Planet Money Summer School

NPR

Economics is a game you should know how to play. And once you get the fundamental concepts, you start to see it everywhere: the news, the supermarket and even your dating life. So it's time to learn the rules. Planet Money Summer School is a crash course in economics for your ears. See the world through the lens of an economist and you'll start to feel a little less overwhelmed when making financial decisions. And if you're in front of the classroom? Teachers, this is made for you, too. Let us be your breezy and fun companion to assigned readings. We'll even assign the homework (and spare you the groans). Go beyond summer school and stay up-to-date on the economy with the latest episodes of the Planet Money podcast.Got money on your mind? Try Planet Money+ — a new way to support the show you love, get a sponsor-free feed of the podcast, *and* get access to bonus content. A subscription also gets you access to The Indicator and Planet Money Summer School, both without interruptions.

  • 32 minutes 20 seconds
    MBA 8: Graduation and the Guppy Tank
    Congratulations to the Planet Money Summer School Class of 2023!

    Today, you become masters of business administration... spelled with lower-case letters for legal purposes. Your diploma is waiting for you just across the stage.

    But first, there's one final skill to impart: the pitch. We wouldn't be doing our job as a half-baked parody of a business school if we didn't leave you with the confidence and opportunity to stand in front of an investor and ask for money. We understand what you ambitious business school graduates really want is the chance to launch something and get rich.

    So we're combining graduation with a little test of ideas, a showdown of startups, a competition of companies. We are going to put our own spin on a pitch competition like you see on Shark Tank. We hear from five listeners with real ideas for startups.

    Can they make a successful pitch? What will investors be looking for in their presentation? Can they come prepared with persuasive total addressable market analyses? Who will have the sharpest customer pain points to solve? We shall see.

    Our business expert will give us a rare glimpse into the mind of investors and what they're looking for. Only one graduate will be crowned the winner as this year's valedictorian.

    If you want to get your diploma right now, take the 2023 Planet Money Summer School Quiz to earn your diploma!

    If you share it on social media, tag us so we can celebrate with you.

    Find all episodes of Planet Money Summer School here.

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    30 August 2023, 11:37 pm
  • 34 minutes 13 seconds
    MBA 7: Negotiating and the empathetic nibble
    How do you get the best deal? How do you know you're getting the best deal? Whether you're talking down the price of a car or talking up your salary, you don't have to be a jerk to get what you want. Negotiations can be win-win – if you know what to ask for and how to grow the pie.

    We have three stories in today's episode about how to negotiate tactically. First, a hostage negotiator tries to buy a car. Will he get far? Then, one man's encounter at the airline ticket booth may inform how you respond to your next job offer. Finally, how to avoid a food fight and make a deal that benefits everybody.

    We'll learn about something called BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, which can tell you when to stand firm and when to walk away. We'll find out how to shift our thinking about what success can look like in a negotiation, and shift your counterpart's thinking too.

    Come learn the techniques of expert negotiators in the penultimate episode of Planet Money Summer School, MBA edition. Next week: Graduation! So, you have one week to negotiate the cost of your cap and gown.

    Our Summer School series is hosted by Robert Smith and produced by Max Freedman. Our project manager is Julia Carney. This episode was edited by our executive producer, Alex Goldmark, and engineered by James Willetts. The show was fact-checked by Sierra Juarez.

    Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+
    in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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    23 August 2023, 9:46 pm
  • 32 minutes 46 seconds
    MBA 6: Operations and 25,000 roses
    "It's difficult to control everything," says our guest professor for this week, Santiago Gallino. "What is not difficult is to plan for everything." Today we venture into the sphere of business that masters the planning, and backup planning: operations management.

    It's more than just predicting a bottleneck and imagining a solution, because there's always a bottleneck to clear. It's about modeling, and weighing the costs of messing up vs. missing out. For instance, take a newspaper vendor who has to decide how many newspapers to sell tomorrow morning. Do they buy fewer, knowing that they'll sell out–and then miss out on potential revenue from papers not sold? Or do they order more than they expect to sell, just in case–and eat the cost of a few unsold papers? This type of trade-off applies to all kinds of businesses, and Gallino talks us through how to choose.

