Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, bestselling author of four books, Wharton’s top-rated professor, and host of WorkLife, a podcast from TED. You can find Adam’s full bio here.
He curated a list of his favorite podcasts, giving you insight into the episodes that have lasted with him over time. Check out the list to find out Adam’s favorite podcast interview, conversations that changed his mind, and his all-time favorite podcast episode.
Episode: Why Haven’t We Found Aliens?
I’ve been wondering about that question since I was a kid, and Derek Thompson does an excellent tour of the latest thinking on whether we’re alone in the universe.
Episode: How To Become Batman
My all-time favorite podcast episode is an Invisibilia episode called How To Become Batman. It’s an incredible story about a guy who’s blind and taught himself to cross busy intersections by making clicking sounds. Not only that, but he also teaches blind children as young as five to do it too. It turns out to be a form of echolocation, much like bats do. A neuroscientist explains that the clicking sounds can activate the visual cortex. The takeaway that shocked me was that you don’t need eyes to see.
Episode: The Standard Case
An episode of a podcast that changed my mind is a Revisionist History episode that Malcolm Gladwell did on casuistry. He argued that performance-enhancing drugs are a problem in sports, but we might want to consider performance-restoring drugs that help you recover to your previous point of peak performance after an injury. I thought I was completely against drugs in sports, but after listening to the episode, I started to reconsider.
Episode: #1169 – Elon Musk
One of the best podcast interviews I’ve heard is Elon Musk on The Joe Rogan Experience. It’s such a riveting window into how his brain works – and how he might think about a problem that seems familiar to a lot of us in a very unfamiliar way.
A recent podcast episode that changed my mind was a TED Interview episode that Chris Anderson did with Johann Hari. Before listening, I believed pretty strongly in the biological and neurological causes of depression. Their conversation led me to reconsider whether we’ve gone too far in medicalizing the problem.
Episode: The Break-Up
I always learn something new from the most interesting therapist on the planet.
I loved the episode Bowie, Jazz, and the Unplayable Piano. Tim Harford makes a compelling case that constraints can unleash creativity.
It was a treat to listen to Range. David Epstein and Malcolm Gladwell go deep on when it’s best to go deep versus go broad. I came away convinced of the value of sampling periods before specializing.
Episode: Welcome To The Neighborhood
I binged this miniseries like it was a Netflix show. It’s a remarkable story about a therapist who crosses some unexpected lines with his patients.
Rachel Botsman’s Trust Issues
Episode: Peak Fear with Ant Middleton
Rachel is my favorite thinker on trust. Her podcast changed the way I think about how it develops: it’s not something we build, but something we earn. She also opened my eyes to the fact that transparency isn’t necessary for trust—it’s when we lack trust that we expect complete openness.
The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish
Shane is one of the most thoughtful interviewers on earth. He does deep dives with fascinating guests into how we think, make decisions, and lead.
Episode: How to Love Criticism
My all time favorite episode of WorkLife is How to Love Criticism. I went to Bridgewater, where a manager was told in front of 200 colleagues that he was the single worst manager at the company. He said it was the best day of his work life. I came away convinced that we all have a support network, but we also need a challenge network, a group of people who believe in our potential and push us to achieve it.
Episode: The Real Reason You Procrastinate
This episode marks the launch of season 3 of my TED podcast, WorkLife. The gist is that procrastination isn’t caused by laziness. We don’t postpone tasks to avoid work. We do it to avoid negative emotions that a task stirs up– like anxiety, frustration, confusion, and boredom. In the episode, I talk with master-procrastinator Margaret Atwood, who has a fun way of fighting procrastination. Along with her to-do list, she has a to-don’t list: a set of activities to avoid while working. Listen to the episode to hear about Margaret’s to-don’t list and learn how you can fight procrastination!