Friday, 6 March 2020

The Enterprise guide to podcasts

The Beginning

Your Wealth is a custom Enterprise briefing for people just like you: Executives, entrepreneurs and builders who know that time isn’t money, but that time and money are feedstock for the one thing that matters most in life: Your family, however you define it.

Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to

Podcasts are finally starting to catch on

It only took 15 years but podcasts are finally beginning to catch on. The past two years have been something of a turning point for the podcast industry. The medium has existed in some form since the early years of the millennium but only recently has it made a decisive entrance into the mainstream.

The industry has changed a lot since 2005, when Apple first introduced more than 3k unpaid podcasts onto iTunes. As of January this year there were more than 850k podcasts (that’s around 30 mn episodes) listed on iTunes. Much of this growth has occurred in the past couple of years: Back in February 2018 there were around 500k active podcasts, meaning the number of podcasts has expanded by 70% in just 23 months. The expansion of the industry has been accompanied by a surge in listener growth. The number of weekly listeners in the US more than tripled to 62 mn between 2013 and 2019.

The rise of the celebrity podcast: Part of this growth can be put down to an influx of celebrities hopping on the podcasting bandwagon. Back in 2017, just 15% of the 20 most-downloaded podcasts on Apple featured celebrity hosts. One year later this had grown to 32%, with almost half of the top 25 new podcasts being celebrity-hosted.

All of this means that the industry is set to keep growing: As the number of podcasts continues to expand and the number of listeners grows, the commercial viability of the sector will only increase. Ad revenues in the US, which totaled USD 479 mn in 2018, are expected to surpass USD 1 bn by 2021 (pdf).


We couldn’t publish an issue about podcasts without a shameless plug: Of course, one of our favorite podcasts has to be Making It: The brand new Enterprise show that quizzes the CEOs and founders of some of Egypt’s most promising businesses on how they made it big. Mixing serious business talk with personal stories, Making It’s first eight-episode season is available via our website, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

How could a podcast help your business?

Why should businesses care about podcasting? As a form of marketing, podcasts are an effective way to tell stories. Take Greene Financial and Insurance Services, an advisory firm that found podcasting a fun and inexpensive tool to attract more valuable clients. The company’s podcast, The Engineer of Finance, now has 106 episodes under its belt, tackling everything from consumer finance and business management to global trends that are moving the markets. According to company founder Ken Greene, the podcast has succeeded in attracting new clients from across the country, telling Forbes that “It might be one of the best things I’ve done marketing wise.” Simply put, podcasts can be a relatively inexpensive way of marketing your company to a rapidly expanding pool of listeners.

Podcasts about human stories

This American Life: Finding humanity in the everyday. Ira Glass, the creator and host of This American Life podcast, could be described as the godfather of all podcasts, kickstarting the field in 1995. Glass started off on the radio, but tailored his show when the internet made on-demand audio possible. Glass always had a knack and a passion for one thing: Storytelling. Across almost 700 episodes, he tells stories to amaze, stories to drift by you on your morning commute, stories that come from as little as a soup can and as big as a cloned bull.

Reddit out loud: If you’re anything like us and wish scrolling through Reddit threads would become an Olympic event, Endless Thread is the podcast for you. Endless Thread explores stories from the vast ecosystem of online communities, Reddit, and the hosts, Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson bring you the very best of the platform straight to your headphones. The show comes in a myriad of formats, each useful for a certain situation. If you need a quick break to wind down, go for Snacktime: the 10-minute Endless Thread series where the two hosts discuss some of their favorite Reddit posts. If you’re stuck in never-ending traffic, listen to one of their in-depth pieces with topics ranging from the secrets behind the glitter industry to solving mysteries of child abduction.

If you’re longing for thoughtful stories and nuanced dissections of life around you, a MENA reader, then the Kerning Cultures network has something to offer in an audio space often crowded by stories a little too far away from home. The network’s podcasts vary thematically but focus mainly on stories and people from the Middle East and North Africa. Al Empire and Jasadi are both highlights on the platform which feature personal insights into interviewee’s lives. Al Empire shines the spotlight on successful figures from the region like Mashrou’s Leila’s Hamed Sinno and Al Bernameg’s Bassem Youssef, and over the course of the nearly hour-long interviews gives listeners access to some of the inner workings and childhood stories of these local icons. Jasadi is a little different but no less intimate: The hour long Arabic-language series tackles the often thorny subject of bodies through a large pool of ordinary but no less captivating interviewees guiding the discussion on topics like gender, identity and hair loss through tales from their everyday lives. It is certainly a more grounded approach to storytelling, and the anonymity of the interviewees produces honest and surprising discussions that touch the listener.

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Your top 5

Your top 5 pieces of business and economic news in February:

Podcasts about reflection

Collective wisdom, broken down into topics discussed by the wisest people: The Knowledge Project by Farnam Street is billed as a podcast that helps listeners “master the best of what other people have already figured out” by running thematic episodes with “knowledge experts” on each theme / subject area. The episodes don’t focus on any single topic or issue, which is exactly what makes it so appealing: This podcast has content that is as diverse as any person’s life is expected to be. There’s also something to be said about the fact that the podcast doesn’t abide by a certain structure or time limit — each episode is given the time and space it needs for the full conversation to be fleshed out. For example, one of our favorite episodes (Cracking the Code of Love with Dr. Sue Johnson) is over two hours long (but worth every minute), while another (Thinking in Algorithms with Ali Mossawi) runs just under 20 minutes. Just as there is a topic for everyone, there is also an episode length for every occasion.

