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How self-help is getting a millennial makeover (and how to use it to live your best life)

Kristen Meinzer, a radio producer who recently launched By The Book, a “half reality show, half self-help podcast”, in which she and comedian Jolenta Greenberg live by the rules of a different self-help book in each episode and then report on the results, sees our sceptical reaction to the genre as having a complicated history.

“One of the reasons self-help books make people cringe is that they often make promises that are outrageous or impossible to deliver on, like ‘Lose thirty pounds in thirty days!’ or ‘Make him desire you by ignoring him!’” says Meinzer. “We see people who fall for these kinds of promises as suckers, not unlike the naive villagers of yore who fell for snake oil salesman. On top of that, I think we only focus on the word ‘help’ in self-help. If we paid attention to the word ‘self’, we’d realise this genre is targeting people who want to be self-reliant. And isn’t self reliance a good thing?”

Greenberg, Meinzer’s co-host, agrees, adding: “Admitting you need ‘help’ means admitting a flaw or a weakness. Saying you want to ‘improve’ is safer and less vulnerable, you just want to get even better than you already are. It makes me sad that our society frowns so much upon admitting you need help.”


With its Amazon-inspired pilot project, Panoply used listener feedback to help decide its new shows

Listeners to By The Book suggested that the hosts should interview experts in the subjects that they cover — and swear a little less. Cohost Jolenta Greenberg has taken this feedback to heart. “Having time to go back to the drawing board after the pilot was released is a luxury that not many people get,” she said.

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 delve into self-help books with the hosts of By The Book

There are a million self-help books out there. But chances are, you don’t know anyone who admits to reading any. But not to worry — friends Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer are reading them so you don’t have to. Each episode, they live by the rules of a different popular self-help book, like “The Secret” or “French Women Don’t Get Fat.” Then they report on the (often hilarious) results.

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These 2 Podcasters Are Changing Their Lives, One Self-Help Book at a Time

Every two weeks, Jolenta and Kristen live their lives by the teachings of a specific self-help book and discuss their findings on a podcast episode dedicated to that book. Their findings are totally relatable, surprising, and hysterical. We chatted with the podcasting pair to get the scoop on how it all started and why they’re happy to be, as Jolenta says, “shedding light on what most people consider to be a dirty little secret.”

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If you’ve ever perused the self-help section of your local bookstore (or Amazon) à la Charlotte York, you know that the only thing harder than finding the perfect book to address your particular needs is actually managing to follow all of its advice to the letter if you do.

But that’s exactly what comedian Jolenta Greenberg and producer Kristen Meinzer have challenged one another to do for their new podcast By the Book. The two are living by the rules of a different personal development guide for two weeks at a time, candidly sharing the results on air for each episode...

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13 Must-Listen Podcast Episodes from March 2017

My favorite entry in the recently launched Panoply Pilot Project, this down-the-rabbit-hole look at self-help books signals a promising start if the show goes to series. Co-hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer use “The Secret” as an entertaining springboard for a look into their own lives and relationships. (The banter with their respective husbands is a wonderful added layer, one that’s also present in another enjoyable PPP entry “The Awkward Family Podcast.”) Their conclusions about the effectiveness of the Law of Attraction are winking enough to prod at the more absurd parts of this phenomenon and sincere enough to embrace the power of positive change. That balance could easily sustain a shelf of future episodes.

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Without a shadow of a doubt one of the best shows we heard this week came from By The Book, one of the Panoply Pilots currently in the running for a full series. The plan for this show is that Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer will live and breathe the rules of a self help book each week to figure out if any of them actually work. The pilot episode sees Jolenta and Kristen tackle Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. By The Book is a fantastic concept for a podcast, and it’s realized in two incredibly likable and funny hosts. We’ll be adding a full season of By The Book to our vision board immediately.

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This is the month of #trypod, when we’re all trying to help people discover new great podcasts.

In the new podcast By the Book,  Kristen and her co-host comedian Jolenta Greenberg zealously follow the precepts of a particular self-help book, to see if the advice actually works. First up: The Secret. It’s funny, thought-provoking…just terrific. By the Book is part of a pilot project run by Panoply, so you can vote for the podcast to get greenlit here.

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This Week in Comedy Podcasts

By The Book, is hosted by New York-based comedian/storyteller Jolenta Greenberg and her Minnesota friend Kristen Meinzer. The premise is that both women will follow the dictates of the same self help book for two weeks, then report back on their experiences and whether they think the guide is full of hooey or not. The pilot focuses on the immensely popular The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and, although both hosts start out rather skeptical about the book’s belief system and methodology around the Law of Attraction, their recap of the two weeks spent adhering to it ends up providing some interesting evidence to support it. At least for Greenberg. The stolid Midwesterner, Meinzer, wasn’t thoroughly convinced but takes the change she sees in her friend as proof enough that there may, indeed, be some power in The Secret. [iTunes]