With so much career advice out there, it can be hard to know where to start and what to commit your time to.
Consider these podcast episodes one starting point. If you have an hour or two, you can get more thoughtful about your career and build a healthier relationship with work after listening to these smart hosts.
The One That Got Me A Big Pay Raise
There is lots of written advice on how to start a salary negotiation, but this is the best offering I’ve heard on the subject. By roleplaying a negotiation with a caller, Alison Green, who has been giving workplace advice for over 10 years on her “Ask A Manager” blog, gives listeners the context for what a raise request should sound like. Before this podcast, I approached asking for a raise as if it depended on a high-stakes debate of my performance. Now, I know to stay matter-of-fact. “If you were hiring a handyman for your house, you would just be like, ‘Hey, any chance you can get it done for X?’ Same tone here,” Green says.
My personal endorsement story is that when fielding a job offer, I used Green’s suggested script of “If you are able to do X, I would be thrilled to accept,” and I got the dollar amount I asked for. I send this podcast episode to all my friends who have an offer. It works. One friend who recently negotiated a better salary of his own after listening called this episode a “godsend.”
The One That Taught Me How To Build Alliances
This episode explaining “Shine Theory,” a term coined by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, explains how to build healthier, more productive relationships with people you want to see shine. On the website shinetheory.com, the pair defines it as “an investment, over the long term, in helping someone be their best self—and relying on their help in return.”
Shine theory does not mean you have to accept every cold email asking for your help, because the investment should be mutual and relies on a basic level of trust. One of the successful examples they cite in the podcast is from Shalane Flanagan, who won the New York City marathon in 2017. Flanagan practiced alongside her competitive training partners, and by nurturing and promoting them, they all made it to the Olympics.
My personal application means that I have a cohort of friends I can lean on for accountability and advice, and they lean on me for salary and job advice. I keep an eye out and recommend people I’m invested in for opportunities.
You can apply this to your career, as I have, but it’s a bigger theory that you can apply more broadly to your life — so that years later, you’re rewarded with being the person who was there from the start. As Sow puts it, “it’s so important to do this journey with people because those people are your witnesses. When you don’t remember, those are the people who will remind you.”
“It’s so important to do this journey with people because those people are your witnesses. When you don’t remember, those are the people who will remind you.”
– Aminatou Sow
The One That Got Me Moving In The Mornings
For “Works For Me,” Bloomberg’s Rebecca Greenfield and Francesca Levy investigate whether popular productivity hacks and self-help tips actually work by trying them out themselves. This episode, which still haunts me on early mornings when I have to lug my tired body out the door, is the one in which Levy tries to become an early riser.
Levy uses the scientifically proven method called R.I.S.E. U.P., developed by clinical psychologist Allison Harvey of the University of California, Berkeley. It promises more alert mornings if you:
It’s entertaining to listen to Levy attempt the six-step routine. But what shook me up was their interview with Noel King, host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” on how she makes getting up at 1:30 a.m. feasible. “There’s how you feel, which is your problem, and then there’s the day that you have to get done. And if you don’t do it, you make that everybody else’s problem,” King says she tells herself.
King’s mantra echoes throughout the episode and still reverberates through my own mind when I want to hit snooze and sleep in five more minutes before work.
The One With An Important Reminder On Self-Inflicted Job Burnout
If you can’t stop thinking about work even on your vacations, this episode is for you. Some of the stressors of job burnout, like bad bosses and unreasonable deadlines, are not necessarily in your control to change. But you can control your mindset and how you react to work.
Hosts Kristin Wong and Dara Blaine, two self-proclaimed recovering workaholics, confess in this episode that they often make taking care of themselves conditional upon their productivity ― a quick path to disaster. “Producing can be just as mindless as consumption,” Wong says. “When I’m checking something off my to-do list for no reason except that it feels good, that’s a dopamine hit that is fake because I’m not actually doing something good for myself.”
Wong says the ways she has not taken care of herself include not showering and using a bathroom break as a reward for finishing a task. For Blaine, it’s working through lunch and over-scheduling herself.
One actionable tip they recommend is making a list of what qualifies as taking care of yourself and discerning between what’s self-care and what’s a to-do task. Listening to their wins and setbacks, you can hear how self-care is not what you do when you are already burned out, but a process you take time for every day.
The One On How To Make The Case For Better-Paid Family Leave
This is a narrative podcast that is not about how working moms parent their kids — it’s about how moms work. Journalist Katherine Goldstein takes listeners to a 24-hour child care center in Las Vegas and into the political campaign of a mom with three little kids. In this episode, Goldstein cuts right to the chase of a major working mom challenge, calling parental leave in the United States “a shitshow.” Thanks to the lack of national policy, leave “all depends on your personal finances, what kind of company you work for and what state you live in,” Goldstein said.
Goldstein interviews women at The New York Times about how they advocated for a lactation room and longer paid family leave available on the first day of employment while making it clear that advocating for better leave is situational to each workplace.
I’m still thinking about the discussion Goldstein has with Times reporter Claire Cain Miller about what defines “good enough” leave, and how many Americans have a misguided sense of gratitude when individual company policies change. “This country does not think of raising children as something the government or society should have any role in,” Miller says. “It’s entirely left as an individual challenge, so if you figure out a way with your employer and your family, then you had a personal individual victory and you feel lucky. And that’s just not the way it is in other countries.”
Miller discusses her reporting on salaried workers who advocated for family leave for hourly workers at Walmart. After hearing this, Goldstein notes that “if you are a higher-status worker and you have a better policy,” you should think about “how you can bring other people along with you and not accept a special deal.”
It’s a lesson on how to use alliances across your company ladder to advocate for change and how we don’t actually have to accept “good enough.”