Design

Great New Podcast

 How I Build This podcast

The other evening, I texted Stella from the bathtub, where I was listening to a podcast (as one does), and said, “I have an idea.” After telling her about my product idea, she sent back this gif and we cracked each other up with enthusiastic emojis for a full five minutes.

That is basically what has happened each time I’ve listened to How I Built This, a new NPR podcast Stella and I are now both addicted to. The show’s format is a riveting 30-minute conversation with an innovator who tells the story behind the biggest thing they’ve ever done. You can’t help being inspired to create parallels in your own head, like “Oh yeah, I could start…” or “I have an idea for…” or even “I can do anything!” (Even the show’s music somehow feels like it’s beating inside your chest.)

The series is hosted by Guy Raz, an NPR veteran with an impressively light touch — it’s as if his subjects are telling their story directly to you. So far, I’ve listened to Sara Blakely talk about how she came up with her billion-dollar idea (Spanx!) while selling fax machines door-to-door, and Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger describe how they created (and almost destroyed) Instagram in a coffee shop, while living on PB&Js. Waiting for me is this week’s episode with Cathy Hughes, who practiced her DJ routine in the bathroom as a kid and later founded the largest African-American-owned broadcasting company, Radio One. So far, each story demonstrates that three of the main ingredients for creating something transformative are, simply, a good idea, hard work and a bit of luck. It’s incredibly motivating.

Have you listened to How I Built This? What are your go-to podcasts these days?

P.S. Seven favorite podcasts.

(Illustrations from How I Built This.)

  1. kate says...

    I started following the @thejealouscurator on instagram because i love the artwork she posts, which led me to her podcast. Wonderful, casual, friendly interviews with talented artists. Its inspired me to start painting.

    I also love From Scratch by jessica harris, she interviews fascinating entrepreneurs. Sounds like How I Built This is right up my alley.

  2. Sara B says...

    I’ve been meaning to check out How I Built This! A couple of standouts I haven’t seen many people mention (I’m a podcast junkie for sure):
    – Codeswitch (conversations about race that I haven’t heard elsewhere on radio),
    -More Perfect (from the folks at Radiolab- all about the backstory of the Supreme Court)
    -The Run-Up (election related, by the NYT)
    -Savage Lovecast (explicit conversation about sex, love, & politics by the one and only Dan Savage)
    -99% Invisible (all about design in the world around us- shockingly fascinating, and Roman Mars has the sexiest voice on radio)
    -2 Dope Queens- so, so funny

  3. Devon says...

    Nerdette!!! It is an amazing podcast an the hosts are incredible. They bring on all kinds of excellent guests to talk about “nerdy” things, from science to their favorite books and TV shows. Recently they’ve interviewed a lot of female authors. They also do a Game of Thrones recap series (with Peter Segal of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me) while the show is in season. I LOVE it and recommend it to everyone.

  4. Patrice says...

    If you are any interest in true crime, you MUST MUST MUST listen to My Favorite Murder. It is hosted by two awesome girls named Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark and they just, quite literally, talk about their favorite murders in each podcast. They are endearing and hilarious and make you feel like you are catching up with you best girl friend. I recommend starting at the beginning to get a feel for their pacing and humor. It sounds so messed up (murder!), but it is truly an amazing podcast. My friends and I cannot stop listening to it and we have been texting constantly about it.

  5. Emily says...

    I love How I Built This!

    I have approximately zero interest in Spanx and the first interview with Sara Blakely was so much fun to listen to and very inspiring. All the other episodes have been great too.

  6. Have you checked out Stuff Your Mom Forgot to Tell you?

  7. I’m addicted to podcasts. Thanks for the suggestion. Favourite at the mo is The Moth, Oh Boy, Sportful, The Mash-Up Americans.

  8. Amanda says...

    “The Broad Experience” by Ashley Milne-Tyte is about women in the workplace. It is awesome and inspiring (and sometimes depressing and frustrating, but in an smart way).

  9. Definitely going to look into this one! I’m obsessed with the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. It’s basically about human nature and how to make yourselves happier while acknowledging all the things we all do all the time that make us less happy. I love the content and the pleasant way they talk about it.

    • dashofpie says...

      I love this one too!

  10. My Favorite Murder for the Mother F’ing Win. I had a baby recently and while this probably sounds INSANE, I listen to their podcast while breastfeeding and rocking him to sleep all. the. time. Karen and Georgia have become a constant in my daily routine, just one of the many things I love about podcasts. Moral of the story? Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered.

