Smart Learning: Top 10 Free Business English Podcasts and Audio Resources

lipiec 11th, 2011

Dear Readers,

This week I’d like to present a top 10 list of free business English podcasts. I am aware that in the modern business world, most language learning happens on-the-go and . This is the main reason we fit our texts in Business English Magazine with mini-dictionaries, MP3s and QR codes to assist you on your way.

Now, let’s get to the point. There are many great resources out there that can help you improve your business English as you walk, drive or jog. Check out my list of  top 10 podcasts:

1. BBC Business Daily [iTunes link]- perhaps one of the most interesting business resources on the web, updated daily. Examining the big issues facing the global economy, Business Daily demystifies the world of money. From giant industries like aviation and automotive to the smallest scale start-up, Business Daily asks the big questions about free trade, technology and investment. There is also analysis of management and marketing trends, and what business jargon really means – together with reports on business news from around the world via the BBC’s global network of reporters.

2. The Economist Audio / Video – very good online streaming audio and video resource. Also available to go on your mobile and as an iTunes podcast

3. Harvard Business Idea Cast [iTunes link] – weekly audio podcast, usually features great ideas and commentaries from some of the top players in business and management. The HBR IdeaCast, from the publishers of Harvard Business Review, Harvard Business Press, and, features breakthrough ideas and commentary from the leading thinkers in business and management.

4. Manager Tools [iTunes link] – a weekly podcast focused on helping you become more effective as a manager. Each week they talk about new tools and easy techniques you can use to achieve your career objectives.

5. A Virtual Perception – a virtual assistant podcast that provides business resources to virtual and home-based entrepreneurs. Darlene Victoria, the show’s host and producer, provides insightful, friendly and inspiring advice and business resources to the show’s listeners. Done in a talk format, the highlight of A Virtual Perception is the interviews with business professionals who are in all stages of their business development and come from many different business backgrounds and industries.

6. NPR Planet Money – great podcast, many different guests with diverse backgrounds. Often featuring everyday people as well as brainy economists and high rollers. Often touching upon the history of business.

7. Money Girl – entertaining podcast featuring useful tips on money, credits and loans, insurance, investing etc. Money Girl provides short and friendly personal finance, real estate, and investing tips to help you live a richer life. Whether you’re just starting out or are already a savvy investor, Money Girl’s advice will point you in the right direction. 

8. The Disciplined Investor [iTunes link]- Host, Andrew Horowitz brings you specific market advice for profitable investing. Along with industry experts, this is one podcast to subscribe to that will get you on the road to becoming a disciplined investor.

9. The Engaging Brand Blog Podcast [iTunes link]- great business interviews on marketing, social media and leadership.

10. Down to Business English Podcast [iTunes link]- A podcast for people who use English as a Second Language (ESL) in their work environment and want to improve their overall language skills. In each episode, hosts Dez Morgan and Skip Montreux discuss business news making headlines around the world. Through their discussions, Skip & Dez introduce English vocabulary & phrases related to business, review English grammar, and identify cultural differences found in International business situations. An excellent way to improve your English listening skills, keep up with business trends, and advance your career.



1. aware – having knowledge of a situation – świadomy

2. demystify – make easier to understand – odkrywać dajemnice

3. breakthrough – sudden, dramatic, important – przełomowy

4. insightful – having deep understanding – wnikliwy

5. savvy – shrewd, clever – zmyślny


Do you have a favourite business English podcast? Feel free to share your links and ideas below:

„I’ll have a life when I retire”. Addressing your Work – Life (im)Balance

lipiec 3rd, 2011

Dear Readers,

In my professional career I’ve met many people whose lives were completely focused on their work. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that everyone should approach their job with utmost dedication, but not in a destructive way. It is hard to come up with a viable explanation why we let our lives get out of control. You would not believe how many work-life balance consulting firms exist in the world, making money on desperate executives who suddenly wake up in their 40s, discovering that they have no friends or interests left and the only thing they have improved in themselves is their job title.


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I believe that we are all inherently programmed by our culture and education to think of work as the fundamental priority in our lives. Consequently, we naturally steer our careers towards jobs with the most financial gain in sight, treating our social and family lives as a way to ‚recharge the batteries’ for another hard day at the office.

I may be exaggerating, but I do believe that there are many people out there who need help restoring their lives to a balanced state. The question is: are YOU one of them? Or better yet: am I one of them?

It was only recently that I came across Nigel Marsh, a guy who seemed to have all the answers:

Nigel Marsh is the bestselling author of „Fat, Forty and Fired” and „Overworked and Underlaid” as well as the Regional Group CEO of Young and Rubicam Brands for Australia & New Zealand. He clearly states that finding the balance between work and life is an ongoing battle.

Let’s to go through the main points of his presentation at TED:

1. If societies want to address the work-life balance issue, we need an honest debate.

Let’s get real. While many people fall victim to the corporate propaganda of flexi-timedress-down Fridays or paternity leaves, we seem to be missing the core issue: certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with having a young family. And there is no way that going to work on Friday in jeans and T-shirt can change that.

2. Governments and corporations are not going to solve this issue for us.

Stop looking outside. Nowadays, having a job which you don’t hate seems to be a rare privilege. It is up to us to take control and responsibility for the type of life you want to lead. As Marsh puts it: If you do not design your life, someone else will design it for you – and you may not like their idea of „balance”. You must never put the quality of your life in the hands of a commercial corporation.

