How I Listen To Podcasts

I listen to podcasts with intention.

Whether the content is for business and I am seeking actionable takeaways, or a personal “fun” listen such as a history or true crime show, I always listen with a pen-in-hand to take notes that I may want to reference later – which are saved and appropriately tagged in Evernote.

Visualization is a key component of my thinking and learning process.  I use mind mapping all the time and while it is a great tool for communicating information to others, it is also an amazing tool for learning and retaining information yourself. I will explain my process below with a specific recent example.

This is a photo of a mind map I created recently while listening to a 2-hour podcast interview with advertising and creative legend Lee Clow (co-creator of Apple’s THINK DIFFERENT campaign among other epic branding feats).

My 3-Step process:

  1. Top left corner, note the guest, topic, etc. This particular interview was on the wonderful Finding Mastery Podcast.
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  2. Each “topic” gets its own conversation “bubble” (just the style I prefer to draw).  Most topics, in general, would correspond to tags in a filing system such as Evernote – topics that I either reference or research on a regular basis, or refer to with clients or think/write/speak about.  Every time a new potential topic is mentioned, I draw a bubble then refer back to it to add detail as/if they come up again later.
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    For example in this interview, topics such as “Resilience,” “Brands/Branding,” “Impostor Syndrome,” “Apple,” and “Process” are all what I refer to as tactical.  Additionally, every interview or podcast will have general or episode-specific topic bubbles such as “Growing Up,” and of course, “Lee” – the subject of the interview.
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  3. Sit back and enjoy the podcast.  As specific details relating to any or multiple topic bubbles come up in conversation I add those details, or create new topic bubbles. For example, over the course of the interview and at different times Lee discussed his philosophy and tactical approach to the concept and execution of brands. As you see in the image above, there were ultimately six details I felt were relevant enough to warrant adding to the Brand bubble.
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    Other topics such as “Jazz” only had one relevant detail, which was noted.  The number of details aren’t important, it is the depth and ability to generate new thoughts and ideas from those details that is the measure of their value, at least to me in my work and life.  So the concept of not being able to freestyle as an artist until you learn the most basic fundamentals is a very expansive topic, and as deep as the combined six details in the Brand bubble.

If you’re looking for a solid introduction to mind mapping, I share the following resources with my clients, students and friends:

There are a number of digital web-based and mobile apps for mind mapping but I am old school – I prefer my pens, markers and notebooks 🙂

PS Big thanks to my pal Tony Blauer for recommending this podcast episode and all of the wonderful business and life takeaways gleaned from Lee during the interview.

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