If the title sounds familiar to you, you may recall my popular My Farewell Letter to Rachel Hollis post. Today I’m featuring another self help cringe-fluencer.
I’ve debated on and off whether to write this post or not. Mostly because my readers probably don’t know who Jenna Kutcher is but also because I don’t really write negative reviews.
I feel compelled to write a review of this book because I’m certain that Jenna’s PR team has scoured the internet trying to remove negative reviews because there literally are none.
Jenna Kutcher’s claim to fame is that she is a “small town mama who bought a $300 camera, grew a successful photo biz, and now runs a 7 figure online business from home.” She’s pretty “high up” in the self help world – especially in the business sector. I’ve listened to her podcast for years, I’ve bought some of her digital items/courses, I was really excited for her first book to be released. But now, I’m totally turned off, not only by the book but the entire brand. I’ll just dive right in because I have a lot of thoughts.
The repetitive theme of Jenna Kutcher is “I tried something new, I was so great at it, everything worked out perfect for me so it should work out perfectly for you!” For example:
One year she just “decided” to save all of the money she would need to retire so she could feel financially secure. So within the year, she did!
Another year she just blocked off an entire 2 months of her calendar and had no work and no plans or commitments.
She tried gymnastics as a kid and was just so good she graduated to another gym!
She did cartwheels off a diving board when she was a kid on vacation and she realized she should be a diver so she went on to be a collegiate athlete!
She was just so good at her corporate job she kept getting promoted and promoted!
She was such a great photographer with her $300 dollar Craig’s list camera, she was named wedding photographer of the year for 3 years in a row!
She tried a podcast and now it has 500+ episodes with millions of downloads!
She had two miscarriages and removed all the toxins from her life, moved to Minnesota and got pregnant!
They loved their vacations to Hawaii so they bought a house and now run a successful Air BNB!
She just happened to be selected to become an Aerie #REAL model!
She has multiple streams of income and talks incessantly about her 7 figure business!
She just decided to write a book and it happened to hit the New York Times bestseller list!
The entire book is filled with stories and examples like this. I’m not saying she needs to create some kind of adversity or struggle if it isn’t there, but it comes with an air of “I did it! You should too! What are you waiting for?” After awhile, it just gets repetitive and old and comes off as so tone deaf and privileged. There is little to no adversity, struggle, or mistakes whatsoever shared in this book. It’s entirely unrelatable in my opinion. This is a bit of what turned me off about Rachel Hollis, they both preach the underlying message of “If it is not working for you like it is working for me, you aren’t trying hard enough” without acknowledging any privileges or advantages they hold.
She refers to her husband repeatedly as “Mr. Six Pack.” It totally rubs me the wrong way. I hate the narrative of “Wow, my husband is such a good man because he loves my body even if I’m ‘curvy’.” One example of “adversity” she faces and shares in the book is that people might “judge them” because her husband is a stay at home Dad. That’s not adversity Jenna, that’s privilege.
Another form of “adversity” she faces, she continuously refers to throughout the book. While she was working as an executive human resource manager for corporate Target, a job that she continuously reminds us of how successful she was at, she worked in a “windowless office.” She keeps repeating and emphasizing her “windowless office” as if she’s working in the grueling heat 60 hours a week. I can understand the pain of working in a job that doesn’t “feed your soul” but to use a “windowless office” as a means to gain sympathy from an audience doesn’t fly for me.
One form of ACTUAL adversity that Jenna faced was almost getting entirely cancelled in 2020 following the Black Lives Matter movement. Of all the guests she’s hosted on her extremely popular business podcast, she never once featured a woman of color as if they don’t have any insight to offer to her audience. Jenna responded to the criticism with a picture of her holding black children in an orphanage she met when she wandered away from her 5 star resort in the Dominican Republic with the hint of “See? I love black people! I can’t be racist!” After the white savior card didn’t pan out for her, she defended herself (very loosely paraphrased) with “Well I live in Minnesota, there aren’t black people here so how can I make black friends?” I could write an entire blog post on how poorly she handled this PR crisis, but I’ll leave that to you if you’d like to check into it. Here’s a YouTube link that will fill you in:
At the end of every chapter when you finally feel like maybe she’s working towards some kind of tangible and applicable advice, she says “Go to my website for more information!” Well, I bought the book for a reason, I paid for it, not to be told to keep going to your website.
I’ve literally stopped and started this book for weeks. I would get annoyed, take a break, try again, get annoyed, and now I’m just done.
Jenna is associated and does a lot of collaboration with Tony Robbins, another popular self help guru who, has been accused of sexual harassment by over 10 women. Multiple reports have come out stating that Tony is NOT a good guy, yet she continues to associate herself with them so she can absorb some of his audience. There’s no amount of fame or fortune that would allow me to associate with that.
The book was also heavily marketed as “never before heard stories,” but as an avid podcast listener, I could literally predict the next story she was going to tell in the 19 chapters I actually listened to before I finally had to quit reading.
The one thing that REALLY bothers me about this book, and maybe I’m just a little bitter about it in general, there are NO negative reviews on the internet. The reviews that are on the internet are all 5 stars and very generic like “loved this book!” and “it’s a great read!” I’ve heard that publishing companies will gather up “book launch” teams who literally go and post these 5 star reviews the second the book is launched so that it will appear higher on recommendation lists. It’s not a “bad thing” necessarily but I also feel like the reviews that are out there are not representative of the book’s actual quality or content. I’ve also heard of PR teams that can make just about any negative review disappear.
So, similarly to Rachel Hollis, (the blog post that got me featured on buzz feed) I too must say good bye to Jenna Kutcher. I’ve never read a self help book that made me dislike the author even more. If I had to sum up my reasons, again, like Rachel Hollis would say, she’s just not relatable anymore despite her efforts to be #relatable. The entitlement and privilege is just too much. Maybe she thinks we would be inspired by her success stories but the way they are presented are tone deaf as to what struggles other women may be facing and why things may not come as easy to them as they have so magically come together for her. Her “rags to riches” story has no rags involved, at least she didn’t share any in the book.
I would say I started out the book as a fan, a weekly listener to her podcast, a member of her Facebook group, a customer of her digital courses/items and now here I am, unfollowing her pristine instagram grid (in which most of her photos are of her in her bra and underwear) and unsubscribing to her podcast.
With that, I’m also revoking my title as “self help junkie.” There was a time and place in my life where I really enjoyed the self help/self improvement industry, but time and time again between Rachel Hollis, Jenna Kutcher, Amy Porterfield, and Tony Robbins, I just feel slimy about it all. I feel like I’m being scammed. I feel they are eventually revealed to be inauthentic, unrelatable and money hungry.
In conclusion, I give this book 1/5 stars. If you haven’t been following Jenna’s career thus far, maybe you could glean some inspiration from her over told stories.
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