Steven’s Inspiration: My top 5 favorite customer experience, innovation & tech podcasts
One of the most frequently returning questions in my career as a keynote speaker and an author, probably has to be about where I get my own inspiration from: which influencers I follow, which books I read, which podcast channels I listen to; things like that. And as there’s nothing I like more than to help people find their sources of inspiration, I decided to launch a little side-project series about the people and the media who spark my thoughts and ideas. I really hope that they’ll trigger your imagination as much as they did with mine.
I’ll be starting off with my top 5 favorite podcasts of all time. I really love podcasts, because they’re such an easy and low-energy consuming way to keep up with the latest developments in tech, innovation and customer experience or to catch a completely different perspective once in a while. In fact, that’s why I started a podcast channel of my own, where you’ll find the audio versions of Steven’s Week as well as interviews with inspiring influencers like the CEO of Google Belgium Thierry Geerts, China expert Pascal Coppens or international keynote speaker Ken Hughes. Find my channel here.
Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
As the co-founder of LinkedIn and a legendary VC, the American internet entrepreneur and author Reid Hoffman has a truly impressive CV. If anyone knows how to scale, it’s Reid. So I was immediately drawn to his podcast which promises to “offer you best start-up advice from Silicon Valley and beyond”. And, boy, does the show deliver: iconic CEOs from iconic companies like Netflix, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Nike, Fiat, Spotify, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, Slack, 23andMe, and many (many) more share the stories and strategies that helped them grow from startups into global brands: they talk entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, management, fundraising and all of the things that come with scaling. But they also talk about the human part of their journey, failures included.
What makes this show unique is not just the premium content, but how it’s so cleverly designed: each episode begins with an ingenious tale that sets the stage for Reid to reveal a theory he has about scaling. And then he tests the idea with some of the most iconic masters of scale on the planet. This is a very entertaining and enjoyable manner to learn some really valuable business lessons.
Few are the people that do not know entrepreneur, author and marketing guru Seth Godin. More than anyone, he knows how to inspire his tribe, so it should not come as a surprise that he has a podcast show as well. It’s called Akimbo, meaning “the bend in the river” or “the bend in an archer’s bow” which, according to Seth, alludes to strength, possibility and the belief that you can make a difference. This is a very different format than Masters of Scale: it’s just Seth talking about subjects he’s passionate bout. A bit like an audio blog, actually. But he always ends up inspiring me with his soothing voice and contrary ideas. Surprisingly, this is not a pure marketing blog, but covers a lot more subjects: in fact, he talks about our culture – from systems thinking and AI to learning, space, Moore’s law and retail- and about how we can change it.
The GaryVee Audio Experience
And then there’s good old Gary Vaynerchuck, of course. He’s quite literally present on pretty much every channel out there, in any possible format, so it’s only logical that he offers his jabs and hooks in a podcast, too. With so much forcible visibility and energy, Gary is the one whom many love to hate. But few are the influencers out there with the same totally dedicated (sometimes even scarily obsessed) following of no less than 12M social media fans. You can say what you want, but Gary V knows what he’s doing. And when he talks, I tend to listen. His show is a mix of his #AskGaryVee show episodes, keynote speeches on marketing and business, segments from his DAILYVEE video series, interviews, fireside chats as well as thoughts he records originally for this audio experience. This is the show I go to when I need an energy boost from the most ‘present’ influencers of them all.
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z)– founded by legends Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz – is an absolute Silicon Valley monument, which I’ve had the absolute honor and pleasure to visit many times during my company nexxworks’ many Innovation Programsover there. Their official podcast features tech and culture trends and news about robotics, automation, AI, machine learning, cryptocurrency, etc. from industry experts, business leaders, and other great minds. The show is hosted by the founders themselves and aims to offer advice on fundraising, management, hiring, and more to entrepreneurs. Actually, don’t just follow their podcast. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to their newsletters, where you’ll find the best of their articles, videos and (obviously) podcasts, too.
How I Built Thiswith Guy Raz
Hosted by renowned NPR journalist Guy Raz, ‘How I Built This’ features very qualitative and profound interviews with some of the world’s best-known innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists behind well-known businesses and brands, including Lyft, Stitch Fix, Whole Foods, DoorDash, Slack, Flickr, and Lululemon. Guy’s aim is to understand how some of the most well-known companies and the world’s most successful movements were able to develop themselves: how they failed, how they succeeded and which insights they gained from all of this. I love listening to this show because it’s really offers a deep insight into the myriad of ways that allow an idea to grow from zero to one, and then from one to infinity: some companies have success due to collaboration, sometimes it’s due to someone’s singular vision, sometimes it’s because of dogged persistence and sometimes it’s just plain dumb luck. But all their stories are just as inspiring.
That’s it. I hope that you’ll enjoy the many hours of inspiration that these shows will be able to offer you! And stay tuned for my next interview on Steven’s weekly podcast, with no one else than Tien Tzuo, Founder of Zuora , author and subscription economy advocate.