Looking for motivational podcasts, hold the extra cheese
February 17, 2012 10:08 AM   Subscribe

I really need some pep talks right now. I've been on the hunt for inspiring, upbeat podcasts, but so many of them are phony or cheesy. What podcasts are real, helpful, and motivating?

Lately I'm dealing with a lot of scut work and passive-agressive coworkers. It's a rough patch that bores and depresses me and upbeat podcasts help keep the despair at bay. I'm looking for anything that can broadly be termed inspiring, motivating, or self-helpy. The topic is not that important -- I can do productivity, fitness, affirmations, meditations, personal relations, psychology, nutrition, business, finances, whatever. I'm just looking for sincere, real upbeatness, a zippy tempo, and respect for my intelligence. No droning beat-about-the-bushers need apply.

Here's what I've liked so far: Zig Ziglar (cheesy as a Velveeta factory, I know, but it comes across as the real him, not a phony persona), and Livin' La Vida Low-Carb (in-depth discussions with interesting guests debating various low-carb/paleo topics). I've even dipped into a bit of Dave Ramsey, but he gets repetitious fast.

Here's what I haven't liked: iProcrastinate (too much chitchat, too little information or motivation) and anything that has the NPR "sound." You know, that distinctive dry, crisp, measured, over-enunciated, upper-middle-class, slightly hushed, reassuring sound. It's found outside of NPR too, and wherever I hear it, I find it unendurable. I'm open to NPR podcasts as long as they don't have the "NPR sound" (eg, Car Talk, though that's not "motivational" per se. But it's cheerful enough to almost fit my parameters).

AskMeFi excels at being the wind beneath one's wings. I know y'all can come up with something to help pull me out of this nosedive!
posted by ROTFL to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Tobolowsky Files episode 13, "Conference Hour".

An actor tells an incredible story about a challenge he faced in school. You can find it on itunes.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 10:17 AM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Merlin Mann's Back to Work.

Seriously, listen to it.
posted by thejrt at 10:20 AM on February 17, 2012

Seconding Back to Work. I recommend starting from the first episode.
posted by helicomatic at 10:30 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

you may enjoy "the moth", which features all sorts of inspirational stories told by a really diverse assortment of people.
posted by austere at 10:30 AM on February 17, 2012

I find the Happiness Matters podcast about raising happy kids to be inspiring, and I don't actually have kids. It's a nurse and a sociologist talking about how to implement current science & best practices to be happier & raise happier, healthier kids.
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 10:40 AM on February 17, 2012

I really like The Survival Podcast. It's about living a good life now whether life gets tough or not, not what you'd typically think when you see "survival". Very upbeat most days (occasionally he talks about depressing stuff but he turns it around quickly)
posted by yb2006shasta at 10:41 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I also like Back To Work, but if "too much chit-chat, too little information" bugs you, it may not be for you. (Or, just skip the first 20-30 minutes of every episode.) But if you want a recommendation for just a single episode, Chigger Bites on the Bus Driver is really, really good when it comes to passive-aggressive office politics and trying to survive and thrive in the midst of that.
posted by Jeanne at 10:50 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not a podcast, but i like to listen to Alan Watts lectures for this. There's lots on youtube and torrents that seem to have recordings of everything he ever said.
posted by cmoj at 11:40 AM on February 17, 2012

This American Life!
posted by gpoint at 12:28 PM on February 17, 2012

He doesn't do them any more, but the Steve Pavlina podcast archives are pretty interesting and brain-hacky.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:15 PM on February 17, 2012

I find the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts get me enthusiastic, especially the Get-Fit Guy's. And I'm not even much into exercise! The only problem is they're only 5-10 minutes.
posted by daysocks at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2012

Seconding The ____ of Justice's recommendation. Tobolowsky Files is awesome. After listening to a couple of recent episodes I decided I would go back and start with the first and I'm so happy I did. I have found this podcast inspiring in so many ways.
posted by seriousmoonlight at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great ideas so far. I had no idea Steven Tobolowsky had a podcast. The guy who played Ned Ryerson? I'm sure as heckfire going to check that one out!

I'd heard some Watts many years ago and found him intriguing. When I'm teetering on the brink of major malaise, I'm not sure whether his Zen wisdom and measured tones will pull me back from the brink or push me into the abyss. But I have found reading Pema Chödrön to be calming. I'm going to check Watts out and see if he uplifts me.

Please keep them coming. I will be checking these out this weekend.
posted by ROTFL at 5:17 PM on February 17, 2012

ROTFL, his podcast is amazing. I think it was inspired from his documentary "Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party" where he tells a bunch of stories from his life. His podcast has made me laugh, cry, and just sit in shocked amazement, often with every episode.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 5:21 PM on February 17, 2012

ok, I totally get you with the NPR sound thing. 100% agree. But then I heard RadioLab, and then This American Life. Now I am hooked and I probably listen to 10 a week (I still can't stomach any other program on NPR, though).

There is a specific RadioLab show that stands out in my mind, I think its called patient zero. You might cry but it's soo good.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:45 PM on February 17, 2012

It's about as far from NPR-polished as you can get, but if you're up for Zen podcasts, Open Air with Cheri Huber might be worth a listen.

It's not "upbeat", but Cheri's work, both books and other formats including the podcast, have been immensely helpful to me in my own ongoing struggles with depression. I recommend her stuff rather a lot.
posted by Lexica at 7:05 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like listening to Smart People Podcast, which is essentially interviews with smart people -- they have quite a variety of people they've interviewed so far. I usually listen during cardio workouts or just quiet time laying down in the wee hours of the morning.
posted by indigo4963 at 11:04 PM on February 17, 2012

Manager Tools (and their related Career Tools) and the Latest in Paleo podcasts fit your bill. They are informative, entertaining, and consistently upbeat.
posted by sudama at 11:24 AM on February 19, 2012

Have you tried the Jillian Michaels Show podcast? I think it's supposed to be a women's fitness podcast, but it's really a motivational podcast.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:19 PM on February 21, 2012

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