Mike’s top 5 podcasts of 2017 (and how it compares with 2016)

Italian Mountains Uncle Kevin
I wrote the 2016 version of this list at this time last year and it’s interesting to see the changes and similarities from one year to the next. First of all, I’m still bigly into podcasts. There’s no limit to what you can learn and enjoy in podcast form these days, which is one of the reasons why so many people are subscribing, listening, and utilizing. We’ve got murder mysteries, fictional stories, audiobooks, sports, comedy, … I mean, the better question may be, “What can’t you find in a podcast?”


Personally, although I have continued enjoying podcasts, some of my top 5 have changed and some have remained the same. Let’s start with some of the Top 5 from 2016 that didn’t make the cut this year (and my reasoning):


Last year #5 – The NPR Politics Podcast


2 major factors were at work here that drove this one out of my top 5. 1) We’re no longer in the midst of a presidential election year and 2) Some of the talented people I enjoyed listening to have either moved on to other podcasts or just haven’t been as ‘enjoyable.’ Also, there have been some other daily news podcasts that give me a shorter condensed version today’s news. See The Daily (New York Times) or Up First (NPR) if you’re interested. I’m just exploring these two so no formal endorsement here.


Last year #4 – The Bill Simmons Podcast


I have actually unsubscribed to this podcast. I loved hungry Bill who had just started his own media company (The Ringer), had his regular stable of guests with a few solid randos on occasion, and seemed more like the little guy climbing the mountain. Now the tone and attitude feel a little stale, content, and safe for my taste. I understand if you don’t agree, but there are other regular podcasts that I have gotten more enjoyment out of lately.


Last year #3 – Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History


This podcast is still phenomenal but I haven’t seen much consistency with Dan’s output. He has many irons in the fire now as he just launched his third podcast feed, so I’m sure that has something to do with it. Still a great listen and worth the time, though.


Alright. Enough of the past. Let’s get into Mike’s top 5 podcasts of 2017!


5) ChooseFI Radio Podcast


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Jonathan and Brad are two guys taking the Financial Independence (FI) world by storm. As a former pharmacist and management level CPA for a fortune 500 company, respectively – Jonathan and Brad have taken the torch for many of us financial bloggers and turned the words into audio. They do a great job of articulating the benefits of achieving FI and help to layout a solid roadmap for the listeners, independent of your personal situation. Maybe one of my favorite things about the podcast though is the fact that they bring on other financial bloggers (many of whom I subscribe to their newsletters) and have them tell their story. I pick up a solid financial hack or a push to do better with every episode.


I’ll have much more to come about FI and many of the topics these two cover in the following weeks and months, but if you’re looking for an entertaining jump start to taking control of your financial life, start with ChooseFI Radio Podcast’s episode 38 (The why of FI) and 21 (The pillars of FI). You can thank me later.


4) National Parks Without Any Gaps


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The man who heads up National Parks Without Any Gaps (NPWOAG) is an English Department Chair at a private high school in Virginia, a lifelong fan of history, and (obviously) an avid park-goer. But it’s not his knowledge that intrigues me about this fledgling podcast, it’s the way Ronald weaves historical context into the National Parks we can go and visit today. Each show provides a great history to the respective park’s namesake and places me in their time period so that my understanding of our country’s treasures grows with each episode.


If you’re looking for a better understanding of our nation’s national landmarks or if you just want to be entertained with a well-constructed historical story, NPWOAG is the podcast for you. There aren’t a ton of episodes in the feed quite yet, but what’s there is well worth the listen. Just don’t forget to pack your hiking boots!


3) The Pat McAfee Show– (NSFW)


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The former Indianapolis Colts All NFL punter (Pat McAfee) chose early retirement at the peak of his football career to help launch a blogging company (Barstool Heartland) and this podcast… Yes. You read that right. Pat softened the leap of faith by trying his hand at stand-up comedy during his playing career, and I’ll have to admit – the guy is entertaining. If you can stomach the language and disposition, Pat and the guys at Barstool Heartland provide a light-hearted take on all things current in the sports world and beyond. The show is marketed as a comedy podcast and the fellas live up to the bill.


