The self-help or self-improvement industry is serious business. Consider:
But still, it is an industry with no licensing body, professional board, trade magazine, etc. It is full of self-proclaimed “professionals” whose training and skills may not match the services they’re offering. Despite the numbers, it is very much a “buyer beware” situation. *Numbers are based on MarketData Enterprise’s 2015 report, “The Market for Self-improvement Products and Services.” A public summary of key findings is here.
Self-help is a regular theme on TV shows, a huge section in every book store, and an enduring concept in popular culture. It’s not “fringe”; it’s all around us.
- Dr. Phil, the self-improvement talk show, has been airing successfully since 2002, after his regular appearances on Oprah. He has also written a number of best-selling books and does other speaking engagements.
- Popular self-improvement guru Tony Robbins had a talk show on NBC, Breakthrough With Tony Robbins, which aired in 2010
- On the sitcom Friends, Chandler Bing listens to a self-hypnosis tape to quit smoking
- On the comedy-drama Gilmore Girls, Luke Danes listens to a self-help CD to deal with depression.
- On the reality show Mythbusters, cast members Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci, and Kari Byron tested the effectiveness of self-help CDs by attempting to cure Grant’s motion sickness and Adam Savage’s fear of bees, and to alter Kari’s eye color. All three tests proved unsuccessful, thus busting the myth.
- On the drama Dexter, character Jordan Chase is a self help guru with a personality cult and the motto, “Take it!”
- In the movie, Sex and the City (2008), Samantha is seen reading The Secret.
- Jennifer Aniston’s character’s love interest in the 2009 movie, Love Happens, is a self-help guru who leads a “firewalking” challenge at his events
- In the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the title character had been taken in by a particularly persuasive guru played by Jon Hamm.
- The messaging of celebrity weight loss gurus, such as Jillian Michaels, often slides into the broader self-improvement landscape in the further suite of products they offer.
- Oprah has built a huge empire promoting self-help titles. She tours with a number of her favored authors and promotes other self-improvement “gurus” such as Deepak Chopra on her many platforms.
- Real estate wealth building seminars often feature known self-help gurus such as Tony Robbins.