reading time: 5 minutes

Some people love fiction. Some people love nonfiction. I’m more with the latter, but with a caveat — there has to be some great storytelling going on. For me, I love learning new things and being inspired. Most of all, I love a really great story. (Gee, isn’t that what content marketing is all about?!?) I can identify with a non-fiction because it’s real. And if the story is amazing (and well produced) I find it packs a big punch and sticks with me far into the future.

Not surprisingly, I started getting into podcasts with the hugely popular Serial series. After I finished it, I was hungry for more. I wanted that same kind of factual, fascinating information to not only be enlightened, but entertained too. It was tough to find! However, over time I’ve subscribed to a few that I really enjoy. Currently, those are: How I Built This, Planet Money, Heavyweight, Note to Self, Reply All, and Startup. In the last few months, I’ve begun doing daily weight training and I love to listen to podcasts while I’m doing it. So I’ve listened to a lot! Here are my favorite episodes ever (and not necessarily from the list I mentioned above):

Podcast: How I Built This

Episode: Spanx: Sara Blakely

Why it’s awesome: Sure, you may already know Sara Blakely as the founder of Spanx, a multi-billion dollar lingerie company. But do you know how she started the whole thing? She’s an amazing storyteller and she tells hers incredibly well in this first episode of How I Built This. You’ll be absolutely blown away and inspired by her savviness and epic fortitude.

Second favorite episode: Airbnb: Joe Gebbia

Podcast: Planet Money

Episode: The Wells Fargo Hustle

Why it’s awesome: I’ve only recently began listening to Planet Money, and the Wells Fargo episode is what turned me onto it. Via the poor souls who actually worked there, it provides shocking stories and valuable insights into what really fueled the massive scandal that Wells Fargo is now trying so desperately to recover from. This is a must-listen for anyone who has worked in sales (me) or managed sales teams (me) at large corporations (me).

Second favorite episode: Bad Form, Wells Fargo is a fascinating follow-up to the hustle episode mentioned above. It is shocking that Wells Fargo stooped so low to retaliate on its former employees.

Podcast: Startup

Episode: Grow Big or Go Home

Why it’s awesome: Right after Serial, Startup was my next favorite podcast. I loved it from the start. The episode I remember most is Grow Big or Go Home, from their second season where they highlighted the startup, Dating Ring. In it, the founders, Lauren and Emma, tell about the deep down, nitty gritty, often shocking stuff they dealt with to help their startup survive — all leading up to their big presentation at the renown Y Combinator. If you’ve ever worked for a startup (me), you’ll be able to identify with a lot of the insanity going on in this episode.

Second favorite episode: How Not To Pitch a Billionaire. This is the fascinating first episode of Startup that got me hooked from the beginning. The pitch will make you wince.

Podcast: Reply All

Episode: A tie between Blindspot and Zardulu

Why they are awesome: Reply All is a podcast about the internet. I glean so much interesting stuff from the program. The stories are wonderfully produced and highly informative, so much so that I feel they keep my (aging) self up to date what’s really going on in the internet world. It keeps me relevant. Anyway, Blindspot moved me so much, I bothered to send it to a prominent, yet very busy neurosurgeon friend. You’ll find Hope’s story amazing and will learn about the world of CrowdMed and what inspired the television series, House. Alternatively, the Zardulu episode is awesome for those who love marketing. It is the epitome of creating “smoke-in-mirrors” type content to tell fantastical (fabricated?) stories in an effort to get them to go super-viral online. Pizza Rat, anyone?

Next favorite episode: Whatever you do, don’t listen to Today’s The Day as your first Reply All podcast because it will make zero sense to you. Basically, Alex and PJ go outside the studio and record their all-day, epic adventure.

Podcast: Detective

Episode: 1 – Murder In The First

Why it is awesome: Ok this one is quite gruesome, but Lt. Joe Kenda has the perfect voice for telling his most amazing experiences as a homicide detective. I learned super-interesting stuff from the stories he told in this one short episode, the first in this podcast. These are not things you learn at school, unless you go to school to become a homicide detective or CSI agent. You’ll be morbidly fascinated, for sure.

Next favorite episode: While the above episode tells of Kenda’s start in the biz, 23 Years and 6 Months To The Day will tell the shocking story of how he decided to get out.

Podcast: Mystery Show

Episode: Belt Buckle

Why it is awesome: Not gory at all, Mystery Show is all about trying to solve really bizarre mysteries. I love this episode purely for the story and how Starlee Kine tells it. Her voice is unique and her personality is quirky and fun and daring. This episode is an odd mystery about a fascinating belt buckle, what Starlee learns about it, as well as her heroic attempts at getting it back to its rightful owner.

Note: Mystery Show was a huge podcast hit (iTunes named it as one of the best in 2015), yet it only lasted one season. It’s a big mystery as to why Gimlet Media let Starlee go. So, there are only six episodes of Mystery Show available. They are all good and I’m amongst the many who are waiting to see if Starlee can somehow pull off creating more in the future. We’ll see…

Do you have a great podcast episode that you’d add to this list? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.