Listening Chronicles #18
Documenting thoughts on the podcasts that I listen to and those I would recommend.
I’m back with another edition of Listening Chronicles !
There’s a bunch of episodes that I’ve heard since I last wrote, some from older podcasts and some from new ones that I’ve been listening to.
Give it a read, I’m sure these suggestions will keep you occupied for a while.
As always, if you liked reading this share it with your friends and do let me know what podcasts you’ve been listening to recently that you want to recommend !
Podcasts I Listened To
1) City of Women
One of my favorite podcasts from India is back with another season !
Season 3 has a few episodes out till now. I’ve listened to most of them. The stories this time are intimate, funny, poignant and so much fun to listen to.
In Cadets, two former cadets talk about being part of the National Cadet Corps and some rebellious stories of being a girl in the NCC pre-internet era.
In Maradona, Ayan Biswas talks about his mother’s upbringing in a restricted environment which shackled a lot of her aspirations, but also shares a story about his mother’s love for sport and what it meant to watch Argentina playing football.
There are a couple of more that have come out, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these two episodes. Do check them out !
2) Acquired - Amazon and AWS
Acquired is a business podcast that shares the story of the enduring businesses of our time. These are depth heavy i.e. the episodes are quite long, and the hosts Ben and David chronicle each journey and analyze every step of a successful company.
These two episodes pertain to breaking down everything Amazon.
I haven’t done a lot of research into Amazon’s history prior to the Internet era and in this episode I was able to glean into this behemoth’s past. A bunch of crazy stories in these episodes (I’m still in the process of finishing the AWS one).
I didn’t know that Jeff Bezos had one of the most coveted jobs at DE Shaw as a hedge fund manager (and the potential to head the company), and left that to start off Amazon. It is pretty insane when you think about how unlikely all of this is, there wouldn’t be an Amazon if Bezos decided to stick with his job.
One of my other favourite moments of listening to this was finding out just how much Amazon ‘borrowed’ from Walmart and how closely linked the DNA is. It was blatant, and yet they were able to build on the system that Walmart developed and adopt it to e-commerce in such a smooth manner.
Anyone interested in businesses, should definitely listen to this - you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the stories, factoids, and crazy stuff that Amazon has done.
Sharing a quote from the podcast’s transcript;
Ben: This is the very, very, very starkest illustration of, what's the best business model over the next few years, and what's the best business to be in long-term? The best business to be in long-term—period—is delighting your customers more than they ever imagined. The best business to be in—certainly for the next few years, maybe even the next decade if you’re eBay—is a high-margin true internet business.
But Bezos is thinking in decades. He's thinking, how are we possibly going to be the best place to buy something on the Internet a decade from now? Unless it's extremely reliable shipping times, very short shipping times, we have it in stock, they're buying it from a vendor that they trust, that is secure. All these things require us to either be the merchant or at least be the ones who fulfill it and keep it in a distribution center or a fulfillment center, so they're both right on different timeframes.
My favorite Bezos quote is, and this, I think, comes from that very first interview that I referenced earlier. I've watched every interview Bezos has given in prep for this, but that one has all the highlights in 3–4 minutes and he's still got hair. He says, "Long term, there is never any misalignment between customer interest and shareholder interest."
3) Imaginary Worlds - Mentors
The trope of mentors in fantasy novels and movies has always been a source of a lot of entertainment and personally for me in some cases, also a way to learn something new about how I can live. Mentors in Shonen anime/manga are often characters I look upto. I want to know how they’re going to help the protagonists of each story and vicariously, how will they help me.
This episode does a deep dive into this trope - in the world of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe - how do the mentors in these stories interact with the protagonists, are they ‘good’ mentors or did they screw up, can you apply any of this kind of mentorship to the real world? Bunch of these questions are answered in this 2 part series.
4) Serial - Episode 13: Adnan Syed Is Out
This is a big one. I finished listening to Season 1 of Serial just last week, and only a couple of days ago the news came out that Adnan Syed - the prime subject of the podcast in this podcast is now out of jail.
What’ll happen in the future is yet to be seen for Mr. Syed, but if you’re a podcast lover - you should check our Serial.
They are pioneers in a lot of ways, embroiled in a lot of controversies too. The podcast occupies a unique and important space in podcasting history.
5) Longform - Julie Synder
I’ve come across the name Julie Synder a lot - while listening to the credits of This American Life episodes, or while listening to the credits of Serial. She was behind the force of This American’s Life consistent stories, eventually, became the editor/founder of Serial and brought about a podcasting boom. Amidst all of this, she pretty much never hosted any of the podcast episodes. She was never at the forefront. She was always the editor. She’s one of the people behind the scenes and I’ve been curious about why she decided to take on such a role.
Ira Glass, the head of This American Life, in a commencement speech to journalism graduates in Columbia, said this about Julie Snyder;
Choose your jobs with a careful eye on who your editor will be. Good news is very few editors, in my experience, are awful. The overwhelming majority are solid, decent, helpful. And then if you’re lucky you get somebody like the people I work with, like Julie Snyder, people who make everything they touch, so much better.
This was a great conversation. If you’re someone who has heard Serial, you should definitely check it out. If you’re someone who’s curious about what a podcast editor/producer does, this episode is also for you.
6) The Great Creators with Guy Raz - Stephen Colbert
I’m a big fan of Stephen Colbert. He often quotes LOTR and loves the fantasy genre. I can’t quote LOTR, but I too love fantasy. He’s thoughtful and I’ve often admired some of the ways he thinks about life and how he is able to communicate about them so clearly. The main reason I’m a fan though, is because he’s a huge nerd, and honestly that is the kind of nerd/geek I aspire to be.
While I don’t watch his shows frequently or anything, I tend to watch some interviews, or some of his older clips. This is a new conversation podcast from Guy Raz (who also hosts How I Built This), and the first episode is with Mr. Colbert.
I enjoyed listening to this episode and it was nice to know more about the creative struggles of Stephen Colbert in the early part of his career and how he has taken on the challenge of being one of the most popular talk show hosts in USA.
As a bonus, I’m also sharing this beautiful conversation between Stephen Colbert and Anderson Cooper. They talk about grief. Colbert had lost his brothers and father when was young, and Anderson Cooper’s mother passed away around the time of this conversation. It is an honest discussion between two people about how grief changed them.
Every time I watch this, I shed a tear. It is intimate, and honestly, I’m amazed that something like this was recorded for others to be able to watch.
I’ve shared this with pretty much everyone I know, and if you’re reading this and there’s one thing on this list you should listen to, it is this.
Barbershop with Shantanu | Recommended by Sandesh Atyam
Sandesh shared a bunch of short clips from this podcast and asked me to check it out.
To be honest, this wasn’t a podcast I was going to listen to. Right now though, I’m in the zone where I’m trying to learn more about businesses and I’m enoying listening to this. The guests are candid, honest and are willing to share their experiences, stories without a lot of hesitation.
These are the two I started off with, at some point will listen to the others as well.
Note: I’m always up for podcast recommendations. If there’s something you’re listening to and would want others to check out, I’m happy to share those through Listening Chronicles. Feel free to write to me.
I’ll be back again.
I have charted out a schedule of sorts for the remainder of the year, so you can expect Curiousect to be a lot more active.
I will be writing more Listening Chronicles, some random essays, and about other book/manga suggestions etc.
You can hold me to this promise.
Happy Listening !
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