The basics, the myths, and what podcasts can do for you.
You're at a dinner party, and Juan and Sarah cannot stop talking about their favorite podcasts.
You think, "Whatever. [eye roll] I certainly don't have time for those. I don't even know where the hell to go for a podcast."
Here's the good news: You are not alone.
Based on a study by Edison Research and Triton Digital, while most people have heard of podcasts, under 20% regularly listen to podcasts. In fact, 52% of Americans have never listened to a podcast. Ever.
Here's the bad news: You are missing out.
Podcasts have truly transformed my life. I credit podcasts as, by far, the single biggest source of inspiration and knowledge that has allowed me to enter an entirely new career and life.
I believe in podcasts so much that I cannot let the 52% of you that have never listened to one continue to sit on the sidelines.
Give me 5 minutes. I'll get you up to speed on the basics, debunk the myths, and tell you what's in it for you. Read on, and you'll be on the road to changing your life too.
I'm guessing that a big reason you're not listening to podcasts is that you don't even know how to play one. Podcasts are simply audio files, most commonly listened to via a podcast app. Many websites also have embedded podcasts you can stream simply by clicking on a link.
To really get the most out of podcasts, I recommend you go the app route. Getting an app is super easy - most smartphones and tablets already have a native podcast app installed.
iPhone / iPad people: Easiest solution? You have a purple podcast app built right into your phone or iPad (I recommend using your phone due to its portability).
If you can't find it, swipe right on your phone's home page to bring up the search bar (yes, there is one of those too. It took me years to figure that out so don't feel bad if you didn't know!) and type "podcast."
Once inside the app, there are four icons at the bottom. Go to "Search" and type in "b CAUSE with Erin & Nicole."
Yes, some selfless promotion. That's the podcast I host with my good friend, Nicole.
If for whatever reason you don't want to start with us (it's ok, you won't hurt our feelings), check out this handy guide to my top 10 podcast episode recommendations.
When in the Podcast app search, type in the name of the actual podcast show, not the single episode name, and check it out!
My 8-year-old son's favorite is "How I Built This With Guy Raz." He listens on his iPad. :-)
We also have a "podcast club" on our website, where we recommend other people's podcasts regularly (kind of like Oprah's Book Club).
Android people: Don't worry, it's just as easy for you. The Google Podcasts app is now native on Android phones. Just poke around or search for it there.
Anyone: You can also download a separate app to listen to podcasts. These apps tend to have more features. Here is a link to an article on the various options and reviews for each.
If you find a podcast online (like the one we have on our site), you can hit play and listen via streaming audio. Though, while you can stream episodes through the web on any device, the nice part about a podcast app is that it's a one tap solution to listening to any podcast, and you can download episodes to play even if you're offline. This means you can listen on the go, no matter where you are - the BEST part about podcasts!
There are several myths about podcasts. I want to quickly debunk and clarify these so you don't have any reason not to become an avid podcast listener.
Myth #1 - They cost money. Podcasts are completely and entirely free. No buy-ups, no commitments, no nothing.
Myth #2 - They're just for people with Apple products. While they got the "pod" part of their name as a result of starting on the iPod, that's where it ends. You can listen to podcasts on any device with Internet access.
Myth #3 - You have to have a subscription. Check out any podcast, and you'll see a "Subscribe Now" button. This is just unfortunate naming. You don't have to subscribe to a podcast to listen to it. If you like a podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it because it helps the podcasters by showing that people support their work, but it's totally optional.
If you do subscribe, all it does is keep that podcast in your library so all new episodes head your way and are easy to find. But it doesn't cost you money, and it doesn't automatically download the episodes to your device. If you change your mind, or grow tired of a particular podcast, you can hit "Unsubscribe" in a flash at any time. Don't be scared.
Myth #4 - They're like radio talk shows. I admit I've been guilty of saying, "Podcasts are like on-demand radio." That's really just meant to explain that they're audio like radio.
Podcasts are available in tons of genres. They go far beyond what you can listen to on the radio on your way to work in the morning (mostly crap in my opinion).
Myth #5 - They are educational. True and false. Many podcasts are created to teach you about something new, but that's far from the only kind available. Podcasts come in many flavors: comedy, reality, coaching, educational, poetry, true crime, storytelling... The list is endless and you can listen to whatever you're feeling up to that day.
Myth #6 - They take too much time. Nooooo! I hear people say, "I'm already overwhelmed. I don't have time for one more thing." This is the biggest myth I want to debunk.
Podcasts GIVE you time. Because they're portable. Because you can listen when you're doing other things - driving, running, shopping - they actually allow you to add time to your life. There is rarely a time I get into my car and don't put on a podcast!
What's In It For You
I get it. Change is hard. There are so many things we should do, but who has the time to add one more thing?
It's rare that making a small change has the potential to make monumental change in your life, but that's an opportunity that podcasts offer.
Here are 10 things that listening to podcasts can do for you:
1. You can learn about new careers and jobs that you'd never know even existed.
2. You can have a personal coach, totally for free.
3. You can make your commute feel SO much shorter. You'll often even be mad that you're already "there."
4. You can laugh your way through a long run.
5. You can discover and even connect with people that are like you that you never knew existed. (Most podcasts are just produced by regular people like you and me.)
6. You can get tips and tricks that will help you rise in your career, without spending your only free 30 minutes at night reading some boring leadership book.
7. You can binge on a great series just like you do a Netflix show (hint: search "Serial").
8. You can easily text your favorite ones to your friends and then chat about them at your next gathering.
9. Hey, you can even start your own podcast. If I can do it...
10. You can sound a lot cooler at that dinner party with Juan and Sarah.
I hope this article got a few more of you podcast virgins interested in giving them a shot. I sincerely think they're the best thing since sliced bread. I hope you will too.
Finally, I would love to hear if you start listening to podcasts. If so, what are your favorites?
Erin Hatzikostas is a former Corporate CEO turned Career Coach, Speaker and Podcast Host of b CAUSE with Erin & Nicole. She is the Founder & CEO of b Authentic inc and is on a mission to empower more authenticity in the workplace. Take her free, fun and insightful “What Dog Are You at Work?” quiz here.