Best Motivational Podcasts: 17 Shows That Inspire Self-Improvement

“How do I live a meaningful and fulfilled life?”

This is a question many of us ask on a regular basis. But, there are no exact answers. Instead there are only suggestions.

One thing that’s helped me tackle this question has been the guidance of others. Sometimes, they’ve come in the form of mentors whom I’ve had in my career. Other times, they’ve come from authors, who have changed the way I think.

And thanks to the internet, I’ve received help from podcasts, too. Audio content is in a renaissance right now. There isn’t a shortage of shows that can inspire us to be a bit better each day.

Below are my recommendations on some of the best motivational podcasts. These are shows that embolden and teach me how to live a life worth discussing.

The Tim Ferriss Show

Best Motivational Podcasts - The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss deconstructs the habits, routines, and lifestyles of world-class performers. Through long-form conversations, Tim demystifies the concept of greatness. His questions encourage guests to detail the processes that helped them reach success. This motivational podcast teaches that there’s value in having a methodical approach.

Tim is an entrepreneur and angel investor. He’s a best-selling author of five books, including The 4-Hour Workweek. Tim created his podcast after a bout with burnout. Upon finishing his third book, Tim wanted to explore other outlets besides writing. And after appearances on other podcasts, he decided to start his own.

Recommended Episode: Rick Rubin on Cultivating World-Class Artists (Jay Z, Johnny Cash, etc.), Losing 100+ Pounds, and Breaking Down The Complex

I think if your goal is to be better than you were, if you’re competing only with yourself, it’s a more realistic place to be. If you say, “I don’t want to write songs, unless I can write songs better than The Beatles,” it’s a very hard road. But if you say, “I want to write a better song tomorrow than the song I wrote yesterday,” that’s a realistic (goal). That’s something that can be done. And, if you write a better song than you wrote yesterday every day, then you continue to get better and better and better.

And it really is small steps, and also trying not to think so much. Because so much of the job is it’s more emotion and heart-work than it is head-work. Like, the head comes in after, to look at what the heart has presented, and to organize it. But, the initial inspiration comes from a different place. And, it’s not the head. And, it’s not an intellectual activity. It’s more inspiration. So the key, first, is to really do whatever activities you can…

Music producer Rick Rubin on how to overcome self-doubt.
  • Average Show Length: Ranges from one to two hours.
  • Publishing Schedule: One to two episodes published every week. Release days vary.
  • Find the complete show archive of The Tim Ferriss Show on Listen Notes.

Jocko Podcast

Best Motivational Podcasts - Jocko Podcast

This inspirational podcast offers wisdom from a decorated Navy SEAL. Jocko Willink spent two decades in the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams and served a tour of duty as unit commander in the Iraq War. His podcast shares a raw and unfiltered perspective on battle and the lessons he’s learned from it.

The show often features conversations about military experiences from Jocko and other people who’ve served. But, Jocko also shares passages from books he’s read about the hardships of war. With producer Echo Charles, Jocko distills insights embodying his mantra: “Discipline equals freedom.”

Recommended Episode: Jocko & Echo (Discipline, Ownership)

If anyone’s listened to me at all, or, heard anything that I say, or, read the book (Extreme Ownership), the leadership principles do not change regardless if it’s in business or in battle. The leadership principles stay the same. And so if you’re new and you’re up-and-coming, what do you do? How do you step up into that role?

Number one, be humble. I know it’s a theme. I sound like a broken record. But everybody’s seen that cocky guy that walks in and thinks they’re gonna run everything. You just instantly disrespect that person. So, how do you overcome that? You come in, and you be humble.

You respect people, regardless of what rank you are, regardless of whether you’re making a ton more money than someone else. It doesn’t matter. You treat everybody with respect. Treat them with respect and they’re gonna respect you.

You listen to them. It means so much when one of your people comes and talks to you and you sit down and say, “OK, let me take some notes on what you’re saying.” That means so much to them. And sometimes people forget that. They forget what it means to look up and see the bossman. And they might blow a guy off. And (they might say), “Hey, I don’t have time for you right now.” You gotta listen to people…

Jocko Willink on leadership.
  • Average Show Length: About two to three hours.
  • Publishing Schedule: Two new episodes posted every Monday and Thursday.
  • Find the complete show archive of Jocko Podcast on Listen Notes.

