16 top podcasts - social media, marketing and more


Image via FlickR - by Gideon TsangI’m a podcast fanatic. I listen in the shower, on my cycle to work (sorry mum, I know that’s not safe) and when swimming (using the excellent Speedo Aquabeat). I have tried hundreds of different podcasts to find some that are consistently good. I thought you might like to know my favourites I’d love to hear about yours.

Social Media Podcasts

  1. Jaffe Juice and JJTV - author of “Join the Conversation”, Joseph Jaffe is a coherent and straight-forward social media commentator. Some of his podcasts are conversations with other industry leaders which can take occasionally random, but generally interesting paths.
  2. For Immediate Release - by Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz. Recorded in the US and UK, this podcast provides a frequent deep dive into weekly events in the PR-focussed social web. I enjoy listening, but always do so at double speed - it’s very long and I feel they can spend more time on issues than necessary.
  3. CMO 2.0 Conversations - Francois does an excellent job of securing some superb client-side interviews for these podcasts.  He has a very relaxed style that gets people talking, but sometimes I wish he’d push them harder for more detail or hold them to account on some of their statements

Marketing and Digital Podcasts

  1. 3 Minute Ad Age - short and snappy. Often a video from a marketing conference. Wide subject area so it can be hit-and-miss, but great for filling that few minutes of a journey.
  2. HubSpot TV - a digital marketing weekly TV show from the lovely people at Hubspot. The show is full of great guests and bristling with sexual tension. I often think I’d like to listen in double time, but being a video, I have not worked out how to do that yet.
  3. DishyMix - I’ve been listening to Susan Bratton since meeting her during the Travelling Geeks trip to the UK. She’s an excellent interviewer - never lets her subjects off the hook with wooly statements. Some of the topics veer off into self-help and I do find myself having to fast through the adverts, but in general she gets strong guests and uncovers interesting insights.
  4. NMA podcast - now only monthly. A useful overview of what’s been going on in the UK digital marketing scene

Other good podcasts

  1. David Maister’s Business Masterclass - everything you ever wanted to know about running a successful services business. I always listen to Maister in the week leading up to my board meetings because he gets me thinking. It’s a bit like having a virtual (and free) non-exec.
  2. More or Less, Behind the Stats - Before FreshNetworks I started the research consultancy, FreshMinds. I suspect it’s my background in research that makes this my favourite podcast. Tim Harford, FT journalist and author of The Undercover Economist, brings an indepth analysis of every-day statisitcs and seeks to uncover dodgy analysis.
  3. The Bottom Line with Evan Davis is another BBC Radio4 podcast. Some excellent business guests (usually UK CEOs) and gentle probing from Evan make this a good listen. For some reason I find this is always where  start with when going for a run in the park. I particulary enjoyed the recent argument about PR
  4. Business Week - Behind the Cover Story - This is the best Business Week podcast. There is also a good innovation one and the Welch Way with Jack Welch. Sadly John Byrne, Executive Editor,  seems to have handed over his host role to others in the editorial team. That’s a shame as he had a wonderful style and eclectic music choice. But it remains a good topical podcast.
  5. Economist podcasts - I never find time to listen to all of these. A great shame as The Economist’s journalists deliver sharp insight and a beautiful turn of phrase at every opportunity. Recently I have enjoying their new book of the month episodes.
  6. Great Lives - Matthew Paris piecing together some womderful biographies of famous folk with celebrity guests
  7. Harvard Business Ideacast - useful overviews of the books that HBR authors are about to publish.
  8. TED talks - no list would be complete with out mentioning these amazing set of downloads. some of the world’s most interesting (and random) speakers on topics that range from global finance to microbiology. Ken Robinson is a must-listen.
  9. Listen to Lucy - Lucy Kellaway of the FT taking an entertaining swipe at corporate bullshit. If you’re after something more heavy-hitting, Martin Wolf the FTs Chief Economics Commentator, is excellent. But you really have to concentrate. Sadly I’ve had to stop listening whilst cycling as I almost crashed twice trying to decipher his arguments.

That’s my listening list. What’s on yours?

A masterclass in public speaking


Jim Collins is out promoting his new book. I have no idea whether the book is any good, but his promotion is first rate.

This morning, as I cycled to work, I caught him talking about the book in a BusinessWeek podcast. He’s clearly a phenomenal public speaker and I urge you to download the podcast for a masterclass in public speaking. I almost ran into the back of a bus listening to it.

