The 7 Best Podcasts Of 2021
Remember back in the olden days, when you had to have a flip cell phone and an iPod? Well, back then when I first heard about podcasts, I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about the idea. I just didn’t think it would catch on.
Boy, was I wrong.
Podcasts have soared in popularity over the past few years. Across the globe, 36% of people have listened to a podcast within the last month. In the U.S., 22% of people over age 12 listen to a podcast weekly. The podcasting sphere is continuing to grow, with an amazing one quarter of listeners tuning in for the first time within the last six months.
There are many reasons that podcasting has become such a powerful medium. There’s the fact that the use of smartphones has increasingly become the norm. Since 2012, the number of smartphone users worldwide has grown from 1.2 billion to 3.8 billion.
Podcasting is a perfect medium for smartphone users, especially commuters who can tune in during their drive to work or while riding public transit. Data shows that 65% of podcast listeners prefer to use their mobile device to check in with their favorite podcast.
But I have my own somewhat less tangible theory based on my own experience about why so many of us are enjoying podcasts. I spend so many hours of the day looking at a screen, between working and staying in touch with my near-and-dear people. And these days, many of the interactions we once had face-to-face have moved to virtual, screen-mediated platforms. With all this artificial glow overstimulating our brains, I find it super relaxing and productive to sit down and take in information that comes purely from audio.
But one thing is for sure about podcasts, there are a ton of them! A recent survey indicates that there are 850,000 active podcasts, with podcasts episodes totalling 30 million. If you’re new to the medium, or you’ve exhausted some of your favorite podcasts, it can be difficult to find something new that piques your interest. Well, you’re in luck. I’ve picked out seven of my favorite podcasts from some of my favorite creators, and one from someone you’re sure to recognize.
1) The Angie Lee Show
One of my go-to podcasts for when I wake up excited to take on the day is the Angie Lee Show. Angie Lee is an amazing entrepreneur, marketing mastermind, and all-around boss lady who shares my desire to help and motivate young professionals to achieve their goals and dreams.
Angie’s energy is absolutely infectious. Add this to her fearlessness about taking on any subject, and her wise-beyond-her-years knowledge of social media, online entrepreneurship, digital marketing and money, and you’ve got a show that is sure to motivate you to face your next challenge head on.
As Angie puts it, her podcast is a “permission slip to start.” And that’s exactly what I love about her perspective. A sentiment that we share is that the best time to make a change is right now. And I promise, five minutes into one of her podcasts, and you’ll be ready to kick down anything that stands in the way of achieving your goals.
Her podcast isn’t just about entrepreneurship or growing your own brand or business. She provides a frank, funny and fabulous take on so many issues affecting women in 2021.
Angie is proof that all you need to inspire people is a $100 microphone and a DIY recording studio (aka closet). She has grown this amazing show to garner 10 million downloads. And as far as I can tell, she’s just getting started.
I think at the heart of her success is the fact that you can tell she really cares about her audience. It’s not about clickbait for Angie. She aimed to tackle subjects that won’t just drive traffic, but in fact provide value and a meaningful experience for people. And these days, especially in the online content space, that feels super rare. About as rare as someone so genuinely fun and inspirational as Angie herself.
2) The Genius Life with Max Lugavere
If you want to make positive changes in your life, boost your productivity, get in better shape or just improve your overall quality of life, The Genius Life podcast is for you. Max Lugavere takes the idea of “life hacks” to a whole new level.
Max Lugavere might be best known for his New York Times bestselling book Genius Foods: Become Smarter, Happier, and More Productive While Protecting Your Brain for Life. Lugavere’s book provides amazing insights on how to slow down and carefully consider foods that will promote longevity, better health and fitness and improved cognitive functioning.
The Genius Life podcast picks up where Lugavere’s book left off, providing insightful conversations with luminaries in the fields of fitness, mental health and wellness, diet and nutrition, and all things that benefit the body and mind.
Some recent favorites of mine include an interview with Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, a Harvard professor of neuroscience, on how to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Tanzi is brilliant and fascinating; not only is he an accomplished author and one of the foremost researchers on brain health, Alzheimer’s and aging, but he also finds time to play keyboard with Joe Perry and Aerosmith. Talk about a literal rockstar!
Another must-listen that I’ve returned to more than once is an amazing interview with Dr. Michael Murray, ND, on naturally remedies and practices for boosting your serotonin, how to better regulate your circadian rhythm—especially for you night owls—and how to recognize and better control the effects that sugar has on your health and mental wellbeing. This episode is full of really interesting nuggets that had me thinking for weeks.
