have brought her the most joy over the years. Among them: uplifting talks by conductor Benjamin Zander, who talked about the transformative power of classical music; and social entrepreneur Andrew Youn, who runs the nonprofit One Acre Fund, which supplies funding to farmers in Rwanda and sub-Saharan Africa. “Youn,” Walters said, “is just goodness exemplified.”