My favorite thing about this podcast is their “Friday Bangers” segment. Pat and Co. end up playing DJ (or at times hiring a professional DJ to come into their studio) and celebrate the listeners crushing the work week and sending us to the weekend with some great and motivational tunes. It’s a solid idea to either head to the gym or to be working out while listening. If you’re looking for an enjoyable 60 minutes and a consistent laugh, The Pat McAfee Show has you covered. One last thing- they do the most entertaining ad reads in the podcast world. And their ad reads are effective, so heads up (helped me with some great Christmas gift ideas)!


2) The Tim Ferriss Show/Tribe of Mentors


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Tim Ferriss has become a podcast mogul over the last 3 years and his long-form interviews of seemingly every successful celebrity you know coupled with those you realize you knew nothing about are what make The Tim Ferriss Show one of the most listened to podcasts over the past 3 years. There is literally value in every episode.


The thing that kept Tim in the #2 slot for me this year, though is his launching of the Tribe of Mentors podcast. It is an ongoing series of the same caliber guests that you’d see in his original podcast, just in a distilled 15-30 minute form. Tim’s most recent book of the same name was a collection of over 100 of our worlds most influential and successful individuals and this new podcast is a distilled Q/A session with each one of those impressive people. I don’t know what I’m more impressed by the continual growth and learning his podcasts promote, or Tim’s digital Rolodex. From sex workers to army commanders, there’s something for everybody in here.


1) Jocko Podcast


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Jocko hasn’t moved from the top spot in my rankings from last year. If ever I find myself lacking in discipline, needing a reality check, or just needing a laugh (during his Q&A podcasts), I’ll turn to Jocko Podcast. I’ve listened to so many hours of Jocko and Echo that the two feel like good buddies to me at this point. This podcast has shaped so much of my recent behavior and frankly has helped me form my behavior as a business manager, husband, and father that I’d be remised if I didn’t pass along this recommendation to you. Granted, some of these podcasts are cheery and light-hearted, but others are some of the most intense, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking moments I’ve listened to. Do yourself a favor – start with #1 and work your way through. It changed my life.


Below is what I wrote about Jocko Podcast last year and my take holds true still today. I’m only more confident in the effectiveness now.


Leader of most decorated special operations unit during the entire Iraq war, Jocko Willink is a tough, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt wearing, retired Navy SEAL officer who preaches daily discipline in all things. Don’t be too quick to judge this book by its cover though. Jocko majored in English in college (as a SEAL) and respects the hell out of Shakespeare.


Jocko was introduced to the masses via The Joe Rogan Experience and our #2 (The Tim Ferriss Show), where he was simply a guest taking part in your standard interview. After concluding each of these recording sessions, both podcasters independently urged Jocko to start his own podcast. He took them up on the offer.


I am grateful.


So are a ton of other podcast listeners as Jocko Podcast is flying up the iTunes charts.


I’ve been listening for a couple months now and Jocko has already helped me improve as a human. Don’t believe me? Even Monica has adopted one of his mantras because I talk about him so much… GOOD.


As in: You failed a class? GOOD. Gives you a chance to get better next time.


You lost your job? GOOD. Now you have the freedom to find another.


You’re overweight? GOOD. You’ve identified the mission, now execute!


This ‘GOOD’ is one of the sayings Jocko had as combat leader that helped US and coalition forces take back control of Ramadi, one of the most hotly contested and Taliban infested areas of Iraq. After that deployment and many others, Jocko was assigned to lead the west coast training operations for SEALs, where he took the lessons learned from combat and passed them down to the next generation of SEAL officers.


These experiences are what Jocko draws from to discuss leadership, working out, business, family, and generally bettering yourself in all aspects of life.


This podcast is audio gold and if you’re not learning from it, that’s because you’re not listening. My only advice: start with episode #1 and work your way through.


Haven’t listened yet? GOOD. Now you can get started.



Thanks for reading!


– I’d love it if you would subscribe to MikedUp Blog’s FREE newsletter and/or share this post with a friend.


What do you think? Agree with my list or is there an obvious omission somewhere out there? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.


I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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