Almost 30

Best Motivational Podcasts: Almost 30

Almost 30 started as a podcast by two millennial women transitioning from their 20s into their 30s. But, it’s since grown into a show that aims to help anyone going through transitions in life. Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik discuss spirituality, self-development, and more with different guests. This motivational podcast has even developed a thriving community that also engages through in-person events.

As a guy, I’m not likely representative of Krista and Lindsey’s audience demographic. But I find their perspectives on life and how they’re navigating it refreshing. Their show also allows me to view the world through the lens of women my age. A great way to learn is to step outside of your lane.

Recommended Episode: The Importance and Impermanence of Your Feelings—A Conversation on Mental Health with Ban.do Founder Jen Gotch

All of my twenties, “lost” doesn’t even begin to define what was going on. Because I was struggling with mental health issues and feeling the pressure of “I have to grow up.” But I didn’t have any of the tools to do that. So, it took a long time. I think I was like 31 or 32 when I was financially independent from my parents and working. I was a late bloomer.

Entrepreneur Jen Gotch on feeling lost in her twenties.
  • Average Show Length: About an hour and a half.
  • Publishing Schedule: Two episodes posted every Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Find the complete show archive of Almost 30 on Listen Notes.

Gettin’ Better With Ron Funches

Best Motivational Podcasts: Gettin' Better with Ron Funches

Ron Funches delivers an unapologetic dose of optimism with his podcast Gettin’ Better. With friends, family, and others, he discusses the perpetual process of self-improvement. Unlike many comics, Ron examines the absurd through a prism of positivity. Likewise, he brings an upbeat authenticity to each show.

In his first episode, Ron jokes that his show is a “self-help podcast from a guy who has no credentials.” But in reality, he does. Ron grew up poor, spending part of his life raised by a single mother on Chicago’s Southside. As a parent, Ron has overcome the challenge of raising an autistic son that he had at age 20. Moreover, he’s transformed his health by developing keystone habits. Thanks to changing his diet and approach to exercise, Ron has lost more 150 pounds.

Recommended Episode: Leading Man

(His girlfriend) is a writer. Sometimes, she compares herself to the things I’ve got going on. And I try to tell her there’s no race with this. There’s no competition. Especially if you’re an artist and you’re competing with people that you went to high school with, and they got regular jobs, and they’re getting married, and doing the things that you think you’re missing out on. You’re not. Everybody has different dreams.

Ron Funches on comparison.

Naval

Best Motivational Podcasts: Naval

Naval is a motivational podcast that shares the wisdom of entrepreneur Naval Ravikant. The first batch of episodes center around wealth creation. But, Naval noted that he plans to discuss other topics as the podcast evolves. Naval’s gift is his ability to communicate complexity in a clear and concise way.

If you’re not familiar with him, Naval is the co-founder and chairman of AngelList. Aside from that, he’s invested in many tech companies, including Twitter. Each episode, he’s joined by AngelList co-founder Babak Nivi. The podcast is the result of engagement Naval received from tweetstorms like this. Also, it’s a consequence of feedback he received from Periscope broadcasts with followers.

Recommended Episode: Seek Wealth not Status or Money

So, the purpose of wealth is freedom. It’s nothing more than that. It’s not to buy fur coats, or drive Ferraris, or sail yachts, or jet around the world in your Gulfstream. That stuff gets really boring, and really stupid, really fast. It’s really just so that you are your own sovereign individual. You’re not gonna get that unless you really want it. And the entire world wants it. The entire world is working hard at it, and to some extent it is competitive. It’s a positive-sum game, but there are competitive elements to it. Because there’s a finite amount of resources right now in society. And to get the resources to do what you want, you have to stand out.

Naval Ravikant on wealth.
  • Average Show Length: Around five minutes.
  • Publishing Schedule: Random
  • Find the complete show archive of Naval on Listen Notes.

Akimbo: A Podcast From Seth Godin

Best Motivational Podcasts - Akimbo: A Podcast from Seth Godin

Akimbo inspires listeners to be agents of change. It’s an inspirational podcast that’s about taking action to influence your environment. Seth Godin preaches that the “culture is real, but it can be changed,” and that we all have the power to “bend it.” Above all, the crux of the show is a 15-to-20 minute monologue of Godin’s wisdom. It’s followed by a question-and-answer segment with listeners.