So, if you’re looking to stay up to date on the latest science and hear from experts on health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, The Genius Life is definitely deserving of a “subscribe.”
3) Mark Groves Podcast
Mark Groves is an expert in and curious explorer of human relationships. Mark knows a lot about love and connection. Not just romantic love, but love in all relationships. In his interviews and solo shows, Mark explores how to foster love in yourself, how to share it with others, the importance of good communication and so much more.
I’ve taken so much away from Mark’s podcast, and I really feel that his insights have helped me in navigating my own relationships. If you’re struggling with a romantic relationship, a friendship, a family dynamic or even aspects of your relationship with yourself, dig through the archives of Mark’s podcast.
Even if he’s not covering a subject that might feel directly related to you, his ideas will give you a fresh perspective. To be honest, some of the best insights I’ve gotten from Mark and his guests have been about relationships I hadn’t really stopped to examine. That’s the beauty of Mark’s show, he gently nudges you to take a look at your blind spots.
Here’s an episode that you might not expect from a show about love and relationships.
“Ryland Englehardt - Our Relationship with the Planet.” We so often think of nature, the environment, the planet and the climate as something outside of ourselves, or separate from us. We may feel affected by it, but we too often behave with a degree of remove from it.
This episode really helped me feel more grounded in thinking about myself in relation to the world around me. We cannot view ourselves as separate from our environment and the world that nourishes and enriches us. I also love Englehardt’s description of the parallels between nourishment from healthy food from the planet, and our own spiritual nourishment through affirmation, care and kindness.
4) Divine Living Podcast With Gina DeVee
Gina DeVee’s podcast inspires women to seek Divine Living. What does that mean to Gina? Well, it means knowing what you’re worth, that you deserve to ask for more and that you never have to apologize for who you are. It’s about striving for more fulfillment in your career, better relationships, a deeper spirituality and a greater connection to your purpose.
You shouldn’t have to compromise to live your authentic life. If you feel stifled, or you need some inspo to break out of old habits and bad patterns of thinking, Gina’s podcast will definitely become a go-to listen.
I love the format of her show, because she creates so much space for women to tell their stories. Sometimes she will just share a long-form story from an inspiring guest in full. Other times, she shares a conversation. But she’s such an amazing listener, that you feel that she really leaves room for her guests to express themselves fully. And what an amazing metaphor that is for the spirit of her show: she gives her guests the space to be their authentic selves.
There is just so much positive energy on this show! Gina’s amazing spirit is captured beautifully in one of my favorite episodes: “The Courage to Have it All.” This is a powerful manifesto about believing in miracles, and investing in the idea that you are deserving of great things. DeVee helps us imagine what life would be like if we woke up each day expecting miraculous things to happen. And after listening to this show, I believe that to be possible.
Tune in to Divine Living to hear the stories of incredible, daring women, and their journeys toward living their fullest lives.
5) The Unmistakable Creative
The Unmistakable Creative is a podcast that continually surprises and inspires me. I was a guest on the show while on a podcast tour to launch my book You Turn, and let me tell you, the host Srinivas Rao was sure to ask me questions that no other podcast host had asked me before! I was grateful to be in really good company, as his interviews are with some of the most thoughtful, interesting and insightful people I’ve ever heard. It's rare that an episode of Unmistakable Creative doesn’t leave me full of energy, inspired to confront and reimagine a challenge or with a new insight into my own creativity and experience.
The sentiment that I love most from Rao is that we are all born to create. Creativity doesn’t just mean putting a paint brush to canvas, or playing a musical instrument. It’s our innate gift of bringing our own perspective to bear on the world around us. You can be creative in all aspects of your life, and Rao’s interviews help light the way to freeing up your creativity, and so much more.
Here are a few standout episodes that really gave me something to think about:
- “The Hidden Forces that Drive Your Best Work with Todd Henry.”
Todd Henry is thinker and speaker, author of such books as The Accidental Creative, Louder Than Words and The Thinking Code.
Henry speaks about how to get in touch with the intrinsic motivations that drive us. What stuck with me the most in this episode is his sentiments on how difficult it is in today’s society, especially in the social media sphere, not to compare yourself and your work to others. This comparison impulse really is a creativity and motivation killer.
- “Money is Only Important if You Know Why You Want It with Grant Sabatier.”
Grant Sabatier is the founder of Millenial Money, and the author of Financial Freedom. In this revelatory conversation, Sabatier and Rao discuss why money is only important if you understand how it can help you live a rich life.
