YD Talks: (A little more than) Ten Podcasts for Designers to listen to in 2020

I wasn’t really ever a fan of podcasts up until last year. You see, working from home comes with its perks, but also with its fair share of loneliness. I like being the king of my castle and working in my pajamas, but for most of the time I spend working, I stay alone. I’ve been listening to YouTube videos in the background for a while now, but I only installed my first podcast app in 2018. Over the last two years (primarily 2019), podcasts have been my way of surrounding myself with informative (and sometimes comedic) chitchat. Podcasts are a great way to pass time while you’re sketching, or searching Pinterest for mood-board images, or selecting multiple edges and faces of a solid to apply a complex variable fillet on. I personally love listening to them as I eat, travel, edit images I need to add to my articles, or while tinkering around with design software. They keep me engaged, entertained, and constantly aware of what’s happening in the world of design, culture, tech, politics, and more… so I decided to handpick a few carefully-curated creativity-boosting podcasts that are perfect for the designer looking to broaden their horizons while in the middle of a long workday.

1. The Honest Designers Show

The Honest Designers Show ranks high on my list of recommended podcasts for designers. Rather than dealing with in-depth interviews, it feels like sitting with fellow designers and literally talking about design. Hosted by Tom Ross, Ian Barnard, Dustin Lee, and Lisa Glanz (all accomplished designers in their own right), the podcast never fails to tackle relevant topics and deliver some key insights to designers about various things, from working with creative blocks, to using social media to your to propel your portfolio, determining your value as a freelancer, and even working effectively with your clients. Use the links below to add them to your list!
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

2. Pivot

Pivot is my mandatory go-to every Tuesday and Friday. Hosted by ace-journalist Kara Swisher and professor of marketing at NYU, Scott Galloway, Pivot isn’t really a design podcast, but is a great way to keep up with the times. Kara and Scott’s eagle-eye perception of the world of culture, tech, and politics, along with their quirky chemistry makes me literally want to be adopted by them. Amongst insights, predictions, wins, fails, and loads of laughs, Kara and Scott leave you with a more nuanced view of the world and the urge to know more. It’s a good thing the podcast recently went from a weekly to a twice-a-week format.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

3. TheFutur Podcast

Led by TheFutur team and Chris Do (who recently launched a book too), TheFutur Podcast is literally like going to design university for free. Chris Do is one of the most prolific design gurus of our time and offers excellent advice on common design problems, whether it’s what to charge as a designer, to whether you should follow your passion or paycheck. TheFutur Podcast swings between insightful debates to meaningful interviews with designers in the industry who share their own tips and tricks to ‘making it’ in the diz-biz (that’s what I’m calling it from now on). They have some great videos on YouTube too.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

4. Working

The greatness of design is that its goal lies in helping uplift other industries and fields. Being a designer often means working with (and often looking at the world through the eyes of) people from a wide variety of professions, whether they’re businessmen, scientists, doctors, engineers, celebrities, etc. Working is a podcast that dives into how different professions work and how professionals in these fields go about their day. With over 200 episodes and counting, Working interviews a complete gamut of people, from curators at MoMA, to husbands of influencers, coders at NASA, firefighters, and even a few designers too. A great way to understand how professions work, how systems function, and even to help spot areas of intervention in these systems for creative problem-solving.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

5. Song Exploder

Recommended even by Michael Hendrix, global design director and partner at IDEO, Song Exploder asks musicians to break down their creative process. Hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, each episode is a conversation with a musician about a hit song they made. Given that the creative process behind composing music is often a mystery, and that each track is just a treasure trove of bits and pieces of stories and experiences (and often collaborations) gathered from all over, Song Exploder helps demystify the incredibly intricate and often gut-driven creative process of making your favorite songs, from your favorite artists all around the world.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

6. Designed This Way

Designed This Way is the east’s answer to Design Matters with Debbie Millman. Hosted by Kawal Oberoi, a graphic designer and brand consultant from India, Designed This Way lets you be a fly on the wall as Kawal has candid conversations with leading designers from India and even outside the subcontinent. The podcast helps uncover “not just the stories of courage, hard work, and success but also the stories of mistakes, rejections, and doubts.” A great podcast to listen to if you want to know more about a country that is only just discovering the power of design, and more about the people leading the way.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

7. Ask A Manager

There are some problems that even designers aren’t really trained to solve. Working with a tough boss? Found out your job isn’t what you signed up for? Or how about dealing with a lazy, incompetent coworker who gets you to do all the heavy-lifting? Ask A Manager looks at the more managerial or bureaucratic side of the design profession. It deals with a host of issues across various levels of experience, whether you’re a prospective employee giving interviews, a current employee, a manager, or even a boss… and there’s a book too!
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

8. HBR Ideacast

Think of the HBR Ideacast as a series of interesting TED Talks, but curated by Harvard Business Review. Revolving around a series of fresh ideas, arguably the very currency of creativity, HBR Ideacast looks at how interesting ideas can help make individuals, professions, and businesses better. Plus it’s a great and free way to access Harvard Business Review’s cutting-edge editorial pieces.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

9. Thoroughly Considered

Hosted by Myke Hurley of Relay FM along with Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt from Studio Neat, Thoroughly Considered dives deep into the ups and downs of running a design business. They analyze design news from around the world as well as focus on their own products and processes, alternating wonderfully between professional news and personal learnings. Be ready for some great conversation pieces for you and your design buddies at school, work, or over a cold beer!
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

10. Product Hunt Radio

Coming from the popular product discovery site, Product Hunt, this weekly podcast show has Ryan Hoover and Abadesi Osunsade interview founders, investors, journalists, and makers to discuss today’s products and tomorrow’s topics. Whether it’s in the field of design, funding, marketing, or even of podcasts, the show finds out how people found success in their industries, and what lies in the future for them and the world.
WebsiteApple PodcastsSpotify

Along with the aforementioned ten podcasts, here are few personal favorites I really wanted to add to the list…

This Week in Tech – This is arguably the first podcast I ever found myself listening to. Someone at my internship introduced me to TWiT back in 2012, long before I even knew what a podcast really was. Released every Sunday (Monday if you’re in Asia), the show is hosted by Leo Laporte, one of tech’s first-ever journalists. Leo brings his wisdom and humor together along with a panel of the who’s who in tech journalism. Add this to your list if you like a slice of technology news along with your design breakfast every week,

Minor Details Pod – Hosted by some remarkable designers and friends of YD, Minor Details is a podcast about designers in the big city, sweating the small stuff. New York-based Nicholas Baker and James Connors talk about a variety of topics, sharing their opinions and stories about living and working in the Big Apple. The show was originally on my list of top ten podcasts, but was sadly taken off because it’s currently on an indefinite hiatus.

BBC In Our Time – Hosted by Melvyn Bragg and his honey-coated voice for over 20 years now (long before the word ‘podcast’ even existed), BBC In Our Time is a weekly radio show that takes one single topic each week and has a variety of experts weigh in with their learnings. Covering a wide plethora of topics from the life of Julius Caesar to the content of Saturn’s rings, In Our Time is literally an on-air encyclopedia for anyone who’s looking to expand their mind.

Joe Rogan Experience – The final slot was a close battle between 99% Invisible and JRE. I finally decided to give Rogan a shout-out for just being a remarkably talented host, and for the way he approaches any and every topic without biases and conducts a discussion with his guests in a constructive and productive way. Rogan talks a lot about news, conspiracies, politics, comedy, martial arts, and nutrition, and the show has seen a literal who’s who of guests, from Elon Musk to Bernie Sanders and from Neil deGrasse Tyson to Mike Tyson!