Godin is an an author, entrepreneur, marketer, and teacher. He’s written 18 best-selling books, including Tribes and Purple Cow. Moreover, he’s founded two companies, one of which Yahoo! acquired in 1998.

Recommended Episode: Ignore Sunk Sunk Costs

If something happened yesterday, or a week ago, or a month ago, or a year ago – something that cost you time or effort, it’s sunk. You can’t get that time or effort back. It’s over.

What you’re left with is what you’re left with, and now you need to make a new decision. And that new decision is: how will I go forward from here? Will I go left? Or, will I go right? Will I stick with it? Or, will I try something new?

Seth Godin on the definition of sunk costs.

Big Questions With Cal Fussman

Big Questions with Cal Fussman

Cal Fussman speaks with and examines the lives of exceptional people. With an empathetic approach, Cal interviews guests about past experiences that shaped them. Through Big Questions, Cal demonstrates the importance of practicing childlike curiosity. He also shows how asking better questions leads to better answers.

Before Big Questions, Cal served as a writer-at-large for Esquire Magazine. As a journalist, he spoke with some of last century’s most influential people. Past interviews include Mikhail Gorbachev, Muhammad Ali, and Jeff Bezos. After encouragement from his friend Tim Ferriss Cal started this motivational podcast. I was lucky to work with Cal and his team for a short time. And I can tell you, he carries himself with same authentic curiosity that he does in this podcast.

Recommended Episode: Kobe Bryant on Storytelling and the Awareness of Fear

I have to put a puzzle together. Where are my weaknesses? Where are my strengths? What are things that I need to adjust from a leadership perspective – communication as well as physical perspective? And before I start my offseason regimen, I put those pieces of the puzzle out. Then it’s a matter of putting that puzzle together throughout the summer.

From that standpoint, you can’t be thinking about the result. You can’t think about competition. You have to think about process. From that standpoint, that process side of me has always been there. And then what you see when the lights come on, and I’m in Staples Center, and I’m competing – you see the end result of that. But you can’t have that end result without really enjoying the process of putting the puzzle together

Basketball great Kobe Bryant on the importance of embracing process.

The Moment With Brian Koppelman

The Moment with Brian Koppelman

In The Moment, Brian Koppelman discusses creativity with entrepreneurs, actors, writers, and others. Furthermore, they dissect seminal instances when their talents started to click. Listeners of this inspirational podcast learn how to pursue creativity in the face of uncertainty.

Koppleman brings tremendous experience as a creative. With writing partner David Levien, he’s most known for his work on the hit TV show Billions. He’s also regarded for the cult-classic Rounders. The Moment is a must-listen for anyone seeking guidance on the highs and lows of a creative life.

Recommended Episode: Steven Pressfield

It’s the act of showing up each day. It’s like having a practice. This is another thing I talk about. When you have a yoga practice or a martial arts practice, you do it every day. You enter the dojo, you take your shoes off, you bow to the sacred space, and you just do the best that you can that day. And there’s magic in that. There’s real magic in that. That’s kind of how I think. At some point on a day, maybe you’ll get into the flow, and great stuff will come. But to do it day by day by day, energy does concentrate around you as you do that.

Author/screenwriter Steven Pressfield on the power of ritual.

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

Design Matters with Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman meets with writers, artists, musicians, and others about designing creative lives. Her in-depth research differentiates Design Matters from other motivational podcasts. She’ll often surprise guests with questions they didn’t expect.

Debbie is one of marketing’s most influential designers. She’s worked on the brand identities for companies such as Burger King, Hershey’s, and Tropicana. Debbie started Design Matters in 2005, making it one of the longest running shows in podcast history.

Recommended Episode: Brené Brown

I think the key is owning the story. I think as long as you deny the story, the story owns you. The story’s not going anywhere, so your choices are to pretend it’s not happening, or to own the story and walk into it.

Professor/author Brené Brown on how to overcome shame that comes with trauma.

Without Fail

Without Fail

Alex Blumberg conducts “candid conversations with people who have done hard things.” In Without Fail, they discuss the how and why behind success and failure. What differentiates this show from other inspirational podcasts is Blumberg. He seems to approach it as a way to seek advice while he navigates his own entrepreneurial journey.

