Education

It took us a while to join the podcast bandwagon, but now we can’t stop listening! There are so many great podcasts to listen to, so there’s certainly no shortage of great information or inspiration. These are the eight podcasts we can’t get enough of.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Love learning about history? You won’t want to stop listening to this podcast. From Chinese History to American Civil War to History Mysteries to Pirates, there is an abundance of fascinating topics about the past.

Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series

If you’re a budding entrepreneur or have been running your own business for a while, this podcast is a must-listen.

Planet Money

Listening to this podcast is a fun (yes, fun) way to learn about money and economics. With interesting and relevant topics, this podcast will make you feel smarter in just 20 minutes.

Zero to Travel

Experiencing serious wanderlust? Zero to Travel shares useful travel tips, inspiring travel stories, and new ways to explore the world. Get your passport ready!

Joblogues

Joymarie Parker hosts candid conversations with budding entrepreneurs, creative-thinkers, and dynamic young professionals navigating work and life across the globe. For real talk, check this podcast out.

Longform

Bookworms, this podcast is for you. Longform shares weekly conversations with a non-fiction writer or editor on his or her craft and career.

TED Radio Hour

As always, TED shares fascinating ideas, different journeys, and unique insights. Each show is centered on a common theme, such as happiness, creativity, and new inventions.

Stuff You Should Know

Want to know how PEZ works? What about how police dogs work? How hot air balloons work? If you’re at all curious about how things work, this is the podcast for you.

Image: Sascha Kohlmann

CultureSkills

There’s something undefinably pleasing about knowing you’re the first, only, or one of the few.

Perhaps it hearkens back to our primordial roots, the ones that spread from Africa to the Americas in pursuit of survival by any means necessary. When our prehistoric cousins finally did discover how to survive by some means, they must have felt something similar to how we feel when we define ourselves through bold action and unusual experience. Breaking from the norm and achieving survivability in an unconventional but effective way – that was truly impressive.

Similarly, when we skip the cliché and seek the unorthodox, we engage in behavior that is more than just hipster nonconformism. Nonconformism for its own sake is usually more pretentious than purposeful. Nonconformism for our sake is different: it grounds us in our personal purpose, teaches skills and skills-building, and leads to innovation and creative diversity. Thus, breaking the mold with intention always succeeds in some way or another.

In contrast, cliché is the typical pattern of things done by people before you. It might be well-tested, but it’s also tried. It might be popular, but it doesn’t necessarily fit or serve you. Moreover, taking the typical path might get you to where you need, but certainly does not provide you (or anyone, for that matter) with trailblazing perspective and fresh experience. In fact, sticking with the cliché actually diminishes your potential returns because you can rely on others for help or use their methods to get through. In other words, you can cop out.

The most likely result of taking the most likely path is learning the most likely lessons – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but there’s much more to be gained by seeking the unorthodox.

If you’re like most, you have a daily or weekly routine. Routines can be useful: they’re efficient and they give us a sense of security by putting order to chaos. Amidst the multitude of options available to us, we usually choose to do the same things consistently because it allows us to plan/strategize our lives more effectively. Exercising in the evening, buying groceries twice a week, going to school Monday through Friday… This is our routine, and it gives us the ability to easily schedule a proper time and place.

However, if you’re like most, your routine also starts to drag after a while. We know for certain that work starts at 9am, ends at 5pm, and there are X more days until the weekend when we can binge-watch old seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix. The thrill has long been gone. Even though we have the opportunity, we choose to adhere to routine because it’s easy and the consequences for doing otherwise can be high. Who hasn’t thought about quitting their job to [insert dream here]? Which of us has actually followed through?

And so, skipping the cliché means reframing routine as ritual. It means grounding oneself in personal purpose. That’s not to say that you should go quit your day job – you shouldn’t, but rather, you should find ways to get excited about living your unique life. Rediscover awe. Turn the things that drain you into the things that sustain you. Commuting is a chore, but it’s also 45 minutes to enjoy music and audiobooks; data entry is mindless, but you’re doing it now so that you don’t have to at your next job. Your daily routine can become a ritual of self-empowerment helping you gain the insight you need to achieve your long-term goals.

