Advisory Board's experts offer ten recommendations on the podcasts you can listen to now to better understand human behavior, enjoy some excellent storytelling, learn about what healthy living really means, and dive deep into life's most interesting questions.
Gina Lohr, Managing Director, Pharmacy and Diagnostics Research
I love learning from smart people, and Stacey does a great job finding and interviewing smart people about the thorniest issues in the business of health care. In the last two months, I learned about PBM economics from a Johns Hopkins accounting professor, about how employers are changing the way they approach benefits decisions from an epidemiologist turned benefits advisor, and about the human impact of health care consolidation from a physician executive.
Stacey helps us (her listeners) make connections and advance conversations about a huge range of hot topics, giving a peek "behind the curtains" to help us better understand who is innovating across the health care industry and why. Each episode makes me feel more equipped to do my job and make health care better.
A few of my recent favorite episodes include:
- EP356: PBMs React to GoodRx, Mark Cuban, and Amazon Pharmacy, With Ge Bai, PhD, CPA
- EP350: Employers Direct Contracting With Hospitals, in Real Life, With Katy Talento
- EP351: Everybody in the Healthcare Industry Getting Up in Everyone Else's Business, With Eric Bricker, MD, From AHealthcareZ
As a researcher, I'm a sucker for all things myth busting. The Maintenance Phase podcast brings some much needed evidence to the wellness industry–taking direct aim at fad diets, fitness trends, and the people that perpetuate them (yes, including doctors).
Co-Hosts Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon bring extraordinary rigor to each episode. But they also bring much needed humor to conversations about how much of the wellness industry's claims at bettering oneself are actually deeply rooted in junk science and fatphobia. They talk through the science (or lack thereof) of things like fat camps and celery juice while also unpacking serious challenges like anti fat bias and the obesity epidemic. Be prepared to do some unlearning, and please please stop listening to Dr. Oz.
Shay Pratt, Vice President, Research
Ever wonder why a great song works? Kirk Hamilton gets into the anatomy of great songs in his podcast, Strong Songs. Hamilton, a multi-instrumentalist, and former journalist, gets into the specific choices artists make to produce great songs. As someone who likes music but forgot how to read or play anything since my short stint as a trombone player in seventh grade, I appreciate Hamilton's explanations for the layperson. But Hamilton is just as compelling when he delves into hyper-technical details as well. It's like listening in on an expert conversation that is both immediately familiar but also beyond my comprehension.
I also like the variety. Hamilton covers the universally acknowledged greats—So What (Miles Davis), Dreams (Fleetwood Mac), Think (Aretha Franklin). But he makes some surprising picks as well that are just as fun to dig into—for example, the highlight song from The Witcher Netflix series, or the theme from World 1-1 of the original Super Mario Bros game. His mailbag episodes can also be a good starting point.
Solomon Banjo, Managing Director, Life Sciences Research
I am an avid podcast consumer and listen to more podcasts than I will freely admit in a public forum. In fact, there's only one podcast on this list so far to which I do not subscribe, and I echo my colleagues' endorsements of the others. Which is my long winded justification for why I cheated and I'm recommending two shows. In my defense, I actually believe I am doing our readers a favor as I enjoy these shows for the exact same reasons. Think of me as a human version of Netflix's 'suggested for you' algorithm.
The first shared attribute is that both of these podcasts feature individuals who are not only renowned in their fields, but, more importantly, who have clearly thought deeply about the topics of discussion. It's frequently my experience that the less interesting the synopsis reads to me, the more enjoyable and memorable the episode ends up being as it opens me up to new fields and ideas. I'm a big believer in the transferability of knowledge and that's the second thing I appreciate about both podcasts. There are episodes of both of these shows that have helped me become a better human, manager, and thinker by challenging me in some way. That's one of the reasons I tend to minimize distractions when listening to these two shows and listen to them at a much tamer speed (1.3x) than my usual shows (2.0x). If these shows pique your interest, then my final recommendation would be the Ezra Klein Show for the same reasons I just listed.
Vidal Seegobin, Managing Director, Advisory Board International
Long form storytelling in podcast format is something special when it's done correctly. I can still remember binge listening to the first season of Serial's Who Killed Hae Min Lee in 2014. It was a watershed moment for the medium in terms of the quality of investigation and accessibility to complex reporting.
Well, the folks at Serial have done it again with the Trojan Horse Affair. This time we follow a doctor turned journalism student and a New York Times reporter as they dig into the origins of a photocopied letter that mobilized the British national security apparatus, swept teachers out of the profession, and cast an uncomfortable light on our shared narrative of Islam.
The story peels away like onion layers but what is most revelatory is the experience the investigation has on the reporters themselves—calling into question the very purpose and nature of journalism itself. Thank you, Paul Trigonoplos, for the recommendation.
Andrew Mohama, Senior Analyst
I hate toxic masculinity.
But whether I like it or not, it has affected my thoughts and actions throughout life. And for years now, I've made it a mission of mine to learn about the many ways in which harmful messages around masculinity have showed up in relationships, privilege, body image, sex, and success, among other things. As expected, this process of learning has included just as much unlearning.
