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Landmark Forum

Not to be confused with Landmark School.
Landmark Worldwide
Private LLC
Industry self-help, self-improvement, personal development, management consulting, continuing education
Founded January 1991
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Key people

Harry Rosenberg: Director;[1] CEO
Mick Leavitt: President
Joe DiMaggio – Director, Research, Design & Development

Nancy Zapolski: Vice President, Program Delivery Division
Products The Landmark Forum, associated coursework
Revenue DecreaseUSD$77 million (2009)[2]
Employees 525+ employees;[2]
800 trained leaders, some of whom volunteer their time;[3]
Subsidiaries The Vanto Group (formerly Landmark Education Business Development or LEBD, from 1993 to 2007)
Landmark Education International, Inc.[4]
Tekniko Licensing Corporation
Rancord Company, Ltd.
Website Landmark's homepage

Landmark Worldwide (formerly Landmark Education), or simply Landmark, is a limited liability company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It offers programs in personal development. The company claims that more than 2.2 million people have taken Landmark's programs since its founding in 1991, and that it hosts courses in approximately 115 locations across more than 20 countries.

The company started with the purchase of intellectual property rights developed by Werner Erhard, creator of the est training. Landmark has developed and delivered over 40 personal development programs. Its subsidiary, the Vanto Group, markets and delivers training and consulting to organizations.

History

Landmark Worldwide LLC was founded in January 1991 by several of the presenters of a training program known as "The Forum".[5] Landmark purchased the intellectual property rights to The Forum from Werner Erhard and Associates and used that as the basis for its foundation course named "The Landmark Forum", which has been further updated over the years. It has since developed around 45 additional training courses and seminar programs.

The corporation was originally registered as Transnational Education and changed its name to Landmark Education Corporation in May 1991.[6] In June 2003 it was re-structured as Landmark Education LLC,[7] and in July 2013 renamed Landmark Worldwide LLC.

According to Landmark, Werner Erhard (creator of the est training which ran from 1971 to 1984) consults from time to time with its "Research and Design team".[8] Terry Giles, Chairman of the Board, is credited with resolving a long-standing rift among the descendants of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[9][10]

Corporation

Landmark Worldwide LLC operates as an employee-owned for-profit private company. According to Landmark's website, its employees own all the stock of the corporation, with no individual holding more than 3%. The company states that it operates in such a way as to invest its surpluses into making its programs, initiatives, and services more widely available.[2] In addition, its subsidiary, the Vanto Group, focuses on marketing and delivering training and consultation services to corporate clients and other organizations.[11]

The company claims[weasel words] that, since its founding in 1991, more than 2.2 million people have participated in its programs.[12] It also claims[weasel words] to hold holds seminars in approximately 115 locations, spread across more than 20 nations.[13] Landmark stated in 2005 that annual attendance at its courses was 200,000, with 70,000 to 80,000 participants in the Landmark Forum.[14] It has stated that from 1991 to 2008 more than 1 million people had taken part in Landmark's introductory program, the Landmark Forum.[15] Landmark reported revenues of approximately $81 million as of 2011.[2]

Business consulting

Vanto Group, Inc., founded in 1993 as "Landmark Education Business Development" (LEBD), a wholly owned subsidiary of Landmark Worldwide Enterprises, Inc., uses the techniques of Landmark to provide consulting services to various companies. The University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business carried out a case study in 1998 into the work of LEBD with BHP New Zealand Steel. The report concluded that the set of interventions in the organization produced a 50% improvement in safety, a 15% to 20% reduction in key benchmark costs, a 50% increase in return on capital, and a 20% increase in raw steel production.[16] LEBD became the Vanto Group in 2007.

Companies such as Panda Express and Lululemon Athletica pay for and encourage employees to take part in The Landmark Forum.[17][18]

Licensing intellectual property

Tekniko, Inc., formerly owned by Werner Erhard, was the successor organization to Transformational Technologies, which was incorporated in 1984 by Erhard and management consultant James Selman.[19] Tekniko Licencing Corporation, a California corporation owned by Terry M. Giles, later acquired this technology. In 2001 Landmark Education formed Tekniko Licensing Corporation, a Nevada corporation, which purchased Tekniko Technology from Giles' company.[20][21]

Since that time, the Vanto Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of Landmark Worldwide, has used Tekniko to license the "Tekniko methodology and intellectual property to a wide variety of corporations".[22]

Course content

The Landmark Forum takes place over three consecutive days and an evening session (generally Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday evening.) Each full day begins at 9:00 a.m. and typically ends at approximately 10:00 p.m. Breaks are approximately every 2–3 hours, with a 90-minute dinner break. The evening session generally runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Course size varies between 75 and 250 people.[23] Rules are set up at the beginning of the program, such as strongly encouraging participants not to miss any part of the program.[24] Attendees are also urged to be “coachable” and not just be observers during the course.[24][25] The program is arranged as a discussion where the course leader presents certain ideas and the course participants engage in voluntary sharing with the course leader to discuss how those ideas apply to their own life.[15] Ideas presented, asserted and discussed include the following:

