The self-help industry is an $11 billion dollar industry. Regardless of their income, people are willing to shell out money for self-help books, videos, seminars and retreats in hopes it will improve the condition of their lives. In 2011, self-help audio books grossed nearly $3 billion in the U.S. This does not include worldwide revenue generated from printed books, personal coaching, seminars, webinars, retreats and other products and services.
Considered “recession proof,” this industry continues to grow despite being unregulated and marred by public scandal. Many remain skeptical of the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, who changed his name and went from being homeless to famed spiritual teacher and author without credentials. In 2011, ‘The Secret’ self-help guru James Arthur Ray was sentenced to prison after a “sweat lodge” exercise during a spiritual retreat left 3 attendees dead. Though it was not the first time Ray came under fire for his unorthodox methods, this incident was the deadliest. Despite objections from the victims’ families, Ray is still a fixture on the self-help scene today.
Who are some of the highest earning self-help gurus?
James Arthur Ray – $2.4 Million
Once-respected self-help guru James Arthur Ray raised his visibility making TV appearances on ‘Oprah‘ and ‘Larry King Live’ and appearing in the popular film ‘The Secret’. After his conviction of three counts of negligent homicide, he was accused of hiding his assets, which amounted to approximately $2.4 million. Ray’s attorneys had previously testified that he was broke and unable to afford bail. Ray led a questionable sweat lodge activity during one of his retreats that resulted in the death of three participants and injured others. The ‘Law of Attraction’ advocate served two years in prison and was released in 2013. Ray reached out to his followers on ‘Pierce Morgan’ in November and is attempting to rebuild his self-help empire, once valued at $10 million.
Les Brown – $10 Million
Former politician, author and motivational speaker Les Brown has an estimated net worth of $10 million. The Emmy winner has worked in radio and appeared on PBS. His production company produced former CBS talk shows, ‘The Les Brown Show’, and ‘Rolanda. Brown currently has a syndicated radio show in California, resides in Florida and is also known for his brief marriage to R&B icon, Glady’s Knight. Knight claimed Brown served her with divorce papers and ended communication, despite reports that she left him due to his cancer diagnosis. While promoting her autobiography, Knight hinted that Brown’s infidelity contributed to the split. The award winning speaker commands up to $40K per engagement.
Jay McGraw – $12.5 Million
Son of TV personality Dr. Phil, Jay McGraw is building a legacy in the self-help industry in his own right. His reported net worth is $12.5 million. The 34-year-old is the creator of ‘The Doctors,’ former host of ‘Renovate My Family’ and author of several self-help books geared toward teens and their parents. The New York Times best selling author is also the CEO of a production company he co-founded with his father. According to TMZ, McGraw lives in a $6.5 Million mansion in Calabasas with his wife, former Playboy Playmate Erica Dahm, and two children.
Eckhart Tolle – $15 Million
German self-help author Eckart Tolle went from being homeless to self-made multimillionaire. Tolle is worth a reported $15 million. The well-known spiritual teacher authored two New York Times bestsellers, ‘A New Earth’ and ‘The Power of Now.’ Tolle caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey and went on to appear on ‘The Oprah Show’ and partner with Winfrey to create a webinar series. Tolle is also a speaker that leads seminars and retreats. In 2009, he launched the web-based video channel, Eckart Tolle TV. According Oprah.com, the spiritual leader has resided in Vancouver, Canada since the mid-90s.
Zig Ziglar – $15 Million
Salesman turned motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar amassed a net worth of $15 million. The now deceased Christian Values speaker penned self-help books that addressed a range of social and personal issues. Ziglar traveled for speaking engagements and motivational seminars until his untimely death in 2012 due to pneumonia. His corporation, Ziglar Training Systems, continues to offer personal and professional development to small and large businesses.
Jack Canfield – $25 Million
Motivational speaker and self-help author Jack Canfield is worth an estimated $25 million. The co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series also makes TV appearances and founded two organizations, the Transformational Leadership Counsel (TLC) and the Foundation for Self Esteem (FSE). Canfield offers workshops and private coaching services where he teachers his transformational program, the Principles of Success and The Law of Attraction.
Laura Catherine Schlessinger – $40 Million
Former TV talk show and radio show host, Laura Schlessinger has a net worth of $40 million. The former marriage and family counselor also authors self-help books about relationships and personal growth. Her radio show, ‘The Dr. Laura Program’ was once the second in popularity after ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show’. Schlessinger moved to XM Radio after using a racial slur and making offensive comments about interracial marriage cost her sponsors and affiliates. Schlessinger’s stint on TV did not end well. Viewers found her impersonal and the Post exposed her for filming with fake guests.
Paul McKenna – $55 Million
Hypnotist, author and radio and TV host Paul McKenna is reportedly worth $55 million. McKenna hyptonitised guests for comedic purposes on his UK show ‘The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna.’ He went on to sign a $23 million deal with the Discovery Channel to launch a series of self-help programs and starred in TLC’s ‘I Can Make You Thin’. McKenna’s self-help books have been top-sellers and he also hosts live events.
Deepak Chopra – $80 Million
Friend to the stars, Deepak Chopra is worth an estimated $80 million. Chopra has been a personal spiritual guru to many Hollywood celebs, including Michael Jackson, and founded the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine. The best selling author is a licensed physician and popular leader in the holistic movement. Chopra co-founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, CA, which specializes in nutrition, sleep-wake cycles and stress management. He is also a college professor and paid lecturer that often covers metaphysics and philosophy. Chopra has appeared on ‘The Oprah Show’ and Time magazine named him one of the top icons and heroes of the 20th century.
Tony Robbins – $480 Million
Coach, speaker, actor and self-help author Tony Robbins has a reported net worth of $480 million. Robbins may be familiar to most Americans through his infomercials and co-hosting stint on ‘Oprah’s Lifeclass’. In 2010, two episodes of ‘Breakthrough with Tony Robbins’ aired on ABC before the series was cancelled, but it was later picked up by OWN. Robbins has a line of self-help products and programs and authored ‘Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement’ and ‘Awaken the Giant Within’. He has appeared in Forbes magazine “Celebrity 100″ list and owns Namale resort in Fiji.