There are any number of business related podcasts out there and more every week. Many are too pompous to listen to: universities use them to advertise expensive masters degrees and consultancies use them as infomercials. Me, I like more grounded company on my drive to work.
Here are are some of the regulars I spend a couple of hours with each week.
5 minutes of infuriatingly intelligent common sense. Lucy Kellaway writes for the FT and is a bright cookie with a degree in Philosopy, Politics and Economics from Oxford. She’s ruthlessly sarcastic whenever business or business people get above themseves, and is particularly hot on language, bulls***, and self-regarding egotism. I frequently disagree with her but she’s always thought it through. She can sound like the celebrity old-girl speaking at a school prize-day day, but get past that and listen to what she says. She’s funny too.
Superb 30 minute programmes from the BBC. Peter Day tackles a specific topic each week, looking at it from several perspectives within different organisations. Day gets insightful and illuminating answers out of the people he interviews, which says a lot about the questions he asks. Topics in autumn 2008 are: branding, risk management in casinos and banking, agriculture, the future of the internet, and biotech and medicines. Wide-ranging, meticulous, insightful and fascinating.
Another 30 minutes from the BBC. Ewan Davies invites some of the UK’s most senior executives to kick-off their shoes and compare notes. It feels like listening to experienced friends at a Sunday afternoon barbecue talking relaxed and slightly theoretical shop. Davies directs things with a light hand on the conversational tiller. Superb.
Another conversational programme: John Byrne, the executive editor of Business week, spends 15 or 20 minutes chatting through the week’s cover story with whoever wrote it. It’s a painless way to keep informed about the forces in American Business as well as the occasional headline news item. These podcasts were my first introduction to terms like “sub-prime”, “credit crunch” and “toxic title”. These are often recorded late at night as sub-editors add the graphics and finish the layout. On a couple of occasions Byrne and the magazine’s chief economist Mike Mandel were clearly a couple of drinks over a headline, but most of the time everyone concerned is on the tips of their well-researched and analytical toes. An additional treat is Byrne’s baby-boomer taste in intro tracks.
A show by and for pragmatists with nothing to sell, its for those of us trying to keep our heads above water and below the parapet. It’s engaging, conversational, informative and oddly comforting. Oh, and funny. I like Wayne Turmel’s energy and enthusiasm too. The podcast is long on experience which makes it a good counterpoint to the journalists’ analysis and the academics’ theorising. And it’s got one of my favourite words in its title.