I am always learning. I don't waste a second while commuting or even going out to get lunch – if I can be listening to something that teaches me, I will be doing it. I remember once hearing Jon Hegarty, a creative hero of mine, complaining that all these people going round with their earphones in are cutting themselves from the world, muffling the sound around them and their general alertness. But when I have my earphones in, I'm not cutting myself off – I'm connecting with new things.
These are my favourite podcasts, mixing up storytelling, inclusion, economics, world affairs and business – a diet of knowledge that helps me feel informed and inspired.
1. The Guilty Feminist. This is about so much more than feminism and just one episode will prove to you that whatever you've heard about feminists being humourless is wrong. With a mix of guests and a live audience, I have learned a shedload about inclusion from Deborah Frances-White and her cast. Funny, honest, very educational, and comes out weekly – so you can get into the habit of thinking differently until behaving inclusively becomes second nature.
2. This American Life. Storytelling is an essential part of human life, and few people do it better than the collection of journalists working on This American Life. Led by Ira Glass, you're as likely to hear the story of a woman who fought workplace discrimination at a major airport, as you are to hear the bizarre tale of two brothers who kept an armadillo as a pet. Uplifting, sad, real, totally engaging no matter the topic.
3. S Town. Having grown up in small town USA, a bit bored and restless, I related to the protagonist of this real story, John B Macklemore, more than just a little. Fascinated by clocks and conspiracy theory, it's tempting to think he's been written up by John Steinbeck. You might think it'd be difficult to sustain a whole podcast series about the life of one non-famous person. But trust me, you'll be glued to this.
4. The Briefing by Monocle. After finally giving up on John Humphrys, I get my dose of audio news by listening to The Briefing, which provides an overview of world affairs, discussed in depth by journalists, experts, academics, former diplomats, former military commanders and other accomplished thinkers. The Foreign Desk, also by Monocle, is good for half hour explainers on distinct world events you'd never find out about on Sky News.
5. Yo, is this Racist? The podcast asks the question and the answer is usually... yes. Two comedians (and a weekly guest) take calls from people who ramblingly tell their lives to an answerphone, to see whether the things they're doing are racist. I don't agree with every position they take – but hearing the debate is the beauty of it. It's a way to increase your sensitivity to issues that affect people in groups other than your own.
6. Freakonomics Radio. Everyone has something to learn from Stephen Dubner, author of the book Freakonomics. He is curious about how things work, fascinated by humanity, a devotee of economics and takes a practical, non-sentimental – yet completely charming – view of everything from David Cameron's nudge strategy to how to make organ transplant donor lists work better. Enriching to life.
7. Masters of Scale. Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Reid Hoffman knows the odd big name. (Zuckerberg. Sandberg.) In each episode, he gets the story of how an entrepreneur has made their business work, but possibly more importantly, how they failed and what they learned from it. It's incredibly interesting, it humanises business, and it's actually quite reassuring to realise that other people go through the same thing that you do, trying to innovate and grow their businesses.
And I also have a few podcast episodes myself – The Chemistry Session might not be as iconic as the ones I listen to, but I have met some fascinating guests and the content is directly relevant to employee engagement and employer brand.
What are your favourites? I'd love to pick up a few more to listen to.