A few years ago, a friend sent me Justin Baldoni's TED Talk, titled "Why I'm done trying to be 'man enough.'" After deeply connecting with the message, I proceeded to forward the talk to many of the men in my life, and it opened up a valuable space for connecting about a core part of our identity. I was thrilled to hear that Baldoni was starting a podcast on this exact topic, and he brought a powerhouse of co-hosts to the table: the prominent masculinity expert, Liz Plank, and music producer and president of Wayfarer Studios, Jamey Heath.
The Man Enough Podcast centers around a few core questions: What does it mean to be a man in the world today? More importantly, what does it mean to be human? They seek to answer these questions through conversations with a wide range of guests, such as Alok Vaid-Menon, Glennon Doyle, Shawn Mendes, and even Justin's wife and father.
These authentic conversations are deeply vulnerable and can be uncomfortable at times, but they are armed with a warming sense of compassion. I promise you will leave each episode with so much more than you came with. And this podcast is for everyone, regardless of gender identity. If you want to deepen your connection with yourself and others, this podcast is for you. If you want to tear down the patriarchy one vulnerable conversation at a time, this podcast is for you. And if you want to be as authentically human as you can possibly be, this podcast is for you.
My one word of advice: embrace your discomfort and lean into vulnerability. If I have learned anything in life so far, it's that there are two ways to live: playing it safe or aiming to grow. The second is the right way. I hope you enjoy. (And let me know your thoughts! Mohama@advisory.com)
Ben Palmer, Editor, Daily Briefing
If there's one thing I love, it's analyzing art. Whether it's taking apart a song or album and figuring out what makes it tick or dissecting every inch of a film to figure out why a director made the choices they made, why a writer wrote something the way they did, it's one of my favorite things to do.
About six years ago or so, I discovered a handful of YouTube accounts that were doing long-form video essays dissecting film, and one of the best around was a channel called Lessons from the Screenplay, hosted by the brilliant Michael Tucker.
Luckily for all of us film nerds, Tucker took a lot of what the Lessons from the Screenplay YouTube channel does and turned it into a podcast co-hosted by other film aficionados called Beyond the Screenplay. The result is an absolutely fascinating podcast that dives deep into different films, dissecting what makes them great, bad, or otherwise.
If you're into movies and you've always wanted to sit down with other film nerds and talk about one movie for 90 minutes then this podcast is an absolute necessity in your life. What makes There Will Be Blood such a powerful movie? What are the challenges that sequels often face and how is The Matrix Reloaded an example of those challenges? Why does Up in the Air feel like it was made in the 90's?
All of that and so much more is on this podcast. If you love movies, you need to listen to this.
Amanda Berra, Managing Director
This may be a repeat plug, because I've been a fan of Roman Mars' podcast 99% Invisible for several years now. Especially for that last phase of road trips where you're like, "please I just need to get my mind off this highway"—this podcast makes the miles fly by.
99% Invisible describes itself as a podcast about design. It's a very broad theme, and the episodes hop around a very wide variety of topics. This can make the series as a whole feel a little hodge-podge-y, but to me that's a benefit; it means you can pick and choose among titles, quit halfway through an episode that isn't your favorite and pick another, and still have many more great episodes to experience in any order you want.
Some recent highlights: "Alphabetical Order"—yes, we use it all the time without thinking twice, but apparently when it was first introduced, the concept downright offended the intellectual lights of the day. "Science Vs Snakes," in which we learn why it's hard to scale up antivenom production (no pun intended). Also, "The Batman and the Bridge", which touches on bats, bridges, AND the power of a single passionate individual to turn the tide of public perception for a deserving cause.
Allie Rudin, Process Manager, Daily Briefing
For those who felt a wave of giddiness when your elementary school teacher rolled into the classroom a rickety cart with a box television set and VCR player, here is the grown-up "The Magic School Bus." From Vox's impressive podcast network, our Ms. Frizzle is host Noam Hassenfeld, guiding us through the mysteries of science and human nature and sharing fascinating conversations.
Each episode is not just a download of current knowledge on a certain topic, but instead embraces the questions still being asked and the ways in which researchers are trying to answer them. Did you know that a yellow goo called slime mold may help us better understand the nature of intelligence? Or that there are scientists contemplating the evolutionary origin of butts and trying to solve the mystery of why human ones are, well, so big?
The downside? As the name states, many of these topics are just that: unexplainable. Luckily for us, that doesn't stop curious thinkers from trying anyway.
Keep an eye out for a new episode each Wednesday, and if one changes the way you think about the world or sparks a new theory, let me know!
Darby Sullivan, Research Consultant, Executive Strategy Research
I usually listen to podcasts that teach me more about the world around me—at least until I started tuning into Dear Therapists, which teaches me more about myself. Without having to become, you know, vulnerable. In each episode, the hosts record a therapy session with a new client, letting the listener become a fly on the wall. Topics range widely: co-parenting with an ex, navigating biological vs. adopted family relationships, and coping as a caregiver, to name a few. Some topics resonate personally, but many don't. Either way, the show interests me for a few reasons:
- It quickly becomes apparent just how transformative therapy can be for someone, and why improving access to behavioral health care is so essential
- Central themes start to surface across a seemingly endless and diverse range of issues, which help me better understand the behavior of myself and those around me
- Episodes end with tangible advice and "homework" to help the client move forward
Key takeaways across complex topics related to health care access, paired with actionable guidance? Sounds familiar 😊