With Podcasts We Can All Read Like Billionaires

Ally McAlpine/Fourth Estate


Can you read like a billionaire? I know I can’t.

Bill Gates reads at least 50 books per year. Mark Cuban spends more than five hours reading each day. Mark Zuckerberg finishes a book every two weeks. Warren Buffett reads a whopping 500 pages daily. According to an article by Business Insider, the run-of-the-mill millionaire reportedly spends almost triple the amount of time reading as the average American does.

Though it is in our best interest to try and read as much as billionaires do, for the average American, balancing work, school, and family responsibilities with reading 500 pages daily may seem to be impossible. There’s no way that us normal folks could try to consume as much information as billionaires — or is there?

Enter podcasts: the great equalizer. Podcasts provide a great wealth of information to the listener with unrivaled convenience. You can listen to a podcast in every situation in which you could read — and many, many more. You can conveniently listen on your commute, while exercising, at work and even in the shower. Thanks to podcasts, you can stream information straight to your ears, any time.

Recent developments by companies like Spotify, Apple and Stitcher have made it possible to listen to podcasts seamlessly between multiple devices. I can stream a podcast on my phone during my commute, continue on my laptop at work and pick up on my smartwatch during my evening workout — all without missing a beat. How’s that for convenience?

Podcasts allow me to recoup otherwise wasted time and make it productive. Between the convenience that podcasts offer and the ability to turn up playback speed, I listen to at least eight hours of podcasts daily (which equates to about 300 pages of reading). I’m not yet reading 500 pages a day like Buffett, but I’m well on my way — all thanks to podcasts.

Sure, it’s great to listen to audiobooks, but you can quickly end up spending a small fortune on a virtual collection if you try to read like a billionaire. If you keep up with Gates, for instance, 50 audiobooks per year will cost you in excess of $1000. Podcasts won’t cost you a penny, as long as you don’t mind the occasional advertisement. Plus, with selections in news, economics, advice, comedy, technology and science, all for free, the value of podcasts is unbeatable.

Better yet, research from 2019 in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that brain stimulation is identical between reading and listening. That means that many of the neurological benefits you can gain by reading a book — including increased brain power, memory, empathetic ability and imagination — are also reaped when listening to a podcast.

Furthermore, a 2016 study from the National Science Foundation debunked the common myth that reading allows for better comprehension than listening. In their test group, readers and listeners scored similarly in both short- and long-term comprehension tests. When it comes down to it, there aren’t any measurable cognitive differences between reading a book and listening to a podcast — which is great news for us normal folk.

Essentially, podcasts level the playing field by providing busy students, parents and workers with the freedom to consume information like the super-rich. Do you want to read like a billionaire? Here’s a tip: Listen to podcasts instead.