How I Built This

How I Built This

Self Description:
“How I Built This is a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built. Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world's best known companies and brands. If you've ever built something from nothing, something you really care about — or even just dream about it — check out How I Built This hosted by Guy Raz.”

Review:
If you have any inclination toward feelings of wonderment when you think about how it is that one person or a small group of people can go from having a simple idea in the shower to seemingly running the world, this is the podcast for you.  Have you read all of the Steve Jobs books out there?  Do you aspire toward corporate empire a la Richard Branson?  Did you recently have your shower idea and you don’t really know how to go about turning it into reality?  Then this podcast is definitely for you.

How I Built This from NPR and Guy Raz is a podcast for both the aspiring entrepreneur and those inspired by entrepreneurs alike.  It’s a podcast for big ideas and even bigger impacts.  It’s a podcast that skirts past the thicket of talking heads on TV discussing the latest developments from Industry Giant XYZ and instead goes straight to the source by interviewing the founders of major companies and brands (and I hope, in the future, NGOs).
 
Clearly I’m a big fan of How I Built This, and perhaps in some ways it was a catalyst for me to start this review blog.  Now obviously a website and a tech giant like Instagram are two very different beasts, but the point is this podcast shows that everyone can and does have big, life-changing ideas.  That’s common.  But what’s not common is having the guts to act on these ideas and put yourself out there where the chances of success and failure are both very real.  What this podcast does best, though, is it humanizes the seemingly superhuman founders of companies and thinkers of world-changing ideas.  These people are no different from you and I, save for the decisions they make and the processes they use to not only confront the world but to impact it.  They have more or less the same human bodies.  The same brains (well, mostly).  They’re working with the same hardware as the rest of us.  They’re just using it differently.  Anyway, that’s what I’ve learned and taken away from How I Built This.  

I’ll leave this review with a question to think about when you decide to listen to this podcast or not: Would you rather listen to three or four people on your favorite news program go back and forth on why or why not a company like Apple succeeded?  Or would you rather hear Steve Jobs tell you why Apple succeeded?  That’s the difference between primary and secondary sources, and that’s why How I Built This is a game changer.

Production:
Nothing special as the show is essentially conducted interview-style.

Consistency:
The consistency can be a little hit-or-miss, but honestly even some of the founders and CEOs that you think you’d have no interest in hearing from can wind up being fascinating

Host:
Raz is a good host.  No more, no less.  He asks mostly obvious, but nevertheless necessary, questions.

Driveway Moments:
They come and go from episode to episode.  

Future Potential:
As long as Raz doesn’t run out of interesting founders to interview (and I don’t see that happening anytime soon), this show will continue to make a great run.

Overall Score: 8.9/10

Notable Episodes:

  • Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger
  • Clif Bar: Gary Erickson
  • VICE: Suroosh Alvi
  • Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
  • Samuel Adams: Jim Koch
  • Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher
  • Serial Entrepreneur: Mark Cuban
  • Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard

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