|Formation||January 16, 1991|
|Products||The Landmark Forum, associated coursework|
|Harry Rosenberg: director, CEO; Mick Leavitt|
|US$77 million (2009)|
The current company started with the licensing of rights to use intellectual property owned by Werner Erhard, author of the est (Erhard Seminars Training). 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 was founded in January 1991 by several of the presenters of a training program known as "The Forum". Landmark licensed the intellectual property rights to The Forum from Werner Erhard and Associates. The new company offered similar courses and re-employed many of the staff. The Forum was updated and reduced in length from four days to three, and this revised course was named "The Landmark Forum", which has been further updated over the years. It has since developed around 55 additional training courses and seminar programs which it delivers in 20 countries around the world.
According to Landmark, Werner Erhard (creator of the est training which ran from 1971 to 1984, when it was superseded by The Forum) consults from time to time with its Research and Design team.
Landmark has stated that it never in fact paid royalties to Erhard under the licensing agreement, and that it purchased outright the intellectual property in the Forum and other courses by 2002.
As of 2013[update] Landmark Worldwide's core business operation is the delivery of seminars and training courses which aim to offer improvements in personal productivity, vitality, communication skills and decision-making.[need quotation to verify] Some of these are intensive two- or three-day courses; Landmark structures others as weekly three-hour seminars over a three-month period. The organization also advertises six- and twelve-month training programs in topics such as leadership, teamwork and public speaking. Some of the courses require participants to start a community project, and those courses are structured to support them in its design and implementation.[need quotation to verify]
Landmark Worldwide 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 invests its surpluses into making its programs, initiatives and services more widely available.
As of 2013[update] the company reported that more than 2.4 million people had participated in its programs since 1991. Landmark holds seminars in approximately 115 locations in more than 20 countries.[need quotation to verify] Landmark reported revenues of approximately $81 million as of 2011[update].
Vanto Group, Inc., founded in 1993 as Landmark Education Business Development (LEBD), a wholly owned subsidiary, uses the Landmark methodology to provide consulting services to businesses and to other organizations. 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. LEBD became the Vanto Group in 2008.
Landmark's entry course, the Landmark Forum, is the default first course for new participants, and is the foundation of all Landmark's other programs. 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 occur approximately every 2 to 3 hours, with a 90-minute dinner break. The evening session generally runs from 7:00 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Forum attendance varies in size between 75 and 250 people,. Landmark arranges the course as a dialog in which the Forum leader presents a series of proposals and encourages participants to take the floor to relate how those ideas apply to their own individual lives. Landmark set up rules at the beginning of the program, and strongly encourags participants not to miss any part of the program. Attendees are also urged to be “coachable” and not just be observers during the course.
Various ideas are proposed for consideration and explored during the course. These include:
- There is a big difference between what actually happened in a person's life and the meaning or interpretation they make up about it.
- Human behavior is governed by a perceived need to look good.
- People often pursue an "imaginary 'someday' of satisfaction".
- People create meaning for themselves since "there is none inherent in the world".
- When people have persistent complaints that are accompanied by unproductive fixed ways of being and acting, this can be "transformed" by a creative act of generating entirely new ways of being and acting, rather than by trying to change onesself in comparison to the past.
During the course, participants are encouraged to call friends and family members with whom they feel they have unresolved tensions, and to take responsibility for their own behavior.
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.
Landmark emphasizes the idea that there is a difference between the facts of what happened in a situation, and the meaning, interpretation, or story about those facts. It proposes that people frequently confuse those facts with their own story about them, and, as a consequence, are less effective or experience suffering in their lives.
Meaning is something that human beings invent in language, Landmark suggests – it’s not inherent in events themselves. Therefore, if people change what they say, they can alter the meaning they associate with events, and be more effective in dealing with them.
Landmark suggests that as people see these invented meanings, they discover that much of what they had assumed to be their "identity" is actually just a limiting social construct that they had made up in conversations, in response to events in the past. From this realization, participants in Landmark's programs create new perspectives for what they now see as possible. They are then trained in sharing these with family members, friends and workmates, so that the new possibilities live in the social realm, rather than just in their own minds. In other words, Landmark suggests that the more of one’s social environment supports one’s goals, the easier they will be to accomplish. When Landmark uses the term "new possibilities", it does so differently from the everyday sense of something that might happen in the future, instead using it to refer to a present moment opportunity to be and act differently, free from interpretations from the past.
Influence and impact
Landmark’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program requires participants to undertake a community project, many of which have become nationally recognized.
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." 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." 
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."
Amber Allison, writing in The Mayfair Magazine describes 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.
A series of articles in the Swedish national daily Dagens Nyheter reported complaints about Landmark practices, including an allegation that one person had suffered from acute psychosis after taking a Landmark course. 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 was "one of the most dangerous sects in Sweden".
Some scholars have categorized Landmark or its predecessor organizations as a "self religion" or a (broadly defined) "new religious movement". Others, such as Chryssides, question this characterization. Landmark makes clear that its own position is that it is purely an educational foundation and is not a religious movement of any kind. Landmark has threatened or pursued lawsuits against people who call it a cult. Religious authorities in several faith traditions (for example, Episcopal Bishop E. Otis Charles) have publicly endorsed Landmark's programs.
Journalist Amelia Hill with The Observer witnessed a 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)".
In 2004 the French channel 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") was highly critical of its subject. Shot in large part with a hidden camera, it showed attendance at a Landmark course and a visit to their offices. In addition, the program included interviews with former course participants, anti-cultists, and commentators. Landmark left France following the airing of the episode and a subsequent site visit by labor inspectors that noted the activities of volunteers, and sued Jean-Pierre Brard in 2004 following his appearance in the documentary.
The 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. Landmark eventually withdrew its subpoenas.
- Large-group awareness training
- List of large-group awareness training organizations
- Governmental lists of cults and sects
- Landmark staff 2002a.
- Landmark staff 2014b.
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