    The only certainty in this life is uncertainty. But we are certain you will come out of this episode feeling better prepared for your future business. And fortunately, there are no bottlenecks in podcasting.

    The series is hosted by Robert Smith and produced by Max Freedman. Our project manager is Julia Carney. This episode was edited by Alex Goldmark and engineered by James Willetts. The show is fact-checked by Sierra Juarez.

    Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.


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    16 August 2023, 9:16 pm
  • 34 minutes 42 seconds
    MBA 5: Tech and the innovator's dilemma
    For anyone running a business, technology is both threat and opportunity. Today, we run through techniques entrepreneurs can use to take advantage of new tech or defend against the dangers. It's not just about the product you're selling. It's about consumer psychology, and ethics, and taking calculated risks to navigate uncertainty.

    But, since this is Planet Money Summer School and we want to set your business on the path to riches, we're going to talk about how to use tech to dream big. Maybe more than anything, technology creates opportunities for the little guys where the big established companies can't be so nimble or have too much to lose.

    Take the classic concept of the innovator's dilemma: a company that innovated and succeeded, now faces a choice about any disruptive new technology. Do they risk tossing out their existing advantage and switch to the new tech, or play it safe and risk becoming obsolete?

    Most new technologies don't end up disrupting an industry. So it is totally rational for the big existing companies to ignore each new flash in the pan. But nobody wants to end up like Kodak: sticking with film while the digital camera takes off. So what to do?

    Our friendly professor has a few ideas – for the little guy and the big old company. He'll explain the shape of how new technology gets adopted, sometimes called the S-curve. We'll also hear examples of what stops promising new tech from taking off: from dishwashers to driverless cars, and even the humble elevator.

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    9 August 2023, 5:47 pm
  • 33 minutes 23 seconds
    MBA 4: Marketing and the Ultimate Hose Nozzle
    In this session of Planet Money Summer School, we are getting the word out about your brand. How do you convince consumers to buy your product, even if they are only just hearing about it? It's time for sales and marketing!

    If you've watched a show like Mad Men or The Office, you know the importance of a strong pitch. It's precision-crafted to show how what you're selling can solve a problem your customer needs solved. Sometimes it even creates the need. Once you've got your sales pitch, it's time to get the word out: marketing. Where to spread that message? How to make it unforgettable? Instantly recognizable? What is going to be your Just do it? Your Think different? Your Where's the beef?

    In our case studies today, we look at a product so cleverly marketed, the company doesn't need to market it at all anymore and customers wait years to get it: the Birkin bag. And we hear lessons from some of the world's most time tested salespeople who can and do sell anything, literally. It's all about the four P's: Product, place, promotion and price. Also, a few other tricks we test out.

    Find all episodes of Planet Money Summer School here.

    This series is hosted by Robert Smith, and produced by Max Freedman. Our project manager is Julia Carney. This episode was edited by Sally Helm and engineered by Josephine Nyounai. The show is fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Planet Money's executive producer is Alex Goldmark.

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    2 August 2023, 10:59 pm
  • 32 minutes 17 seconds
    MBA 3: Accounting and the Last Supper
    Usually, the first class that an MBA student takes is accounting. That involves, yes, equations and counting widgets...but it's more than that. Inside the simple act of accounting is a revolutionary way of thinking not just about a business, but about the world. A universe where all the forces are in balance. Accounting gives you a sixth sense–one that can help you determine whether your business will survive or fail.

    In this class, you'll learn the basics of accounting, and uncover its origins. We'll introduce you to the man who helped it spread around the world. He was a monk, a magician, and possibly the boyfriend of Leonardo da Vinci.

    Is accounting... sexy?

    Yes. Yes it is.

    Find all episodes of Planet Money Summer School here.

    This series is hosted by Robert Smith, and produced by Max Freedman. Our project manager is Julia Carney. This episode was edited by Sally Helm and engineered by Robert Rodriguez. The show is fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Planet Money's executive producer is Alex Goldmark.

    Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in
    Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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    26 July 2023, 10:08 pm
  • 31 minutes 56 seconds
    MBA 2: Competition and the cheaper sneaker
    For episode 2 of Planet Money Summer School, we are talking strategy. You have your million dollar business idea, and maybe some money in your pocket to get it up and running. But now you enter into a crowded market. You have to deal with competition.

    So, what can you do to make sure your product is a success? That was the conundrum facing the Starbury. It was a basketball shoe with a celebrity endorsement, that had to go up against THE basketball shoe with THE celebrity endorsement: the Air Jordan. Our first story is about the ways in which the Starbury succeeded and failed in taking on a juggernaut.

    Then, we will hear a story about trying to avoid the dangers of "perfect" competition. Two companies making almost identical handbells learn that the key to their success lies in convincing customers how different they really are.

    Find all episodes of Planet Money Summer School here.

    The series is hosted by Robert Smith and produced by Max Freedman. Our project manager is Julia Carney. This episode was edited by Keith Romer and engineered by Robert Rodriguez. The show is fact-checked by Sierra Juarez. Planet Money's executive producer is Alex Goldmark.

    Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+
    in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

    Learn more about sponsor message choices: podcastchoices.com/adchoices

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    20 July 2023, 11:48 pm
  • 32 minutes 55 seconds
    MBA 1: Planet Money goes to business school
    Find all episodes of Planet Money Summer School here.

    Planet Money Summer School is back! It's the free economics class you can take from anywhere... for everyone! For Season 4 of Summer School, we are taking you to business school. It's time to get your MBA, the easy way!

    In this first class: Everyone has a million dollar business idea (e.g., "Shazam but for movies"), but not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We have two stories about founders who learned the hard way what goes into starting a small business, and getting it up and running.

    First, a story about Frederick Hutson, who learned about pain points and unique value propositions when he founded a company to help inmates and their families share photos. Then, we take a trip to Columbia, Maryland with chefs RaeShawn and LaShone Middleton. Their steamed crab delivery service taught them the challenges of "bootstrapping" to grow their business. And throughout the episode, Columbia Business School professor Angela Lee explains why entrepreneurship can be really difficult, but also incredibly rewarding, if you have the stomach for it.

    (And, we should say, we are open to investors for "Shazam but for movies." Just sayin'.)

    Help support Planet Money and get bonus episodes by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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    20 July 2023, 11:44 pm
  • 30 minutes 12 seconds
    Macroeconomics 8: Productivity & Getting Lit
    Productivity is our economic measure for how far our work goes, as individuals and as a society over all. It plays an important role in determining our quality of life, the prices of our goods and services, and, to some extent, the amount of free time we have. Today, we explore how thousands of years of productivity advancements transformed something now so standard that we take it for granted: light. | At this Summer School, phones ARE allowed during class... Check out this week's PM TikTok! | Listen to past seasons of Summer School here.

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    31 August 2022, 10:41 pm
  • 31 minutes 46 seconds
    Macroeconomics 7: The Fed & Volcker's Socks
    The Federal Reserve plays a very important role in the economy. When things start to look uncertain, the central bank is tasked with stepping in to restore people's confidence in the economy. But how do they do it? On today's episode we dive deep on monetary policy and the role of the fed. |At this Summer School, phones ARE allowed during class... Check out this week's PM TikTok! | Listen to past seasons of Summer School here.

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    24 August 2022, 11:34 pm
  • 32 minutes 35 seconds
    Macroeconomics 6: Trade & The Better Life
    International trade is the web of cross-border relationships that binds economies together. Because of trade we have access to cheaper, higher-quality goods, and we get to benefit from other countries' cultures. Economics tells us trade makes society, overall on average, better off, but that doesn't mean everyone wins. Today, the good and bad of trade through the eyes of workers in developing economies who make the things sold around the world. We follow them as they navigate the ever-shifting international trade environment. |At this Summer School, phones ARE allowed during class... Check out this week's PM TikTok! | Listen to past seasons of Summer School here.

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    17 August 2022, 10:53 pm
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