If I had to pick a favorite genre, I think personal development podcasts are my favorite. (Entrepreneurship podcasts are a close second.)
A great personal dev podcast really makes me feel like I have a friend in my ear, helping me see things in a new light.
And although I’m a total book nerd, I’ll admit that podcasts have a major advantage sometimes over reading: the ability to multitask.
Since I’m a Brooklyn-er who commutes on a fairly loud subway train, I actually don’t listen to a ton of podcasts or music on the subways. (Anyone else terrified of losing their hearing from loud headphones?) So I tend to read on the subways.
And that means that the #1 time I listen to podcasts is at home. Usually while I’m cleaning or cooking.
Admittedly, sometimes the boost I need is loud Kelly Clarkson all up in my studio apartment. But when I’m looking for a little inspiration or introspection, here are seven of my favorite podcasts for personal development.
Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Let’s not bury the lede: Happier is probably my most-listened-to podcast of all time. And with over 95 million downloads (GEEZ), I’m not the only fangirl.
Gretchen’s books and podcasts feel like sincere help from a very well-spoken friend. The dynamic between Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth Craft is what makes this podcast really shine. You can tell they both put a ton of time and research into every episode, but it doesn’t feel overly scripted.
The goal is to suggest small things that might make you just a little bit happier. The sisters propose try-this-at-home ideas, offer simple happiness hacks, listener questions, discuss common stumbling blocks, take debate know-yourself-better questions, and give weekly demerits and gold stars.
- Podcast 202: Use the “Checklist for Habit Change,” How to Encourage Conversation with a Child, and Dealing with the Work of Office Birthdays.
- Podcast 110: A Very Special Episode on a Major Happiness Stumbling Block–Are You Lonely?
- Podcast 183: Go into “Low Power Mode,” Replace a Soul-Sucking App (Again), and What Two-Hour Course Would You Choose?
- Podcast 54: One-Year Anniversary! Our Most Popular Try-This-at-Home Tips, Before-&-After Stories, and Favorite Moments
Why Not Now? with Amy Jo Martin
You know that thing you’ve been thinking about doing? Amy Jo Martin, a New York Times Best-Selling Author and Personal Branding pioneer, created this show because she believes the world will be a better place if more people ask themselves, “Why Not Now?”. Each episode you’ll hear from Amy Jo herself and a professional Why Notter – guests like Mark Cuban, Jessica Alba, Tony Robbins, Barbara Corcoran, Billy Corgan and more – and learn how they answered the question then took action, so you can too.
- Episode 1: Mark Cuban – From Bartender to Billionaire
- Episode 90: Martha Beck – How To Do What You Love, With The People You Love, In The Places You Love
- Episode 159: Scott Harrison – The New Kind of Baller
3 Books with Neil Pasricha
I first discovered Neil Pasricha through his website 1000 Awesome Things, where he published 1000 daily blog posts, each celebrating something awesome about life, big or small. Since then, he has become a New York Times bestselling author, positive psychology researcher, and top-ranked leadership keynote speaker.
Each episode – or chapter – of 3 Books uncovers and discusses the three most formative books from one of the world’s most inspiring people. Sample guests include Judy Blume, David Sedaris, Chris Anderson of TED, and the world’s greatest Uber driver. Neil’s 3 Books is an Apple “Best Of” award-winning show as well as the world’s only podcast by and for book lovers, writers, makers, sellers, and librarians.
- Chapter 2: Frank Warren of PostSecret on understanding your past to control your future (I lovee PostSecret. This article is really exposing my fangirl tendencies.)
- Chapter 6: Judy Blume on bouncing balls, biting breasts, and building bookstores
- Chapter 36: Two teenage Mormon missionaries on missing mom to make miracles
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris
Dan Harris is a “fidgety, skeptical ABC newsman” who had a panic attack live on Good Morning America, which led him to something he always thought was ridiculous: meditation. He wrote the bestselling book, “10% Happier,” started an app — “10% Happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” — and now, in this podcast, Dan talks with smart people about whether there’s anything beyond 10%.
In short, Dan says he is asking the question, “What is enlightenment?” And how can ambitious people find it?
- #81: Sharon Salzberg, ‘Real Love’ author
- #1: Dalai Lama
- #185: Brené Brown, Vulnerability: The Key to Courage
Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
The Good Life Project is bigger than just this podcast. They’re a community on a mission to help more people live intentionally, and as their name suggests, they create media, community, and opportunities to build good lives together.
Hosted by GLP founder Jonathan Fields, he describes the weekly podcast as a chance to share, “inspirational, intimate and disarmingly-unfiltered conversations about living a fully-engaged, fiercely-connected and purpose-drenched life. From iconic world-shakers like Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Sir Ken Robinson, Seth Godin and Gretchen Rubin to everyday guests, every story matters.”
Recommended episodes, from their “best of” collection:
- Elizabeth Gilbert: Curiosity and the Passion Fallacy
- Tim Ferriss: Halfway Through Life, What Really Matters?
- To Succeed at Anything, Do This.
Book Smart with Melissa Guller and Em Hammel-Shaver
Hey, it’s us! Although we don’t have millions of followers, our thousands sure seem to be enjoying our podcast so far. (And if you’re one of those listeners, we’re so grateful for you!)
Book Smart is a podcast where we read and share books that have a positive influence on our daily lives. Whether it’s self-improvement, success, or something fun, we’re here to help you read your way to a better you.
Em & I started Book Smart out of a shared love for both personal development and (of course) books! And we’ve loved sharing our favorite lessons and advice from our very favorite reads.
Here are some of our favorite episodes: