Landmark Worldwide

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Not to be confused with Landmark School or Landmark College.
Landmark Worldwide
Type Private LLC
Industry Self-help
Founded January 1991
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Key people Harry Rosenberg, director, CEO;[1]Mick Leavitt: President
Products The Landmark Forum, associated coursework
Revenue DecreaseUSD$77 million (2009)[2]
Employees 525+ employees[2]
Subsidiaries The Vanto Group (formerly Landmark Education Business Development or LEBD, from 1993 to 2007)
Landmark Education International, Inc.[3]
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 started with the purchase of intellectual property based upon Werner Erhard's est training seminars. Landmark has developed and delivered over 40 personal development 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".[4] 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.[5] In June 2003 it was re-structured as Landmark Education LLC,[6] and in July 2013 renamed Landmark Worldwide LLC.

According to Landmark, Werner Erhard (creator of the controversial[7] est training which ran from 1971 to 1984 and from which the forum was derived[8]) consults from time to time with its "Research and Design team".[9] Terry Giles is Chairman of the Board.[10][11]


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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14][15]

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.[16] 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.[17][18]

Since that time, the Vanto Group has used Tekniko to license the "Tekniko methodology and intellectual property to a wide variety of corporations".[19]

Course content[edit]

Course size varies between 75 and 250 people.[20] Rules are set up at the beginning of the program, such as strongly encouraging participants not to miss any part of the program.[21] Attendees are also urged to be “coachable” and not just be observers during the course.[21][22] 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.[23] Various ideas are presented, asserted and discussed 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,[23] and that human behavior is governed by a need to look good.[21]

Another tenet of the course is that people pursue an "imaginary 'someday' of satisfaction",[20] and that people create meaning for themselves since "there is none inherent in the world".[20] The course also maintains that people have persistent complaints that give rise to unproductive fixed ways of being,[21][22][24] 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.[20] 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.[20][21][24]

The evening session that follows closely on the three consecutive days of the course completes the Landmark Forum. During this final session, the participants share information about their results, and bring guests to learn about the Forum.[20][22][24]

Public reception[edit]

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."[25] 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."[26]

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."[27] Amber Allison of British men's magazine Mayfair called Landmark’s instructors as “enthusiastic and inspiring", and that after doing The Landmark Forum, "Work worries, relationship dramas all seem more manageable[28]

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.[29] 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.[29] In addition, the program included interviews with former course participants, anti-cultists, and commentators including Catherine Picard, Jean-Pierre Jougla, Jean-Pierre Brard, Jean-Marie Abgrall and Gilles Bottine, the secretary general of MIVILUDES.

"Voyage Au Pays des Nouveaux Gourous" was described as "damning" by Le Parisien,[30] and Le Point called it "thorough and alarming".[31] Shortly after the documentary aired, Landmark left France,[32][33] and the French government released information it had gathered on Landmark.[34]

The video was uploaded to a variety of websites including Cult Awareness & Information Centre, 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 copies (with English-language subtitles) to these websites. 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.[35] Landmark eventually withdrew its subpoenas. Landmark sued Jean-Pierre Brard in 2004 after he appeared on the show.[36]

Religious characteristics[edit]

Some scholars have categorized Landmark and its predecessor organizations as new age, self religion or a new religious movement.[37] Other observers have noted relationships between the training programs and religion or a spiritual experience, including a lack of religious elements in the programs and the compatibility of the programs with existing religions.[38][39] Others, such as Chryssides, classify Landmark as either quasi-religious or secular with some elements of religion.[40] Various governments have also classed Landmark and its previous iterations as new religion and some have classified it as dangerous (although various scholars have disputed this characterization).[41][42] or commented on characteristics shared with such groups without labeling it as a cult.[43] Landmark has denied that it is a religion, cult or sect.[44]

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)".[20]


Following a series of investigative articles in the national daily Dagens Nyheter[45] and programs on the private TV channel TV4, Landmark closed its offices in Sweden[46] as of June 2004. Subsequent to a site visit of the French office of Landmark that noted the activities of volunteers, labor inspectors made a report of undeclared employment, and that office closed the next month.[47]


