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Innovation Hub

Innovation Hub looks at how to reinvent our world – from medicine to education, relationships to time management. Great thinkers and great ideas, designed to make your life better.

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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Full Show: Timing Is Everything

We’re always so concerned about how to do something, but we don't always consider when we should do it. When should we start a new project? When should we take a nap? We talk to author Daniel Pink about why timing is everything. Even though beards are currently in style, there was a time when being clean shaven was the way to go. We take a look at the man who revolutionized the shaving industry. Plus, if it seems like food allergies are on the rise, they are. One in every 13 children in America has some sort of food allergy, which marks a huge spike over the last few decades. We look at what could be causing the allergy increase and what’s being done to combat it. Finally, killing rats may seem like the best way to deal with them. But, in fact, it's probably not be our best option when it comes to pest control. We find out what is.


19 Jan 2018

Rank #1

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Full Show: What We Really Think

Thanksgiving involves getting stressed about the best way to cook a turkey, gathering around a table with the people you love, eating mountains of stuffing… and trying not to tell your family what you really think of them. So, in celebration of Turkey Day, we’ve got stories that explore how and why we think the way we do: from what the Rorschach test actually tells us, to what exactly is going on inside teenagers’ brains.


24 Nov 2017

Rank #2

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The Guitar Makers That Made Modern Music

In 1957, Buddy Holly appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS, strumming his tunes on a Fender Stratocaster, which was casually slung across his body. The instrument had - and would - fundamentally change American culture and music. And, to a lot of people, it was a shock. But behind the technological innovations inherent in the solid-body electric guitar is a story of two friends and rivals, people whose legacies have been inscribed on the guitars they created. Leo Fender and Les Paul, though, had little idea of the new genre of music this invention would instigate: rock ‘n’ roll.


29 Mar 2019

Rank #3

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Full Show: Life Hacks

What were pregnancy tests like in the 1940s? Well, they involved cutting up rabbits. How the science of hormones changed pregnancy, diabetes, and so much more. If you want to track down the first telecommunications hack, you have to go back in time. All the way to the 1830s. America is aging. And so are the people who control our money. How that’s going to upend our economy.


14 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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Full Show: Looking For America

As America celebrates the Fourth with fireworks and barbeques, we take a closer look at the ideals that have shaped our country.


30 Jun 2017

Rank #5

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Full Show: Changing The System

Surgery in the 19th century was a special kind of gross. We’re talking maggot-ridden hospital beds and unwashed tools. We take a look at how surgery turned into the sterile practice we know today. Then, we tend to love or hate wealthy philanthropists depending on whether their politics align with our own. David Callahan explains how the political influence of billionaires is changing our world. Finally, it’s tempting to spend your hard-earned paycheck on fancy gadgets and kale. But what if, instead, we spent it on services that saved us time? Turns out, we all might be a lot happier.


9 Mar 2018

Rank #6

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The Psychology Behind Popularity

Do you ever wonder why some people are more popular than others? The foundation for climbing up the social ladder starts early, and it turns out that parents actually have an enormous influence on how well-liked their kids are. Psychology professor Mitch Prinstein explains how popularity develops and why it matters.


29 Dec 2017

Rank #7

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Full Show: Childish Things

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s Superman... A character who both reflected - and changed - American pop culture. There’s a huge achievement gap in education. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek explains when it starts, and tells us how to combat it. If you’re looking for some controversy, look no further than board games. Seriously. Clue was scandalous, Twister was called “sex in a box.” We look at why why.


27 Apr 2018

Rank #8

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Full Show: What A Way To Make A Living

Work defines all of our lives, but in a myriad of different ways. On this week’s Innovation Hub we take a step back and think about work’s payoffs, its pitfalls, and its future. First, Stanford’s Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that our jobs are literally hurting us - and that work environments have to be rethought. Then, Liza Mundy tells the incredible story of female WWII vets whose work was absolutely vital… but who never got the credit they deserved. And finally, chess champ Garry Kasparov says: we shouldn’t hate robots; we should work with them.


31 Aug 2018

Rank #9

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Full Show: All For One

Henry Ford didn’t just bring standardization to his plants. He also wanted to standardize his workers. Joshua Freeman walks us through the history of the factory. Doesn’t everyone seem so self-involved nowadays? Well, maybe, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think. Turns out, being a perfectionist might just make your work less perfect.