Once you’ve left the clichéd road more traveled by, find the one less traveled by. Ditch the yes-men, the doubters, and the stubborn status quo-ers; exit the whole system entirely and trailblaze your own path. THAT is truly sticking it to the Man, dude. If you encounter difficulty along the way, it will force you to troubleshoot, work around, and creatively problem-solve. Confronting the unfamiliar is an opportunity to see life from a different paradigm.

Seeking the unorthodox provides you and those around you with effective, constructive knowledge. Living and sharing atypical experiences is a way of contributing to the collective human understanding. By going down alternate pathways and living to tell the tale, your insight can be compared and contrasted to the norm. Think of it like you’re adding data points to the cumulative data set, thereby making the subsequent conclusions more precise. It’s a way of fact-checking: does traveling to China always result in the same set of experiences? If you stick to the cliché of visiting the domineering, capital of the world, Shanghai, or pop-historical megapolis, Beijing, then it might. But what does your trip to Dunhuang, Tang Dynasty city near the Xinjiang-Gansu border, have to say? More than likely, your trip to ancient China’s remote outpost will offer unique perspective and a fresh take on what it means to travel to the Middle Kingdom.

Simply put, by avoiding the cliché and opting for the unorthodox, you can become more grounded in your personal, compelling purpose while gaining perspective, skills, and insight for yourself and your community. That’s a pretty great deal if you ask me. You can even start slow – set your alarm one minute earlier and brush your teeth with your awkward hand. Feel inspired yet?

Image: Flickr

CultureEducation

“I honestly believe if people traveled more often, there would be less conflict because there would be more understanding.” I said this in my Youth Spotlight last week, and I meant it with all my heart. Traveling is a powerful educational tool for everyone and, I believe, is especially eye opening for minority youth like myself. Let me tell you why.

With cultural tensions spewed across the news and social media platforms as of late, people seem quick to grab onto fear before attempting to peacefully resolve a misunderstanding. We are all guilty of being fearful sometimes, but let’s remember, fear is only a result of unfamiliarity. For example, you may be terrified of insects until you watch the Discovery Channel and learn the many ways they help protect us from even scarier things like low crop yields and a massive buildup of animal waste (no, thank you!). Suddenly, you’ll think twice before stepping on the little creatures that are more helpful than we think, and this is all thanks to a bit of new knowledge.

The same concept goes for people. In my personal experiences as a young minority woman traveling, I have often found myself in places where no one looks like me. For some of you, whether Black, Asian, Hispanic, a lovely mix and so on, this might sound familiar. It can be awkward at times, but always eye-opening and beneficial for all parties involved. Travel is absolutely transformative for minority youth in three major ways.

First, it allows those unfamiliar with your culture to become more familiar. When I traveled to New Zealand a few years ago, I never saw another black person during the trip, aside from the few traveling with me in the tour group. This doesn’t mean black people don’t exist in New Zealand; I just never crossed paths with any. During my home stay with a Kiwi family (the native minority population in the country), they told me they’d never had any black friends before and I said I’d never had any Kiwi friends before. At first they were timid to ask pressing questions about my culture, but eventually conversation began flowing as I told them about ridiculous stereotypes that exist in America, the daily struggles faced, and about my personal family history. They reciprocated by telling me about theirs. As native New Zealanders, many of their experiences were similar to mine, as a black American. Who would have known? By the end of the conversation, we could all say we were friends. Pretty good ones, at that. Just think about it – if discussions like this would happen more frequently, there would be much more respect than conflict.

Not only does traveling teach others about you, but it can also teach you about your own culture. Every time you go to a new location, you unlock a part of yourself you didn’t know existed. For example, when I went to Paris for the first time in high school, I learned about how many black Americans in the 1920’s hopped the Atlantic and settled in the City of Lights. Many did this because they felt race was not as much of a hindrance to living a happy life in Paris as it was in America. There were more job opportunities, a booming arts industry, and less violent racism. I found it so interesting to learn about how people like me lived in other countries in the past, and are still living there today. Traveling to Paris expanded my mindset and, in a sense, gave me a newfound sense of my own identity within the world and its history.

