Learning On the Go / by Alison M. Newcomb


Planes, Trains &

Carpool Lanes

For most of my adult life, my work has required travel. Before airport hotspots or Starbucks with its free wifi was ubiquitous, I used to know the location of every Panera Bread in the country, because it was the one place I could count on to be my connected “out-of-the-office” office.

Times have clearly changed since then but, along with the conveniences of increased connectivity, I have more recently acquired a new job title—that of bus driver. For all of you out there who already dreading the transition from summer back into the over-scheduled weeks that crash land on top of your head the minute school starts back, I am right there with you.

Between just two kids, the time I spend each day transporting them between home, and school, and sports, and friends, and appointments, and back home again can feel staggering. Add to that the time often spent waiting on one kid, or the other, and some days the majority of my work gets done in/from the car.


Podcasts and audio books help those hours spent en route feel less like lost time for certain. But I had never considered myself an auditory learner (I am hopeless with remembering a person’s name until I see it once in writing—then I’ll hold onto it forever) and, during each school year, I began noticing a significant dent in the time I was able to spend on my own professional education. To do my job well, I need to be reading books and articles, taking courses, or completing certification updates throughout the year. Whether you have a job that requires travel or not, if you drive kids to soccer practice in the middle of rush hour, or you must navigate through your own long daily commute, staying on top of the very latest in an ever-changing world and complicated global economy is hard.


Last year, out of sheer desperation, I began checking out a business podcasts, here and there, that addressed topics relevant to my work. Many were so dry that I could not even get through a single episode. Others were pretty good, but I still saw them as a way to fill time that was at least somewhat better than listening to another podcast about the current state of politics.

However, over a period of two to three months, I began to get really into some of these podcasts and was finding that my brain was somehow retaining the information I was hearing. For people who have no problem remembering distinct facts they hear once or twice, this won’t sound like much but, for traditionally visual learners like myself, it is nothing short of a miracle.

These days, I have my weekly slate of business-related podcasts that I count on to keep me on pace with the industries I work within, while traveling for work or waiting in the carpool line. You can check out the current top seven in my rotation below.

What Works with Tara McMullin

Insight-rich conversations with small business owners about what's working–and what's not–to run & grow a business today.

Second Life with What to Wear co-founder, Hillary Kerr

Close-up look at career changes, brand reinventions and the innovative strategies that made them a success.

Pursuit with Purpose with Melyssa Griffin

An honest exploration of what it means to pursue your career goals with authenticity.

That’s So Retrograde with Elizabeth Kott and Stephanie Simbari

My guilty pleasure that also brings on some incredible business owners and thought leaders.

The Strategy Hour with Abagail Pumphrey and Emylee Williams

Truly actionable strategies and tactical tips to grow your creative business.

Reply All from Gimlet Media

For any techies out there, these guys dive deep on some of the most important technology-related issues in modern life right now.

Never stop learning.

Have comments or questions? Feel free to join the conversation in the Comments section below or connect with me on Twitter (@alimnewcomb).