A selection of self-help books.

Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The Legacy Of Self-Help Books

July 19, 2017

There are many means people seek out to provide answers to their pressing questions about life. Some look to religion for their answers, while others look to science. Those seeking guidance are willing to travel all over the world, from the mountains of the Himalayas to the woods of Walden pond. For many, though, the closest source of enlightenment is the self-help section of their local bookstore.

Millions of people flock to self-help books for advice on every aspect of life that one can imagine. Despite the quick fix the internet may supply, this billion-dollar-a-year business continues to help people around the globe.

The world recently lost one of their most renowned self-help guru’s earlier this month. Spencer Johnson, the author of the renowned self-help business book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” passed away at the age of 78. Business tycoons and struggling entrepreneurs clung to Johnson’s advice like a life raft through the turbulent waters of capitalism.

Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn joined Boston Public Radio to talk about the history of self-help books, the legacy of Spencer Johnson, and why the self-help book business continues to thrive.  

Nancy Koehn holds the James E. Robison Chair of Business administration at the Harvard Business School. Her forthcoming book is "Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times." To hear her interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.

 


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