Alexa Sorenson / The Hollis Company

Girl, Find Your Balance: How Rachel Hollis Went From an Overwhelmed Mom to Productivity Queen

Jan 15, 2020

Take a stroll through your local Barnes & Noble, or Target book section, for a tiny taste of how horny America is for personal development right now. Originals (Adam Grant). You are a Badass (Jen Sincero). Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert). #Girlboss (Sophia Amoruso). How Be a Bawse (Lilly Singh). The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo). The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson). And so on.

Somehow, Rachel Hollis has cut through the noise.

The 37-year-old author struck gold with Girl, Wash Your Face, her wildly popular 2018 self help book that’s sold more than three million copies. The followup, 2019’s Girl, Stop Apologizing, was also a hit — both books still sit comfortably on the New York Times best-seller list today.

Hollis’ “thing” is authenticity — she’s just a normal gal who quotes Demi Lovato and fills her books with anecdotes basically anyone can relate to (cutting your own bangs in middle school; smoking cigarettes as a teenager to impress the in-crowd). And she espouses standard motivational speaker fare … “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams,” and all that. But her impact is staggering: Hollis has more than 1.7 million followers on Instagram alone. Her top YouTube videos garner hundreds of thousands of views. Her “personal growth” conferences, which cost between $200 to $1,800 to attend, sell out event centers all over the country.

“If you’re a lady, you tend to know who I am,” she tells me.

She’s got critics: At the height of her Girl, Wash Your Face popularity, some blasted the book’s “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” narrative, and Hollis’ failure to acknowledge how hard it is for women of color and other disenfranchised groups to replicate it.

Still, as gurus go, you could do worse than a militantly-positive mother of four who likes to jog and journal. And as more and more books designed to #motivate hit bookstore shelves, Hollis has made hers hard to ignore.

Today, she’s wrapping up a book about health and body image, and working on a talk show pilot for Quibi, a new short-form video streaming platform. I caught up with her on a recent trip to New York.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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You do an awful lot of jet setting. Aren’t you exhausted?

Yeah, I’m pretty excited to go back to my hotel and take my bra off.