2016 saw me really dive into the world of podcasts. I felt this urge of making my commute times more productive, so I turned to podcasts. With some advice from fellow podcast listening friends, I downloaded the Podcast Addict app (I now use Pocket Casts and it's 100x better) and I was off to the races!
Coincidentally, the period of 2016-17 was the time when I was sinking my teeth further into the field of product management. Here's a joke - "How does one know if a person is a Product Manager?". "S/he'll tell you about it, blog about it, podcast about it and create a PPT about it". Okay I made that up. But the point I'm trying to make here is that there's a lot of material on podcasts directed at new and experienced product managers alike.
Keeping my cynicism aside, I have learnt a lot from these podcasts. They give you a sense that the playing fields are levelled, you can up-skill hard and soft skills, and eventually, you feel at par with accomplished product managers in marquee companies. I'm going to use this opportunity to mention a bunch of podcasts that have helped me grow as a product manager over the past two years. Please note that the list is not in any order of preference.
1. This is Product Management
This is arguably the most popular podcast for product managers out there. Their amazing catalog of podcasts covers every imaginable topic a product manager would want to listen to. TIPM is produced by the team at Alpha, a tool for generating user insights. While TIPM is vast, I find the tone of the podcasts fairly monotonous. It's less conversational and more of doling out advice or product experiences. Nevertheless, it's a great place to start or revisit for certain key topics.
Rocketship.fm does a great job of creating stories for each of their topics, which makes it a very enjoyable podcast. They usually have a recurring theme across a series of podcasts. It's a podcast that helps a layman understand the goings-on in startup life. While the podcast covers general topics, of late, they have been talking a lot about product related topics. There's a very interesting episode on the origin of product management which talks about the 'Brand Men' at P&G (circa 1930s). For the compelling stories, structure and conversations, I rate this podcast highly.
3. Inside Intercom
Intercom is a tool used for customer support and in-app customer engagement. While I'm not completely sold on their product, I must say that they're doing a fantastic job in getting inbound traffic via their website. They've created a blog and a podcast which comprises of a knowledge base spanning topics on product management and design. It's done well enough that it doesn't feel like "content for the sake of content". Des Traynor, the founder of Intercom, usually hosts the podcast and the show has had respectable guests from the startup/design/product world. There are some great conversations in the podcasts, especially the one on the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework.
It doesn't get more credible than Exponent when it comes to the people behind the podcast. Exponent is run by Ben Thompson, author/founder of Stratechery, and James Allworth, author and Harvard Business Review writer. Exponent isn't directed at product managers but they often talk about over-arching problems, trends, innovations in the technology space. Whether it's AI/ML/Bitcoin, Amazon's dominance or Facebook's newsfeed algorithms, there is always something useful for the listener. The hosts (and guests) pick each other's brains on several topics every week. Prepare yourself for some great analysis and deep-dives into interesting subjects on the Exponent.
5. Product Popcorn
Product Popcorn is the Aubrey Plaza of product podcasts. By that I mean, it's quirky and funny. Product Popcorn is hosted by Kimberly and Adam, who will give their light-hearted take on product management interspersed with elephant trumpet sounds. What I love about this podcast is that you'll feel like it's a roundtable discussion with friends. Another aspect of the podcast that I love is that the hosts share updates on their own professional lives, something like a stand-up meeting update. It helps you connect with the hosts and what they encounter on a daily/weekly basis while PMing. I would 12/10 recommend a listen.
6. The Startup Chat
With close to 300 episodes, the Startup Chat is an important podcast for entrepreneurs and startup folk. It's hosted by Hiten Shah (founder of Kissmetrics) and Steli Efti (founder of close.io), who have been hustling for over 10 years. This podcast pretty much covers all the bases on advice related to starting a startup, the modalities of running one and the specifics on key topics like hiring, processes and more. The episodes usually don't run over 20-25min, which makes it very easily consumable and retainable. I also love how Hiten and Steli can be at loggerheads with each other during debates on "controversial" topics. This podcast becomes more relevant if you're a product manager at a startup because you see these different flavors play out around you.