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A podcast a day makes you wise at the workplace

Millennials are enhancing their learning skills by listening to podcasts despite busy workday schedules

 (L to R) Mayank Dhingra finds podcasts more updated than books; Jayant Paleti uses transit time to listen to them; Ami Sata seeks inspiration from podcasts.
 (L to R) Mayank Dhingra finds podcasts more updated than books; Jayant Paleti uses transit time to listen to them; Ami Sata seeks inspiration from podcasts.

For a busy startup founder, who has to learn a lot about every aspect of business, every little minute of a day counts. That’s the reason Ami Sata, founder, Amouve, an organic bed and bath brand based out of Mumbai, has turned to podcasts to learn. “Since listening is non-intrusive," says Sata, “podcasts can be heard when you’re multi-tasking, convey an idea in 20 minutes and allows you to gain immense know-how while doing mundane everyday things like travelling to work."

It was listening to a podcast about Sarah Blakeley, the founder of Spanx, that Sata discovered the power of cold-calling. Sata tried cold-calling prospective retailers for her brand in Mumbai and found leads, follow-ups and clients. Since then, she’s hooked to kernels of knowledge offered by podcasts, constantly on the lookout for new ideas. Other than listening to podcasts while commuting, Sata has even added other podcasts on entrepreneurial journeys (How I Built This by Guy Raz, Masters of Scale, The Tim Ferriss Show and Freakonomics) to her bedtime routine so she can learn and get inspiration before she sleeps.

Like Sata, Jayant Paleti, co-founder, Darwinbox, a software services startup, also prefers podcasts to learn and get inspired from. “I’m leading business development for Darwinbox, which means I spend a significant amount of time on the road, heading to meet clients all day," says Paleti. Most of his transit time is spent on calls with sales team and on podcasts about other entrepreneurs’ experiences. His current favourites are Masters of Scale and The Joe Rogan Experience, which is his “daily dose of inspiration wrapped in good humour".

Passive learning

Podcasts work quite well for a busy, multitasking millennial, who moves fast from project to project and work to life without time to learn new things. The reason is simple: while every other form of media including social media vie for your eyeballs, podcasts vies for your ear space, according to Aman Ramesh Goklani, head of Indian operations, Audioboom, a UK-based company that hosts, distributes and monetizes podcasts. “Everything from text, videos to photos are vying for your eyeballs. Podcasts aim for the ear space, making them a passive medium to consume knowledge and a winner in my opinion," says Goklani.

It’s the element of passive learning, which you can seamlessly fit into your everyday busy lives, that’s the most appealing part of podcasts. Unlike reading or watching videos, listening to podcasts doesn’t require 100% attention and you can listen to them while driving, walking or even while exercising. It also helps in fitting in learning into a rather busy every day schedule. Out of about 1.5 million listens on the Audioboom platform in India, nearly 77% of listeners are consuming it on the go, on their mobile phone, while travelling or waiting.

Knowledge update

In 2015, when 36-year-old Mayank Dhingra moved from Paytm, a B2C mobile wallet startup to a SaaS business, he had to acquire expertise in fields as varied as product development to marketing, and from sales to customer success. All the while, doing a full-time job. Instead of reading articles or books, Dhingra made use of his extensive intercity travel time to listen to podcasts. He heard SaaStr, Inside Intercom and Bowery Capital Startup Sales while he commuted to meet potential partners for his business in Bangalore, Mumbai and Jakarta.

One of the SaaStr episodes made him understand how Box’s customer success team worked and gave him an idea to restructure his own customer managing team—to great success. After four years of listening in, Dhingra is convinced that they’re a perfect medium to learn without distraction. “I look at podcasts as sources to increase my knowledge on a desired subject. They’re more up-to-date in comparison to books on topics, less distracting than videos and take between 20 to 90 minutes, making them a perfect medium to learn in-depth about a topic, quickly," says Dhingra, currently assistant vice-president for growth in Shuttl, an app-based office shuttle service.

The listening format is perfect to comprehend other people’s experiences and learn from them, says Amit Somani, managing partner, Prime Venture Partners, early stage venture capitalists based in Bengaluru. “It’s a great starting point to learn about new thoughts, ideas and trends, essential for me since I work in investing in early stage startups," he says.

Seamless consumption

As a corporate banker, Gautam Raj Anand was on the lookout for a seamless format of content that could work around his schedule, one that could be consumed effortlessly throughout a busy day. The easy-to-listen-anywhere format of podcasts was love at first listen, convincing him enough to quit his corporate banking career in 2015 and start Hubhopper, a podcast and publishing platform. “For busy lives, content consumption needs to be passive and podcasts are perfect for it," says Anand. Today, Hubhopper hosts a million hours of content across 15 languages with five lakh content creators.

In spite of rapid strides in the right direction though, Goklani feels podcasts are still not mainstream when it comes to India. Globally, Audioboom has 65 million listens, while India is just 1.5 million of it. “We will consider them mainstream when they become part of everyday conversations, akin to a TV or web series on an over-the-top media platform," he says, adding that the aim is still half a decade to a decade away.

Anand remains positive for Hubhopper. He anticipates growth of podcast listening because of rising digital penetration, high commute time and a rise in data consumption. “Statistics are indicative of a remarkable 2400% increase in podcast listenership in the coming years. It’s an industry that’s gaining momentum and I’m happy we have the first mover advantage," he says.

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