    • Patrice says...

      STAY SEXY AND DON’T GET MURDERED! Damn right. My world has been flipped upside down since I found this podcast two weeks ago — I can’t do anything these days except listen to the podcast. I have started taking my dog on two hour walks because I just can’t get enough. And I’m already getting sad thinking about how it will be when I catch up and I’ll have to wait for a new episode each week. I wanna be BFF’s with Karen and Georgia. Also, I just bought a cross stitch that reads “SSDGM” on ETSY and I cannot wait for it to come in the mail.

  11. Mary says...

    this article put the biggest smile on my face! i seriously felt like you were talking to me bc that is totally something i would do!

  12. tunie says...

    The Spanx interview made me subscribe! I am also loving Love & Radio.

  13. Clare Agra says...

    I love How I Built This – so good!

  14. Alma says...

    For me it’s The Moth for great story telling & Rich Roll for inspirational stories.

  15. Frankie Rose says...

    I love podcasts so much, I subscribe to about a billion and listen daily while walking my dog. My current favorites are 2 Dope Queens (Phoebe and Jessica are hilarious and feature so many good comics), Bad with Money (Gaby Dunn is in her late 20s and is very open about her difficult relationship with money- something no one talks about. She’s really funny and self-deprecating and I appreciate her guests, for example last week’s episode was about how having a disability affects your finances.), Harry Potter and the Sacred Text (mentioned above), A Few Things (by the founders of Of a Kind- fun and lighthearted) and Big Magic with Elizabeth Gilbert (She helps people who are struggling with their creative pursuits and brings on some great guests.) I love hearing new suggestions as well. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Liz says...

    One of my favorites that hasn’t been mentioned yet, is You Must Remember This. Each episode is a different story about the first century of Old Hollywood. If you are classic movie fan, you will love the in depth stories she tells. She does such a great job with the research and flow of the stories. I was hooked on the Charles Manson series, it was soo interesing and well done.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this sounds so good!

  17. Amanda says...

    Nowadays, I religiously listen to New Yorker: Politics and more (interesting, thought-provoking dialogue), Dear Sugar (Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, an amazing advice giving duo), Freakonomics, and Strangers by Lea Thau (who lovingly put her love life in the public forum to help her listeners).

  18. I literally just heard about this podcast this morning and subscribed to it. I can’t wait to listen!

  19. sarah says...

    Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – fantastical!

    • well, this is amazing. Thank you!

    • Frankie Rose says...

      I am loving this podcast, makes me want to re-read all the books. I enjoy both hosts’ perspectives and the voicemails left by callers!

  20. My friend in Houston just started a hilarious new podcast called Hands Off Parents. She and her bestie have a glass of wine, talk about parenting, while you can hear their children playing in the background. They cover many of the issues that Cup of Jo brings to the table. So insightful!

  21. Amazing! I’ve actually listened to an episode here and there and it is fascinating. I’ve noticed that all of the successful “inventors” of our time had the confidence to follow through on their projects, and weren’t afraid to fail.

    A few of my favorite podcasts: http://bit.ly/1L69ajD

    Christina | http://www.cuddlepill.com

  22. Listened to the Spanx and Instagram episodes last week and loved both so much! I used to work at a startup and know firsthand how hard it is to succeed as an entrepreneur. I loved hearing the accounts straight from the source — way better than reading an article on the same subject! I think this is one I’ll continue listening to.

    One podcast I really enjoyed was the Magic Lessons podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. Super inspiring!

  23. Sara says...

    Ah poscasts…. my obsession.

    Since reading the last set of comments on a podcast article here I’ve listened to all of My Favourite Murder – love the hosts and how down to earth they are! I also love Bitch Sesh – a Real Housewives breakdown show. I have never once seen an episode – and never plan to – but I really like the hosts and find them hilarious so that’s why I listen. My dad wrote a porno is also hilarious!

    When I’m in a headspace where I can take in more info, I love Reply All, archive BBC Desert Island Discs (listen to Dustin Hoffman, Gene Wilder, Jacqueline Du Pre), an Irishman abroad, Invisibilia, Criminal, Death, Sex, and Money, The Allusionist.

  24. Will check it out! My go to podcast these days is “In The Dark”… it’s 100% for fans of Making A Murder and Serial, but… centered on a child :( Great reporting and investigating. Definitely keeps one on edge!

    • Frankie Rose says...

