• Samantha Bell

Podcast Proposals: Do I have a mini-MBA now?

I listen to a lot of podcasts while I do mindless tasks in lab. It’s my time to learn about my passions. Lately, I’ve been interested in learning more about leadership and management - they’re important skills that we never formally learn during our scientific training. So here are my current favorite podcasts when it comes to business skills:


WorkLife: I love this podcast so much that I save it for really boring situations (the treadmill). It’s hosted by Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, and he gives research-backed strategies to improve your life at work. He has ideas for improving your work relationships and tactics for building a functional team.


One of my favorite moments was from the episode “When Work Takes Over Your Life.” He asks an expert hostage negotiator how to deal with people who demand more of your time than you can give, and he gives advice that any of us could use on our labmates or advisors: when he or she asks you to add another item to you to-do list, simply ask “How should I do that?” This forces the person to empathize with the difficult situation you’re in.


There’s just one season so far, but it includes some bonus episodes, like a live show with Malcolm Gladwell, who gives hilarious but questionable advice for avoiding tasks you don’t enjoy: just be immensely incompetent.


Safe for Work: I really like the hosts of this podcast: Liz Dolan (former head of marketing at Nike and lots more) and Matt Ritter (executive recruiter). They have great chemistry and fun banter. Each episode, they explore a specific topic by answering listeners’ questions and speaking to a guest expert. The questions are extremely relatable, and their advice can easily be applied to issues we deal with as postdocs.


My favorite recurring segment is their chats with Coach Larry Seal. He provides scripts for difficult conversations so that you know exactly what to say (and what not to say) for the conversations to go as planned.


New episodes come out every Monday.


Women at Work: This podcast is produced by the Harvard Business Review (HBR), which is a fantastic resource no matter the format. It focuses on issues faced specifically by women in the workplace, including family pressures and gender expectations. Frequently, I find “advice for women” pretty grating; it typically focuses on downplaying your own personality in order to fit neatly into society’s expectations. But this podcast is especially good at providing real examples and actionable advice for how to remain authentic while being an effective worker and manager.


This podcast has just one season so far, but Season 2 is set to start in September! Until then, listen to Dear HBR: and HBR IdeaCast, two weekly podcasts from the Harvard Business Review that I also highly recommend.