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My Best Podcasts for a Brain Upgrade

Note: This is a reprint of a previous Emergent Marketing Newsletter. If you’re not receiving our email newsletter, you can subscribe here.

I received two emails last week asking what my top three podcast shows are. The ones I listen to the most.

Weird coincidence, I guess.

So I thought I would expand the love in this weeks email newsletter.

I listen to a lot of podcast shows. I find them incredibility valuable. I’m always seeking new ones to add to my catalog.

I may dislike most video instructional learning, but I love podcasts.

To be a polymath: one needs to draw ideas and inspirations from an array of disciplines across entirely different fields (arts, sciences, technology, business, etc.).

Reading is one way to do this. Listening to a variety of podcasts is another, and perhaps the most fun.

Note: I’ve tried to categorize the podcasts as best I can, but most of them transverse disciplines and topics (hence why I listen to them). So take the categorization with a pinch of salt.

Personal Mastery & Performance

The top four shows are the podcasts I listen to the most. They’re my go-to’s. If there are no new episodes that interest me, I’ll move onto another podcast show.

Book Reviews

I like the to-and-fro book discussions between Joe and Mike. I’ve listened to many of their book reviews and have enjoyed them all. Apparently, many of their guests listen to the reviews so that don’t have to read the books.

For me tho, Bookworm is a starting point (#1) if they have a book I’m interested in reading.

Next (#2) I search YouTube for interviews with the author on the book. I’ll pick one or two, if possible with interviewers I know and trust (example: like this one between Rick Roll and James Clear for Atomic Habits):

YouTube video

I’ll always look to see if there’s a Philosophers Notes (Brian Johnson) review (example: like this one for Atomic Habits, keeping with the theme):

YouTube video

This will count towards the two.

I also have a subscription to Brian’s Optimize. I’ll download (#3) Brian’s notes (typically a six-page PDF unpacking the big ideas). At this point, I have a very good idea of what the book is about.

Sometimes, after taking my notes (#4), I’ll stop there. I’ll have 80% of the insights for 20% of the effort (without even reading the book).

But if I feel I want more; the nuances, I’ll (#5) then get the book + Audible and tear through it.

That’s my process for consuming books.

Creativity and Life

I enjoy both these podcasts a lot.

Jocelyn has a perfect podcast/radio voice. It’s calm and smooth. I can’t help but “slow down” when you’re listening to it. I love the nuances; like the episode with David Sax — Revenge of the Analog — on how analog objects and ideas feed creativity, help us learn, and make memories stick.

And then there’s my friend, Jonathan, the calmest voice I’ve ever heard. Jonathan is deep and nuanced and one of the best interviewers I know. And he has amazing and diverse guests.

Health, Wellbeing & Critical Thinking

Peter is a Stanford/Johns Hopkins/NIH-trained physician focusing on the applied science of longevity, the extension of human life and well-being.

His episodes are ultra-deep-dive. 90% of it flies right over my head. But what I do pick up, is immensely valuable to me. Even when I feel like I’m getting brain damage when trying to follow along.

Peter is also has a passion for auto racing. To “relax,” he built himself a racing simulator. He said:

“I could write three or four blogposts about this obsession! Last year I managed 9 full days on the track (Laguna Seca and Buttonwillow, above in spec E30) and this year will probably be the same, but the game-changer is my simulator. Using iracing software and a professional simulator built my Mike Wagner which is the most realistic sim out there, I can actually spend 60-90 minutes per week in the sim and continue to fine tune every detail of the technique necessary to drive a car at its technical limit.”

Peter Attia's Racing Simulator

Source: Peter Attia’s Racing Simulator (March 16, 2016)

When we move to our new apartment in a few months time, I’m building a racing sim in my office. I can’t wait!

Business & Entrepreneurship

I listen to Seth’s Akimbo whenever he pushes out a new episode. They’re short; maybe 20 minutes. I love the format. I love how he does the sponsor inserts. I love the Q&A. Can’t recommend this enough.

AI & Tech

My friend Joanna Penn put me onto Sleepwalkers. It is soooo good!

It’s all about how AI powered-technology is impacting our lives in amazing and creative ways. Season 1 is finished. I believe they’ll be doing a Season 2. Listen to Season 1, it’s so good.

Mind & Society

Sam Harris and Russell Brand add a different and unique perspective to things; business, life, politics, education, etc. If you care about seeing the world through a different lens, this is one way to do it.

Narrative-Based Documentaries

These are three nonfiction (true story) narrative-driven documentaries. S-Town was not what I thought it would be. But I’m so glad I listened to it. It’s not a happy story: but you get exposed to another corner of life that you would otherwise never have known about.

Conviction (Gimlet Media)

Image source: Conviction (Gimlet Media)

Conviction is about justice. Again: you get a glimpse into a part of real-life that, at times, you can’t make up. There is a constant flux between injustice (in the name of justice) and justice (the little guy vs. Goliath).

The journalistic storytelling is next-level.


  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (start with Wrath of the Khans Series)
  • The Story (by Mission.org: narrated by Alec Baldwin)

I’ve never been a “history” guy. It’s done. Past-tense. Who the fuck cares anymore (other than historians). But Dan Carlin’s take on history is beyond amazing. This is how history should be taught in school!

These should keep you busy.

The podcast app I use (and love!) is Overcast. I use on iOS. There’s a web version, and I believe it’s also on Android:


It’s free, but the paid upgrade is so worth it: it’s ad free and I love the ‘Smart Speed’ and ‘Voice Boost’ features.

Download the app, then click the (+) button to search for a new podcast. Search by name for any of the shows listed above, then add.


Real easy.

That’s it for now.

Make some magic happen.

—André “upgraded by podcasts” Chaperon


I’ve you listen to a podcast that you feel is exceptionally good, please share. Hit me up and lemme know, okay?