Listen here

Key things to listen out for

  • The pause - he uses pauses in his speech with great effect. Sometimes long, sometimes short, but always attention grabbing. I particularly liked that he paused at seemingly odd occasions, in the middle of a sentence as well as between points.
  • Stories - his speaking is litered with stories to bring concepts to life; personal stories, real-life and make-believe: “imagine if…” the stories were often illuminating or reinforcing and always engaging
  • Signposting - some excellent signposting of content he’s about to talk about, is talking about or has just been through. There is a lot of content, so signposting is essential
  • Changing speed, tone & volume - there are many changes to the way he speaks that help keep the momentum and interest.

I hope you enjoy it. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and whether you’ve seen him live.

FYI, his book is called How the Mighty Fall

Most people are above average


Every year thousands of people think they’ve Got Talent or believe they can win The X-Factor. Every year the producers of these shows delight in showing how deluded most contestants are. So why is it that below-average people think they are above-average? Before I get onto the answer I should explain why I am writing about this.

I’m a big fan of podcasts. I find it hard to fit in reading a newspaper these days. As a result the radio and podcasts tend to be my main line to the outside world. One of my favourites is Tim Harford’s More or Less podcast for BBC’s Radio4 for three key reasons:

  1. He’s great at presenting numbers and statistics in an appealing way. He’s written a couple of excellent books: The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life and is also an journialist for the FT.
  2. I am an engineer at heart, so there’s nothing I enjoy more than the occasional mathematical/statistical conundrum to get get my brain ticking.
  3. This podcast is all about getting beneath the statistics that we hear/read about everyday. The first company I started, straight out of university, was the research business, FreshMinds. So being a self-taught researcher I am constantly infuriated by the way statistics are misinterpreted and misunderstood by the media. It’s not simply a case of tyring to sell newspapers, it’s also a general lack of understanding that creates hyperbole and false headlines. Tim’s podcasts put the stats back in their place.

I frequently send emails to the researchers at FreshMinds telling them that this is required reading for anyone who uses numbers to help inform decision making. If that’s you, then please do check it out: More or Less .

Anyway, this morning, during a run around Hyde Park I managed to catch up with two episodes: Forecasting the Future and Poisonous Pork and it was the former that got me thinking about The X-Factor:

In this podcast they explain why forecasters are in general little more accurate with their predictions than a monkey throwing darts and also give a simple explanation of the Lake Wobegon Effect. This is the name given to the tendency for us all to believe we’re better than average. In particular they discussed an experiment involving two groups. The first contained 50 drivers who had been in accidents (most of whom had been found to be at fault by the courts) and the second, control group was 50 normal drivers of similar ages. Despite their accidents, individuals from the first group, remained just as likely to call themselves “better than average drivers” as the control.

This is an important issue in the research world. People often misrepresent their actions and capabilities when asked. It is perhaps why so many people think they can sing, when they can’t and it’s a good reminder of the importance of ethnographic or observational research - measuring what people actually do, rather than what they claim. And the link to social media (that’s why you’re reading this blog, right?) is that watching people take part in a research community over a long-period of time can help you better understand the bias and misreporting inherent in any data you collect.

Poisonous Pork

The second episode, Poisonous Pork also had a few great items. Best of all was the proof (if it were needed) that we humans are no good at making decisions based on a proper understanding of risk, they discuss a recent pork scare that led to 100,000 Irish pigs being destroyed. The action was taken due to concerns about dioxins in the pork. However given the amount of sausages you’d have to eat to be at risk from dioxin poisoning, the fat in the sausages is actually a more significant health risk than the dioxins that caused the scare.

The twist at the end of the tail was that a Professor of Food Safety was interviewed. He proudly explained how he was able to test some pork sausages from his fridge and prove there was no risk. But then was forced to admit on air that his wife had thrown them out as they preferred not to “take a risk if they didn’t have to”.

Thus proving that you don’t have to be a deluded talent show contestant to act irrationally.

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What did Social Media ever do for us?


I just read a good post by Chris Brogan today called what social media does best. I’m never a big fan of lists, but this is a useful one, making clear some specific benefits of social media (just in case you were wondering - which I know a lot of people are).

My top three points (and the reasons why) are:

  1. Podcasts encourage different types of learning, in portable formats - I listen to a couple of podcasts as I cycle to work and a couple on the way home. That’s 30 minutes of learning every single day that I would not have got before the social media revolution. My favourite ones are Business Week Cover Stories, TED talks and Behind the Numbers.
  2. Social networks make for great ways to understand the mindset of the online consumer - given that my first business was a research company this ethnographic style of research is of particular interest to me.
  3. People feel heard - I think the best way for brands to engage their customers is through conversations. Online customer communities give your customers a platform to make a point and give you the right of reply and ability to say “thank you”.
  • What Social Media Does Best
  • It’s what’s on the inside that counts
  • Definition + Social Media = Need stats to join the conversation?
  • Why Are You Investigating Social Media