The HBR IdeaCast is a weekly podcast that touches on timely workplace topics like mental health, attracting and retaining talent, the complexities of artificial intelligence (AI), and how to lead effectively.
Hosts Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, seasoned business journalists and senior editors at Harvard Business Review, interview a variety of academics, entrepreneurs, and authors, with a focus on technology—but not to the exclusion of other industries. Past guests include former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who discussed the need for workers to adapt and learn new skills, and actor/director Ron Howard, who offered insight into career longevity and collaborative leadership.
While discussions typically center on corporate-level instead of small business issues, entrepreneurs of all types can benefit from listening to experts talk about their areas of focus and how they relate to current business and social trends.
5. Good Life Project
Host: Jonathan Fields
Good Life Project, a popular motivational podcast, poses and discusses the big questions surrounding what makes life meaningful and fulfilling. Host Jonathan Fields talks with guests about topics like the science behind motivation, what happiness means, and the value of empathy—sometimes giving actionable advice along the way.
Most entrepreneurs want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, but it can be challenging while juggling the many responsibilities, daily decisions, and sometimes stressful problems of entrepreneurship. Listening to Good Life Project can help break down daunting business and personal challenges into smaller manageable tasks.
Guests include academics, celebrities, and spiritual leaders, as well as speakers like researcher, podcaster, and author Brené Brown, who focuses on characteristics like vulnerability and empathy. Between Fields and his guests, expect practical strategies that can help with creativity, decision-making, and finding bits of joy amid the challenges of daily life.
6. DTC POD: How The Best Brands Are Built
Hosts: Ramon Berrios and Blaine Bolus
Theme: Direct to consumer
Perhaps the only people jazzed by listening to conversations about product sourcing, profit margins, supply chain trends, affiliate programs, and data-driven marketing strategies are direct-to-consumer, or DTC, entrepreneurs. If that’s you, DTC POD: How The Best Brands Are Built is an informative listen.
Hosts Ramon Berrios and Blaine Bolus delve into the detailed decisions that DTC business owners make. Guests include startup founders in industries ranging from food media to technology. Expect DTC experts to share their professional experiences in consumer markets, addressing topics such ranging from wellness trends to Instagram influencer marketing.
Any entrepreneur who needs information about shipping, venture capital investment, product design, public relations, manufacturing, and accounting, among other essential facets of running a DTC business, can gain insight from this podcast.
7. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Hosts: Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft
Author Gretchen Rubin co-hosts this podcast with her younger sister, television writer and producer Elizabeth Craft. Discussions between the siblings center on, yes, happiness.
Entrepreneurs listening to Happier with Gretchen Rubin can pick up strategies for managing anxiety, using the sense of touch for tough conversations, and finding joy in life’s little luxuries, to name a few. These practical insights are designed to take listeners toward personal growth and professional success. The hosts’ “Happiness Hacks” can help you boost focus and spark ideas, or teach you how to best network with industry professionals or declutter work spaces.
8. Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau
Host: Chris Guillebeau
Theme: Side hustle entrepreneurship
If you’re currently employed full time but have an ecommerce side hustle—such as making and selling small-batch hot sauces or making candles—you can gain numerous useful tips from Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau. The daily podcast is formatted into easy-to-digest, bite-sized six- to eight- minute segments, perfect for entrepreneurs-on-the-go.
Host Chris Guillebeau covers side hustle case studies from listeners, giving solid advice about transitioning from a side hustle to a full-time business, raising funding, and finding new customers, among other challenges of maintaining a side business while employed. And don’t miss the Failure Friday segments, where select listeners relay their own entrepreneurial disasters—from an Airbnb flop to a fashion blogger’s failed attempt to go viral by wearing lettuce hats. Listeners of Side Hustle School can learn from others’ mistakes.
9. Planet Money
Hosts: Amanda Aronczyk, Mary Childs, Karen Duffin, Jacob Goldstein, Sarah Gonzalez, and Kenny Malone
Theme: Global economy
Entrepreneurs benefit from a deeper understanding of the global economic landscape; learning about new tariffs, shortages, or tax regulations helps business owners stay a few steps ahead of possible disruption. Planet Money delivers economic and business news in concise half-hour segments with analysis and personal stories through interviews in the field. Listeners might learn how race plays a part in who gets audited by the IRS, the lifespan of high interest rates, and other financial-forward news.
Host: Kimberly Rhodes, with Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Theme: Management and worklife
When an entrepreneur’s scrappy startup starts to blossom, they often find themselves managing one or more teams and being responsible for running aspects of a business they barely even knew existed (think: creating a company culture policy). Questions you may have been afraid to ask—How do you build a diverse team? How do you balance a professional life and personal life while working no more than 40 hours a week?—are answered on the Rework podcast.
Host Kimberly Rhodes is joined by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founders of 37signals, a software company known for building project management platform Basecamp. Rhodes encourages listeners of the podcast to call, email, or tweet any workplace-related questions they wish to ask.
11. The Happiness Lab
Host: Dr. Laurie Santos
Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos hosts The Happiness Lab podcast and delves into all aspects of happiness, which is beneficial for business owners who often slip into having a tunnel vision mindset about work. Santos’s happiness research is based in science and sociology and expressed in accessible podcast form. Guests include academics and wellness experts who talk with Dr. Santos about everything from self-improvement to the perils of diet culture to the benefits of yoga and spiritual practice. While The Happiness Lab doesn’t exactly give out “happiness tips,” it does offer practical life advice about how to operate with a more fulfilled mindset.
Best motivational podcasts FAQ
What are some of the most popular motivational podcasts hosted by industry experts or successful entrepreneurs?
How I Built This with Guy Raz is a classic entrepreneur podcast that consistently educates listeners. The HBR IdeaCast is a weekly podcast that touches on timely workplace topics like mental health, attracting and retaining talent, the complexities of artificial intelligence (AI), and how to lead effectively. Hosts Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, seasoned business journalists and senior editors at Harvard Business Review, interview a variety of academics, entrepreneurs, and authors, with a focus on technology—but not to the exclusion of other industries.
What are the best podcasts for entrepreneurs?
The best entrepreneurs think beyond business school topics and dive into broader questions of happiness and a life well lived. Among the best podcasts for all entrepreneurs are:
- How I Built This
- Shopify Masters
- Design Matters with Debbie Millman
- HBR IdeaCast
- Good Life Project
- DTC POD: How The Best Brands Are Built
What are some of the best non-business motivational podcasts for entrepreneurs?
Comedy, music, or riveting narratives can often be the best source of motivation for entrepreneurs. A few podcasts to try:
- Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. Comedian Conan O’Brien celebrates his self-deprecating sense of humor in Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend.
- Questlove Supreme. Host Questlove, a.k.a. Ahmir Thompson, explores musical artists, many of which are legendary Black women, industry movers and shakers, and cultural icons in Questlove Supreme. Guests include luminaries like former first lady Michelle Obama.
- Life Examined. The Life Examined podcast weaves together philosophy, science, and faith. Host Jonathan Bastian interviews guests on subjects ranging from communicating trees to living with a sense of awe.
- Serial. The Peabody Award–winning Serial is a serialized crime podcast.
- This American Life. A weekly podcast hosted by Ira Glass, This American Life tells intimate stories about social and political issues.
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