  • There is a big difference between what actually happened in a person’s life and the meaning or interpretation they made up about it[15]
  • People pursue an imaginary someday of satisfaction[23]
  • Human behavior is governed by a need to look good [24]
  • People add meaning to events in their life which are not necessarily true[23]
  • People have persistent complaints that give rise to unproductive fixed ways of being[24][25][26]
  • People can “transform” by a creative act of bringing forth new ways of being, rather than trying to change themselves in comparison to the past[23]
  • Course participants are encouraged to call people they know during the course who they are incomplete with and either be in communication with the other person or be responsible for their own behavior.[23][24][26]
  • The Tuesday evening session completes the Landmark Forum with several further distinctions and sharing by participants about the results they got. Course attendees bring guests to learn about the Landmark Forum.[23][25][26]

Community projects

Some other Landmark courses encourage or require participants to create a community project.[27][28][29] In the Self-Expression and Leadership Program, participants are required to undertake a project that benefits the larger community or society as a whole.[30][31][32][33]

In the Team, Management, and Leadership Program, participants create four team-based community projects.[34]

Reviews and Criticisms

The New York Times reporter Henry Alford summarized his review of The Landmark Forum by saying "Two months after the Forum, I'd rate my success at 84 percent. I'm more prone to telling loved ones and colleagues, in person and without glibness, that I love or admire them. But I still operate from a base position that people are a lot of effort."[35] Time reporter Nathan Thornburgh, in his review of The Landmark Forum, said "At its heart, the course was a withering series of scripted reality checks meant to show us how we have created nearly everything we see as a problem …I benefited tremendously from the uncomfortable mirror the course had put in front of me."[36]

The Irish Mail on Sunday says the effects of The Landmark Forum "...can be startling. People find themselves reconciled with parents, exes and friends. They have conversations they have wanted to have with their families for years; they meet people or get promoted in work."[37]

Landmark makes extensive use of web-published and word-of-mouth testimonials from customers to portray its effectiveness, and supplements these with studies, surveys, and opinions.[38]

Some observers question whether and to what degree Landmark courses benefit participants. Others criticize the use of volunteers by Landmark; others highlight the connections with other groups and with Werner Erhard. Landmark has been criticized by some for being overzealous in encouraging people to participate in its courses.[39]

Journalists Amelia Hill with The Observer and Karin Badt from The Huffington Post have witnessed the Landmark Forum and concluded that, in their view, it is not a cult. Hill wrote, "It is ... simple common sense delivered in an environment of startling intensity." Badt noted the organisation's emphasis on "'spreading the word' of the Landmark forum as a sign of the participants' 'integrity'" in recounting her personal experience of an introductory "Landmark Forum" course. Part of this theme included repeated comparisons between program participants and Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.[40] Badt also noted that, "At the end of the day, I found the Forum innocuous. No cult, no radical religion: an inspiring, entertaining introduction of good solid techniques of self-reflection, with an appropriate emphasis on action and transformation (not change)", pointing instead to problems lying with uncritical participants.[23]

Landmark makes no claims to being a religion, but some academic observers have nonetheless noted relationships between the training programs and religion. Others have noted a lack of religious elements in the programs or the compatibility of the programs with existing religions.[41] Academic sources have suggested that the programs possess religious features and/or address participants' spiritual needs.[42]

Following a series of investigative articles in the national daily Dagens Nyheter[43][44][45] and programs on the private TV channel TV4, Landmark closed its offices in Sweden[46] in June 2004. The French office of Landmark also closed in July 2004 after labor inspectors, visiting the site noting the activities of volunteers, made a report of undeclared employment.[47]

Legal disputes

Since its formation in 1991, Landmark Worldwide LLC has initiated several lawsuits around the world, pressing defamation actions against authors and journalists who have intimated that it is a cult. Critics of Landmark have portrayed these actions as an assault on free speech or an attempt to suppress legitimate comment, whereas Landmark Education has insisted that it only seeks to have inaccurate statements corrected and to protect its products from unfair disparagement.[48][49] In addition, other actions have been brought by individuals who have been required by their employers to attend seminars delivered by Landmark and Vanto. Landmark has also initiated actions against websites such as Google and the Internet Archive to remove material it deems defamatory and to protect the privacy and confidentiality of participants in its courses.[50]

References

  1. LandmarkWorldwide.com. Company History. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  2. Badt, Karen (March 5, 2008). "The Huffington Post. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  3. LandmarkEducation.com. Landmark Events and Locations. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  4. Nathan Thornberg April 10, 2011 Change We Can (almost) Believe In.
  5. "Defence workers trained by 'cult'", ABC News, 2 April 2008
  6. (1996) "Liste des sectes dangereuses" (French). atheisme.free.fr. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  7. (May 26, 2004). "Landmark Education - Droit de Répons - France 3" (French). landmarkeducation.fr. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.

External links

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  • Landmark official website
  • Landmark Education page in the Skeptics Dictionary
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