From the post of lizerk@work, Are you "enrollable?" Get rid of your "racket...!:
August 02, 2005
Are you "enrollable?" Get rid of your "racket...!"
Last year I spent countless occasions patiently telling a friend of mine that I had absolutely no interest in attending The Landmark Forum. I was so sick of hearing about how she was having "breakthroughs" and learning to "let go."
(For those of you who don't know what The Landmark Forum cult is, click here.)
The worst was when she called me very early one Saturday morning out of the blue. It was to apologize for all of the times that she's ever been late to see me and that "it was selfish of her to take advantage of our friendship like that." I was a little taken aback because I had just woken up and she was speaking rapidly.
"What?" I asked groggily. "What are you talking about?"
"I need to release myself from my selfish behavior and I want to ask you to forgive me."
"Why are you calling me at this hour on a Saturday morning to seek forgiveness about being late? I don't care. You're never that late anyway, so it's not like it's a big deal. Where are you?"
"I'm at The Forum, but our break is almost over, so I have to go. But I felt it was important that I tell you that."
Not wanting to belittle something my friend felt was important, I simply said, "Okay, call me later." And hung up.
I had thought on it a moment, but then shrugged it off. My friend is totally into self-help stuff and trying to find something to give her life cause and meaning, so I figured that call had to have stemmed from one of those.
Following that phone call my friend tried using clever tactics to get me to attend "Forum informational gatherings" just about every time she saw me.
The first attempt preyed upon my weakness for sushi. "Hey, this guy from The Forum is holding an informational session. He's going to serve sushi and I know how much you like sushi. You should come and have some..."
No thank you. I'm busy that night...
The next attempt preyed upon my weakness for poking fun at 'the unfortunate clowns of society.' "Hey, after our workout tonight, this girl's having a get together of Forum people. Wanna go with me? It'd be fun. You'll meet some new people, plus there's some real 'interesting characters' that always show up. I bet you'd get a kick out of it..."
No thank you. I'm not really interested. Plus I'd feel bad going to something like that and pretending to want to know more when I really want nothing to do with it. I've been to Tony Robbins, that was enough in and of itself. (Though I have to admit, she almost got me that time... I howled with laughter at Tony Robbins in 2000 when my old company made me and a group of 7 others attend.
Some of the people that go to such seminars can be, well, quite dramatic. So it really was rather tempting to witness some more of the same...)
The third attempt was simply desperation. "God, I just feel like everything's been so much clearer to me lately. I love The Forum and I really think you should just come see what it's about. Really awesome..."
Ask me again and I'll slap you. I'm glad it works for you and I support you in anything that helps you find what you need in life. But I'm telling you, I'm not into that stuff. Knock it off.
Finally she really did knock it off. But she did get a mutual friend to go. And that poor friend said it was the most bizarre experience... "they wouldn't even let me go to the bathroom... so WEIRD..."
Since then, every so often I'd hear people talk about "The Forum." I'd just laugh and thankfully they were smart enough not to try and convince me to go. I really can't fathom paying $800 to listen to uncertified people tell me that I "need to let my demons go," not to mention that I couldn't go pee when I needed to.
Last week a good friend of mine went to brunch with an old college buddy to discuss some kind of fundraiser for their upcoming reunion. They're both class officers, so the goal was to put a plan in place. When I saw her out for dinner soon after I asked her how it went.
"It was okay," she answered. "We didn't really get much done."
"Oh yeah?" I grinned. "Catching up on the old days and gossip?"
"Sorta," she said. "It was mostly her talking about herself."
Yesterday my friend e-mailed me to say that on Wednesday she might be going to Brunch Girl's house for an "informational seminar" she's hosting.
I responded saying, "Cool, is it for your school reunion plans?"
She then wrote back saying no, that it was something that her friend said would "help her with communicating and relating with people. It's called The Landmark Forum."
Within seconds I had her on the phone. Ironically, just days earlier I had come across this website.
At the same time of calling her, I e-mailed the link. Luckily it wasn't hard to convince her not to go. One mention of "cult-like" and she was turned off.
Ugh, I LOATHE Landmark. I wish it would get shut down. I hate that they recruit people by pressuring members to go after close, trusted friends, followed by preying on their weaknesses.
I do, however, get a kick out of the "buzz words" that Landmark uses. As a PR practitioner, I have seen some brutal ones in my day such as "robust," "turnkey," "best-of-the-Web," etc. But Landmark wins, hands-down, with terms like "enrollable," "breakthroughs," "racket," "paradigm-shift," and "winning formulas."
In fact, how fun would it be to do PR for Landmark? A disappointing click on the media section of the official Landmark site indicates that the "fun" press releases stopped as of 2002. And what a shock, considering the opening statement in the final one:
February 18, 2002 – CHICAGO – Top 100 Expo has named Landmark Education’s The Landmark Forum number two in its list of Top 100 Adventures – second only to space travel.
Second only to space travel! Amazing. Does that mean Landmark participants are space cadets?? (Har har... come on now.)
The most recent article posted to their site was from October of 2004. I found it hard to believe that this was the most recent coverage. I mean, how is that possible if the only other exciting adventure next to Landmark is space travel?!
So I consulted with my friend Mr. Google. ....edit to remove link ... Landmark Forum is bigger and making more money than ever before. It has 52 offices in 21 countries and boasts that 145,000 people participate in its programs annually. I was told that before 9/11 they occupied an entire floor of one of the World Trade Center towers. Now they have quite a large operation at West 33rd St. near Penn Station.
Wow, I would love to talk with their Public Relations representative Nicole Clucus. Especially since her name is also connected to New York Women in Communications, Inc. Is that how Landmark is so successful? Do they sponsor other organizations to draw unsuspecting members in? Hmmm...