      Really liking this podcast- my heart goes out to Jacob’s family and the community in general- very well done.

    • Emily says...

      Love this one!

  25. Yes! I already was a fan of Guy Raz via TED Radio Hour.
    I listen to podcasts nonstop: in the car, while running, while cooking and cleaning. Might as well learn something. Other favorites:
    Fresh Air, On Point, Planet Money, Freakonomics, The Torch, 99% Invisible, Little Atoms

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, jennifer!

  26. Thank you for the recommendation, this is right up my alley! I’m an avid podcast listener. Some of my more unique current favorites include…

    1. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This one blows me away every episode! Vanessa and Casper go through the best book series of all time chapter by chapter, analyzing each as if it were part of a sacred text such as the Bible or the Quran.

    2. I’m With Her. Hillary Clinton’s new podcast is a delight. It gives a glimpse into what it’s like to campaign for presidency, and it shows a side of HRC that not many people see in the media: a human side.

    3. Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids. Hilarious! The title says it all… Oh, the stories.

    4. Classical Classroom. While I already appreciated classical music, this podcast has vastly broadened my knowledge and appreciation of it. It also brings it down from a high pedestal, making it relatable to everyone. I particularly love the episodes that explore the musical themes in the old and new Star Wars films.

  27. margaret says...

    yes!! loving this podcast…so good.

  28. Sarah says...

    OMG YES! I have been telling everyone about this podcast! Viva la small-biz-revolution!!

  29. Maggie says...

    “My Dad Wrote a Porno.” So hilarious and I laugh out loud constantly. A guy reads ‘erotic literature’ written by his old man and his two friends provide commentary. Elijah Wood is a fan, and so am I!

    • Lynn says...

      Oh. My. God. Yes. It’s the best.
      That and 2 Dope Queens.

    • ks says...

      completely agree! I’d love them to come to the u.s. for one of their live readings, how do we make this happen?? x

  30. Thank you! I could always use more good podcasts :)

    I’m currently obsessed with book podcasts. Overdue Pod is my all-time fave, it’s just two hilarious guys discussing a book every week, the concept being “these are books you should have read by now” so it covers everything from classics to bestsellers to children’s to YA. So great. I also recently discovered Literary Disco which is smart and funny and one of the hosts is Rider Strong, aka Shawn from Boy Meets World, aka one of the boys who decorated my wall in the 90s along with Devon Sawa and JTT. Not the (only) reason I love it, but definitely doesn’t hurt :)

    • Anna says...

      If you are a child of the late 80s/early 90s, you would love The Babysitters Club Club. Two guys in their 30s read each of the Babysitters Club books and give commentary. I seriously laugh out loud in every episode!

  31. This and Shark Tank, make me want to do risky, ‘crazy’ things! I love hearing about the not so glamorous parts of making something happen..encourages me on my own journey :) My current go to is StoryCorps….nothing new, but when I have the feels, it gets me every single time.

  32. Rob says...

    Lexi I’m listening to this.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      You’ll love it…

  33. Cinda says...

    Podcasts that I like are ” non-NPR” as these are really soo left leaning. I believe these can be mind altering. Chabad in Los Angelos has done wonderful hopeful-joy filled podcasts.

  34. Taryn says...

    I love the idea of listening to podcasts in the bath :) I am currently loving Not By Accident which is a podcast documentary about motherhood and choosing to become a single mother. The creator is such a beautiful storyteller.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Interesting, I’ll look for that one!

      And bathtime podcasts are the way to go! I used to read in the bath but listening is much easier. :)

  35. ks says...

    i listened to the spanx one after you recommended it last Friday & then continued to listen to the rest after that – I was addicted! I know you covered news sources recently – but does anyone have a good podcast that covers ‘news you need to know’ type thing? there are so many amazing podcasts that dive into specific topics & stories but id love to find one that does a summary of what happened each day | week. suggestions? x

    • Kim says...

      It’s not a podcast, but The Skimm sends out a wonderful email in the mornings that’s a quick, digestible, and entertaining recap of the previous day’s news. I read it while brushing my teeth!

    • ks says...

      thanks Kim & Lexi! off to sign-up / listen now x

  36. Andrea abbott says...

    A great podcast my sister told me about is the guilty feminist – worth a listen!

    • Laura says...

      YES YES YES! So good!

  37. Annelisa says...

    Yes yes! It’s awesome. The radio one episode was truly amazing. Can’t wait for the next one! Inspirational and joyful!!

