Five years ago, people were ready to write off podcasts and declare them the walking dead.

But they’re not.

They’re alive, sprinting, and have evolved into one of the most important media channels in today’s world.

Fueling a tidal wave of some of the best content that you can’t get anywhere else, there is an absolute explosion of podcast content creation.

The distribution models are 10x better, which means the ROI is better, which means the people who are jumping into the podcast game are better.

Let’s just say it’s a great time to be a listener.

Podcasts are the real deal, packed with information gold mines, and created by some of the smartest, most interesting, and passionate people out there.

Best of all, they’re 100% free and easily accessible.

Apparently, they’re good for your brain too, but I think we all knew that already.  

If you’re not listening to podcasts on the regular yet, you need to.

For the last 5 years, I’ve found them to be my most consistent source of knowledge and inspiration.

There are truly some gems out there, so if you’re looking for some podcasts that will light a fire under your ass, push you to do more, and inspire you to dream bigger, here are my top recommendations:

  1. The Tim Ferris Show
  2. Masters of Scale
  3. The James Altucher Show
  4. Mixergy
  5. How I Built This
  6. StartUp
  7. Marketing School
  8. a16z
  9. Smart Passive Income
  10. Tribe of Mentors
  11. Gary Vee Audio Experience
  12. This Week in Startups
  13. Side Hustle School
  14. Freakonomics

1.  The Tim Ferris Show

Jamie Fox called Tim Ferris him the “Oprah Winfrey” of the Internet.  To me, he’s like the Anthony Bourdain of peak human performance.  Over the years, Tim has interviewed some of the most amazing, smart, talented, and passionate people on the planet that you’d be hard pressed to find a better collection.  Blessed with a special ability to extract the best out of people during his interviews, this podcast is a must listen and Tim Ferris will go down as one of the greatest podcasters of all time.

2.  Masters of Scale

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, is the host of this podcast and that should be reason enough to listen to this one.  I don’t think there is anyone else as successful as Reid and currently running a massive company that is also running a podcast right now.  I’m not sure how he even has the time to do

3.  The James Altucher Show

James Altucher is a smart, quirky, and bold entrepreneur that has been in the trenches, built successful multi-million dollar businesses, failed several times, and come back from the dead to share what he learned with the world.  This show has a unique style that is not only catalyzed by James’ personality, but also his ability to keep things real and not be afraid to ask awkward questions.  He absolutely cares about the community and helping people choose themselves, as popularized by his book “Choose Yourself.”  Take a look at his guests and you’ll quickly find that he’s able to reach some people that just don’t normally show up on podcasts.

4.  Mixergy

Mixergy, by Andrew Warner, is another podcast based on the ever so popular format of entrepreneur interviews, except for one thing – Andrew’s been doing it long before anyone else was doing it.  He started a long, long time ago, stuck with it, and got very good at it.  I believe that he’s among the best out there when it comes to interview skills and you can tell that he truly cares about not only his guests, but getting the best possible interview – even if it means asking the hard, awkward, and personal questions.  To be honest, I didn’t listen to a lot of Mixergy when it first started, mainly because it started out as a video podcast, but it is now a key part of my podcast rotation.

5.  How I Built This

To me, NPR is like the HBO of podcasts or the Blizzard of video games.  When they come out with something new, you can bet that it’s going to be great, and How I Built This does not disappoint.  The structure of this podcast is similar to your entrepreneurial interview, except with NPR’s signature style and meticulous attention to story telling.  Their interviews really attempt to bring you back to early days of each entrepreneur’s journey in a way that only NPR knows how to do.  It’s part narrative and part interview, just the way I like it.  This is probably the newest podcast on this list and if they had more than a hundred episodes under their belt, like the other podcasts, it would be #1 on my list.

6.  StartUp

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, StartUp has a unique format that captures the essence of entrepreneurship like no other.  It’s created by Gimlet Media, which has strong roots from the NPR family, so you’ll experience the same masterful storytelling coupled with insightful interviews that will bring you back to that very moment.  There are a few seasons out already, with the first season focused on the podcast startup itself.  It’s a fun, refreshing, and engaging way of documenting their own journey.  Along with Serial, StartUp has set the bar for documentary style podcasts and is highly recommended for your listening and educational pleasure.   

