• A moment to pause and appreciate all the glory that is This Podcast Will Change Your Life soaring passed 100,000 all-time downloads, even as I must admit that I expected it to all go down somewhat differently than this.

    On the cusp of releasing the 200th episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life, I definitely had a different narrative in mind.

    It appeared that the show would cross 100,000 all-time downloads upon the release of that episode, a neat sort of synchronicity and alchemy that I could not have orchestrated on my own, nor would have even tried to plan.

    But, I do love finding a story, and I'm always trying to craft the proper narrative, and so the idea that these events were clearly about to coincide delighted me to no end.

    Then reality fucked with my plans, in a good way, certainly, this has been a huge month for the show, following many now, but huger still, and it soared passed 100,000 dowloads some time early this morning and ahead of when I anticipated.

    Is that less sexy?

    I think so.

    Is it cool though?


    Do I think this number is especially impressive, maybe not, not when I think about the shows I listen to (OTHERPPL with Brad Listi, WTF with Marc Maron, Heavyweight, The Culture Gabfest), and have listened to (SERIAL, Mystery Show, Sampler, S Town, Missing Richard Simmons), and what their numbers must be, but it's big and round, and the earliest shows from way back in February 2010 only got around 10 downloads or less.

    Yes, that's possible, traffic can total 10 downloads or less.

    The numbers never bothered me, I was talking to authors and writers, ideamakers and changemakers, and I always wanted that, one-on-one or group time with creators, and this was a path to that.

    I always hoped it served their work and that I did them justice.

    And I still do.

    There were mishaps along the way.

    The first 50 plus shows were recorded in a primarily drunken state, not a problem in and of itself, but one time, I did fail to record an entire conversation when the audio files were full and I overlooked that completely, and another time I drank so much with one major author that I had become friends with, that they decided not to record the show with me, a first, and we never got back to it. Another time I was so excited to meet someone after loving their book and then their presence so much that I fanboy'd beyond the norm during the interview and found the conversation fun, but somewhat unsharable. When I asked the author if they would re-record it they said we'd never be able to capture the weird, awesome vibe we had worked ourselves into.

    I never ran that one.

    I also once accidentally dosed myself before a show and was certain that it was a disaster, it wasn't, whatever I sounded like in my head, I kept my shit together for the show itself.

    I've always tried to talk to authors big and small, and I'm thrilled to have caught some authors I know and admire on their way up, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Gina Frangello (who was pretty up already, but now, yo, come on), Scott McClanahan (for the first ever walk and talk episode) among others, as well as many who remain obscure, though loved by me, or even stopped writing or publishing.

    I love them too. Most of them.

    I've had some multiple guests, and while this is reflectigve of meeting them early on, and their ongoing productivity, it's also a reflection of not just loving them, but falling in love with them along the way. They include Pete Anderson, Keidra Chaney, Wendy C. Ortiz, Amy Guth, Joseph G. Peterson, Giano Cromley, David Masciotra, Patricia Ann McNair, Hosho McCreesh and Jason Fisk, among others. And if I missed you here, big apologies and please let me know so we can fix that.

    I have favored Chicago writers, in part certainly because I live here and they're easier to find, but also because the show has paralleled the ongoing and extended emergence of the Chicago indie lit scene as the center of all things literary.

    I've spoken to at least one hero of mine, Rick Kogan, and made many new friends because of the show itself, people I was dying to meet, or reached out to me, which is always a thrill, and which we most always made work.

    The single biggest episode remains my discussion with the glorious Jen Pastiloff (Episode 116, May 2015), who didn't have a book at the time, I just wanted to somehow capture her amazing energy, but she has one coming out now, and that too will no doubt be as glorious as she is.

    When that show became so big, I decided to formalize things a little more, cleaning-up my iTunes page, and adding both Stitcher and Spotify as platforms.

    I didn't know that it mattered to me before that, but not being all-in after that seemed ridiculous.

    It also led to the one review the show has ever received, which came as part of the piece "The 10 Best Podcasts to Change Your Life," in Elephant Journal.

    Before I close this out, I want to thank the podcast Bad at Sports, and especially Duncan MacKenzie (Episode 125, January 2016), for both existing, and for introducing me to the idea of podcasts at all, when I interviewed them for the now defunct Third Coast Press (thank you Keidra Chaney for that) and thought maybe I could try this.

    All of which is to say, that I remain in the love with the medium, and all, most of, the guests, I also remain lo-fi, and a little scuzzy, my tech skills are still not all that, and I will continue, next with the 200th episode, and then beyond, wherever that takes me.

    Well that, and thank you, first to all of my wonderful guests, but then also, unquestionably, to all of my listeners, whoever you are, and wherever you are, for all of the support along the way.

