When the best advice comes from the worst sources

That infamous Oprah's Book Club book - 'A Million Little Pieces' by James Frey - displayed amongst other self-help and recovery books.

Image of Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong
Author: Zac Bissonnette
Publisher: Portfolio Trade (2014)
Binding: Paperback, 208 pages

Would you trust business advice from a CEO that watched his company go bankrupt? Or relationship advice from someone who was accused of murdering their spouse?

Zac Bissonnette, author of the book "Good Advice from Bad People", says there are plenty of people who think they can give this type of advice through speeches or books. Usually, it’s when these people are at the height of their careers. And sometimes, they speak too soon.

"It just struck me about a year ago, how easy it is to become an inspirational icon or a self-help expert and that kind of thing," says Bissonnette. "And how often, the people who we look to for wisdom are terrible at following their own advice."

While in the process of writing, Bissonnette noticed a trend in his research.

"Most of the CEOs that I found were cultivating personality-driven brands right at the apex of their careers, right before it all goes to hell," says Bissonnette.

But the desire for self-help books, guides and products in our modern society is significant. Despite the recession in 2008, America spent $11 billion on self-improvement products.

"In our desperate need for motivational figures, we make almost no effort to vet them," says Bissonnette.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.
Image of Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong
Author: Zac Bissonnette
Publisher: Portfolio Trade (2014)
Binding: Paperback, 208 pages

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...