7.  Marketing School

Marketing School is a online marketing podcast hosted by Neil Patel and Eric Siu that provides quick hitting lessons with each episode.  You won’t find your typical hour long interviews here.  Instead, each episode is usually 10 minutes or less, which is a bit refreshing because it makes it a lot more digestible.  Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy longer podcast episodes, but Marketing School prove that shorter segments can be very effective for learning too.  This podcast is a fantastic way to learn practical strategies and tactics that can help you grow your business.

8.  a16Z

The a16Z podcast is from Andreessen Horowitz that features thought leaders, visionaries, and fascinating experts from all over the world.  As one of the leading venture capital firms on the planet who had exits with companies like Instagram, Groupon, Skype, and Zynga, they have generous access to hordes of high-caliber people.  This podcast is the best way for you to tap into the stories of success, visions into the future, and the personalities behind very successful companies.

9.  Smart Passive Income (SPI)

Pat Flynn has a very authentic human touch to all of his content.  I don’t know the guy, but I believe in him, feel like I can trust him, and he’s developed a knack for making his audience feel that they can do it too.  Each episode, he interviews an entrepreneur who has created a successful online business and digs deeper into their story.  You’ll find yourself stumbling across valuable tools, motivational stories, and useful tips that will fuel your own journey.  It’s going to open your eyes up to what’s possible, what other people have accomplished, and why it’s never too late to start.

10.  Tribe of Mentors

Tim Ferris strikes twice on this list.  There’s really no stopping him in the podcast game.  Anything that he puts out is extremely high quality and we’re lucky to be living while he is in his prime.  Featuring the same suite of all star guests as his main podcast, Tribe of Mentors stems from his book of the same name.  The main difference is each episode is roughly 30 minutes long, for those of us who prefer shorter, quick hitting podcasts.  If you are already a big fan of Tim Ferris, give it a listen.  If you’re not a fan of Tim Ferris, why?

11.  The #AskGaryVee Show

This list wouldn’t be complete without Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast.  Mr. Hustle himself, he is quite possibly, pound for pound, the person who is motivating and inspiring the most people on the planet to chase their dreams.  Gary doesn’t just talk a lot, he does a lot.  If you don’t believe me, go follow him on Snapchat and see if you can wake up earlier than him throughout the week.  Good luck, he’s an absolute machine that not only works as hard as just about anybody out there, but also packs a mean punch with his hard hitting messages.  If you are feeling a little lazy right now, tune into GaryVee.

12.  This Week in Startups (TWiS)

Jason Calcanis is one of my favorites.  He’s a raw, witty, nerdy, and edgy entrepreneur/angel investor that is probably as well connected as anybody in the world of technology thanks to his roots dating back to the Web 1.0 era.  As the host of This Week in Startups, where he invites successful entrepreneurs, investors, and executives to come on the show to share their stories, opinions, and thoughts on a variety of topics, both tech and non tech.  Fortunately for us, his episodes are also in video podcast format so you can watch as well.

13.  Side Hustle School

There’s a strong case to be made for short format podcasts that deliver quick-hitting, information packed segments that are around the 10 minute mark.  I’m kind of digging this new format, and similarly to Marketing School, Side Hustle School by Chris Guillebeau enables the listener to learn things chunks at a time.  Sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for a podcast that is an hour long.  This podcast also sets itself apart by focusing on stories that resonate with the average person.  You’re not going to find your typical interview or story about a bad-ass entrepreneur that has made millions or billions of dollars.  Instead, it’ll be a story about a mom with a full-time job who was able to make an extra few thousand on the side.  Or it can be about a designer that learns to draw caricatures for $250/hr.  It’s a refreshing theme and a different lens to look through if you’re interesting in starting up a side hustle.

14.  Freakonomics Radio

Once in awhile, you need to learn something that helps you reshape the way you think.  The Freakonomics podcast, much like the legendary book, fits the bill perfectly.  Covering a massive range of topics, you’re going to be surprised at what you can learn from the most unsuspecting places and through topics that you didn’t think you’d even be interested in.  There lies the beauty of Freakonomics,