What did we do on public transport before podcasts came along? Sure, we’ve had music and audiobooks for the longest, but now that podcasts are flavour of the month, commuting to work suddenly seems like less of a chore. But with such an enormous library of potential content out there, just waiting for each of us to find it, how are we supposed to figure out what we want to plug into? Well. If you’re interested in pre-gaming for the office (like you would for a party, but with motivating quotes and life hacks, not snacks and booze), we’ve got just the hitlist for you. The edit of 21 podcasts that follows has been curated specifically for anyone who’s keen to explore and expand on their journey into the office. From deep and meaningful conversations with everyone’s favourite spirit guide Oprah, to laugh-out-loud funnies courtesy of a certified judge-turned-Agony Aunt, there’s something for everyone.
The queen of self-help, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations are all about exploring, discovering and connecting with deeper meaning. Because she’s Oprah, she sits down with the world’s top thought-leaders and spiritual guides (like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle) to mull on life’s biggest questions.
Hosted by award-winning journalist Alison Rice, Offline exists to explore self in a new and holistic way. Described as a “series of honest conversations”, it’s like eavesdropping on a D&M between Rice and her influential guest. From Instagram influencers to spiritual teachers, each has a different take on “self”.
Pegged as “the pop-culture podcast for smart women who love dumb stuff”, Shameless is so much more. Hosts Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald drop an ep every Thursday in which they interview an interesting person, often getting them to reveal their private thoughts about their very public profiles.
There are loads of podcasts that feature chats with celebrities but there aren’t many interviewers as skilled in diving deep with their subject as Mia Freedman. The co-founder of MamaMia asks probing, sometimes uncomfortably direct questions, uncovering some seriously fascinating stories.
If you’re keen to hear from inspiring women who you don’t necessarily recognise, this is the podcast for you. Host Natalie Drenovac is straight-up and isn’t afraid to delve into conversation with her guests, standing in for the audience as question-asker. You’ll unplug feeling empowered and entertained.
#6: Still Jill
This podcast could be the very opposite of uplifting—essentially it’s about what it was like for host Jill Emberson to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But what could be bleak and daunting is actually a very moving and encouraging rumination on what it’s like to live life with death in plain sight.
If you’re not convinced you’re in the job of your dreams (or just don’t know how to deal with office shenanigans) this a must-listen. Award-winning host, comedian Clare Hooper, quizzes people who are “nailing their work lives” on everything from how to deal with a horrible boss to finding confidence.
One of the most entertaining podcasts we’ve come across, Mortified is effectively a selection of regular people reading excerpts from their teenage diaries in front of a live audience. Depending on the episode, you’ll cringe, cry, laugh, or all three. A nice reminder that we were all awkward teens once.
#9: The 5 of My Life
A little bit similar to the BBC’s cult listen Desert Island Discs, this one sees celebrities list their favourite book, place, song, film, and possession. Seeking out eps that feature the personalities you like is a no-brainer but we also recommend going rogue—there’s a BTS quality to this one that really appeals.
A “school for human transformation”, expect to be inspired by the teachings of the greatest teachers and thought leaders on the planet. Together with host Vishen Lakhiani, they discuss important and timely topics as varied as building a billion dollar business and whether natural healing can affect cancer.
#11: The One You Feed
Based on the premise that we feed either our “good” or “bad” wolf, this one is best described as conversations about creating a life worth living. There are experts of all stripes on hand to discuss *big* topics including habits, depression and anxiety, happiness, psychology, philosophy, and motivation.
#12: TED Talks Daily
While we don’t need to explain to you the magic that is TED Talks we will say that this bite-sized podcast format is perfect for your commute. Each episode is roughly ten to fifteen minutes long making it possible to hear thought-provoking ideas about every subject imaginable on even the shortest of trips.
#13: Second Life
In the #GirlBoss age it can be easy to feel intimidated by the apparent overnight success of others. This pod strips back the BS, giving you insight into the struggle and strength needed to forge a career change at any stage of life. The eps on Tamara Mellon and Michelle Pfeiffer are especially illuminating.
#14: Judge John Hodgman
A light-hearted and funny listen, tune in if you’re in need of a giggle. Fans write in to “Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge”, to have their pressing everyday issues decided on. If you’re a watcher of Judge Judy, you’ll enjoy the host’s legitimate gems of wisdom.
#15: The Sporkful
According to the people behind this mouth-watering pod, The Sporkful isn’t for foodies, it’s for eaters. Each ep focuses on something completely different but the essence is always the same—thoughtful discussions on race, culture, body image and favourite haunts, and how they intersect with food.
#16: The Moth
The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the art and craft of important and meaningful storytelling through live shows. This podcast delivers them to you wherever you are, allowing you a peek into the enormous range of human experiences they traditionally showcase on stage.
Wanna figure out how barcodes work or what happens when the government thinks you’re dead? This pod is right up your alley. Hosts Charles Bryant and Josh Clark walk their listeners through simple explanations of complex things you’ve likely wondered about, all in their signature fun manner.
More self-help-y than some of the other pods on this list, 10% Happier was born from a panic attack host Dan Harris had live on Good Morning America. Afterwards, he found meditation. He’s spent the years since trying to answer one question: Can you be ambitious and still strive for enlightenment?
This one is a real thinker so don’t bother if you’re after the podcast equivalent of white noise. Expect in-depth musings on some extremely expansive topics including what life would be like if you had a remote control brain and whether there is a wrong way to empathise. Be prepared to buckle in and listen.
#20: Lady Startup
Another one from the poddy experts at MamaMia, Lady Startup was created in response to the questions co-founder Mia Freedman received from women keen to start their own businesses. Host Rachel Corbett, interviews individuals who’ve done just that teasing out their tips and tricks along the way.
A podcast for “high-achieving feminist women who struggle with anxiety, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome”, host (and confidence coach) Kara Loewentheil is the cheerleader you didn’t know you were missing. Learn how to overcome social conditioning and self-criticism and go get what’s yours.