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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

How I Built This: The stories founders never tell

The premise (NPR): 

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world's best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

Any episode! I started with some brands I liked and had familiarity with.


Primarily interview


Guy Raz, a talented interviewer who sounds fascinated by everyone he interviews, which in turn helps the listener become fascinated by them.

Sound/production quality:  Top-notch--it is NPR, after all. Rating/age suitability:  General audiences, though adults will likely be more interested than most teens. Approximate length of episodes:  Varies; usually about 45-65 minutes Curricular ties:  This would be great in a business class for high school or college students. You could even incorporate it into character education because so many of the entrepreneurs faced failure and struggles before ultimately achieving success. Similar recommended pods:  Start-up The Podcast Librarian’s Review: HIBT is a podcast that is, on the surface, Guy Raz interviewing the founder of a successful company, such as Lyft, Rent the Runway, Zumba, Stacy’s Pita Chips, and many more. I’m admittedly not a great fan of most interview format shows (they tend to suffer from a lack of effective editing, and unless you have an amazing host (à la Terry Gross), the guest can really make the interview tank if they’re not particularly interesting. HIBT is an exception, though, and Guy is that unicorn of a public radio interviewer who can make anyone interesting simply by his pure, genuine interest in them. It’s also evident that he does a good deal of research on his subject and their company first, which allows the interview to go deeper than the logistics of creating a company. I’ve only listened to a few episodes so far, picking brands I already know and have experience with (Dave’s Killer Bread and Barre3), but both were fascinating. There’s also an episode with Kate Spade that I’m looking forward to hearing, though that will be bittersweet given her tragic death last year. I also love the neat feature at the end where a listener shares an abbreviated story about how they built their own business and the struggles involved in doing so. I like that this segment shows that normal people can create a successful business, too! All in all, this is a fantastic podcast that goes beyond what you can Google about the guest and how they built their business. Guy has a way of asking the right questions to get to the heart of the triumphs and failures the guest experienced. Note for educators: 

If you’re a teacher of business or any type of innovation, then this is a podcast that could integrate seamlessly into your instruction. Beyond that, though, this podcast could be used as part of a character education curriculum (like Angela Duckworth’s concept of grit) because it shows that even if you have a great idea, it takes hard work, failure, and low points to ultimately create a successful business.

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