Self-Help, LLC

Are we all in the self-help business now?

We’re inundated by self-help messaging no matter where we go: the grocery store, the gym, the office, and anywhere we go online. Self-Help, LLC is an investigation into how the medium of self-help shapes the way we navigate the 21st-century economy.


How Advice Culture Turns Us into Winners (and Losers)

It’s hard to escape the language and politics of self-help today. Whether you’re browsing your LinkedIn, Instagram, or even TikTok feed, there’s a very good chance that the first post you see offers up some idea for living a better life or growing a more successful business. Shoulds and supposed-tos are cultural currency. We gain social capital sharing advice or “giving value.” And that’s left me wondering: are we all in the self-help business now?


“She Looks Like an Instagram”: How Empowerment Became a Brand

It’s not only self-help or entrepreneurship products that are sold as tools for “empowerment” today. It’s just about everything: makeup, clothing, workout equipment, vitamins, office supplies… Whole brands are built around the promise that a purchase won’t just solve your problem. It’ll make you a better, more fulfilled person. But empowerment isn’t for sale—only the status quo. How does the language of self-help give us a false sense of power?

GUEST: Kelly Diels


Who Do You Trust with Your Business or Career?

Our quest for self-improvement requires us to decide who (or what) to trust with our time, energy, and money. What book do you decide to read next? Which coach do you hire? What accounts do you follow? Our consumer choices seem endless—so finding someone or something to put your trust in might feel like an Olympic feat.

On the flip side, as business owners or independent workers whether explicitly or implicitly in the business of self-help, our goal is to cultivate trust. Why would someone trust us with their business, their marriage, or their hopes and dreams for the future?

GUEST: Patrick Sheehan


What’s Your Type? Why Self-Knowledge is Big Business on Social Media

If your Instagram feed or Explore page looks anything like mine, then you likely see a preponderance of posts about personality types, conditions, or other self-knowledge. We’re hooked on learning about ourselves! And perhaps even more hooked on sharing what we’ve learned—which means that the Instagram algorithm (as well as TikTok’s and Pinterest’s algorithms) has learned to love this kind of content, too. Self-knowledge is a profitable corner in the business of self-help.

GUEST: Steph Barron Hall


How Influencers Change the Way We See Ourselves

There’s an influencer for every thing these days. Camping equipment? Sure. Nutritional supplements? You bet. Miniatures? You know it. College admissions? But of course. In this episode, though, we’re going to focus on one of the original influencer niches: MOMS.

The rise of the influencer ushered in a new outlet for the self-help business. Now, not only are there motivational books and talks, there’s a product endorsement to help you live your best life. Influencers give us, perhaps, the direct line between personal growth and consumer capitalism.

GUEST: Sara Petersen


What Does Power Sound Like?

We form an impression of our voices early in life. While it might shift some as we age, those impressions tend to stick with us. For many of us, what we learn about our voices is how their don’t quite measure up to the ideal: too high, too low, too soft, too loud, too this, too that. This is especially true for women, queer people, transgender people, non-native English speakers, Black people, people of color, indigenous people, and really anyone whose voice doesn’t fit into the white, male baritone mold.

So what do we do? We try to sound more like everyone else. And that can not only mess with our ability to use our physical voices, but it messes with our ability to use our metaphorical voices and confuses our sense of self.

GUEST: Samara Bay


The Body at Work: Why Self-Control is the #1 Rule of the 21st-Century Economy

Much of our modern discourse around productivity, empowerment, entrepreneurship, and personal growth includes messages about our bodies. These messages might not be explicit, but the messages are there—and our brains pick them up loud and clear. The business of self-help is also the body business.

Similarly, we might not realize that we’re sharing messages that insert themselves into how others perceive their own bodies—but many of us are. It’s impossible to talk about self-discipline, accountability, or efficiency without those concepts leaving their marks on our flesh.

GUESTS: Tiffany Ima, Jessica Defino, and India Jackson


Hustle Culture: How Did We Get Here? And What Do We Do About It?

Hustle. Grind. Boss up. Do more. Love them or hate them; these words are embedded into the ways we think about work and entrepreneurship. But as we’ve seen with the enormous growth of the r/anti-work subreddit and the panic about quiet quitting, more people than ever are thinking about different ways to go about building their lives, careers, and businesses.

GUEST: Jadah Sellner