Thursday 18 March 2010

Comments on Landmark

(Would you buy a used car from this man?)

AlfonsoG left a comment on my recent post:
As someone who has taken a variety of Landmark programs, I would take issue with a couple of things that you said. You imply that Landmark doesn't care about the health of the people who take part, not warning people that a course that takes a long, hard look at one's life is not appropriate for everyone. In fact, Landmark's Education explicitly gives a health warning in its paperwork, saying the courses aren't right for some people. I also take issue with the idea that Landmark is in it only for the money - in all my life of dealing with various companies, they are probably the group that is least interested in making a fast buck off of people and most interested in people having happy, fulfilled lives.
He has a blog called Transformation Musings but it's got nothing in it.

I thank AlfonsoG for taking the time. So let me respond.

Landmark has, for legal liability reasons, to place warnings about health risks in its paperwork. If it didn't it would be open day for personal injury lawyers. However, as we all know, the presence of risk management measures doesn't mean they are followed nor given any credence.

Much regulation and risk compliance is box ticking not active planning. And this is what Landmark does. For all its rhetoric, it does not take care of its devotees--certainly not their mental or psychological health.

Lars Berwick has talked about the danger of suicide through Landmark. And the "Inside Landmark Forum" by French television clearly shows the demeaning and crude tactics used by Forum leaders that can damage participants. The psychologist on the show argues that the Forum is psychologically risky and potentially harmful.

Again, the financial setup of Landmark is opaque and given what they do, there should be more transparency. Their over-use of so called volunteers has been criticized for failing minimum wage laws in some countries.

Thus on the basis of the evidence I think AlfonsoG has got it wrong.

Sunday 7 February 2010

What Do People Who Have Been to Landmark Think?

Not everyone who goes to Landmark Education forums raves about them. Some come away disturbed, but Landmark rarely warns people that their psyches could be seriously damaged. If they did they would lose their income flows, of course. Because ultimately it's about making money out of you--nothing more.

So to balance the scales, here are some quotes from people who have attended the Forum from the Rick Ross website.

"I recently attended the Landmark Forum. I was surprised at how quickly people 'popped' and bought into the program and were ready to bring others into a program that didn't seem to amount to much at all. At the end of one exercise, I asked if there were any academic studies that verified the previous session and was reminded that during the introduction 'We told you that nothing we say is true' so maybe this isn't true either. I walked out and went to a movie. Best thing I ever did. Landmark is running a racket."
"I just dropped out of a Landmark Forum after 1.2 days. I was appalled by the controlling, manipulative conduct of the facilitator and his volunteers. I was followed to the bathroom by three people yesterday and berated for sending a text message. I left early and a 'see the program coordinator' note was on my file. I was very concerned when we were told not to write anything down and with the length of the Forum. 13.5 hours would leave someone vulnerable with exhaustion. I've likely lost $550 learning the hardway. I should have done more research, but I'm glad to know that this information IS out there if someone wants to look."
"In December of 2006 I attended landmark forum due to a VERY persistent friend who kept repeating 'do you trust me? Just ignore what it says on the internet. You don’t know those people but you know me and I wouldn’t get you mixed up in something that would harm you in any way. This experience will change your life.' Well, after weeks of this (and I was ready for a change in my life) I felt 'what the heck' it can’t be that bad. WRONG! I am no longer friends with this person and I regret taking the forum. I keep recalling the last day when they practically forced everyone in the room to take out their credit cards, check books or cash to sign guests up for a future forum date and those who already took the forum were urged to sign up for the advanced class. I realized that it was a money-making scam and never took the free seminars or advanced class. They repeatedly called me asking me to give my deposit and to fax my information form. I’m grateful that I never got my family or friends involved. I regret wasting $440.00 on this sham."
"I took the Forum and a Landmark communication course, but didn't like my experiences there. I thought it was positively sinister the way this organization used manipulation and group peer pressure. Gathering more adherents seemed to be their r'aison d'etre,' after all it's a business. I resisted "bringing guests," everyone I knew had already been through it, got whatever they got from it, and were not interested in paying for more. Landmark has an awful lot of unpaid volunteers to man its courses and run the centers. Seems like this is a great way to get rich off of volunteer stiffs. I believe that there is something rotten in this Denmark."

"I've enjoyed reading your website, especially about Landmark. My husband was involved with Landmark for 2 years and it was hell getting him out. Landmark was the ONLY thing that has ever threatened our strong marriage, and thank God it is behind us now."