  • Happy 100th Birthday.

    "The art has to make it on its own, without explanations, and it's the same for poetry. If the poem or the painting has to be explained, then it's a failure in communication." -Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • "In helping people identify and name rape culture, I came to see it everywhere and keenly." Because the Kara Vernor. And "On Choosing Ignorance" at the Normal School.

    And because the Kara Vernor kicks ass. So please do check out "On Choosing Ignorance" at the Normal School here and do read some excerpt below.

    "Then, in my late-twenties, after I’d moved from the West Coast to a Midwestern city, I started watching American Idol, The O.C., and any number of procedural crime dramas. I paid to watch Dodgeball in the theater. Same with Love Actually. I may have even gone to a Nicolas Sparks movie, but then maybe I just watched it at home on TBS. I had TBS on all the time. Sweet Home Alabama. How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days. Miss Congeniality. I’d begun working fulltime at a rape crisis center, and after talking sexual assault for eight hours, shallow TV and some Two-Buck Chuck helped mute my day and ease me to sleep.

    "The center’s prevention educator, I stood in front of teens, college students, juvenile detainees, and community groups with GOT CONSENT? sprawled in white letters across my black t-shirt (it’s true, even rape crisis centers riffed on that milk ad). I presented on the spectrum of sexual assault, dating violence, and violence in the media, teaching how to recognize a perpetrator’s premeditation, grooming, and even their thinking, and illustrating how they displayed this behavior in the open in an attempt to groom their environment, not just their targets. I fielded comments like, “Why did she go to his hotel room if she didn’t want it?” and “She wasn’t even, like, crying so there’s no way that was rape,” and “If a guy rapes a guy, that’s gay.” On the regular I presented for seven classroom periods a day, three days a week, and though my throat burns even now as I think of it, I enjoyed outing perpetrators and spotlighting their culpability. I could eat well and sleep well and carry on with my personal life while doing so, at least at first. It was what happened around rape to perpetuate it—rape culture, as it’s often called—that took its toll."

  • "I feel like now more than ever, we all need to be telling our stories and coming together around those." Let's talk The Coffeehouse Resistance by Sarina Prabasi. Reviews, interviews, think pieces and hype would be nice as well.

    As the universe inexplicably continues to chug along despite, or is it in spite, of the current state of the world, I'm really honored to support efforts to bring The Coffeehouse Resistance by Sarina Prabasi out into the wider world. To quote her feature at The Riverdale Press:

    "Sarina Prabasi always felt like an observer of American politics, until she became a U.S. citizen — just in time for the 2016 presidential election.

    "For years, Prabasi was in and out of the United States on visas, never really experiencing an opportunity to participate in politics. But everything changed once she was able to make her status in America official.

    “After I became a U.S. citizen,” Prabasi said, “I was determined to educate myself.”

    "That education began in Washington Heights at Buunni Coffee, a business she and her husband Elias Gurmu started in 2012 and has since expanded to locations in Riverdale and Inwood. It was at the first Buunni Coffee location Prabasi would see customers coming together to discuss issues they were passionate about.

    “When people started meeting and talking right in the coffee shop, that became an interesting entry point for me,” she said.

    "Within two years and the opening of Buunni Coffee’s Riverdale location last year, Prabasi saw the impact the 2016 election had on the two communities she works in. So between running a small business, being a mother, and serving as the chief executive of the nonprofit WaterAid America, Prabasi found time to write “The Coffeehouse Resistance: Brewing Hope in Desperate Times,” a memoir reflecting on her own experiences in America after moving to New York City from Ethiopia.

    "The book comes out April 9."

    And what could be more wonderful than that? This book itself, which also couldn't be more wonderful, or timely. 

    Please let me know if you have any questions and/or are interested in reviewing the book, interviewing the author, writing think pieces or generally engaging in the hype we're looking to generate for this most timely of books. For much more on all things The Coffeehouse Resistance please do go here.


  • Did someone say keynote?* Not to mention story, branding and The Association Of Consultants To Nonprofits.

    *No, they didn't, but do feel free to file this under shameless self-promotion. Also, I'm really excited to be the keynote at the ACN's 30th Anniversary Celebration & Annual Meeting on May 30th and if 30th Anniversary Celebration & Annual Meetings are your thing, I do hope you'll join us...which you can learn more about here.

    And, if you're looking for a keynote, and the following description sounds like your thing, please do give me a shout.

    What’s your story and how do you make it work for you?

    Ben will discuss how your personal career path and story shapes the types of clients and projects that you attract.

    He will also talk about how to determine and develop your story, as well as how to use it effectively to promote yourself and attract the right clients and projects.