3. Be realistic when setting the time frame upon which you’ll judge your work-life balance.

Take your time. Elongate the time frame in which you want to achieve the desired balance. Do not try to do everything at once! Many corporate warriors subscribe to the „I’ll have a life whenI retire” philosophy, at the same time completely forgetting that their families will not be waiting forever for the dad/mum to come back home from the office.

It is important to realise that packing your schedule with after-work activities, like gym memberships, book clubs, day spas and meditation classes will not get you balanced immediately. Remember what Marsh said: „Being a fit 10h a day office rat isn’t more balanced – it’s more fit”.

4. Small things matter.

Do not start with a revolution. Being balanced doesn’t necessarily mean a dramatic upheaval in your life. Small differences matter most and you should learn how to find pleasure in them. While we seem to be living in a society celebrating the idea that the person with the most money when he dies wins, it is sometimes enough to finish your work one hour earlier and take your kids for a pizza.

Ok, so how do you get started?

It’s actually quite simple. Remember that there’s so much more to life than your regular nine-to-five. I’m not saying that you should immediately cut your working hours, run to the church, call your parents on the and start reading up on philosophy. It is enough to make small changes to dramatically improve your work-life balance and consequently – your life quality:

– Draw a graph, identify all those areas of your life which you’ve been neglecting.

– Set boundaries and time frames, use your weekly calendar more effectively to allow some time for the small things.

– Plan your ideal day and include all those aspects of your life you’ve missed so far.

– Multitask and use modern technologies to assist you with your daily routine. There are hundreds of Podcasts that can keep you up-to-date with news, politics, religion and philosophy.

– Smile a lot and enjoy yourself.



1. to approach – to come near or nearer to – podchodzić do

2. utmost – of the greatest or highest degree, quantity- nadzwyczajny

3. dedication – being committed to a task or purpose – oddanie

4. to come up with – to produce something – wymyślić

5. executive – a person having administrative orsupervisory authority in an organisation – kierownik, dyrektor

6. job title – an official position in an organizational hierarchy  – stanowisko pracy

7. inherently – by nature, existing in something as an unseparable element – nieodłącznie, nierozłącznie

8. to fall victim to – to be the aim of the attack – paść ofiarą

9. flexi-time – no fixed working hours – elastyczny czas pracy

10. dress-down Friday – casual Friday

11. paternity leaves – maternity leave for fathers – urlop tacierzyński

12. privilege – a right, immunity or benefit – przywilej

13. to elongate – to make longer – wydłuż, rozciągnij w czasie

14.consequently – as a result – w rezultacie

15. to neglect – fo forget about, not to pay attention to – zaniedbywać

Productivity 101: Mapping Your Mind

czerwiec 26th, 2011

Dear Readers,

I don’t know about you, but whenever I start a new project I just have to have a good game plan. Now, what if the problem is so complex that even the most logically structured to-do lists and step-by-step plans don’t seem to be able to get the job done?

Draw a mind map.

‚A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualise, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organising information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.’ (source: Wikipedia)

image source:

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While many people do have a good idea what mind maps are and how to use them, most of us find it hard to benefit from them in our everyday lives. Most traditional ways of task management and planning require some sort of visual aid to keep those great ideas flowing and I am sure that in your professional lives you’ve drawn your share of mind maps.

As described here (, creating a mind map is as simple as 1-2-3:

  • Start in the middle of a blank page, writing or drawing the idea you intend to develop. I would suggest that you use the page in landscape orientation.
  • Develop the related subtopics around this central topic, connecting each of them to the centre with a line.
  • Repeat the same process for the subtopics, generating lower-level subtopics as you see fit, connecting each of those to the corresponding subtopic.

When the drawing starts taking its shape, apply colours, drawings and symbols. Be as visual as you can, and your brain will thank you. Remember to keep the topics labels as short as possible, preferably a single word or a picture. Try to vary text size, colour and alignment and provide as many visual symbols as you can to emphasise the most important points.

Having an overview mind map helps you to learn faster and easier, as it provides the brain with a framework and structure. According to this source, many scientists believe that the left hemisphere of the brain and right hemisphere of the brain are largely responsible for different functions. The left side governs the logical, structured, ordered thinking and the right side governs the artistic, creative, imaginative side. Just add a dash of technology and you’ll get a really powerful tool that fully utilises your brainpower. Let’s have a look at some useful pieces of software:

1. MindMeister (my personal favourite): free, online, collaborative. Available on iPhone and Androind mobiles.

2. FreeMind : amazing project, completely free, growing number of fucntionalities.

3. Inspiration : popular desktop tool, especially with students.

4. : another amazing online mind mapping software.

5. MindJet : commercial desktop tool.

Creating a map that is both structured and graphical seems like the ideal tool to get any complex project done. It is also a great idea to use them to learn new vocabulary, plan your shopping, brainstorming for ideas, outlining reports and note taking.

As my final piece of advice today, I’d like to leave you with a beautiful MindMeister map in mind:


  1. to-do list – lista rzeczy do zrobienia
  2. mind map – mapa myśli
  3. task – zadanie
  4. aid – pomagać
  5. visual aid – pomoc wizualna
  6. blank page – czysta strona
  7. landscape orientation – poziomy układ strony
  8. corresponding – odpowiadający
  9. take shape – nabierać kształtu
  10. label – etykieta
  11. preferably – najlepiej
  12. overview – poglądowy
  13. hemisphere – półkula
  14. a dash of technology – szczypta technologii