Blumberg is the co-founder and CEO of Gimlet Media, a pioneer in the podcasting industry. Since its creation in 2014, Gimlet has focused usually on narrative-driven podcasts. Without Fail is its first crack at the interview format. Before Gimlet, Blumberg worked in public radio. He served as a producer on This American Life, as well as the co-host of Planet Money.

Recommended Episode: The Secret Early Lives of Sam Esmail

(His day job as a post-production supervisor) was nice, but it wasn’t enough. The reason why I knew that was because I’d go home at the end of the day at 6 p.m., and I would write until 2 a.m. And again, the thought would occur to me that I could just not do this part. Just come home at 6 p.m., like everyone else does, go out to the movies or whatever, and then go to bed and do this again. But, it just wasn’t enough.

Then the conversation turned into, “Well I’m going to do this or die trying, and I might fail.” That’s totally within the realm of possibility here because this is the hardest business to get into. But, I’m just not going to stop trying.

Screenwriter/director/producer Sam Esmail on pursuing his entertainment career.
  • Average Show Length: About 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Publishing Schedule: Seasonal. New episodes released on Monday when in season.
  • Find the complete show archive of Without Fail on Listen Notes.

Zero To Travel Podcast

Zero to Travel

Have you ever wanted to travel, but felt too intimidated? Then, listen to Zero To Travel for inspiration. Jason Moore spotlights people living unconventional lives through travel. His motivational podcast teaches you that it’s possible to explore the world on your terms. He also emphasizes that you don’t need a fortune to do it.

Jason doesn’t only talk about a life of travel; he lives it. He’s a self-professed travel junkie who’s made it his mission to promote the virtues of globetrotting. Before his podcast, Jason spent years working in jobs centered around travel. Since then, he’s started his own online businesses, providing education about location independence.

Recommended Episode: How to be Everything

There’s actually this middle ground where you can be good at a few things and several things. And you know, what does it say about the human spirit if you can only be good at one thing in life, right? You’ll find multipotentialites who are highly accomplished CEOs, architects, famous artists, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists. It is just not true that to be curious about many things means that you kind of suck at everything.

Career coach Emile Wapnick on the concept of multipotentialites.

The James Altucher Show

The James Altucher Show

James Altucher examines peak performance by speaking with the best in their fields. But instead of focusing on the usual story of success, James goes a different route. He asks guests to reveal personal struggles they’ve overcome to reinvent themselves.

James’s willingness to embrace vulnerability is what’s drawn people to him through the years. His blog, which started more than a decade ago, provides him an outlet to talk about his own failures. As a result of sharing his experiences, James hopes that other people learn from his mistakes.

Recommended Episode: Mark Manson on The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F—

We live in a society (where) we’re interdependent on each other in many ways. So, there’s this constant tension between what you yourself want and what’s also good for the community around you. And that’s hard. I think a lot of people suffer…because that balance has gotten out of whack too far one way or the other. Either they’re constantly people-pleasing or they’re constantly selfish and self-absorbed.

Author Mark Manson on the perils of people-pleasing and self-absorption.

The Minimalists

The Minimalists

The Minimalists is a self-help podcast that teaches you how to live a meaningful life with less. Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss the benefits of decluttering. Furthermore, they share how to make room for things that matter, like time with loved ones. Some episodes have guests. But, others center around conversations that they have on a specific topic.

Joshua and Ryan started the podcast in 2016. Yet, they’ve been on a mission to promote minimalism for much longer. Joshua and Ryan became minimalists in 2010 after finding that consumerism didn’t bring happiness. By jumping off the work-to-buy-more treadmill, they changed their lives.

Recommended Episode: Passion

I hear this advice. While I know it’s well-intentioned, I think it’s crappy advice… The reason that it’s crappy advice is it presupposes you were born with a passion. It presupposes you were born to be a yoga instructor, or an astronaut, or a gardener, or whatever you’re supposed to do with your life. You were born to do this thing.

But the truth is there are dozen of things you could be passionate about. And so today as we talk about passion, think about passion more in line with creativity, or craft, or sometimes even vocation. We even talk a little bit about mission today as well.

Joshua Fields Millburn on why following your passion is bad advice.
  • Average Show Length: About one hour to an hour-and-a-half.
  • Publishing Schedule: New episodes released every Tuesday.
  • Find the complete show archive of The Minimalists on Listen Notes.

