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.)