I don't consider myself a podcast person. I never listened to Serial or S-Town, and I don't have go-to shows for my commute or plane rides. In fact, I've been pretty resistant to the whole podcast fad in general. The one exception is NPR's How I Built This.
The show was recommended to me by my boss. He urged me to tune in to one specific episode (with the founders of Instagram) and then as he continued to listen each week he would say, "Mol, seriously, you've got to try this!"
Reluctantly, I gave in. I started with the very first episode, which is an interview with Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. After those 28 minutes, I was completely and totally hooked.
Each week the show features a different entrepreneur or innovator, probing for the moment he / she was struck by the big idea that would go on to shape his / her career.
For me, the show is fascinating for two reasons: first, as a public relations person working exclusively with startup companies, these founding stories couldn't be more relevant, and second, I have always toyed with the idea of running my own business, so hearing what it takes to hone in on an idea, create a business plan and just go for it has been truly inspiring.
At this point there are 38 episodes. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Spanx, Sara Blakely - The word "can't" is not in Sara Blakely's vocabulary. She was confident she had designed a product that would revolutionize the way women wear their clothes. She refused to give up and was all in, every step of the way. She is also still the sole owner of the company (which is worth billions).
- Airbnb, Joe Gebbia - Did you know Airbnb was originally meant to provide alternate housing options during trade shows and events when all local hotels were sold out? There are also some great nuggets in this episode about the power of strong photography and the importance of prioritizing customer experience.
- Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard - Speaking of customer experience, no one has a more generous return policy than Patagonia. Yvon Chouinard shares why his products are made to last and why they will take back and repair any item.
- Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal - The coolest part of this episode was hearing how highly the co-founders valued public relations in launching their business. They felt it was impossible to succeed without securing the right feature stories. Since I toil away in this business every day, it was really validating.
- Drybar, Alli Webb - I am a Drybar devotee. I am obsessed with their salons, stylists and of course, the glamorous outcome. Hearing how it all started and how fast it scaled was super interesting (and impressive!).
I have been listening chronologically from the very first episode and I am now on the week of February 27, 2017. I am looking forward to the episodes featuring AOL, Instacart, Lonely Planet and Whole Foods Market.
Tell me, do you listen to How I Built This? Do you have a favorite episode?
*Images courtesy of NPR.