  1. ^ (January 7, 2002). "Landmark Education Celebrates 11 Years of Business and Growth". Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Landmark Fact Sheet. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  3. ^ (January 16, 1991). Articles of Incorporation, Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
    Quote: "This letter serves as the consent by Landmark Education Corporation for the use of the name "Landmark Education International, Inc." by our wholly-owned subsidiary, currently known as Werner Erhard and Associates International, Inc."
  4. ^ 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).
  5. ^ LP/LLC information. California Secretary of State. Filed February 26, 2003. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  6. ^ Corporation information. California Secretary of State. Filed June 22, 1987. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  7. ^ See:
    • Farber, Sharon Klayman (2012). Hungry for Ecstasy: Trauma, the Brain, and the Influence of the Sixties. Lanham, Maryland: Jason Aronson/Rowman & Littlefield. p. 131. ISBN 9780765708588. One of them [LGATs] began as est, or Erhard Seminars Training, the most successful and most controversial of the encounter groups of the seventies, and the progenitor of hundreds of others that have been marketed to the public and the business community. ;
    • Richardson, James T. (1998). "est (THE FORUM)". In Swatos, Jr., William H. Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira. pp. 167–169. ISBN 0761989560. .
  8. ^ See:
    • Lockwood, Renee (2011). "Religiosity Rejected: Exploring the Religio-Spiritual Dimensions of Landmark Education". International Journal for the Study of New Religions (Sheffield, England: Equinox) 2 (2): 225–254. doi:10.1558/ijsnr.v2i2.225. ISSN 2041-9511. ;
    • Grigoriadis, Vanessa (9 July 2001). "Pay Money, Be Happy". New York Magazine (New York, New York). Retrieved 6 September 2014. ;
    • Eisner, Donald A. (2000). The Death of Psychotherapy: From Freud to Alien Abductions. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger. p. 60. ISBN 0275964132. ;
    • Ramstedt, Martin (2007). "New Age and Business: Corporations as Cultic Milieus?". In Kemp, Daren; Lewis, James R.. Handbook of the New Age. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion 1. Leiden: BRILL. p. 196. ISBN 9789004153554. ;
    • Atkin, Douglas (2004). "What Is Required of a Belief System?". The Culting of Brands: Turn Your Customers Into True Believers. New York: Penguin/Portfolio. p. 101. ISBN 9781591840275. ;
    • Saliba, John A. (2003). Understanding New Religious Movements. Walnut Creek, California: Rowman Altamira. p. 88. ISBN 9780759103559. .
  9. ^ Faltermayer, Charlotte; Richard Woodbury (March 16, 1998). The Best of Est?. Time. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  10. ^ Dewan, Shaila (May 3, 2010). "Hired to Bring Order, Kings' Adviser Brings Peace". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-11-02. Terry M. Giles ... the self-improvement techniques of EST. (Werner Erhard, the creator of EST, is a client.) 
  11. ^ Dow Jones & Co., Inc. (2010). "Landmark Education Corporation". The Business Journals (American City Business Journals, Inc.). Retrieved 2010-11-02. Landmark Education Corporation - Company Executives - Terry Giles - Chairman of the Board 
  12. ^ (February 1, 2008). "Landmark Education Business Development, LEBD, Changes Name to Vanto Group". Reuters. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  13. ^ Logan, David C. (1998). "Transforming the Network of Conversations in BHP New Zealand Steel: Landmark Education Business Development's New Paradigm for Organizational Change", University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, L984-01.
  14. ^ "General Tso, Meet Steven Covey". Business Week. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  15. ^ "Lululemon’s Cult of Selling". Fast Company. 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  16. ^ Norman Bodek (1985). ReVision: The Journal of Consciousness and Change, Vol 7, No. 2, Winter 1984 / Spring 1985
  17. ^ 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."
  18. ^ Pacific Biometrics, filings. Form SB-2. Retrieved on October 23, 2008.
  19. ^ Landmark Education information.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Badt, Karen (March 5, 2008). "Karin Badt: Inside The Landmark Forum". The Huffington Post. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  21. ^ a b c d e Hill, Amelia (2008-03-05). "I thought I’d be brainwashed. But how wrong could I be…". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  22. ^ a b c McCrone, John (2008-11-22). "A Landmark Change". The Press. 
  23. ^ a b Stassen, Wilma (September 2008). "Inside a Landmark Forum Weekend". Health 24. 
