Podcasts and audiobooks are my lifeblood. There’s nothing like putting in an earbud, closing my eyes, and having wisdom poured into my brain. Of the hundreds of podcast episodes I’ve listened to over the years, these are the ones that really stuck with me, and I’ll tell you why you might love them too.
The Lively Show: How to Create a Capsule Wardrobe with Caroline Rector
Listen to it here
Caroline, the founder of the blog Un-Fancy, is all about simplicity. She started her capsule wardrobe project to break a bad shopping habit and shared her evolution and progress with the world. I discovered her blog right around the time I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which was a dangerous combination), and I found my way to this podcast episode through her page. The result was a total simplification of my closet, which I’ve maintained and actually continued to to whittle down since. I never got as crazy as her (only 37 items including shoes for 4 months!) but I look to her for inspiration not only in outfits, but also in attitude.
What I really love about Caroline, and what comes through in this interview, is that her project isn’t only superficial. It’s about self reflection, and assessing what you truly need to be happy in life. There was a motivation to save money that compelled her to start minimizing her consumption habits, but there was also a desire to learn how to be happy with less, and that was what stuck with me. After paring down what I own, I also found that emotion to be completely authentic. By spending less time acquiring, you free yourself up to put so much more back out into the world. It is impossible to not clean out your closet after listening to this one.
Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher, Episode #25: How to Set Expectations with Clients
Listen to it here
Managing expectations is an important aspect of every collaborative relationship. In my publishing job, it’s my responsibility to educate the people I’m working with about my role in our project, and I don’t mean that in a condescending way-- I look to them to give me an equal understanding of what they do. But it’s easy in a creative career to be pushed around if you’re not clear from the outset about what your clients (or co-workers) can expect, and this may include when they can contact you, what your prices are, what the schedule and process will be for your project, and what exactly you are signing on to do, among many other things. It’s a lot to handle, and it’s important to be educated about how to do this and where you need to stand your ground.
Whenever anyone asks if there were any classes I wished I’d taken in college, my answer is immediate: Independent Contract Law. It seems like a dry answer, but it is so important to understand how to set legal boundaries in your business, and educating yourself in this area as you go is a sure way to make mistakes, get yourself into sticky situations, and maybe even ruin friendships. Understanding these things and being clear about them from the outset will make the experience of working with your client much more enjoyable for you, and vice versa.
Jenna is a savvy businesswoman, and she touches on a lot of important things in this episode that are hard to think about and deal with, especially if business doesn’t come naturally to you. If you think you’re that kind of person, that’s all the more reason you need to listen to this episode right this minute.
Young House Love Has a Podcast, Episode #14: What Quitting Our Blog Taught Us
Listen to it here
I’ve been a fan of the Petersiks for so long, I think I subconsciously believe I’m friends with them. They’re so relatable, and this episode of their podcast is probably the most down-to-earth of all. It’s a recording of a speech they gave to other online content creators at the Haven Conference, and it chronicles why they started a blog, how it changed their lives for better and then for worse, why they quit, and then why they returned in a new format.
The most compelling aspect of this episode was when they described how having a blog changed their everyday lives. At one point, they discuss being on vacation and pulling themselves out of the enjoyment of a nice family moment to capture it for their blog, and how moments like that are why they realized they needed to take a step back. I like that they view their blog as a business, and that they’re comfortable sharing their lives while also not taking themselves or their projects too seriously. Being a fan of theirs has taught me that if you lose the joy that inspired you in the first place, then you’ve lost your way entirely, and this episode of their podcast is that message in a 40-minute nutshell.
The Creative Empire Podcast, Episode #23: How to Make the Money You Deserve and then Manage It with Lauren Bowling
Listen to it here
Like contracts, money is awkward, and it can be hard to understand in an industry with a million different variables, so many creative people just avoid it. But when you avoid talking about $$$, you miss out on a lot of $$$. I actually hesitated before pressing play on this one, because it can even be awkward to hear someone talk about money.
I’m glad I went through with it, because Lauren Bowling’s story is fascinating. She’s the founder of the website financialbestlife.com, where she dispenses money wisdom for all of us poor underlings to gobble up. This episode, and her website in general, is rich with tips about handling money, getting out of debt (and avoiding it in the first place), and making money from the internet and social media. It is possible, and Lauren tells you how. I came away from this with a better sense of how to put a value on my own skills, how to forecast irregular income, and how cultivate new streams of cash flow. And you, my friend, cannot tell me you aren’t about to Google her right now.
Adulthood Made Easy: Netflix and chill? There's a Poem for That
Listen to it here
I was a huge fan of Samantha Jayne’s Quarter Life Poetry project long before it was a book, because who doesn’t relate to this poem: “My friend has a baby / and owns a boutique. / I just bought a cactus-- / it died in a week.” She encapsulates an element of being a young, urban person that is so hard to put into words. Finding her instagram account was like finding a little missing puzzle piece to my soul.
So when I saw that Samantha was a guest on the Adulthood Made Easy podcast (which, sadly, recently aired it’s last episode), I was psyched, and her story was as interesting as I hoped it would be. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a great little idea like this one that explodes into a universally relatable, viral project, and she outlines how that happened to her, and what has happened in her life since. If you’ve ever wondered how things like that blow up, or you just want to hear a funny poem about granny panties, you should listen to this episode.
The JV Club with Janet Varney #9: Angela Kinsey
Listen to it here
It probably seems random that an interview with Angela Kinsey, the actress who plays Angela on The Office, would make this list. What do we have in common, other than generally creative careers? But this one stuck with me because of one story she told, and it’s one that I drew upon often to find motivation during my first years in New York.
I listened to this episode on a New Jersey Transit bus on the way back into the city after visiting a friend in the ‘burbs. It was my first year out of college and to be honest, I was struggling. Friendships were changing, I was adjusting to an entry level job with a minimal salary and rent with a hefty price tag, I was unhappy with my romantic life, and I just didn’t know if I was making the right choices. It was a time in life when it was hard to see that things would ever be different. And while I was listening to this episode, one thing stood out.
Around the 00:40:00 mark, Angela starts talking about moving to New York after college. She cold-called NBC every day about an internship with Conan O’Brien, and never got through until one day, instead of asking for the internship office, she said, “Hi, I was talking to a woman about an internship and I got disconnected?” and the receptionist patched her through to a REAL HUMAN. And of course, her scrappiness landed her a job. Later in the episode, she also talks about screaming her one true dream into the night, in the hopes that it would come true, and that dream was to be in NBC’s Thursday night line-up. No joke.
There are a lot of interesting stories about how successful people got where they are, and I love listening to all kinds of interviews for that reason. This one isn’t that different, but I will always remember it because it found me at the right time, and Angela gave me the message I needed to hear: Everyone starts out where you are right now, and you won’t be here forever.
What about you? Any recommendations for podcasts, audiobooks, or anything else that inspired you and changed your life for the better?