  38. Stephanie says...

    Podcasts in the bath! Awesome!

  39. belen gc says...

    yessss i’ve been telling all my friends about the Spanx episode! so inspiring! (L)

  40. Meghan says...

    I’m loving In The Dark, which is a new true crime podcast. It’s similar to Serial, although the case was recently solved so it has a guaranteed ending. Highly recommend!

  41. I just listened to the Spanx episode! As a start-up founder in the pre-launch stage of my business where my emotions swing from “This is a genius idea!” to “You’re a total failure!” approximately once per hour, listening to women who have succeeded in bringing their dreams to life is my everything!!

  42. Sara says...

    I really love Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, The Splendid Table and Spilled Milk podcasts.

  43. janey says...

    I cannot believe it, I literally wanted to browse through a cup of jo today for podcast rec’s and tada! Crazy!

  44. Thanks for the recommendation, Jo! I’m totally addicted to podcasts, so the more the merrier. :) My very favourite is Freakonomics Radio. Runners up: This American Life, Planet Money, Revisionist History, Reply All & just recently, Heavyweight.

  45. My husband (and entrepreneur by trade) just sent me this a couple days ago and I am hooked! I knew the story of Sara Blakely before, but listening to her full story was inspirational! It is wonderful hearing the beginnings of such important innovators!

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  46. Sarah says...

    The Spanx episode blew me away. She came across as so warm and driven – so inspiring! Wonderful recommendation.

  47. Sandra says...

    Ooh, can’t wait to check it out!

    I listen to Mortified (which I think you guys have talked about before), Undisclosed (even though the case they are covering after Adnan’s is kind of all over the place), and Happier with Gretchen Rubin. I didn’t totally love her happiness project self help book, but the podcast (which she hosts with her sister) is much better–they play off of each other really well, and some of her tips and insights have been really thought-provoking.

  48. Lisa S. says...

    Loving “2 Dope Queens”. I just bought tickets for when Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson come to Boston in Jan. Most often I cry with laughter.

    • Lynn says...

      #yqy

  49. I just started listening to a new Gimlet Media podcast called Heavyweight by Jonathan Goldstein and it’s been great! Really interesting stories about dealing with confronting grudges from the past. I’m digging it!

    https://gimletmedia.com/show/heavyweight/

    • Love Heavyweight too. Jonathan Goldstein is a gem.

  50. Lauren says...

    YES to this podcast! Sara Blakely’s story was so inspiring. I was especially impressed home girl WROTE HER OWN PATENT using a book she bought from Barnes & Noble. Wow. I also recommend beautiful/anonymous. It’s interview format, premise being that a stranger calls in and gets the space to talk about whatever they want for 60 minutes. The host (Chris Gethard) elicits the most fascinating and revelatory conversations, really a testament to the complexities in us all. Highly recommend.

    • Lexi Mainland says...

      Haha, the patent part of the story was totally the point where I started pumping my fist in solidarity with her, too.

  51. This is the second recommendation for this podcast I’ve gotten today! I guess that means I have no choice but to check it out! Can’t wait :)

  52. I love this podcast! After listening to Sarah Blakely I spent the entire evening trying to come up with the next big idea. I failed miserably.

  53. Lena says...

    Haha I love how the Cup of Jo writers text each other from the bathtub with lots of gifs and emojis – sounds like my kinda group :)

    • I know right?! I have friendship jealousy!

      A post/series about female friendships would be a good topic for the blog. I was just sharing with a friend recently that I really want to build a solid group of female friends. I’m great with one-on-one friendships, but I crave the support that a whole group of women provides. I’d love to hear about how the COJ staff builds and maintains friendships, especially in the midst of demands demands of big-city living, family, kids, romantic relationships, etc.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Great idea, Shannon!

  54. Amy says...

    This sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to listen! I LOVE the gif, btw :)

  55. oooh. i’m not a huge podcast person, but i’m loving the sound of this! and i remember guy raz from NPR! ha!

  56. Kelsey says...

    The podcast I can’t stop listening to is My Favorite Murder. It sounds like a dark and terrible choice, but the two women who host it are somehow HILARIOUS while talking about murders that revolve around a certain theme.

    • Mary says...

      I LOVE MFM!!! ITS THE BEST.

      everyone MUST listen.

  57. jenn says...

    sounds similar to girl boss!! I love listening to these kinds of stories, so i’ll definitely be subscribing to this ;)