To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge. (Socrates)
In today’s knowledge-based economy, one of the biggest assets a person can have is a thirst for continual learning, imagination, and discovery. I’m not really talking so much about acquiring concrete and applicable skills, but more the exposure and understanding of new ideas, paradigms, and thought.
For me, a big part of my weekly routine revolves around reading, listening to podcasts, and seeking out new content to keep me learning and evolving. In this post, I am looking to share with you some of my favourite online media personalities that have given me food for thought and helped me cultivate new ideas or understanding of the world. Sidenote: this list is generally skewed towards areas I am interested in such as entrepreneurship, history, business, and philosophy.
As a forewarning, this is not to be considered an extensive list by any means. There is a wealth of great content out there and these are just some of the ones that float my boat. Also, I’ll be the first to point out that there is a lack of diversity (specifically in regards to women) on this list. I am always looking for new sources of good content, so if you know of any fantastic female podcasters or shows, please forward their stuff over. I’d love to add it to my playlist.
Here’s 9 mind expanding internet personalities worth listening to.
9. Cenk Uygur
Claim to fame: Created The Young Turks, the world’s “largest online news show” with 2 billion views on Youtube as of July 2014.
Why I like him: Cenk ditched mainstream media and took the risk of starting his own independent online show, which now gets insane viewership numbers. I don’t agree with all his viewpoints, but love the fact that he’s brash, independent, smart, and willing to go against the status quo to do something different.
How to catch him: Tune into The Young Turks, or watch this interview on the Joe Rogan Experience:
8. Kevin Rose
Claim to Fame: Kevin co-founded Digg and is now a partner at Google Ventures. He also invested in insignificant companies such as Twitter, Square, and Facebook in between.
Why I like him: Kevin launched a video podcast called Foundation, where he interviews successful tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Brian Wong, Philip Rosedale, and Jack Dorsey. This is great content. And as a big bonus, he also does the Random Show with Tim Ferriss, which I thank my friend Ryan Glasser for turning me on to.
How to catch him: If you don’t mind a mixed bag, hit up the Random Show. If you want straight up tech/entrepreneur content then go for Foundation.
7. Stefan Molyneux
Claim to Fame: Stefan founded Freedomain Radio, the world’s largest online philosophy show with over 75 million downloads. Stefan is an anarcho-capitalist and atheist.
Why I like him: I’ve learned a lot from Stef. However, his content is a little bit of a mixed bag as he tends to be stubborn about certain things. While some may consider him extreme, I have found some life changing moments in his podcasts.
How to catch him: Selectively at first. If you want to dive deep, hit up his Intro to Philosophy that covers ethics, politics, truth, and knowledge. He also does an intro to Libertarianism (best explanation I have ever seen on it) here:
6. Shane Smith
Claim to Fame: Shane founded VICE and apparently has some of the craziest and most badass stories of all time.
Why I like him: Shane Smith is a boss. If you’re not familiar with VICE, definitely check out their video content. Even better, in my opinion, is listening to Shane directly. He is the king of anecdotes and tells amazing stories about his experiences in the world’s most bizarre places.
How to catch him: On the VICE side, hit up the documentaries on North Korean Labour Camps in Siberia, the story of a family that lives far in the Alaskan wilderness, and the Mormon Romneys warring against drug cartels in Mexico. For just Shane, he’s done a grand total of 8 appearances on the Joe Rogan Experience – some drunker than others. Here’s one to get you started:
5. Jason Silva
Claim to Fame: Film maker, futurist, and epiphany addict
Why I like him: Ever feel like you need an intellectual boost? Maybe you’re just feeling lackadaisical or want to get a shot of optimism about the future? Jason Silva is your man. Every time I watch or listen to him, I feel inspired and motivated to do something. He hits you fast with epiphanies, quotes from great futurists like Ray Kurzweil, and mixes words in beautiful concoctions that are bound to stimulate. The way he delivers his message just gives me goosebumps every time.
How to catch him: Watch his Shots of Awe, or watch him on Joe Rogan:
4. Tim Ferriss
Claim to Fame: Tim wrote the “Four-Hour Workweek” and other associated books. He has also become a successful Silicon Valley investor.
Why I like him: I knew of Tim originally from the “Four-Hour Workweek”. Since those beginnings, he has really expanded his reach to create awesome content in a few different forms, including his blog, podcast, The Random Show, and additional books. Tim is obsessive about the process and focuses particularly well on “deconstructing excellence”. I’ve learned so much from his talks with writers and successful business people.
How to catch him: Here’s an example of the Tim Ferriss show with master photographer Chase Jarvis.
3. James Altucher
Claim to Fame: James made $15 million and then lost it all, including his house, in a two year span. He would eventually make it all back again. James has started 20 companies, and claims that 17 of them were unsuccessful. Now he spends his time writing and podcasting about it all.
Why I like him: James is a must-listen for any entrepreneur or businessperson. He filters nothing and tells about his candid experiences with his unique and vulnerable style. It’s through this that he is able to provide many life lessons – not just in business, but in family and love.
How to catch him: James’ blog is awesome – I get his daily emails and they are great. Recently, he started a podcast here. I’m also currently reading his book “The Power of No”. Every indication so far is that it is worth reading as well.
2. Joe Rogan
Claim to Fame: Many people know Joe from his UFC commentary and Fear Factor hosting, but the truth is those gigs do not showcase the interesting side of Joe at all. For those familiar with the podcasting world, Joe is one of the first people to start long form podcasting with the Joe Rogan Experience. He has about 500 podcasts that are 3 hours long each…that’s 62 days of content if you listened to them 24 hrs per day back-to-back. He’s had many people on this list as guests – and even more cool people I haven’t mentioned like Daniele Bollelli, Peter Schiff, Amber Lyon, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Chris Hadfield, and Graham Hancock.
Why I like him: Joe’s most important quality is his humility. He does not claim to be an intellectual at all, and is always open to ideas. He can shoot the shit with his guests and can also play devil’s advocate when needed. He is an advocate for the power of technology, and Joe understands that politics and America are messed up. He doesn’t try to know the answers, but probes all these areas very well which makes for an interesting discussion.
With so much content on the JRE, I tend to handpick content based on the guest. I prefer the expert guests over the UFC or comedy ones.
Where to catch him: I could make an entire post on my favourite JREs, but you can find them all here. Also, here’s one to start with:
1. Dan Carlin
Claim to Fame: Former radio host. Political thinker. Amateur historian. Doesn’t have the comparable credentials here that other picks have, but man, he just has one hell of a show (Hardcore History). It’s been rated by many as the top podcast on the web.
Why I like him: I talk about Dan so much that some of my friends probably hate me. I knew that I had always liked history, but I hate reading it from a textbook. Dan does the unthinkable: he takes true historical facts and weaves them into an easy-to-follow, suspenseful, and exciting narrative. Back when I first started listening to Dan’s show, Hardcore History, there would be entire weekends where I’d get nothing done except crush an entire 10 hour series on Ghengis Khan and the Mongols.
Where to catch him: If you have any appreciation for history at all – even an inkling – go to Dan’s website and immediately start with his series called “Death Throes of the Republic” on Rome. Or, if you want something free, his Wrath of the Khan (Mongols) series is still available for free. I promise you will love it. Another great series I loved was the one called the Punic Nightmares and a single long episode called Thor’s Angels on the Dark Ages.
…And as a special bonus, as I was putting this article together, Tim Ferriss (#4 above) interviewed Dan Carlin (#1 above). Check it out here.
Got any good suggestions? Put them in the comments section below.
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