Podcasts about finance and economy

Planet Money: For those who hated economics growing up. Born out of a 2008 episode of This American Life that delved into the financial crisis, the biweekly show tackles a range of economic topics from land ownership in Barbuda and maximizing revenues from restaurants to how a mafia boss and a garbage boat introduced the world to recycling.

Another show that is almost equally as interesting is How to Money. The show features two friends talking about money the same way you would talk about it with your friends. The two usually dive into real-life applications of economics such as hacks to cut down your grocery bills, strategies to pay off your debt, and advice on what to do when markets decline.

WeCrashed: How ambition and hubris brought the world’s most valuable unicorn to within an inch of its life. WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork charts the rise and fall of ambitious Israeli-American entrepreneur Adam Neumann who in 2019 presided over the biggest wipeout of shareholder value in a single company since Enron. The now-former chief executive of shared workspace startup WeWork, Neumann just one year ago still had aspirations of becoming the world’s first tn’naire and enjoyed multiple multi-bn USD investments from SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, pushing the company’s value to USD 47 bn. But Neumann’s recklessness, delusions of grandeur, and cultivation of a cultish company ethos last year culminated in a disastrous IPO filing that brought the company crashing down to earth.

Comedy podcasts

Comedian Bill Burr is a dying breed. He’s just crossed the half century mark and is immovably stuck in his ways. Every Monday and Thursday he entertains you for an hour just rattling on about whatever’s on his mind. Occasionally, rarely, he’ll have a guest on, but usually it’s just him and a microphone. The format is basic: He’ll talk about whatever happened over the past few days, read advertising, then answer questions sent in by fans. His ability to draw humor out of the mundane, in riffs and rants, is unmatched. He’s irreverent, cranky, and refreshingly politically incorrect.

The Guilty Feminist: A comedy gem and guilt-free pleasure. Female readers: You may spend a good portion of your lives railing against patriarchal structures and fighting for respect in the workplace, the right to make choices, and your seat at the table. But do you ever feel a twinge of concern about hidden insecurities and conflicting impulses that undermine the very feminist principles you spend so much time defending? Do you ever feel a smidgen of — dare we say it — guilt?

In the Guilty Feminist, comedian Deborah Frances-White and her guests tackle issues ranging from the earth-shattering to the mundane. No matter the topic, they are unfailingly candid and hilarious. The podcast opens up a space for people to laugh at their own foibles (in the fine tradition of the best comedy), but has also created a community ready to show you don’t have to be perfect feminist — or a perfect activist of any kind — to speak out in defense of people’s rights.

Podcasts about film

The darling of tech, culture and sport website The Ringer, the premise of The Rewatchables is simple and inspired. Podcast hosting veterans Bill Simmons and Chris Ryan bring on a guest, usually a film director, and they chat about that one movie they never tire of watching. The volume and range they’ve amassed in under a year is impressive. Whether it’s Quentin Tarantino selling you on Tony Scott’s train-off-the-tracks flick “Unstoppable,” a deep-dive analysis to find out if “Good Will Hunting” is the best Boston movie ever, or Aaron Sorkin singing the praises of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” there’s something for everyone.

Kermode & Mayo's Film Review: Wicked wit with film analysis. Each episode of Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is essentially two hours of two men bickering about films. But so engaging are the two men, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo, and so genuine is their passion for film, that most listeners are happy to be swept along. The longevity of the program is evidence of this (it’s been running on the BBC since 2001, as a radio program), and so is its legion of devoted fans. As one reviewer put it, regular listeners feel they’ve been inducted into a special club, with in-jokes that have been going on for years and even the program itself being commonly known simply as Wittertainment to those in the know. But even as a newbie, you’ll find plenty to catch your interest. Come for the banter, stay for the in-depth analysis of both box office favorites and more obscure films, guest interviews, and Kermode trying valiantly (and with mixed success) not to scoff too obviously at listener opinions he disagrees with.

Podcasts about big ideas

If you live and breathe tech, you probably already listen to Vox’s Recode Decode (or, at the very least, know its host: Prominent Silicon Valley journalist Kara Swisher). And if you’re not a tech aficionado, you should still be listening to Recode Decode, because of the way it uses themes, issues and developments in tech to unpack big ideas central to our social and political lives, business, media and — occasionally — humanity.

Through one-on-one interviews, Swisher poses tough questions to a host of tech movers and shakers, including Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and author Tim Ferriss. The discussions don’t merely delve into the technology itself; much of Swisher’s focus is on how the ethics of how we use it. This is where her particular brand of hard-hitting, often intense journalistic acuity comes into its own as she keeps pushing to discover the motivation powering many of tech’s biggest names. It makes for riveting listening.

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