Landmark Worldwide

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Not to be confused with Landmark School or Landmark College.
Landmark Worldwide
Private LLC
Industry Self-help
Founded January 1991
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Key people
Harry Rosenberg: director, CEO;[1] Mick Leavitt: President[citation needed]
Products The Landmark Forum, associated coursework
Revenue DecreaseUSD$77 million (2009)[2]
Number of employees
525+ employees[2]

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 current company started with the licensing of rights to use intellectual property owned by Werner Erhard, author of the est seminars. Landmark has developed and delivered multiple follow-up and additional programs. Its subsidiary, the Vanto Group, also markets and delivers training and consulting to organizations.

Landmark's programs have been categorized by some scholars and others as religious or quasi-religious in nature. Landmark and many of the company's customers deny such characterizations, while some researchers question that categorization as well.


Landmark Worldwide LLC was founded in January 1991 by several of the presenters of a training program known as "The Forum".[3] 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 55 additional training courses and seminar programs throughout 20 different countries around the world.

The corporation was originally registered as Transnational Education and changed its name to Landmark Education Corporation in May 1991.[4] In June 2003 it was re-structured as Landmark Education LLC,[5] 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".[6]



The Landmark Forum, and its predecessors The Forum and est (Erhard Seminars Training) have been offered by a continuum of various companies beginning with the founding of Erhard Seminars Training, Inc. by Werner Erhard in the early 1970s.[7] Erhard had no formal training in psychology or psychiatry and had previously been a successful salesman, became involved with Zen Buddhism, Scientology and Mind Dynamics.[8] This brought about the idea of starting an organization to promote his vision of human transformation, which he entitled est (both for the Latin "it is" and as an acronym for "Erhard Seminars Training"). For two months he considered a variety of business formats, even including setting up est as a church,[9] but instead chose a for-profit model, with a complex web of onshore and offshore companies.[9][10]

In 1979, EST Inc. was dissolved and replaced by a charitable foundation named "est, An Educational Corporation". At the same time his intellectual property was transferred from the Panamanian company to, a new company in the Netherlands named, Welbehagen. which licensed the foundation to present the seminars. to "est, An Educational Corporation". A Jersey Charitable Settlement to own the foundation with a Swiss entity, the Werner Erhard Foundation for est, set up to control it.[10]

By 1981 Erhard decided to simplify the complicated structure of est-related entities. Werner Erhard and Associates (WE&A)was established, with Erhard as sole proprietor, which purchased the assets of the various corporations and charities. This was arranged through a series of loans [11]

In 1984 Erhard launched another company, Transformational Technologies (TT), to market est-based courses and consulting services to corporations and government entities.[12] In its first 18 months, TT licensed over 50 franchises at a $25,000 licensing fee with revenue based royalties.[13]

Erhard had experimented with a modified version of est as early as 1983. By 1985, faced with increasing controversy and falling recruitment numbers, Erhard replaced the est seminars with a modified and less authoritarian program which he rebranded as The Forum.[14] [15] Later, managers realized that there was significant revenue generated from signing up participants for follow-up courses. The duration of the The Forum was reduced from 6 to 3 days. With the same staff WE&A was able to reduce the cost and increased the throughput of recruits, which also increased the number of the acquaintances to whom participants marketed The Forum. [16]

Incorporation of Landmark

In 1990, Erhard was faced with critical press attention, a tax investigation (later resolved in Erhard’s favor and an apology from the IRS), and a decline in business revenue.[15] Erhard decided to leave the U.S. and began liquidating his personal assets.[17][18] A company named Transnational Education Corporation (TEC) was created, under the ownership of many of the former employees of Werner Erhard and Associates.[15] TEC acquired various assets from WE&A and Erhard on 31 January 1991. Erhard had no ownership of the new entity, but retained control of the intellectual property used in the courses. He also retained rights to run the Forum operations in Japan (which accounted for 70% of Werner Erhard & Associates International's revenue) and in Mexico.[19][20] TEC licensed the intellectual property for a period of 15 years in exchange for $3 million and license royalties.[15] These amounts were not paid to Erhard but rather to overseas corporations and trusts. [20] The business of WE&A continued operations with much of the same staff under the new name.[21][17] In May 1991 TEC changed its name to Landmark Education Corporation.[17] In June 2004, the company was reorganized into a limited liability company, Landmark Education LLC, and subsequently renamed to Landmark Worldwide LLC in July 2013.[22]

Landmark has claimed that it has never paid royalties to Erhard.[23] Landmark CEO Rosenberg has stated that Erhard's rights on the intellectual property on which the Forum and other courses are based was purchased by 2002.[19]

Current operations

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.[24] In addition, its subsidiary, the Vanto Group, focuses on marketing and delivering training and consultation services to corporate clients and other organizations.[25]

