The top 5 podcasts for effective thought leaders




James Ralph

Flying out for my summer holidays gave me an opportunity, in between enjoying a double helping of superhero movies, to catch up on my podcasts.

Since moving house, I’ve found the twenty minute cycle to and from the station to be the perfect opportunity to better equip myself to practise effective thought leadership. The problem is that my subscriptions have rapidly overwhelmed my available listening time, so ten hours in the sky was a good chance to work through the backlog.

Here’s my pick of the most thought provoking podcasts out there, for those involved in communicating thought leadership.

1. Revisionist History. Malcolm Gladwell was well known to me as the author of the Tipping Point and Outliers, but I’d spent less time listening to him speak. His quirky take on subjects ranging from Elvis to the grammar of the American Constitution always encourages me to think twice about accepted wisdom, and to delve deeper in exploring new subjects.

2. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy – The BBC has a fantastic range of podcasts that make the complex accessible and entertaining; I particularly enjoy the science-focused Infinite Monkey Cage. 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy from Tim Harford, the author of the Undercover Economist, is definitely worth listening to. Each episode comes in at just ten minutes and explores the economic and social impact of technologies from concrete to the barcode. Since listening to the series last year, I’ve regularly found myself dipping back in ahead of meetings, as well as making good use of a core understanding of the principles to identify truly novel thought leadership when dealing with those for whom the detail can get in the way of the real story.

3. Economist: The Week Ahead – I’ve always tended to read the Economist back to front, jumping to the science and the book review pages ahead of business and country sections. The Week Ahead is a great way of resetting that focus each Friday to help me with step five of our seven steps – maintaining campaign currency. While it’s easy to get carried away with the latest scientific ideas and technology innovations, it is important to continually pin these back to the context of what’s happening in the world today.

4. Eat Sleep Work Repeat – This was a recommendation from my colleague who heads up our internal communications consultancy, and has become a must listen. As well as a couple of cracking episodes exploring the idea of thought leadership with Tom Goodwin and Chris Barez Brown, which underline the importance of humility in positioning oneself as a ‘thought leader’, there are many useful reflections on how to maximise not only your personal productivity, but also your personal impact in the office.

5. Ted Talks Daily – These can be variable in quality and rather US-focused, but as an alternative to the videos and centre stage arm waving, the audio versions are a great way to catch up on the latest thinking and some of the jargon dominant in Silicon Valley and beyond. In particular, I’d recommend the talks that discuss how to better fit effective thinking into your day. Whether it’s appreciating the value of boredom, or fitting in exercise.

I’d love to receive any recommendations of podcasts that you find helpful in your working life, and I’ll aim to share an update of this article with the best suggestions in September. In the meantime, if you are managing to get away over August, have a great break. Thought leadership works. If you are interested in finding out more about how it could work better for you, join our LinkedIn group, visit our website, or if you would like to attend one of our events, contact Holly on

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