"I just did it and actually had a powerful experience, but was really turned off by the constant push to enroll others. About a third of my session in the seminar series was devoted to this. Special coaching was set up to be better at enrolling others. I dared to complain about this respectfully and in private. Then a seminar leader called and told me that I would no longer be participating. They don't like questions and can always turn it back on you, how it's really your 'racket.' It's too bad, because there are some useful things in the course. But I am definitely not giving any more money to Landmark."

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Landmark Forum for Cats

I think this puts it in context...

Saturday 3 October 2009

Landmark Education's "Use" of Volunteers

Landmark is keen on using "volunteers". I put this in quotes because Landmark has been found in violation of minimum wage laws over the way it dragoons its participants into working for it.

In 2006 the US Department of Labor in Dallas, Texas, found minimum wage violations. The department reported:

The assistants hour are delegated by an employee of the firm, the work is directed and managed by the site manager, the duties performed are vital to the employer’s business. The assistants are not given credit for the hours worked which vary from 10 per week to 60 and up. The assistants are keeping records of attendees, stats on classroom attendance, assisting the instructor with the classes, and also an integral part of the seminars. The employer could not conduct the seminars at the level it has been doing without the enormous amount of assistants (20-40) per seminar. The assistants perform primary functions of the employer such as finance conversations with potential attendees, purchasing, and facility management.

A heavy emphasis is put on volunteering at the initial Landmark Forum attended by newcomers. Attendees are influenced to assist (volunteer) at the classes and told they can gain more knowledge without paying any money to attend seminars that they volunteer at [Exemption 5 to Freedom of Information Act: Internal forms and memoranda]

By volunteering at these seminars and in the business office the assistants are convinced that they are acquiring skills and knowledge required to improve their social and mental skills that they can use in their full-time employment and personal lives. The assistants displace regular employees that would have to be hired. The employer could not operate with the 2-3 full-time employees per site.
By its own admission Landmark Education generates $89 million a year in revenues and has a small number of actual paid employees. Plus it has to pay license fees to Werner Erhard (Jack Rosenberg, brother of Harry, the CEO) for the so-called "technology".

France has also complained about the use of unpaid volunteers for onerous duties.

I would be curious to know what Landmark's revenue stream is like in the recession. It is either very down or has risen dramatically as people look for escape routes.

Anyone know?

Saturday 22 August 2009

Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley Compels Managers to Attend Landmark Forum

(Thanks to Mother Jones)

Mother Jones has a good piece on Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley. The cafe has links with Landmark Education and insists its managers attend Landmark courses. Those that don't are fired. The full story is in the East Bay Express.

Laura McClure also writes an article, "The Landmark Forum: 42 Hours, $500, 65 Breakdowns" about doing the Forum. It has one or two insightful moments but isn't as good as some of the others referred to in earlier posts. However, the comments section is worth reading. (Running up to a 100 comments.) Notable is a comment by a psychiatrist who was called in to work with people who'd been through the Forum. His conclusion: a cult.

Some day Landmark will have to be stopped and show for what it really is, nothing but a scam.

Sunday 26 July 2009

What Does Landmark Do To The Brain?

Here is a talk from TED by Diane Benscoter, a former Moonie, on how cults rewire the brain. I include Landmark Education in this definition.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Does Landmark Teach You To Tell the Truth?

Of course it does! Isn't that the principle? To live your life with integrity and authenticity. You wish and don't hold your breath.

My former partner who succumbed to the lure of Landmark as a way through a mid-life crisis took an advanced course on "communication". One of her tasks was to speak to me about something she had withheld from me. I recall a long and tortuous phone call as she attempted to reveal to me her "omissions", "avoidances", or to be plain, how she had been living a lie.

Her mentor in the course had insisted she carry through her task. At the time I believed her. Why not? Well, because in the end even she couldn't bring herself to tell me the truth.

The truth implicated other friends and actually it was through one of them that I learned the truth when she herself learned it. She passed it on to me. Now I know. The strange effect of this knowledge is to help me come to terms with my situation, not my former partner's.

Landmark didn't help her. But what it did was rather more insidious. It gave her a pretext, a cover, a smokescreen that she could use to pretend to be playing the game and thereby hope to sucker others into believing it. As I did for a while.

Any system or course can be abused as my former partner did with Landmark. That's why it is important to have ways of verifying and testing one's procedures. Landmark resolutely sets itself against any of this.

If it did it would not be scraping the barrel for its suckers to get their money.