The company reports more than 2.2 million people have participated in its programs since 1991.[26] Landmark holds seminars in approximately 115 locations in more than 20 nations.[27] Landmark stated in 2005 that annual attendance at its courses was 200,000, with 70,000 to 80,000 participants in the Landmark Forum.[28] It has stated that from 1991 to 2008 more than 1 million people had taken part in Landmark's introductory program, the Landmark Forum.[29] Landmark reported revenues of approximately $81 million as of 2011.[24]

Terry Giles is Chairman of the Board and Erhard's lawyer.[30]

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.[31] LEBD became the Vanto Group in 2008.[32]

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.[33] 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. 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.[34][35] 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".[36]

The Landmark Forum

Landmark's entry course, The Landmark Forum, is a prerequisite for the majority of their other programs.[37] The Landmark Forum takes place over three consecutive days and an evening session (generally Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday evening.)[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] The course varies in size between 75 and 250 people,[38] and is arranged as a dialog in which the Forum leader presents certain ideas and participants are encouraged to take the floor to relate how those ideas apply to their own lives.[39] Rules are set up at the beginning of the program, such as strongly encouraging participants not to miss any part of the program.[40] Attendees are also urged to be “coachable” and not just be observers during the course.[40][41]

Various ideas are asserted and explored during the course. For example, the course maintains that there is a big difference between what actually happened in a person’s life and the meaning or interpretation they made up about it,[39] and that human behavior is governed by a need to look good.[40] Another tenet of the course is that people pursue an "imaginary 'someday' of satisfaction",[38] and that people create meaning for themselves since "there is none inherent in the world".[38] The course also maintains that people have persistent complaints that give rise to unproductive fixed ways of being,[42] but that 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.[38] Course participants are encouraged to call people they know during the course, with whom they feel they have unresolved tensions, and either be in communication with the other person or be responsible for their own behavior.[43]

An evening session follows closely on the three consecutive days of the course and completes the Landmark Forum. During this final session, the participants share information about their results, and bring guests to learn about the Forum.[42]

Companies such as Panda Express and Lululemon Athletica pay for and encourage employees to take part in The Landmark Forum.[44][45]

Public reception and criticism

In his review of the Landmark Forum, New York Times reporter Henry Alford wrote that he "resented the pressure" placed on him during a session, but also noted that "two months after the Forum, I'd rate my success at 84 percent."[46] 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."[47]

Nikki Walsh, writing in 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."[48]

Amber Allison, writing in The Mayfair Magazine describers Landmark’s instructors as “enthusiastic and inspiring.” Her review says that after doing The Landmark Forum, “Work worries, relationship dramas all seem more manageable”, and that she “let go of almost three decades of hurt, anger and feelings of betrayal” towards her father.[49]

A series of investigative articles in the Swedish national daily Dagens Nyheter reported complaints about Landmark practices, including a report of one person who allegedly suffered from acute psychosis after taking a Landmark course.[50] The chairman of Föreningen Rädda individen, a support organization for those affected by cults and destructive movements, told Dagens Nyheter that his opinion was that Landmark is one of the most dangerous sects in Sweden.[50]

Some scholars have categorized Landmark and its predecessor organizations as new age, self religion or a new religious movement.[51] Other observers have noted relationships between the training programs and a spiritual experience, including a lack of religious elements in the programs and the compatibility of the programs with existing religions.[52] Others, such as Chryssides, classify Landmark as either quasi-religious or secular with some elements of religion (although various scholars have disputed this characterization).[53] Landmark has denied that it is a religion, cult or sect,[54] and "freely threatens or pursues lawsuits against those who call it [a cult]".[55]

Journalist Amelia Hill with The Observer witnessed the Landmark Forum and concluded that, in her view, it is not religious or a cult. Hill wrote, "It is ... simple common sense delivered in an environment of startling intensity." Karin Badt from The Huffington Post criticized 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, but noted, "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)".[38]

Pièces à Conviction

In 2004, France 3 aired a television documentary on Landmark in their investigative series Pièces à Conviction. The episode, called "Voyage Au Pays des Nouveaux Gourous" ("Journey to the land of the new gurus") aired during prime time, a first for the show, and was highly critical of its subject.[56]

Shot in large part with a hidden camera, the episode was an expose of sorts and had filmmaker Laurent Richard attend a Landmark course and visit their offices.[57] In addition, the program included interviews with former course participants, anti-cultists, and commentators including the then vice-president of the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France, Jean-Pierre Brard, as well as Catherine Picard, Jean-Pierre Jougla, Jean-Marie Abgrall and Gilles Bottine, the secretary general of MIVILUDES. Landmark left France following the airing of the episode and a subsequent site visit by labor inspectors that noted the activities of volunteers,[58] and sued Jean-Pierre Brard in 2004 following his appearance on the show.[59]

The Pièces à Conviction episode was uploaded to a variety of websites, and in October 2006 Landmark issued subpoenas pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Google Video, YouTube, and the Internet Archive demanding details of the identity of the person(s) who had uploaded those copies. These organizations challenged the subpoenas and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) became involved, planning to file a motion to quash Landmark's DMCA subpoena to Google Video.[60] Landmark eventually withdrew its subpoenas.


