Thursday, 8 January 2009

Landmark the Ponzi Scheme

With the exposure of Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion Ponzi scheme, someone ought to do the same with Landmark. It's fundamentally a pyramid scheme always depending on new recruits to boost the income. When journalists have attempted to obtain financial information about Landmark, their attornies start the heavy breathing act.

Rachel Jones of Noseweek in South Africa asked Landmark for a simple set of accounts detailing the costs of a Landmark Forum and its profits. She was concerned about the high costs relative to the actual cost of such a program. Needless to say she wasn't given the information, only threats and evasiveness by its executives.

Besides conning actual cash out of its acolytes, Landmark has one extraordinary trick up its sleeve--volunteering. They run something called the "Landmark Assisting Programme". An Australian woman, Jessica, living in London described her venture with this. Not only is it duplicitous but it is greedy and mendacious too. This is one of the reasons Landmark was thrown out of France and Sweden.

Landmark, a for-profit, company doesn't even want to pay the minimum wage. How cheap can you get? But people like Jessica, professionals in crisis as I've said before, are the prime suckers for this. There could be hope for her yet.

Read on....


November 23rd, 2008 · No Comments

Attention, Landmarkers. I am running a racket.

Attention, non-Landmarkers. Running a racket is top-secret (not really) Landmark Forum jargon for someone or something is getting on my nerves and I would like to whinge about it in three, two, one:

My Landmark Forum In Action seminar leader called me last week. I was at work, and rather busy, didn’t want to talk to anyone at all, and especially not anyone Landmarky. Talking to Landmarky people means that I have to have things like integrity, energy and responsibility. Three things best left alone on a Monday morning.

“Hi, Jessica? It’s ****. Are you interested in doing the Landmark Assisting Programme?”

“Um. What?”

“We really need assistants for some of the seminars.”


“We’re desperate.”

“Oh. When do you need someone?”

“This Thursday night. Can you come? It would really help us out.”

“Um. Sure. What time?”


“See you then.”

“Oh, that’s great! We’ll see you on Thursday. Thanks!”

Actually, I’m not at all interested in the Assisting Programme. The Assisting Programme is for Forum graduates who want to climb the ranks of the Landmark elite, ruthlessly clawing their way up out of the writhing pit of volunteers with their endless stories of rackets, breakdowns, breakthroughs, transformations and all manner of jargony life moments they’ve experienced since the forum. In short, they want jobs.

But I like my seminar leader. She’s sensible and intelligent, and she said she was desperate. So I decided I would go, because I told her I would, and because I have lots of Landmarky integrity these days.

Cut to 6:30 on Thursday night. I am prepared for a hectic night of running around the way I have seen assistants do on television. I march into Landmark Forum headquarters on Eversholt Street near Euston station to find a suspicious number of people milling around, all of them wearing name badges that say ‘Assisting Programme’.

“Hi, I’m here to assist. What can I do?”

“Oh!” A look of bewilderment. “Great! Um… go see that guy in the grey shirt.”

I approach the guy in the grey shirt. “Hi, I’m here to assist. What can I do?”

“Oh!” A look of bewilderment. “Great! Um… go see that guy in the blue shirt.”

I approach the guy in the blue shirt. “Hi, I’m here to assist. What can I do?”

“Oh!” A look of bewilderment. “Great! Um… see that girl over there? The one writing the intention of tonight’s session on the whiteboard?”

I look over. There is a girl writing a couple of sentences on a whiteboard in huge letters. She is taking approximately one minute to write each word. “Yes.”

“Do you think you could read out the intention of tonight’s session to her so she can write it without looking at it?”

A look of bewilderment. This time from me.

“Yes. I think I can do that.”

I’m so glad I could help Landmark in their hour of desperation. Nobody reads aloud like me.


Digressica said...

You've misunderstood and misrepresented me and my experiences with Landmark. I neither advocate nor condemn Landmark and their programs, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't use my work to illustrate your point.

I don't know if you're new to blogging, but I feel I should let you know that it's inappropriate and unacceptable to reproduce someone else's work in full on your own blog, especially without the original author's permission. I don't mind at all if you quote from me and link to the original piece, but please don't reproduce it in full. I'd like you to remove this from your site. Thanks.

Justin said...

I have done the Landmark Forum; Advanced Course; Excellence Seminar; Communication: Access to Power. I am registered into Communication: Access to Create and the ILP and SELP.

I have taken the entire Landmark core battery, in their terms, the core curriculum for living.

