• Teacher | Storyteller | Coach | Trainer | Podcaster | Principal, HEFT Creative Strategies | Lover of All Things Book, Run, Gin, & Street Art.


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    (Photo Credit: Jacob S. Knabb)

    I AM.

    I am an Emmy-award winning coach, creative strategist, podcaster, writer, teacher and social worker who has been helping nonprofits, publishers, authors, small business and career changers tell their stories for 20 plus years.



    I serve as Principal, HEFT Creative Strategies, where I believe in helping human beings and organizations be their best selves through story and have consulted with a range of organizations and individuals including Leo Burnett, Content R|S, lylole, Jeff Pfaller, Inc., Human Elements, Koan, FRIENDS, Chapin Hall, abstract artist Mark Yee, coaches Diane Grimard Wilson & Elizabeth Lava, Story Jam Studio, Children Trust Michigan, TORANA group, and The Center for Advanced Emotional Intelligence.


    I'm also honored to work as a TMI Leadership Trainer for The Montana Institute.


    I serve as a Lecturer (and part-time faculty) at Lake Forest College, where I teach LOOP 202: 21st Century Development and Liberal Arts and The Workplace, and previously held the role of Adjunct Professor at Columbia College Chicago, where I taught Self-Management and Freelancing


    I worked at Prevent Child Abuse America from 2007-2016, including serving as the Senior Director of Strategic Communications. While there, I introduced the organization to social media, wrote and managed grants from the CDC and Doris Duke, served as staff lead on the current strategic plan, and co-scripted the 2010 Emmy award-winning Ounce of Prevention of Florida “Prevent Child Abuse” public service campaign.


    Along with working with independent authors such as Lee Matthew Goldberg, Hosho McCreesh and Senator Bill O’Neill, I also supported the emergence of one-time Chicago publisher Curbside Splendor, where I played an active role in the acquisition, launch, and/or promotion of a number of acclaimed books including May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks and Don't Start Me Talkin' by Tom Williams. More recently I worked with Green Writers Press on promoting a series of award-winning books including Finding God in Ordinary Time by Christine Eberle, Offline by Brian Adams and The Coffeehouse Resistance by Sarina Prabasi, as well as Woodhall Press on books including Four Funerals, No Marriage by Mike Keren, The Body Joyful by Anne

    Poirier and Fast Funny Women, edited by Dr. Gina Barreca.


    I produce and host This Podcast Will Change Your Life (300+ episodes and counting), which was launched in February 2010, focuses on authors and changemakers from around the country and the world, and was named by Elephant Journal as one of "The 10 Best Podcasts to Help you Change your Life." I produced UPSTATE: The Podcast, a serialized podcast (which includes a range of readers from my personal and professional lives) of my short story collection UPSTATE. I also produced and co-hosted The Blank Slate Podcast with Sam Tanios, which focused on small businesses owners, the pandemic, being nimble and engaging in a dialog about what’s possible now, where to find hope, and what can be accomplished if we work together.


    My work includes the short story collection UPSTATE, the science fiction novel Orphans and the essay collections Lost in Space and Be Cool. I'm a storySouth and Pushcart nominee, a finalist for the Annual National Indie Excellence and Eric Hoffer Book Awards, a winner of the Devil's Kitchen Literary Festival Nonfiction Prose Award and a Midwest Book Award, and I've received an Honorable Mention at the Chicago Writers Association Book Awards for Traditional Non-Fiction and a Bronze Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. I've also written for Hemispheres, Punk Planet, Men’s Health, and The Arrow, AARP’s GenX newsletter. My novel The Missing was released in March 2024 by 7.13 Books.


    And I help people tell their stories.

  • Books

    I am the author of several award-winning books, including the recently released novel The Missing, the science fiction novel Orphans, the short story collection UPSTATE, and the essay collections Lost in Space: A Father's Journey There and Back Again and Be Cool - a memoir (sort of).

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    "A taut, incisive look at two lives as they slowly implode." -Kirkus Reviews


    "A compelling & complex tale of marriage, parenthood, and the tenuousness of relationships." -Independent Book Review


    "A deeply psychological portrait of a marriage on the brink, infusing raw emotion and the bitter numbness of loss into every breakage." -Chicago Review of Books


    "A wholly original narrative about love, loss, parenting, trauma, ambivalence, shame, joy, and...just about every other authentic emotion known to us humanoids." -Hypertext Magazine


    "An exercise in empty space: it fixates not on what is but on what is not." -Rain Taxi


    To learn more or order The Missing please go here.