Why Not Now? With Amy Jo Martin

Why Not Now? With Amy Jo Martin

Every day, we all face a choice. To start or not to start? Often, we choose the latter. We procrastinate and find an excuse to delay that project we want to pursue. Through conversations with gifted people, Amy Jo Martin examines facing that resistance in this motivational podcast.

Amy Jo is a best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur. She rose to relevance in the NBA, where she worked as the Phoenix Suns’ Director of Digital Media & Research. During her time in sports, Amy Jo also became one of Twitter’s first influencers. At one point, Forbes even named her the platform’s third most powerful woman.

Recommended Episode: Adam Grant – Getting Ahead by Giving

(Giving is) actually a really meaningful way to learn because when you’re solving other people’s problems, you pick up knowledge and skills that you can apply to your own problems. And it’s an incredibly motivating way to live your life. To say, “Look, what I do doesn’t only matter to me; it has incredible significance to a lot of other people, too”.

Professor/author Adam Grant on the power of giving.

Happier With Gretchen Rubin

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

In Happier, sisters Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft examine achieving happiness through good habits. Their self-help podcast provides actionable advice that anyone can do. Aside from giving tips, they also engage with listener feedback.

Rubin is known for her books on human nature. Before becoming an author, she worked as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Meanwhile, Craft is a Hollywood writer. She’s written for TV shows including Angel, The Shield, and Lie To Me.

Recommended Episode: Make Each Day of the Week Distinctive

I am a gigantic fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. I remember as a child reading Little House in the Big Woods (and) was fascinated by the idea of assigning a particular household chore to each day of the week. And you know, Laura quotes this American proverb, which goes: “Wash on Monday. Iron on Tuesday. Mend on Wednesday. Churn on Thursday. Clean on Friday. Bake on Saturday. Rest on Sunday.” And I love this idea of each day of the week having its own distinctive task.

Gretchen Rubin on the value of assigning themes to days.
  • Average Show Length: One long episode that’s about a half hour. There are also short episodes called “Little Happier” that are around four minutes.
  • Publishing Schedule: Two shows released on Monday and Wednesday.
  • Find the complete show archive of Happier with Gretchen Rubin on Listen Notes.

How I Built This With Guy Raz

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Produced by NPR, How I Built This is an inspirational podcast about entrepreneurship. But, you don’t need a fascination with business to get value from this show. How I Built This offers important lessons on tenacity and grit.

Guy Raz profiles the people behind the world’s most successful companies. Their stories provide insights on the paths they took to build their businesses. By listening to How I Built This, you learn that there’s no single route to find success.

Recommended Episode: Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman of Reddit

Success is the product of intelligence, hard work, and luck, and you can’t have a zero in any of those columns.

Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman’s definition of success.
  • Average Show Length: About an hour.
  • Publishing Schedule: Two new episodes posted every Monday and Thursday.
  • Find the complete show archive of How I Built This on Listen Notes.

Side Hustle School

Side Hustle School

“Inspiration is good. But inspiration combined with action is better.” Like How I Built This, Side Hustle School is worth a listen even if you’re not interested in business. Chris Guillebeau presents valuable lessons on mindset and execution. Through this inspirational podcast, you learn how ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

Throughout his career, Guillebeau has wrote about entrepreneurship, travel, and personal development. He’s authored six books, including Born For This. Guillebeau is also the founder and co-organizer of the World Domination Summit. WDS has brought people together to answer the question: “How do we live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”

Recommended Episode: Good Fortune Favors the Prepared

I think it’s totally possible to look at any particular success story in life and say, “OK, maybe they worked hard. But, there was also this element of luck, or good fortune, or favor that occurred.” And I think that’s OK. What we can take away from it is that fortune favors the prepared.

Chris Guillebeau on how preparation can amplify luck.

Honorable Mentions

  1. The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes
  2. The Jordan Harbinger Show
  3. Noah Kagan Presents
  4. The Chase Jarvis Live Show
  5. The Tony Robbins Podcast
  6. Famous Failures with Ozan Varol
  7. The Kevin Rose Show
  8. The Side Hustle Show
  9. Extra Pack of Peanuts
  10. The Tropical MBA Podcast

Do you listen to a self-help or personal development podcast that’s not listed? Leave a comment or message me with recommendations! Explain why you like them, and I’ll update this article to include your suggestions.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer who authors this site. Learn more about him here. You can also follow Jonathan on Twitter or Instagram.

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