A Slight Change of Plans

Pushkin Industries

You can follow the show at @DrMayaShankar on Instagram.

Apple Podcasts’ Best Show of the Year 2021 Editor's Note: Maya Shankar blends compassionate storytelling with the science of human behavior to help us understand who we are and who we become in the face of a big change. Maya is no stranger to change. “My whole childhood revolved around the violin, but that changed in a moment when I injured my hand playing a single note,” says Shankar, who was studying under Itzhak Perlman at the Juilliard School at the time. “I was forced to try and figure out who I was, and who I could be, without the violin." Maya soon discovered a new path in the field of cognitive science, where she earned her PhD as a Rhodes Scholar studying how and why we change. Her insights into human behavior ultimately led her to create A Slight Change of Plans—Apple Podcasts’ Best Show of the Year in 2021. You’ll hear intimate conversations with people like Tiffany Haddish, Kacey Musgraves, and Riz Ahmed, as well as real-life inspirations, like John Elder Robison, who undergoes experimental brain stimulation to deepen his emotional intelligence, Daryl Davis, a Black jazz musician who inspires hundreds of KKK members to leave the Klan, and Shankar herself, who had her own “slight change of plans” earlier this year. The show also explores the science of change with experts like Adam Grant and Angela Duckworth. "What I love most about this show is that the content is evergreen," says Shankar. "You can listen to episodes in any order and at any time."

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Our Editor's Take

Dr. Maya Shankar created the award-winning podcast A Slight Change of Plans to explore life-changing moments. Seeing twins on an ultrasound, signing divorce papers, or getting a cancer diagnosis changes a person's life forever. Many people have a moment like this that creates a "before and after" divide in their life stories.

Shankar is one such person. A hand injury ended her hopes for a career in music. Forced to find an identity beyond the violin, she felt heartache, then excitement. She chose a new career in medicine. Her insight helps listeners view change as an opportunity, not a catastrophe. Edith Eger shares her Holocaust survival story. She shares how she learned to control her mind in extreme circumstances. Scientist Erika Cheung describes the moment she became a Theranos informant. Priya Parker talks about how gathering together can unite people. Writer Michael Pollan discusses how he expanded his mind with psychedelic drugs.

Hillary Clinton describes the moment she told people to do something she wouldn't do. Grammy winner Jason Isbell identifies the moment his weaknesses became inspirations. Poker player Annie Duke discusses the science of quitting. She explains that quitting can be better than persisting.

Episodes of A Slight Change of Plans are non-sequential. Listeners can play episodes in any order, based on what piques their interest. It's hard to choose where to start and even harder to stop listening as new episodes appear. This podcast makes big changes feel small enough to manage.

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