  1. ^ Landmark staff 2002a.
  2. ^ a b Landmark staff 2014b.
  3. ^ Pressman, Steven (1993). Outrageous Betrayal: The dark journey of Werner Erhard from est to exile. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-09296-2, p. 254. (Out of print).
  4. ^ LP/LLC information. California Secretary of State. Filed February 26, 2003. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  5. ^ Corporation information. California Secretary of State. Filed June 22, 1987. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  6. ^ Faltermayer, Charlotte; Richard Woodbury (March 16, 1998). The Best of Est?. Time. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  7. ^ See:
  8. ^ See:
  9. ^ a b Bartley 1978, pp. 176–177.
  10. ^ a b Pressman 1993, pp. 48–50, 88.
  11. ^ Pressman 1993, pp. 157, 165–167.
  12. ^ Rupert 1992.
  13. ^ Pressman 1993, pp. 217–218.
  14. ^ See:
  15. ^ a b c d Hukill 1998.
  16. ^ Pressman 1993, pp. 212–214, 244–245.
  17. ^ a b c Pressman 1993, pp. 245–246, 254–255.
  18. ^ Hellard 2006.
  19. ^ a b Grigoriadis 2001.
  20. ^ a b Pressman 1993, pp. 254–255.
  21. ^ Marshall 1997.
  22. ^ CASS staff 2003.
  23. ^ Landmark (Art Schreiber) 2005, pp. 3–4.
  24. ^ a b Landmark Fact Sheet. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  25. ^ (February 1, 2008). "Landmark Education Business Development, LEBD, Changes Name to Vanto Group". Reuters. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  26. ^ Who Participates. Retrieved on September 1, 2013.
  27. ^ See:
  28. ^ About Landmark. Retrieved on July 16, 2013.
  29. ^ Stassen, Wilma (September 2008). "Inside a Landmark Forum Weekend" Health 24[dead link]
  30. ^ Dewan 3 May 2010.
  31. ^ Logan 1998.
  32. ^ Landmark press release 2008.
  33. ^ Norman Bodek (1985). ReVision: The Journal of Consciousness and Change, Vol 7, No. 2, Winter 1984 / Spring 1985
  34. ^ Case Financial Inc • DEFM14A. SEC filings on Filed May 3, 2000. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
    Quote: "Mr. Giles is the owner of Tekniko Licensing Corporation, which licenses intellectual properties owned by Tekniko to businesses throughout the world."
  35. ^ Pacific Biometrics, filings. Form SB-2. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  36. ^ Landmark Education information.
  37. ^ Landmark staff 2015.
  38. ^ a b c d e Badt 5 March 2008.
  39. ^ a b Stassen 2008.
  40. ^ a b c Hill 13 December 2008.
  41. ^ McCrone 1 February 2008.
  42. ^ a b See:
  43. ^ See:
  44. ^ Businessweek 18 November 2010.
  45. ^ Sacks 1 April 2009.
  46. ^ Alford 26 November 2010, p. L1.
  47. ^ Thornburgh 7 March 2011.
  48. ^ "Landmark Forum: One Weekend to fix your LIFE?". Irish Mail on Sunday. 2012-02-18. 
  49. ^ Allinson, Amber (April 2014). "Mind Over Matter". The Mayfair Magazine (U.K.). 
  50. ^ a b Palme 3 June 2002.
  51. ^ See:
  52. ^ See:
  53. ^ See:
  54. ^ Puttick 2004, pp. 406–407.
  55. ^ Scioscia 2000.
  56. ^ See:
  57. ^ Roy 24 May 2004.
  58. ^ See:
    • (Lemonniera 19 May 2005), French text: "L’'Inspection du Travail débarque dans les locaux de Landmark, constate l'’exploitation des bénévoles et dresse des procès-verbaux pour travail non déclaré." English translation: "Labor inspectors turned up at the offices of Landmark, noted the exploitation of volunteers and drew up a report of undeclared employment.";
    • (Landmark staff 2004), Landmark's response;
    • (Badt 5 March 2008), quote: It was this TV program that closed down the Landmark in France, leaving it only 24 other countries in which to spread its word.
  59. ^ Palmer 2011.
  60. ^ See:


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