Ok so I listen to a lot of podcasts. Each year for the last few years I’ve put together a list of the best. The ones that made me think different, unearthed a tonne of insight or just forced me to hit rewind and listen again. 2019’s is here, 2020 is here & 2021 is here.
This year having a newsletter where I share two podcasts every fortnight certainly made putting together the list a lot easier. Here we are, and here’s a Spotify playlist of all the episodes (you’re welcome!)
1. The Compound and Friends (TCAF) (link) is first on the list this year with several must-listen episodes.
Intangible Value (link) with Kai Wu. Intangible assets (eg brand – think:Nike, know-how – think:Boeing, networks and code – think:google, facebook) are taking over the world but accounting measures (eg earnings, book value) don’t do a good job with them. This has posed a problem for stock valuation and knocked a hole in a many a value manager’s track record. Here podcast guest Kai explains how to think about this (Apple podcast link ).
Chasing the Bond King (apple link) – Mary Childs on the crazy world of Bill Gross.
2. Masters in Business
Barry Ritholtz’s long-form interviews are one of the OG investment podcasts and he still turns out A+ grade guests time and again. Here’s two that stood out for me.
Michael Mauboussin (link) – Multiple is not valuation (it’s a shortcut for the valuation process that hides a lot of assumptions and biases).
James Anderson (of Baillie Gifford). (Web | Apple) highlights include: So much of what’s talked about is unimportant: not enough focus on qualitative long-term theories of change (and too much on next year’s GDP).
Why don’t investors ask questions on earnings calls, rather than brokers? The importance of organisations like the Santa Fe institute. It’s a rare insight into the mind of one of the defining investors of the last two decades, some of the comments he made in the interview even turned into news stories as it was the first time they were emerging into the public domain.
3. The Memo by Howard Marks (apple podcast link)
Selling out (apple podcast link). Here he discusses: Why do people sell? Because an asset is up and/or because it’s down. Is that a contradiction? There’s a lot of psychology in it, compounded when you’re managing someone else’s money. Lots of long term winners (eg Amazon) would have given you plenty of reasons to sell on the way up. Market timing is the least good reason to sell something you like long-term; as it opens up at least 3 opportunities to be wrong.
The main “The Memo” podcast is a read-out of each memo, which is good, but the “behind the memo” series, where Howard discusses each memo is at least as useful.
4. Exponential View by Azeem Azhar
Azeem Azhar‘s podcast on how micromobility will change cities with Horace Dediu was excellent. If 80% of journeys involve one person going less than 2 miles why are we using high-performance vehicles that can transport families hundreds of miles? The use cases for transport are very varied, but we have a sunk cost infrastructure focused on the car and the combustion engine. It needs re-imagining at a system level. And I love the comment that cycle lanes are a better innovation than flying autonomous taxis (Web | Apple)
5. Of course Oddlots is on the list! Here’s my two fave episodes this year:
Kyla Scanlon on the much deeper implications of meme stocks (and so much more) (web link )
There is a huge disconnect going on: we have to look at a long timeframe to make smarter choices, but we just never get time.
Long term thinking is test of courage to make choices , you have to decide what to leave aside and be bad at . Busyness is a socially acceptable form of status signalling (but it’s actually quite obnoxious)
What is lacking in our lives is whitespace in our day. Good quality, unallocated time to reflect and have ideas. I doesn’t take time to have new ideas, it takes SPACE.
7. Santa Fe Institute on Rethinking Economics for a Sustainabile World (apple)
Mainstream academic economists like Diane Coyle are talking clearly about the limitations of GDP and of free markets in achieving / measuring progress. Love this idea that you can’t just rely on linearly adding up the choices of individuals and assume you get to a good place, there are emergent properties of societies that can be good or bad.
Big mistake of twentieth century economics was assuming could be a fully technocratic discipline separated from values. Instituions (software / hardware) for a changing world – Institutions have lots of inertia (eg driving on left vs right )
8. Shane Parrish’s podcast The Knowledge Project is back in my list this year with two exceptional episodes:
four stages of expertise :
- 1. Mental model of how things work
- 2. Understand edge cases & limitations
- 3. Know how to overcome limitations
- 4. Anticipate areas of common resistance
3 pathways to insight:
- 1. Connection: 2+2 = …
- 2. Contradiction + curiosity “that doesn’t make sense , why “
- 3. Resistance. This isn’t working. Why?
Yes, but: But: Companies & institutions tend to reject insight because it requires change & could be disruptive. “Knowledge shields” cause folks to reject insight. And new ideas are fragile: only usually needs one person among many to reject
This is Shane at his absolute best, get this on your playlist to hear all about thoughts on what makes a meaningful life (purpose, things to do and enjoying the journey), the concept of treating each breath as a new version of you (“I’m sorry about that – a previous version of me did it”) and some super insights from some of the big-time CEO’s that Marshall has worked with and ideas on what leadership today means. A hard recommend.
9. The Rational Reminder
what makes us happy? The data says … ask yourself why. Five times. Find a purpose and spend you time doing stuff that aligns with it.
What else. Be outdoors, exercise. 2-5 hours is the magic number, of discretionary time per day (yes you can have too much).
Extraordinary vs ordinary times. Travelling the world, eating at London’s best restaurant. These things DO add to happiness. But a key nuance is that as we age, it’s the more ordinary stuff that starts to matter more: lazy Sunday mornings with the kids type stuff (as a new recent parent this one definitely hit).
Something a bit different:
For non-investment content I really got into desert island discs this year (yeah, i know, not exactly ahead of the curve on that one, but anyway). I found these classic episodes with George Michael and Billie Piper really excellent. Amazing how matter-of-factly the guests open up and give you a front row seat as they unpack the story of their life in a relatable way. Great reminders of some classic tunes too.
Hope you enjoyed this list and found something useful. Please join me on substack for fortnightly podcast recommendations and more!