Last but surely not least, travel has the power to make the variety of race seem minuscule compared to the unity of humanness. What I mean by this is that through exploring new areas, speaking to new people, immersing yourself in a different society, and catching a glimpse into how others live, similarities across cultures are more evident than any differences could ever be. We all struggle to find ourselves. We all get lazy, grumpy, giggly, frustrated, happy, and jealous at times. We all laugh at our own jokes, have secret crushes on people who don’t know who we are, and have blood flowing through our veins. You get the point. But mostly, we all want to just be happy.

So, whether you are thinking about traveling to another country, a new town, or a new school, I want to encourage you to go for it… for yourself, and for all of us.

Image: Jay Mantri

HealthLearnWellness

Nature has an incredible way of creating and rebounding. There are countless lessons we can learn from nature if we just look close enough. At times, it’s hard to accept what happens in our lives. We begin to draw inwards, closing ourselves off from what’s going on. Looking outside, however, could be just the thing we need to help turn things around.

Burying Vs. Planting

When you think about burying versus planting, two very different meanings arise. While the former implies death or stowing away, the latter suggests the opposite with feelings of new birth and growth. Yet they are essentially the same action. The process of digging something up allows for many things to happen. It is preparation for both endings and beginnings, decay and development, vulnerability and hope. We often times bury things in our own lives. Pressing our fears, disappointments, and anger into the backs of our minds or the depths of our hearts in order to hide and forget that they are there. We bury goals when they seem out of reach to save ourselves from being exposed to embarrassment or regret. We cover up as much as we can but by doing so, are mistakenly blinding ourselves from nature’s true process at hand: the growth of perspective.

Sometimes it is necessary for one thing to close for another to open, whether it’s letting go of certain ideas you have grown up with, choosing to say goodbye to negative people, or moving on from an upsetting event. Experiencing any level of loss reminds us of the value of those around us, the time we have, and the opportunity to seize every moment. Burying and planting come hand in hand, and it’s learning the rhythm between them that can help us adjust our thoughts and become hopeful for whatever comes our way.

The Ripple Effect

Like the proverbial pebble dropped into a still pond, the impact of our actions can reverberate outward into reaches far greater than we know. Knowing our capacities to influence the people around us, there should be a conscious and cautious effort towards making that influence a positive one. So much of what we say and do can be channels of inspiration, encouragement, and support for others and even ourselves. Being the first to forgive can help start mending a broken relationship. The mindset you choose to have in the morning can alter your whole day. Journaling can turn into writings for a future novel. Sometimes there are clear intentions with our actions and sometimes there are not. After all, the only thing we have true control over is which pebble we choose to throw. It’s at least understanding the scope of our impact, the fact that our behavior in the present can sway events in both directly and indirectly, that we can begin acting in ways that are most likely to bring positive change.

Timing

Human beings are constantly fighting against the one thing that nature whole-heartedly accepts, understands, and obeys: life’s timing. There are birds that consistently follow migratory patterns throughout the year, flowers that only bloom in favorable seasons, and fish that survive in shallow streams until they’ve grown enough to swim into deeper waters. Nature always follows the progression from waiting to changing. People find it difficult to wait and are uncomfortable with change. It seems unnecessary sometimes to have to postpone plans, or move from one place to the other, or spend time working for others when we could be working for ourselves. All of this, however, is exactly how nature survives and thrives. It’s a lesson we can all learn from. There is a sense of collaboration with time itself when we allow it to just happen, when we accept that certain seasons must precede the others. Just as one chapter in our life can be dedicated to preparation and reflection, the next can be for action and transformation.

Nature is one of life’s most important teachers and its curriculum will always be the same. It’s about embracing the light and the night, knowing how to rest and store our energy, and blooming into our best selves whenever the time is right.

Image: Grzegorz Mleckzek