I still feel like myself, just with a higher awareness of how my actions and words impact other people.

I don't feel socialized or brainwashed.

Indeed, I get into spats with Landmark team all the time.

But, since we are all adults here (supposedly), whenever there is a conflict of interest, I work with the other person to clear it up.

Perhaps one of the most seemingly deceptive elements of Landmark is that the word "Education" is tacked to the building in big, red block letters.

However, anyone who walks through the door with a pair of eyes can clearly see that it is a for-profit business.

College in America has become a for-profit business and I can't find too many people outside of academia who complain about that.

So, if it's OK to let your university systems be turned into a business that inculcate students into Politically Correct ideology that essentially destroys the nature of the English language, which, whether you agree, or disagree forms the societal agreements of the Constitution of the United States of America and all of the laws that govern this land (corrupt and effective; useless and useful; enforceable and unenforceable alike), then don't complain about Landmark.

It's like any other coaching situation: If you want to become a better lacrosse player, then you have to listen to your coach. He's not your enemy. He's the guy trying to make your stick skills better so YOU play the game of LACROSSE better.

Replace the word "LACROSSE" with life, and there you have it, folks:

Landmark helps you play the game of LIFE better.

It's those folks that cannot see the cosmic joke: that one's existence is ultimately insignificant, no matter WHAT achievements one has under one's belt: From Jesus and Gandhi to Steve Jobs and ENRON.

It's all just people making people noises, like cows going "moo".

The trick of it lies in being able to see the space from which that human "moo-ing" comes and to realize that, after all the events of recorded History and your own personal have lost their signifigance; that all Landmark is about is forgiveness of self and others.

For me, that is an amazingly comforting thought.

Funny... that idea is also contained somewhere within all the great religious texts of the world.

So, if you look into the soul's mirror and you don't like what you see, just keep looking.

Eventually, you will.

It took me 30 years of life on Earth to realize that I was worth being loved.

Landmark allowed me to see that AND I was confronted, hurt, scared, etc.

Just as I was before Landmark.

And just as I am sometimes after Landmark.

So.. what's the moral to the story:

Being human can be hard sometimes.

Just put one foot in front of the other and keep breathing; treat others as you would want to be treated yourself and remember always that it's empty and meaningless and it's empty and meaningless that it's empty and meaningless.

I think if you meditate on that long enough, you will begin to see the REAL meaning behind the veil of existence:

We are hypocritcal beings by nature, we humans.

It is part of who we are and against that hypocrisy we must struggle for our entire lives.

Out of all this babbling, I can derive only one logical, incontrivertible truth:

There is a God.

I am not Him or Her or It.

And boy oh boy is that a load off my mind.

Controlling the universe is hard work.

Now I can just run my business and be with my fiancee and laugh long and hard with friends and family.

The rest is gravy, no matter how bad the money situation is.

So, relax. Take a deep breath. Look at yourself in the mirror. And start laughing.


Here's the punchline: YOU are the joke! And I am the joke. And the guy or gal next to you is the joke.

And all of our little exploits, and ideas, and schemes, and plans, and dreams, and wondering, and questioning, and self-improvement tactics, and "do-gooding" and all the rest is just that...

As the guy from Harold and Kumar Go To White Kastle once said: "Look at me. I'm fat. I'm black and I have two gay fathers. People have been picking on me my entire life. I have found that the universe usually tends to unfold as it should."

I mean that is some serious self-honesty, folks.

And, simply, those who rail against Landmark simply lack the self-honesty or the depth of faith in themselves to practice the techniques.

There is no superior or inferior.

Just humans... making human noises.

You see, it's all in the inflection of the voice.

If you INFLECT a struggle or a fight or a battle, then you will HAVE a fight or a struggle or a battle.

If you INFLECT humor, then you will just end up laughing like a maniac and go about your work day.

I'll take option B. It's much healthier in the long run.

God Bless.

Anonymous said...

The Landmark Forum is a heretical organization. It is not a church but it is anti-judeochristian. On the third day after the leader has worn everybody down, he tells a creation story. In the beginning, there was one, and the one became two, and the two became the multitude, and then the one said let me not remember who I am. This is total heresy. In the beginning there was God, and he said let there be light, and then on days 2 through 6 he created the earth and the heavens, the oceans, the fish and animals and man, and then on the seventh day he rested.

Throughout the whole weekend, the leader kept saying, I have seen god, and god is a black woman. More bullshit. God is not a black woman.

