Entrepreneurs

Listen to these 4 podcasts to think like a billionaire

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Paul Marotta | Getty Image

Looking for something new to download for your morning commute? Listening to a podcast is not only a way to pass time, but an opportunity to get inside the heads of some of the world's most successful people.

Podcasts have continued to become increasingly popular. In a 2017 survey, Edison Research found that 24 percent of people asked had listened to a podcast in the last month, up from 21 percent in 2016 and from only 12 percent in 2013.

To take advantage of the trend, here are four shows that can help you think like a billionaire.

1. "Masters of Scale"

"Masters of Scale" has billionaires to spare. Billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman talks with visionary billionaire entrepreneurs like Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings and Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to get the stories of and secrets to their success.

Episode to download: A May 2017 interview with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives insight into how he thinks about innovation at Facebook.

Billion-dollar lesson: The potential of trying new things is so much more important than the risk of making mistakes.

A post shared by Mark Zuckerberg (@zuck) on

"I think the strategy of Facebook is to learn as quickly as possible what our community wants us to do — and that requires a culture that encourages people to try things and test things and fail," Zuckerberg tells Hoffman.

For example, the episode reveals how in 2008, a Facebook summer intern named Ben wanted to figure out how the site could recover from bugs. So he triggered one — and took the entire Facebook site down for 30 minutes. Ben didn't get fired, he got hired full-time.

"I have more fear in my life that we aren't going to maximize the opportunity that we have than that we mess something up and the business goes badly," Zuckerberg explains on the podcast.

He also tells Hoffman that when Facebook employees have a new idea, he asks himself: "'Ok, is this going to destroy the company?' Because if not, then let them test it."

Facebook has a market cap of over $490 billion and Zuckerberg himself is worth $70.1 billion.

2. "The Bill Simmons Podcast"

Sports commentator Bill Simmons interviews guests ranging from athletes like Kevin Durant, actors like Aziz Ansari, and authors like Malcom Gladwell on his show.

Episode to download: In an April 2016 episode, billionaire investor and former judge on ABC's "Shark Tank" Chris Sacca explains the traits Kobe Bryant has that Sacca sees in top entrepreneurs.

Billion-dollar lesson: True passion stands out — especially at 2 a.m.

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When former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant asked to meet Sacca to learn more about investing in the tech industry, Sacca wasn't interested. He thought Bryant was just another celebrity feigning interest in start-ups.

To his surprise, the five-time NBA championship winner was serious. Obsessively serious.

"For the next few months, my phone never stopped buzzing in the middle of the night. It is Kobe, reading this article, checking out this tweet, following this guy, diving into this TED Talk, diving into the Y Combinator Demo Day stuff," Sacca says. "And I'm getting these texts at like literally 2 or 3 in the morning.

"My wife is like, 'Are you having an affair with Kobe Bryant? What is happening here?'"

Sacca revealed that the dedication struck him.

"He was bringing the same obsessive work ethic to learning about startups that he does to training, to rehab, to his thousand makes a day, to everything," Sacca says. "I ended up actually becoming really enthralled by him because this is a very unique personality type that I only kind of see in some of our very best entrepreneurs."

Sacca should know: investing in start-ups has helped land him a net worth of $1.2 billion.

3. "Freakonomics Radio"

"Freakonomics Radio" often breaks down ideas in economics and social science, with topics ranging from the impact of fracking on communities, to lessons about money that kids can learn at Chuck E. Cheese.

Episode to download: In a May 2017 episode, billionaire and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reveals he was once told he would fail at math — which led him to fall in love with the subject and conquer it.

Billion-dollar lesson: With hard work, what you see as a weakness can become your greatest strength.

Steve Ballmer
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC
Steve Ballmer

As a kid, Ballmer's teacher declared, "This boy is not good at numbers. He's going to fail in third grade," he says on the podcast.

"I will say, that was the initial clarion call for me to focus on numbers and get good," Ballmer reveals. "What I learned was numbers tell great stories, at least for me. There are a certain set of people who can see it that way."

Ballmer later attended Harvard, where he met Bill Gates, and graduated with a degree in applied mathematics, according to "Freakonomics Radio." During his career at Microsoft, he says numbers were an important part of his job.

"Who's really buying PCs? How many are going to schools? How many are going to consumer hands? The numbers tell the story that can direct action, can help put things in context," he says.

Now, Ballmer is worth about $33 billion, according to Forbes.

4. "How I Built This"

Founders tell their stories on NPR's "How I Built This" podcast. Billionaires like WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey and AOL co-founder Steve Case explain where the ideas for their companies came from and how they got started.

Episode to download: In a September 2016 episode, billionaire Spanx entrepreneur Sara Blakely describes the moment she thought to create the shapewear and apparel company.

Billion-dollar lesson: Ideas don't have to be complex to be original.

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For Blakely, it started with a pair of cream pants.

"I spent $98 dollars on them, which, for me, was a lot of money," she says on the podcast. "And they just hung in my closet unworn, because every time I would go to wear them, you could see the undergarment."

To solve it, she took a pair of scissors to regular pantyhose to wear underneath.

"I realized and figured out what the control-top portion of the hosiery was doing for me in my clothes," she says. "So when I cut the feet out of my own control-top pantyhose so I could wear those cream pants, the light bulb went off."

"I had set aside $5,000 in savings from selling fax machines door to door, and that's what I started Spanx with."

Now, Blakely, who bootstrapped the company and still owns 100 percent of Spanx, is worth over $1 billion, according to Forbes.

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