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Listen And Learn: Why Podcasts Aren’t Just For Start-up Founders

Podcasts aren’t just for start-up founders. They’re also a great way for busy company CEOs to brush up on their business knowledge and learn from some of the best businesses in the world.

GG van Rooyen

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1How I Built This

How I Built This is produced by NPR (National Public Radio) in the US. As its name suggests, the podcast looks at famous brands/companies and the founders behind them. Each episode features a guest entrepreneur who discusses the highs and lows of building a massive brand.

The show is hosted by Guy Raz and is intimate and conversational in nature. Founders are often remarkably frank, speaking openly about the challenges they faced. Episodes are fairly long (around 30 minutes), but worth the investment.

Great episode: Zappos: Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh

The head of the most famous online shoe company in the world discusses how he leads as an extreme introvert, and reveals that he doesn’t care about shoes at all. In fact, he only owns two pairs: Black Asics and a pair of flip-flops.

Time invested: 30 minutes

“I’m actually not passionate about shoes at all. I’m passionate about customer service and company culture, so I can talk about those two things, but I can’t say anything about shoes.” — Tony Hsieh

Related: 7 Podcasts Every Entrepreneur Should Be Listening To

2The $100 MBA Show

Hosted by Omar Zenhom, The $100 MBA Show is short and to the point, delivering useful info and actionable lessons. Episodes are brief (around 10 minutes) and don’t have any fluff. Some focus on personal development, while others look at the nitty gritty of building and managing a large organisation.

The name of each episode makes it very clear what that particular podcast is about, so you can listen to the ones that you think will have value for you, and ignore those that won’t.

Great episode: #895 — Selling to Big Corporates

Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski

‘Guest lecturer’ Steve Glaveski discusses the mindset and approach needed to sell to big corporate companies.

Time invested: 10 minutes

“Understand the KPIs of who you’re targeting so you can speak their language. Understand what their challenges are and how they make purchasing decisions. Price might be one factor, but other things companies consider when making purchasing decisions could include things like switching costs, the quality of your brand, reputation, brand awareness, trust, security, privacy concerns, social proof and compatibility.” — Steve Glaveski

3Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson

Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson is hosted by, well, Walter Isaacson. He’s one of the greatest living biographers — having penned best-selling biographies on people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin — so he knows how to take a true story and turn it into a riveting narrative. With Trailblazers, he looks specifically at disruption.

He looks at how and why it happens, and why large companies are often too slow in reacting to it. The show is expertly produced, with Isaacson interviewing various thought leaders and showing how industries like film, music, electronics and gaming have been disrupted. Interestingly, the podcast series was commissioned by Dell Technologies, but it doesn’t feel like a piece of marketing content.

Great episode: Lights… Camera… Disruption

Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson

Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are threatening to disrupt the film and television industry, but it’s not the first time this has happened. The entertainment industry has been forced to deal with disruption before. Will the traditional system survive in the age of Netflix?

Time invested: 30 minutes

“[Netflix] have brought a very Silicon Valley type of culture into Hollywood. And they have played a pretty hardball game. Unlike the TV competitors they have, they know exactly how much you watched. They know if you watched 13 minutes and stopped. They know if you’ve watched to the end. They know if you binged. That’s the kind of granular information TV networks don’t have.” — Kim Masters, editor-at-large, Hollywood Reporter

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Podcasting But Were Afraid To Ask

4Masters of Scale

As both the founder of LinkedIn and a partner at investment firm Greylock, Reid Hoffman is a Silicon Valley insider with access to some of the most famous entrepreneurs on the planet. His podcast, Masters of Scale, hasn’t been around for very long, but it already boasts a guest list that includes Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Brian Chesky from Airbnb and Eric Schmidt from Google. As the name suggests, the podcast is all about the tricky process of scaling a business.

Great episode: Imperfect is Perfect

mark zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg talks about the early days of Facebook, explaining the company’s growth strategy and how it managed to spread from one college campus to the entire world. As you can imagine, what works for one campus doesn’t work for the whole world. Facebook’s motto of ‘Move fast and break things’ quickly became problematic.

Time invested: Between 30 and 90 minutes

“So ‘move fast’, I think, is interesting, because you actually have to be willing to give something up to get it. And the question is, ‘What are you willing to give up?’ And early on, the trade was, ‘Move fast and break things.’ The idea was, we will tolerate some amount of bugs and flaws in the service of moving faster and learning what our community wants faster. But we got to a point where it was taking us more time to go back and fix the bugs and issues that we were creating than the speed that we were gaining by going faster.” — Mark Zuckerberg

5The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the biggest podcasts on the planet. Most of the time, it is the most popular business podcast on iTunes, and it was the first business/interview podcast to achieve more than 100 million downloads.

Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Workweek) interviews high-achievers on his podcast and deconstructs their habits and behaviours to examine why exactly they are so successful. He doesn’t focus only on entrepreneurs and business people, though, often also interviewing celebrities, athletes and scientists, but the podcast is almost always worth listening to. Generally speaking, these interviews don’t offer very specific business advice, but they do provide great insights into the mindset and self-talk of the super-successful.

Great episode: Testing The Impossible: 17 Questions That Changed My Life 

Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss

A sample chapter from Ferriss’s book Tools of Titans, where he examines insightful questions that have helped him reframe situations and overcome obstacles.

Time invested: 90 minutes

“These days, more than any other question, I’m asking: ‘What would this look like if it were easy?’ If I feel stressed, stretched thin, or overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m overcomplicating something or failing to take the simple/easy path because I feel I should be trying ‘harder’.”  — Tim Ferriss

6The Matt Brown Show

Matt Brown is a local entrepreneur, speaker and the founder of the global media platform the Matt Brown Show. He is also the CEO of Digital Kungfu, a strategic business consultancy that specialises in helping companies accelerate innovation and disrupt traditional markets by enabling them with new ways to do business that serve their customers more effectively and responsively. Unlike the other podcasts on this list, which are all from the US, this podcast is South African, and it focuses on some of the most interesting and dynamic local entrepreneurs.

Great episode: Gil Oved & Romeo Kumalo

matt-brown-podcast

Matt Brown speaks to South African Shark Tank entrepreneurs Gil Oved and Romeo Kumalo.

Between 25 and 60 minutes

“Very simply, if I have two entrepreneurs with exactly the same features in front of me: Same business, same opportunity — two entrepreneurs asking for the same amount of money, with only one difference separating the two: One guy had succeeded in his last three business ventures and the other failed in his last three business ventures, ten out of ten times, I will pick the guy who failed.” — Gil Oved

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

Company Posts

“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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Company Posts

Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Company Posts

Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

Wits Plus

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Vital Stats

Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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