“In order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times.”

That’s a piece of wisdom from Peter Gallagher playing Buddy Kane, the trite mantra-spouting real estate king in the 1999 film American Beauty. Of course it’s utter B.S. because Buddy, well, he was B.S..

But there’s a Realtor out there right now, down on her hands and knees, scrubbing dingy bathroom carpet in a late ’70s Fox & Jacobs tract home, saying (or pleading) to herself “I will sell this house.” And like Annette Bening playing Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty did, she’ll hear advice like Buddy’s and believe he’s the smartest man that ever lived. And that’s why self-help is a $11 billion business.

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