23 Mar 2018

Rank #10

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Full Show: The Ever-Present Past

“The past is never dead. It's not even past.” This week on Innovation Hub, we prove Faulkner right. We’ve got stories about how history still affects all our daily lives, in a myriad of different ways. We start by taking a look at the origin of the debates over human rights. The Declaration of Independence’s second paragraph begins with the immortal phrase: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But when did those rights become self-evident? According to historian Lynn Hunt, the very concept of human rights weren’t really talked about until the 18th century. She explains how the concept began, and why we’re constantly changing our definition of equality. Then, how our own histories of trauma can affect our present health. Vincent Felitti is a doctor whose research has shown that patients who experienced childhood trauma were more likely to be sick when they grew up. He tells us how clinicians can use Adverse Childhood Experience scores to help people get better. And finally, a newspaper that changed America. Journalist and author Ethan Michaeli traces the rise of The Chicago Defender, a legendary black newspaper that began in 1905. From the Great Migration, to the desegregation of the military, to the rise of Barack Obama, we’ll learn how its legacy is still felt in American life. Also, as we promised in the show, here are some of Bobby Sengstacke’s photos. Bobby Sengstacke was a photojournalist and the last Sengstacke to edit The Chicago Defender.


22 Dec 2017

Rank #11

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How is Meritocracy Damaging Our Economy?

Those in the highest paying jobs are working longer hours than ever before. Meanwhile, the middle class is falling behind, as employers demand more qualifications from employees. America is supposed to be a meritocracy, but perhaps meritocracies - which aim for fairness - aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.


20 Sep 2019

Rank #12

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Eat Smarter, Eat Healthier

When it comes to losing weight or maintaining a healthy diet, many of us have chosen to go either low-calorie or low-fat. But recent research has started to upend nutrition science, reframing our notions of “healthy” eating, according to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Mozaffarian explains why the science is changing, when a calorie isn’t just a calorie, how fat could be a lot better than we think, and why he believes that government should play a much bigger role in influencing our food choices.


11 Jan 2019

Rank #13

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Full Show: A Few Moves Ahead

First, The lives – and regrets – behind the scientists who created our weapons of war. Then, Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov tells us what he learned from losing to a very smart computer. And finally, writer and blogger Cory Doctorow explains how science-fiction can help us imagine the future, and prepare for it.


5 Jan 2018

Rank #14

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What’s Missing From Childhood Today?

Childhood today is radically different than it was just a few generations ago. These days, kids’ busy schedules include school, homework, chores, sports, music lessons and other activities. But those packed schedules leave out one key element that turns out to be crucial to growth and learning — play. That’s according to Dorsa Amir, a postdoctoral researcher and evolutionary anthropologist at Boston College. Amir has studied the Shuar people of Ecuador, a non-industrialized society, and observed startling differences in how Shuar children and American children spend their time. She tells us how childhood has changed drastically, and how that affects kids today.


15 Nov 2019

Rank #15

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Full Show: Empathy And Its Consequences

The case against empathy, the case for technocrats, and a look at the birth of PR. That’s all in this week’s Innovation Hub.


11 Aug 2017

Rank #16

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Full Show: Bring On The Competition

First, U.S. News releases its college rankings each year to much fanfare. But are they actually hurting higher ed? We ask journalist Scott Jaschik and U.S. News’ Robert Morse. Then, there will be 10 billion people on the planet by 2050. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Can we do it without destroying Earth’s resources? We talk with science writer Charles Mann about different approaches to tackling this problem. Finally, you’ve heard the name Martin Shkreli, but there are many other executives responsible for hiking drug prices. We peek into the complex world of Big Pharma.


16 Mar 2018

Rank #17

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Full Show: Hallmarks Of The Holidays

This week, we’re gearing up for the holidays with some serious shopping, a little chocolate... and a trip home. And when we say home, we’re talking Levittown, New York, where the modern suburb was born. We’ll examine the genius of businessman Bill Levitt, as well as his dark side. Then, a look at how retail has changed America. And finally, we dive into chocolate, and the story behind Hershey’s. That’s all this week on Innovation Hub.  


1 Dec 2017

Rank #18

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Full Show: A Sense Of Self

Take credit for that killer PowerPoint presentation, or for running a 4-minute mile if you want. But at the end of the day, Robert Sapolsky says we don’t have a shred of free will. Next, corporations have fought tooth-and-nail to gain their civil rights and having the United States Supreme Court as an ally hasn’t hurt. Then, the Spanish flu of 1918 killed between 50 and 100 million people and, in the process, reshaped the world. Author Laura Spinney says it’s inevitable that we’ll see another epidemic.    


12 Oct 2018

Rank #19

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Full Show: Big Bets

He was a dynamic entertainer and a prolific business man, but P.T. Barnum was also responsible for shaping how we view celebrity and fake news. We look at how Barnum’s impact lives on. Then, we have a lot of faith that self-driving cars - and a bunch of other technologies - will be a part of our life very soon. But, according to roboticist Rodney Brooks, we should take that enthusiasm down a notch. Finally, Americans pay more for solar panels than people in other countries. Andrew Birch, former CEO of the solar installer Sungevity, says permits and regulations are to blame.


2 Mar 2018

Rank #20