Carrie Heider Grant
I have a confession to make: I cannot focus in a silent office. I just can't do it. I always have music or the radio playing (hopefully quietly) at my desk. But these days, I am turning more and more to podcasts when I want something more substantial than background noise. And there is no shortage of nonprofit-relevant podcasts.
What is a podcast, you might be asking? Podcasts are FREE programs that you can access through the internet or through apps on your phone. There are over 250,000 unique podcasts on iTunes alone—so trust me when I say that there is a podcast out there on virtually every topic. You can even download them to your phone to listen later when you're on the move and don't want to use your data to stream the content.
Now, if you squirm at the idea of having someone talk in your ear while you sit at your desk, or if you are most productive in a space that is quiet, then consider instead turning on a podcast while you're cleaning, driving the car, exercising, mowing the lawn, or sitting quietly with a cup of coffee.
Today I am sharing 6 nonprofit-related podcasts that you need to know. They have each inspired me in different way, transforming not only the way I view my work, but how I view the world—the very ecosystem in which nonprofits operate.
1) Nonprofit Optimist (hosted by Molly MacCready)
This newer podcast "showcases positive change agents and talks through lessons that their small nonprofits have learned." Molly MacCready, a professional who founded her own nonprofit organization 10 years ago, emphasizes the good in the world and uses this podcast to elevate the stories of small, but awesome, nonprofits. I am interested to see where she goes with this over time.
2) Nonprofits are Messy: Lessons in Leadership (hosted by Joan Garry)
"Hosted by Joan Garry, the "Dear Abby" of the nonprofit world, this podcast is a discussion of the most pressing issues faced by nonprofit leadership. It features real stories of nonprofit leaders like you and how they handled the mess." These episodes are longer (over 60 minutes long), so I find it's easier to listen to this podcast when I am in the car as opposed to when I am in the office where there are more interruptions.
3) Social Good Instigators (hosted by Kirsten Bullock)
Formerly known as the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast, "this show aims to encourage and inspire leaders of social good organizations. You'll learn from other leaders who reflect not only on the ways they helped their organizations excel, but also the things that didn't work out so well."
This is a great resource for anyone who wants to broaden their social media marketing skills. It's a light-hearted series and (BONUS!)they are shorter episodes at 30 minutes or less, so it's easy to digest and apply the ideas to my work. Not every episode is relevant to my role with a small organization, but the majority is very useful. Disclaimer: this is a podcast from the social media management platform, Buffer, so there are lots of plugs and references to their product. But I don't find it distracting and still recommend it.
5) Hidden Brain (hosted by Shankar Vedantam, from NPR)
This is one of my favorite programs on any media platform, period. It's a blend of science and storytelling that "reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior." And it's not just entertaining. The insights offered by Shankar have the capacity to impact your work life and your home life. I strongly encourage you to listen to the four episodes that aired from May 29 to June 19: Broken Windows, In the Air We Breathe, Rap on Trial, and "Is he Muslim?" They each take a deep dive into how implicit bias impacts society in America—at the individual level, the community level, and the institutional level. The implications of the discoveries in these episodes are impacting YOUR mission and your success in achieving that mission. Do not miss these four episodes!
6) Revisionist History (hosted by Malcolm Gladwell)
Season 2 of this podcast dropped on June 15, and I am hooked. Malcolm Gladwell (Author of The Tipping Point) is a best-selling author and journalist who calls this series his attempt to "correct the record." Every episode "re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time." This podcast has a similar impact on my world perspective as Hidden Brain.
Bonus Podcast: LeVar Burton Reads (hosted by LeVar Burton)
"LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow, Star Trek, Roots) hand-picks a different piece of short fiction in each episode, and reads it to you." Okay, so I know that this isn't relevant to nonprofit work, but I mean, COME ON. I am so excited to dig into this series and couldn't help but add to to this list. This is one of the best things happening on the internet right now and has already jumped to the #2 spot in the iTunes podcast app. Disclaimer: This show is tagged as explicit, which means some of the content is probably not appropriate for children. Since the show just launched on June 13, it's too soon to tell just how colorful the language and topics in each story will be. So give it a shot, but know that some episodes may have more swears or adult-only content than others.
So what do you think? Which podcasts inspire you? There are so many unique and outstanding shows out there. What are you waiting for? Hop on over to your iTunes, GooglePlay, or wherever you get your podcasts, and start exploring. You won't regret it.
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