The leader kept telling us to pay attention to your little voice, and quoting from the bible that the word is god, and you can create with just your words, and you don't know the power of your word, creation from nothing. More bullshit. God's words are found in the old and new testament. Unless you have the whole thing memorized your thinking is not God's words. We don't create from nothing.

The leader says you are cause. You are being cause. In the Landmark we are going to study being. This is the study of ontology, the study of being. You are cause, your word is cause. Bullshit. God created the world and has dominion over it. Lucifer thought he didn't need God. He thought he could do it himself. Apparently this leader thinks so too.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between a landmark forum leader and an ant. If you put yer foot on an ant and twist its not assault.

Anonymous said...

I am currently day two in the forum and rather than complete my homework (bonus homework was to phone 4 people and invite them to Tuesday's session -something, I should add, happens at regular intervals) I find myself writing on here. Why? Well because a lot of what has been said resonates with what I have experienced. The leader is overbearing, dominating, bullying, wise, and very careful with the words he uses. I am not especially ok with how he spoke to a couple of people who 'shared'. I understand that he has to shatter us and our illusions of what it is to be a human being, but, humiliation to someone who looks and is saying he feels fragile in front of 200 people to make A point is crossing a line. I am keeping an open mind and I will complete the course even invite my brother on Tuesday. to use a metafor, The book with the title Landmark forum with the amazing reviews on the bck reccomended by your friends is so far leaving me confused, and a bit cold, I'm hoping day 3 will leave me hooked.

digressica said...

Hi, I've noticed you still have my content on your site. I just want to ask again, can you please edit this post so that it's not quoting my entire post. I really don't mind you saying whatever you please about Landmark, it's the duplication of my content that I'm not happy about. I'd really appreciate it if you would cut your quoting of my work down to a paragraph and link to the original piece on my blog, if you really want to talk about what I've written. I'm happy to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you probably don't realise it, but what you've done is just really uncool in the blogging community. I would have been happier to let you know via email to avoid embarrassing you, but there's no contact option on your website.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Rachel Jones: you're a jerk.

Since when is it not OK for businesses to make a profit? Let's start with your own "up your nose weak" magazine. The first thing I notice on your website is I can't read any of your articles without becoming a paid subscriber first.

Oh my God! You actually want me to pay you money to read your garbage? Horrors! Shouldn't you investigate yourself first? Your puff piece of smug tripe is merely the pot calling the kettle black.

Jesse B said...

Haha. Gotta be anonymous to call someone a jerk on the internet...

Biomasster said...

This all is MY opinion, I took the est program in 1982. I was "assisting" for over 10 years. It has been recent that I discovered that I can find multiple legal opinions that more or less make the point that "volunteering (working for no pay) is a violation of U.S. federal labor and wage department law. I could find NONE that said it was acceptable for a for profit company to utilize volunteer labor to perform normal business functions.

I am interested in hearing from current assistants and or former assistants who might also concerned about the seeming
of Landmark Worldwide (aka Landmark Education, aka Landmark) business model and structure.

Chris Lee said...

My experience and thoughts concur with Digresscia and Justin above.
Humans are human.
And yes it was in the Forum (Feb 1987)
little me saw the great cosmic joke ...Its HILIROUS when you get it

I have assisted in Australia and a bit in San Francisco in 1989
Its still the best "game" in town
Its cost you NOthing moneywise
so if that your beef the mony thing you get to scam the "scheme"
pretty funny Ah
However you do have to be a Landmark graduate and a little open to possibility rather than
raving about "perceived" lack of integrity with former girlfriend (thats easy to do ~ I was a master of that one before Landmark)
I am big fun of empirical science
Scientific method and Karl Popper theory of falsification

You say Diane Benscoter experience "means" Landmark is a cult
Is this because you are convinced in your head without dispassionately following scientific method to the provable facts ?

And look poor Ponzi is much too much libeled these does
Ever scam and pyramid fraud does not deserve being associated with his name

I know its fashionable
Ponzi was poor Italian emigrant
who worked with wrong crowd
and arbitraged the international stamp coupon price differential back in the day
Then the USA outlawed what he was doing. He got outlawed and remembered apparently
Then again Al Capone only ever got caught for tax evasion.
Not being a thug.
Not being a mafia Boss.
Not bootlegging as such.
The truth is a very relative thing, least of all enshrined in any one humans opinions or thought patterns (as Dianne admits in her Ted talk)
And lastly at any one point in human history
Knowledge is FINITE while Ignorance is inFinite