So, I have a confession, How I Built This is actually the only podcast that I listen to. Well, that’s if you don’t count the David Chang Show, which is what my food-fanatic fiancé has on when he’s driving, so I kind of listen to that through osmosis.
My brother had been nagging me about listening to the show for about three years, and I finally got round to it when I had a long car journey ahead of me. Spanx with Sara Blakely was the first episode I listened to and the first one they ever recorded. I’d read that she was the youngest self-made female billionaire and still owned 100% of her business, so I was definitely intrigued.
What I found so refreshing was how down to earth she was, and how hard she had worked and brave she had been, operating completely alone, to push her idea whilst dealing with an initially sceptical and mostly male audience. It felt like a completely genuine and honest version of events, not a sanitised, glossy summary. The more episodes I listened to, the more I enjoyed hearing about the challenges Founders have faced and ultimately overcome, and the things that inspired them.
What I also love about the show is that it includes a wide range of businesses and different types of success, not just the financial unicorns of the world, but also pioneers in their industries. One of the episodes I really enjoyed was Radio One, where Cathy Hughes talked about her journey founding what is now the largest US African-American owned broadcasting company, whilst single handedly raising her son simultaneously, having fallen pregnant at 16. He is now the CEO of Radio One.
All of the conversations feel very personal as the host, Guy Raz, just lets the person talk and tell their story. He also always asks the same question to Founders “how much of your success do you think was down to luck vs skill?” Pretty much all of his interviewees say about 50% luck. That’s definitely how I view elements of my own career, so I really relate to that.