I love this convo because it reminded me of one of my most deeply held ideals, that you have to understand the goal behind the goal. Money is not the goal, living the life you want is the goal.
If you’re feeling stuck and need a perspective shift or a little push to unlock your inner creativity, Unmistakable Creative is absolutely worth a listen.
6) On Purpose with Jay Shetty
On the subject of his podcast, Jay Shetty says his purpose is “to make wisdom go viral.” I love this statement, because at face value it seems sort of like an oxymoron. After all, when we think of “viral” in the cultural sense, don’t we think of Grumpy Cat, or TikTok dances? Not exactly subjects that scream “wisdom.”
But isn’t that what makes a podcast wonderful? Through a medium that is accessible worldwide and has the potential to go “viral,” you can convey complex and fascinating subjects and share perspectives that might open up someone’s mind. This is just what On Purpose does through interviews with cultural luminaries and standalone episodes featuring Shetty’s valuable insights.
Shetty himself has led many lives, from living for three years as a Vedic monk at an ashram in Mumbai, to producing massively popular videos for Huffington Post, to appearances sharing his wisdom on mental health and purpose on the Ellen Degeneres Show and Today. He brings the insights he has gained through his amazing life to bear in interviews with some of the great minds and figures of today.
Here are some favorite episodes of On Purpose that you have to check out:
- “Alicia Keys: On The Permission to Be More Yourself and the Gift of Saying No”
- “Kobe Bryant: How to Be Strategic and Obsessive to Find Your Purpose”
- “Kelly Rowland: On How to Build Stronger Relationships and Find Your People”
- “Three Strategies Truly Confident People Use to Overcome their Ego”
- “Katherine McNamara: Centering On Joy Amongst Chaos and Finding Your Purpose Through Curiosity”
I think Jay Shetty is one of the wisest thinkers who are offering their ideas through podcasting. I’m sure after an episode or two, you’ll agree.
7)You Turn Podcast with Ashley Stahl
I must admit, I’m always a little sheepish to share my own work in this column. But in this case, I couldn’t help it. This is because the thing that makes my show, You Turn Podcast, special is all the amazing people I have had a chance to interview and connect with. I have learned so much from them, and I’m so grateful to have my podcast as a platform to share their amazing ideas with you on how to elevate your mindset—in work and, really, in life.
When considering guests for my podcast, I try to connect with great minds who have a unique perspective and convey actionable steps to self-improvement or will help my listeners grow their knowledge base. I look for guests who provide some insight into the world of work and career progress, love, friendship and relationships, mental fitness and mindset improvement, as well as experts who can shed light on some of the most important issues that we face collectively.
Suffice to say, I’ve had my fair share of “pinch-me” moments while recording with guests on my podcast that make me feel like a fan girl, and consider myself so lucky to have the chance to speak with so many people I truly look up to and admire.
Here are a few of my favorite episode with guests that really inspired me:
- “How to Sell Yourself with Ryan Serhant”: Ryan is a real estate broker, author, and the host of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York. He provides amazing insights on how to build confidence and persevere through difficult times, and how sales can be a mindset not just for your career, but for your life. He also wrote one of my favorite books: Big Money Energy.
- “How to Be an Incredible Negotiator with Chris Voss”: Chris Voss is a master negotiator who used to be the lead International Hostage negotiator for the FBI. And, wow, was he an amazing person to talk to and learn from. He shares some of his techniques for how to master any negotiation.
- “How to Ask for What you Want with Annie Lalla”: Annie Lalla offers such valuable advice on how to navigate relationships. She emphasizes understanding the difference between what you want and what you need, and gives some stellar insights into communication.
- “How to Feel More Alive in Your Job with Dan Cable”: Feeling stuck, like you’re just punching the clock? Dan Cable shares his ideas on how to reconnect with your work and fall in love with what you do again.
- “The 7 Different Types of Lies We Tell with Lauren Zander”: Lauren Zander is an executive life coach who has helped A-listers tackle their toughest challenges. She breaks down all the lies and deceptions, big and small, that we are telling others and ourselves everyday, and how they are hurting us.
- “How to Uplevel Your Money Mindset with Chris Harder”: Chris Harder, founder of For the Love of Money brand and podcast, shares how to connect with your money mindset, your patterns with money and how to set yourself up for financial excellence.
Whatever you’re looking for from your listening experience, these podcasts are sure to provide you with some valuable insights, advice and information, and hopefully a few laughs. You never know, maybe the gem of information that you’ve been waiting for is just a click away. Happy listening!
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