  24. ^ a b c Odasso, Diane (2008-06-05). "My Landmark Experience". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  25. ^ Alford, Henry (2010-11-26). "You're O.K., but I'm Not. Let's Share.". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  26. ^ "Change We Can (Almost) Believe In". Time. 2011-03-07. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  27. ^ "Landmark Forum: One Weekend to fix your LIFE?". Irish Mail on Sunday. 2012-02-18. 
  28. ^ Allinson, Amber (April 2014). "Mind Over Matter". Mayfair. 
  29. ^ a b Roy, Anne (24 May 2004). "France 3: L'investigation prend du galon". L'Humanité (in French). Retrieved 2014-09-21. 
  30. ^ "Une secte démasquée grâce à la caméra cachée". Le Parisien (in French). 24 May 2004. Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  31. ^ Tessier, Odine (20 May 2004). "Voyage au pays des nouveaux gourous". Le Point (in French). Retrieved 21 September 2014. 
  32. ^ Thomas, Laura (9 December 2009). "Landmark: 4,000 Romanians were paid to cry in group". România Liberă (in Romanian). Retrieved 21 September 2014. Around 200,000 people yearly follow these courses, and Romania is the only country in Eastern Europe that activates Landmark. In France, however, the company was closed after a journalistic investigation by France 3, entitled "Journey into the realm of new gurus". Among other things, the French have labeled as a cult Landmark emotionally destabilizing participants. 
  33. ^ Badt, Karin (17 November 2011). "Inside The Landmark Forum". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 21 September 2014. It was this TV program that closed down the Landmark in France, leaving it only 24 other countries in which to spread its word. 
  34. ^ "Etude Landmark Education International - Mai 2004 | Miviludes". (in French). 27 December 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-20. 
  35. ^ Landmark and the Internet Archive. Landmark's letter to the Internet Archive. Landmark's letter to Google. Internet Archive's objections to Landmark subpoena.
  36. ^ Palmer, Susan (2011-09-23). The New Heretics of France: Minority Religions, la Republique, and the Government-Sponsored War on Sects. Oxford UP. pp. 27, 186. ISBN 9780199875993. 
  37. ^ See:
    • Barker, Eileen (1996). "New Religions and Mental Health". In Bhugra, Dinesh. Psychiatry and Religion: Context, Consensus and Controversies. London and New York: Routledge. p. 126. ISBN 0415089557. ;
    • Beckford, James A. (2003). Social Theory and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 156. ISBN 0-521-77431-4. ;
    • Lockwood, Renee (2011). "Religiosity Rejected: Exploring the Religio-Spiritual Dimensions of Landmark Education". International Journal for the Study of New Religions (Sheffield, England: Equinox) 2 (2): 225–254. doi:10.1558/ijsnr.v2i2.225. ISSN 2041-9511. ;
    • Beckford, James A. (2004). "New Religious Movements and Globalization". In Lucas, Phillip Charles; Robbins, Thomas. New Religious Movements in the 21st Century. Abingdon and New York: Routledge. p. 256. ISBN 0-415-96576-4. ;
    • Clarke, Peter B. (2012). "New Religious Movements". In Taliaferro, Charles; Harrison, Victoria S.; Goetz, Stewart. The Routledge Companion to Theism. London: Routledge. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-415-88164-7. ;
    • Heelas, Paul (1991). "Western Europe: Self Religions". In Sutherland, S.R.; Clarke, P.B. The Study of Religion: Traditional and New Religions. London: Routledge. pp. 165–166, 171. ISBN 0-415-06432-5. ;
    • Ramstedt, Martin (2007). "New Age and Business". In Kemp, Daren; Lewis, James R.. Handbook of the New Age. Brill Handbooks on Contemporary Religion. Leiden: Brill. pp. 196–197. ISBN 978-90-04-15355-4. .
  38. ^ See:
  39. ^ See:
  40. ^ See:
  41. ^ See:
  42. ^ See:
    • Chryssides, George (1999). Exploring New Religions. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 229, 687. ;
    • Schneider (1995). "Der Pädagogische Bereich als Operationsfeld für Psychokulte". 20 Jahre Elterninitiative (University of Tubingen, Theologische Abteilung) e.V.: 189–190. ISBN 3-927890-23-5. ISSN 0720-3772. ;
    • Sharot, Stephen (2011). Comparative Perspectives on Judaisms and Jewish Identities. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. p. 182. ISBN 9780814334010. .
  43. ^ Goldwag, Arthur (2009). Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies. New York: Vintage/Random House. pp. 29–30. ISBN 9780307390677. 
  44. ^ Puttick, Elizabeth (2004). "Landmark Forum (est)". In Partridge, Christopher Hugh. Encyclopedia of New Religions. Oxford: Lion. pp. 406–407. ISBN 978-0-74-595073-0. 
  45. ^ See:
  46. ^ Tidskriften Analys & Kritik - Irrationalismen
  47. ^ See:
    • Marie Lemonniera, "Chez les gourous en cravate", Le Nouvel Observateur, 19 May 2005, accessed 7 December 2008; 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."
    • (May 26, 2004). "Landmark Education - Droit de Répons - France 3" (French). Retrieved on October 23, 2008.

External links[edit]