The Minimalists Podcast

Each year, Joshua Fields Millburn asks The Minimalists audience to review the podcast on Apple as a birthday gift. His birthday, interestingly, is 29 June.

This is my review.

I have listened to every podcast. I have been a listener since almost the beginning (episode 6, I believe, although I had read the site and books written to that point). I have taken a break a couple times since, but have come back and caught up each time.

There is absolutely a love-hate relationship I have with this podcast. That I keep with it demonstrates, I suppose, that the good outweighs/equals the hate. 😉

Most podcasts, particularly these days, provide no value to me. The podcast stretches the idea of minimalism/simple living well beyond the topic for me. It has to as there are not 346 topics regarding minimalism. If one is going to make a living off this topic, it has to expand beyond the topic to fill the space. And that is not very minimalistic.

I listen only to the public (minimal) podcast. That the private podcast was labeled (and still referred to) as the maximal podcast is a poor branding example, imo. Even the pitch to become a patron for a long time appeals to “all the good stuff”, which is applying guilt of FOMO to fund the business model. That is at odds with what is preached all to support the business.

And there are many examples of the contradictions that are at play with The Minimalists. That is annoying, but it is what it is.

For many, JFM comes off negatively. I am one of them. His use of language is often not natural and it comes off as such. That, however, seems to have decreased recently. More strident is the judgement that is employed with his language. Despite interjecting that things are neither good nor bad often, his language does provide judgments (“They demand their shekels”; Ep. 345, 55:30).

Minimal maxims and stating that they are attempting to be pithy is uncomfortable. One may be pithy, but one does not call attention to it (“Tweet that, Podcast Sean!”). What a strange construction. There was a time when folks were humble. This does not hearken to that. Most of the “pithy” statements appear to be prepared; they come off as forced.

Like any show, the format is programmed. That is limiting. Beginning with the “advertisements suck” schtick, to the tired repetitions of stories (corporate careers, well-organized hoarder, boxes of stuff at the mother’s house, more cars than bathrooms, etc.), to the “look at me” cultural references at the end of each podcast, the exploration of the topic of the week is compressed (purposely so to gain paying subscribers?).

The paying members support this franchise. I am not a paying member. A couple years ago when The Minimalists cut their subscriber base and suggested that listeners stop listening if value wasn’t being had, I stopped subscribing. It was in there that a promise was made that the focus of the podcast would change. If it did, it is unremarkable to me. The thing that has increased is the focus on the subscribers (y’know the ones that are intentionally limited; just a marketing ploy). JFM refers to them as “true fans” or something along those lines. Language like that may compliment the paying, but it insults others.

The association with Dave Ramsey is problematic. They have walked a fine line so far with that, but it stretches the no advertising mantra of their business model. Ramsey is behind the financial literacy platform The Minimalists are asking donations for. To say that Dayton students are not taught financial literacy means these L.A. guys are out of touch with their hometown. Ohio has had financial literacy standards built into the curriculum since at least 2018.

There is a prevailing feeling these former cellphone salesmen are just plying their selling skills to a different product these days.

Nothing much of interest/help occurs on the podcast.

So, why continue to listen?

Every once in a while something is said that reminds me of why I am on this journey. In case I begin to stray from the path that I know has been good for me, these little things, sometimes expressed by the guest in different language, jolts me back to my line of journey. For me, that is valuable.

And so it is that each Tuesday I awake to put on the YouTube version of the podcast as I ready my day. It is the only media event I tune into; I have no cable, subscribe to no podcasts I don’t even subscribe to this one; I just find it on YT). and participate in no social media. It is the one regular thing I listen to in this realm.

Two minor suggestions:

  1. The woman off-camera who laughs on mic, added within the last several podcasts, needs to be muted. It is loud and odd to hear since she is not on camera or part of the conversation.
  2. While I am not a fan of the ‘m’ on the bottom of the microphones, if you are going to use them, please put the circle around them to match your logo. Doing so helps with your branding and would permit you to remove the watermark in the lower left corner. No need to duplicate the logo on screen; it is distracting. Without the circle, it looks incomplete.

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One thought on “The Minimalists Podcast”

  1. Interestingly, I did not post this to Apple for The Minimalists to read. It’s not because I didn’t want to share it. It is simply because it required too much work to do so.

    Apparently, there is no way to post a review via the Apple web site; it must be posted through the app. The last thing i want to do is download an app just to post a review and then delete the app.

    It’s because of recognizing the silliness of downloading an app for something like this that I refrain from participating much on social media. This review means little to me. I was jazzed up because I listened to the show and thought I’d participate. But when I reached the obstacle, my enthusiasm waned, and I moved on. Now, the following day, hey, I am not as enthusiastic regarding this. Whether it posted or not matters little. I have moved on.

    Notice that break between watching and posting removed the urgency/enthusiasm. It seems to me this is applied to purchases too. 😉

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