Richard Branson to Robin Sharma- The many ways that self-help books may be losing potency

Not an avid reader?  Heard of names like Richard Branson, Brian Tracy, Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Rhonda Byrne? They have got to you then. They have very successfully got to you. Behold the, Success Gurus. Life Hack experts, welcome to the SELF HELP INDUSTRY.

Off-paper, most of these authors spend time conducting workshops and conferences for corporates, sales professionals,  schools and the general public. I really like all of their work and their insights they offer. But with so many Life changing Gurus, the world is just churning out new problems or a large part of the world is still un-motivated or worse- BURNT OUT. So it begs the question, Does self-help really help a person grow?

This is not to say that all these authors/ publishing houses are conspiring together to make money off our weaknesses-but the usefulness of this industry seems  recently under debate.

Why do we choose these books and listen to these authors?

Innately, at all stages of my life, I have wanted to be better  than the next person or be the equivalent of a successful person until I realized I want to be the best version of myself. Yet I don’t know how to do it perfectly. So I constantly look for motivation and quick hacks to help me make the best decisions. We are probably the only mammals that measure our traits and abilities against others or against our past selves almost constantly.

What has changed since the social media boom?

Digital marketing, New York times best sellers, paid partnerships, video lectures, free subscription for one year etc, etc.

I feel  no less chased after by  books, leaders and authors than by products. A decade ago, we were prowling for books. Now all the gurus seem to be hunting for more and wider range of disciples. It is almost as if they are in a rat-race themselves now that youtubers, review sites  and bloggers seem to be far reaching and influential than legit professionals in the life-hack industry. Only recently many self proclaimed industry “leaders” and experts (who were only famous on social media) were debunked for “Renting out” their villas, luxury cars and yachts inorder to lure people by marketing videos into their subscription and webinars.

What decides a book/author’s longevity in the reader?

If I looked for the next self help book, it means the first didn’t work too well, right? It didn’t serve me LIFE LONG. Self-improvement needs can change. One time it is public speaking, another time it is health and fitness. “Get anything you want, faster than you ever think” may have been an inspirational catchphrase but if any content doesn’t unknot  the logic knots that the real world throws at you, you may not remember it too well.  So does that mean all that these served was a temporary spike of motivation that fades with real experiences? Not entirely. Books of both inspiration and reason, great language stick around more in our memory. The longer it is in memory, the more often we go back to fetch excerpts and use its recommended methods.

Nobody has all the time in the world to read book after book for motivation

When the Blinkist App came by, it was like a slap in the face for me. the Blinkist app, which has over 2,000 nonfiction book summaries that you can “read” in under 15 minutes, was very welcome, highly promoted on social media and could have done a much better job if it came any earlier. That way we could compare content an take what we need.YouTube channels like Fight Mediocrity summarize books with animated clips. All we really want from self-improvement books and seminars is jump to the core of the subject without the hustle and ado.

Blinkist app pricing:

We bought  a lot of books because of their blurb (The backside of a book), a good ruse that is fading because of online piracy and online ratings .  We are more likely to pick a book that says “New York times bestseller” than  ‘Life changing masterpiece”. This is because it is human instinct to lean on peer and expert opinion.

They hold good when we are in need of immediate motivation  but the real deal is when people actually start weighing in on “The help” the books can do.We  practice all the preaching, and it seems to be working, then  when real life kicks in, the algorithm seems blurry, then  a little impractical, then after a while, we may need new motivational lectures and videos. Strangely I haven’t seen one successful person who credited his success to these motivational books or speakers or gurus than praising REAL LIFE experiences for shaping who they are. Turns out most Kung-fu movies might be right. The answer, the fire must come from inside, if it has to fuel you consistently.

Here are some straight facts:

Either way, the self-help industry takes advantage of people’s weaknesses. Earlier, religion did that quiet successfully.

The Self improvement industry is worth $10Billionand self improvement audiobooks stand at $769 million, growing annually by 5.6%

Women are more likely to buy and read self help books than men.

Americans spent $563 million on self help books in the beginning of the millennium (2000).

People resort to self-help books mostly because, it is cheaper and discreet than going to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Self help books and audiobooks fall under 4 main categories: Identity, Growth, Coping with stress, Personal relationships.

Self-help books cannot treat undiagnosed or chronic mental health conditions.

The bottomline is, all self-help merchandise are accessible, but their usefulness and longevity varies for different people. Simply put, do not judge a book by its cover.pexels-photo



Published by Shrutthi Shivaswamy Prabhakaran

Documenting unique people |Minimal living |Design harmony and other things that bother me

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