Apologetics Index

Self-Help and Success Coaches

Motivational Authors and Speakers

Motivational speakers and trainers (e.g. the late Stephen Covey, John Gray, Tony Robbins, Andrew Weil, Iyanla Vanzant, the late Wayne Dyer, Dr. Phil McGraw , Deepak Chopra et cetera) are hugely popular.

In the year 2000, Newsweek reported that the “self-improvement industry rakes in $2.48 billion a year” in the United States alone.

Since Colonial times, Americans have devoured “success literature,” those pragmatic guides to a better life from authors including Ben Franklin, Dale Carnegie and Covey. Today they’re called self-help books, and they constitute a $563 million-a-year publishing juggernaut. Books are just one avenue to a brand-new you. From seminars to CDs to “personal coaching,” the self-improvement industry rakes in $2.48 billion a year, according to the research firm Marketdata Enterprises, which predicts double-digit annual growth through 2003.
– Source: Self Help U.S.A., Newsweek (International Edition), Jan. 10, 2000

Now Wikipedia says we’re talking about “an $11 billion industry.”

By 2006, research firm Marketdata estimated the “self-improvement” market in the U.S. as worth more than $9 billion–including infomercials, mail-order catalogs, holistic institutes, books, audio cassettes, motivation-speaker seminars, the personal coaching market, weight-loss and stress-management programs. Marketdata projected that the total market size would grow to over $11 billion by 2008. In 2012 Laura Vanderkam wrote of a turnover of 12 billion dollars. In 2013 Kathryn Schulz examined “an $11 billion industry”.
– Source: Self Help, Wikipedia entry. Last accessed Saturday, November 28, 2015 – 11:53 PM CET

But how helpful are these books and seminars?

Al Gini has written a play called “Working Ourselves to Death.” He’s a lecturer on business ethics with the philosophy faculty at Loyola University Chicago and author of “My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual.”

And when it comes to motivating that modern individual, Gini says he’s not always impressed with the career sermons he’s hearing on the speaking circuit. “They’re very often just delivery and presentation,” he says — lots of fire, little brimstone.

Frequently with evangelical fervor, many motivational speakers preach to congregations of careerists, spreading the gospel of positive thinking and self-improvement. The goal — what causes many corporations to hire them — is higher morale and performance.

Many of these speakers write their own bibles, self-help books full of fixed formulas and fancy phrases. But do they provide a lasting benefit? — a more efficient and happy work force? Or do they just give workers a rush that dissipates faster than a two-drink buzz?
– Source: Larry Keller, Motivational Speakers, CNN, October 17, 2000


Why you should not get addicted to self-help

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  • I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help, Wendy Kaminer
  • Self-Help Books: Why Americans Keep Reading Them, by Sandra K. Dolby, based on her reading of more than 300 self-help books.
  • Self-Help, Inc.: Makeover Culture in American Life by Micki McGee

    Why doesn’t self-help help? Millions of people turn to self-improvement when they find that their lives aren’t working out quite as they had imagined. The market for self-improvement products–books, audiotapes, life-makeover seminars and regimens of all kinds–is exploding, and there seems to be no end in sight for this trend. In Self-Help, Inc., cultural critic Micki McGee asks what our seemingly insatiable demand for self-help can tell us about ourselves at the outset of this new century. This lucid and fascinating book reveals how makeover culture traps Americans in endless cycles of self-invention and overwork, and offers suggestions for how we can address the alienating conditions of modern work and family life.

  • Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, by Steve Salerno.

    Based on the author’s extensive reporting–and the inside look at the industry he got while working at a leading “lifestyle” publisher–SHAM shows how thinly credentialed “experts” now dispense advice on everything from mental health to relationships to diet to personal finance to business strategy. […]

    SHAM demonstrates how the self-help movement’s core philosophies have infected virtually every aspect of American life–the home, the workplace, the schools, and more. And Salerno exposes the downside of being uplifted, showing how the “empowering” message that dominates self-help today proves just as damaging as the blame-shifting rhetoric of self-help’s “Recovery” movement.


See Also

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Category: Self-help
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First published (or major update) on Friday, November 28, 2014.
Last updated on July 07, 2024.

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