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    "Akin to oral tradition." -The Coil

    "The pages of Ben Tanzer’s Be Cool seem alive as you read them." -Clash Media

    "Life in all of its joy and gutter glory." -Atticus Review

    "Be Cool is gorgeous." -Spectrum Culture

    "A wise, moving, and often funny memoir-in-essays." -Largehearted Boy

    • Finalist, 13th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards
    • Finalist, 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Awards

    To learn more or order Be Cool please go here.

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    "Everything a person in need of a guide through the uncertainty of adulthood, manhood, parenthood, personhood, could hope for." -Literary Chicago

    "Lost in Space strikes an excellent balance of sincerity, realistic advice, and humor." -Entropy

    "Lost in Space is a gem. It is a cozy, sweet read, at times easy, at times not. It is a book with a heartbeat that should be read on the beach (that’s what I did) or at the pool or on the bus or before bed or with morning coffees or weekend lunchtime beers. It should be laughed at and cried at and worn-out and passed around from heartbeating-human to heartbeating-human and when it gets really quiet, you will be able to hear that this book has a heartbeat of its own." -Heavy Feather Review

    "Tanzer has crafted a series of essays that get at the joy and terror of adulthood and parenthood." -The Rupture

    "Ben Tanzer tells you what it’s like to be a dad now." -Chicago Magazine

    • 2015 Devil's Kitchen Literary Festival Nonfiction Prose Award
    • Honorable Mention, Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book Awards, Traditional Non-Fiction

    To learn more or order Lost in Space please go here.

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    "Channeling Orwell and Melville, with a nod to popular American culture, Tanzer creates a template for human disaffection and passivity in the face of incomprehensible and omnipotent forces... this bleak, powerful book is a harrowing cautionary tale about a future that threatens to overwhelm human individuality." -Publishers Weekly

    "Ben Tanzer has established himself as an adept chronicler of a particular type of middle-class male anxiety." -Vol. 1 Brooklyn

    "Patently satirical, Orphans is about the reality of responsibility and the limitations imposed on us in adulthood by a capitalist society. Tanzer's setting and scenario owe much to George Orwell and Philip K. Dick, territory that sf fans might enjoy revisiting." -Booklist

    • 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards - Bronze Medal, Science Fiction
    • 24th Annual Midwest Book Award in Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror/Paranormal

    To learn more or order Orphans please go here.

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    UPSTATE was previously published as The New York Stories. This new collection been refreshed and re-released by Tortoise Books.


    "In his Book Notes post for The New York Stories, I stated that the collection displays "Tanzer's evolution into a master storyteller." This remastered release is even stronger than the original." -Largehearted Boy


    "The New York Stories is a three volume set, each published as separate books across a span of nearly nine years and because of this, the book builds a wonderful grand arc, narrative hindsight in a way that allows the whole thing to function as a story greater than the sum of its parts. We see not only the long protracted march of Two Rivers and its inhabitants, but, because of the time between when the volumes were written, the development of Tanzer as a fierce and world-class writer. This development is a beautiful thing to watch." -Atticus Review


    To learn more or order UPSTATE please go here.

  • This Blog Will Change Your Life

    Born December 2006

    July 11, 2024 · The Missing,The Garret Schuelke Podcast,Ben Tanzer,Podcast,713 Books
    It's true, The Missing and I are The Garret Schuelke Podcast with old friend Garret Schuelke, and it is much appreciated. You can check out the interview here and should you want to talk about The Missing, writing, my work, invite me to your book festival or book club, or even just buy me a Gin &...
    July 10, 2024 · The Missing,Heavy Feather Review,Al Kratz,Book Review,713 Books
    It's true, The Missing is Heavy Feather Review, and it's both humbling and wonderful. Kind of emotional too. You can check out the full review here and get a longer sneak preview below. Cool? Indeed. "There’s a strange and beautiful gleam of hope that comes through this structure of lost...
    This episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life stars Spencer Fleury on the release day for his new book I Blame Myself But Also You. It was recorded over the Zoom between the This Podcast Will Change Your Life home studio in Chicago, IL and Fleury's freshy fresh San Diego hotel room in June...
    More Posts
  • Contact

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    I want to tell stories. I also want to be involved in anything that helps human beings and organizations be their best selves through story. So, if you want to talk about this, if you have questions about any of things I'm currently working on (including my writing), if you seek a presenter or keynote speaker, want to retain me around my work with HEFT Creative Strategies, including, and maybe especially, coaching and story development, and/or if you would like to treat me to a cup of coffee, taco, or Gin & Tonic, don't hesitate to email me at tanzerben [at] gmail [dot] com or call me at (312) 622-3536. Thanks!