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Wisdom Letter #71 | Best Podcasts of 2020
Hello and welcome to The Wisdom Project — your weekly dose of human curated wisdom in a world full of algorithmic noise.
Is it the new year yet or are we still in 2020. It sure does feel like today is 40th December 2020, doesn’t it?
I know it’s a year we would all like to forget, but there are lessons to learn from it that will help us for a long time into the future.
And today we are talking about the lessons from the best podcasts we listened to in 2020.
Audio is a powerful medium to absorb knowledge. A single conversation between two interesting people can spark multiple lightbulbs in your head within an hour or two.
These are our 5 favorite podcasts of 2020.
Listen & Learn
1. Building a Modern Business — Tobi Lutke
Tobi Lutke might be the most important CEO of the next decade.
He is the founder and CEO of Shopify — the anti Amazon. The company that is in the business of “arming the rebels”, revolutionizing the ecommerce industry.
This is a fascinating conversation from “Invest like the best” podcast with Patrick O’Shaughnessy. A short snippet —
“I have a very high minimum quality bar, which is something I'm teaching to other product people in the company.”
“… quality is, sort-of, a hard concept really. It's not quantifiable. And I think this is partly why it's so hard to produce for the business world of today because there's this sort of disease where everything needs to be quantifiable. If it can't be stated in an OKR, then apparently it doesn't exist. And so it ends up being a nebulous concept. A lot of people don't like it as a concept, just because again, "How do I create the checklist to figure out if this is a quality product?" Well, you don't. You judge it, you use it and you understand the problem it's trying to solve. And then you make a judgment.”
This is must for people interested in business and product management. Listen to the whole thing, read up a bit about Shopify before jumping in —
2. Innovation vs. Imitation — Derek Sivers
Derek Sivers is a Founder, writer, musician, and a really fun guy to read and listen to.
This podcast is from The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish. It’s an intimate and profound conversation. Something that you have with a dear friend late into the night.
A snippet —
“To me, the world feels unnecessarily ceremonial, like people imitate others without questioning it enough, but I don’t want to learn their ways. I don’t want to be like them. Instead, I just ignore it all and ask myself, what’s the real point? Meaning like, what am I really trying to do here?”
This is a must for people interested in creativity and in finding meaning in the work they do. Take a listen.
3. The Darwinian approach to business — Rory Sutherland
Sutherland is an advertising legend and an ardent proponent of behavioral science. He is the author of the book “Alchemy” that goes deep into the ideas and concepts that are not logical, but are still very popular and end up changing the world around us.
He is a very interesting person to listen to, has rich experience of the world and a deep curiosity to unpack things that don’t make sense at the surface. (Like why is red bull so popular even though it tastes like shit)
His interview at the “This Week in Startups” podcast is a fun and engaging conversation.
Must listen for people interested in behavior science, marketing and advertising.
An interesting insight—
“There are two ways to create economic value: find something people want and figure out how to make it OR figure out what you can make and make people want it”
4. Persuasion in the age of hypocrisy — Scott Adams
Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, the wildly successful comic.
He is an expert on persuasion techniques and a regular dropper of truth bombs on the internet. He is a polarizing character but has great insights on American politics and the nature of the media industry.
A snippet from his conversation on The James Altucher show —
“...you know the the business model of the media, of course is to get you worked up and the best stories to do that are the ones that you see because they can do pretty rapid, you know a/b testing and they know exactly what gets your juices flowing and your finger clicking and and their business model cooking. So I don't think that's going to change and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between what gets them a lot of money and attention and what's good for society maybe…”
A must listen for anyone interested in American politics, persuasion and the media industry.
4. On Happiness, Reducing Anxiety, Crypto — Naval Ravikant
Naval Ravikant’s conversation with Time Ferris is one of the most fascinating conversations of the year. Dropping pearls of wisdom every other minute.
Right from the brilliance of Richard Feynman to happiness to Crypto stable-coins.
“…so those are the hallmarks of good science. Falsifiability, independent verifiability, and making risky and narrow predictions with details that are hard to vary both before and after the fact. And that’s how you end up with good science and good explanations, not by people on Twitter or voting. That’s politics. So everything has become politics now; science has become politics, too. People are politicizing, there’s a big science, but I think Feynman would be very unhappy with that…”
This is a must listen for anyone interested in science, business, politics, crypto currencies and happiness.
Thank you for reading.
Hope you will enjoy these podcasts and have a great year ahead.
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This was Wisdom Letter #71. In case you want to revisit any of the previous 70 letters, checkout our entire archive.
Aditi & Ayush