Landmark Worldwide

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Not to be confused with Landmark School or Landmark College.
Landmark Worldwide LLC[citation needed]
File:Landmark Worldwide Logo.png
Formation January 16, 1991 (1991-01-16)[citation needed]
Type Private LLC
Purpose Self-help
Products The Landmark Forum, associated coursework
Key people
Harry Rosenberg: director, CEO;[1] Mick Leavitt: President[citation needed]
DecreaseUSD$77 million (2009)[2]
525+ employees[2]
Remarks California corporation

Landmark Worldwide (formerly Landmark Education), or simply Landmark, is a company offering personal development programs, headquartered in San Francisco.

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's programs have been described by some scholars as having some religious attributes, while others have firmly disputed that description.


Landmark was founded in January 1991 by several of the presenters of a training program known as "The Forum".[3] 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.[4][5] 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According to Landmark, Werner Erhard (creator of the est training which ran from 1971 to 1984, when it was superseded by The Forum) consults from time to time with its Research and Design team.[6]

At the time of terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, Landmark Education had the largest education center on the 15th floor of World Trade Center-Tower One. They resumed full operations at another place one week later.[7]

The business traded as Landmark Education Corporation from May 1991.[8] In June 2003 it was re-structured as Landmark Education LLC,[citation needed] and in July 2013 renamed Landmark Worldwide LLC.[9]

Landmark has stated that it never in fact paid royalties to Erhard under the licensing agreement,[10] and that it purchased outright the intellectual property in the Forum and other courses by 2002.[11]

Current operations

The company'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.[12][13] Some of these are intensive two or three day courses, and others are structured as weekly three-hour seminars over a three-month period. There are also six and twelve-month training programs in topics such as leadership, teamwork and public speaking. Some of the courses require participants to create a community project, and those courses are structured to support them in its design and implementation. [14][15][16]

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.[17]

The company reports more than 2.4 million people have participated in its programs since 1991.[18] Landmark holds seminars in approximately 115 locations in more than 20 nations.[19] Landmark reported revenues of approximately $81 million as of 2011.[17]

Business consulting

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 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.[20] LEBD became the Vanto Group in 2008.[21]

The Landmark Forum

Landmark's entry course, The Landmark Forum, is a prerequisite for the majority of their other programs.[22] The Landmark Forum takes place over three consecutive days and an evening session (generally Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday evening.)[23] 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.[24] The course varies in size between 75 and 250 people,[25] and is arranged as a dialog in which the Forum leader presents a series of proposals, and participants are encouraged to take the floor to relate how those ideas apply to their own lives.[26] Rules are set up at the beginning of the program, such as strongly encouraging participants not to miss any part of the program.[27] Attendees are also urged to be “coachable” and not just be observers during the course.[27][28]

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 made up about it,[26]
  • Human behavior is governed by a need to look good.[27]
  • People often pursue an "imaginary 'someday' of satisfaction",[25]
  • People create meaning for themselves since "there is none inherent in the world".[25]
  • When people have persistent complaints that are accompanied by unproductive fixed ways of being and acting,[29] this can be “transformed” by a creative act of generating entirely new ways of being and acting, rather than by trying to change themselves in comparison to the past.[25]

During the course, participants are encouraged to call friends and family members with whom they feel they have unresolved tensions, and take responsibility for their own behavior. [30]

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.[29]

Companies such as Panda Express and Lululemon Athletica pay for and encourage employees to take part in The Landmark Forum.[31][32]


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.[33][34]

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.[34][35] 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.[35]

Influence and impact

The ideas found in Landmark’s programs, as well as those of Landmark’s predecessor est, are among the most influential in the development of the modern Coaching Industry.[36][37]

After completing a Landmark program, Gavin Larkin started RUOK? Day, an Australian national day of awareness about depression and suicide prevention.[38][39]

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."[40] 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." [41]

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."[42]

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.[43]

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.[citation needed] 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".[44]

Some scholars have categorized Landmark or its predecessor organizations as a "self religion" or a (broadly defined) "new religious movement".[45][46] Others, such as Chryssides, firmly reject this characterization.[47][48] Landmark makes clear that its own position is that it is purely an educational foundation and is not a religious movement of any kind .[49] Landmark has threatened or pursued lawsuits against people who called it a cult.[50] Religious authorities in several faith traditions, e.g. Episcopal Bishop E. Otis Charles, have publicly endorsed Landmark's programs.

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." [51] 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)".[25]

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") was highly critical of its subject.[52] Shot in large part with a hidden camera it showed attendance at a Landmark course and a visit to their offices.[53] 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,[54] and sued Jean-Pierre Brard in 2004 following his appearance on the show.[55]

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.[56] Landmark eventually withdrew its subpoenas.[57]

See also


  1. Landmark staff 2002a.
  2. 2.0 2.1 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. Marshall 1997.
  5. Pressman 1993, pp. 245–246, 254–255.
  6. Faltermayer, Charlotte; Richard Woodbury (March 16, 1998). The Best of Est?. Time. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  7. Landmark Education Resumes Full Operation in New York Following Terrorist Attack on The World Trade Center
  10. Landmark (Art Schreiber) 2005, pp. 3–4.
  11. Grigoriadis 2001.
  12. Hill, Amelia (2008-03-05). "I thought I’d be brainwashed. But how wrong could I be…". The Guardian. London: Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  13. Stassen, Wilma (September 2008). "Inside a Landmark Forum Weekend" Health 24 Archived October 6, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Helping professionals take up community welfare projects". Chennai, India: Hindu Times. 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  15. "Charity walk to boost anti-suicide initiatives". Bay of Plenty Times. 2011-08-20. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  16. 31/entertainment/24990821_1_breast-cancer-survivors-breast-cancer-survivors-duck-breast "Cherish the mammary: Restaurants raise funds for breast cancer survivors" Check |url= value (help). Philadelphia Daily News. 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Landmark Fact Sheet. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  18. Who Participates. Retrieved on September 1, 2013.
  19. See:
  20. Logan 1998.
  21. (February 1, 2008). "Landmark Education Business Development, LEBD, Changes Name to Vanto Group". Reuters. Retrieved on October 22, 2008.
  22. Landmark staff 2015.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Badt 5 March 2008.
  26. 26.0 26.1 Stassen 2008.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Hill 13 December 2008.
  28. McCrone 1 February 2008.
  29. 29.0 29.1 See:
  30. See:
  31. Businessweek 18 November 2010.
  32. Sacks 1 April 2009.
  33. Stassen, Wilma (September 2008). "Inside a Landmark Forum Weekend". Health24. 
  34. 34.0 34.1 McCrone, John (November 2008). "A Landmark Change". The Press Supplement. 
  35. 35.0 35.1 McCarl, Steven R.; Zaffron, Steve; Nielson, Joyce; Kennedy, Sally Lewis (January–April 2001). "The Promise of Philosophy and the Landmark Forum". Contemporary Philosophy. XXIII (1 & 2). doi:10.2139/ssrn.278955. 
  36. Wildflower, Leni; Brennan, Diane, eds. (2011). "20". The handbook of knowledge-based coaching from theory to practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 9781118033388. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  37. Steiner, Patricia (2014-08-19). "The Impact of the Self-Awareness Process on Learning and Leading". New England Journal of Higher Education. Thomas, Michael K. XXX (2). Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  38. Santow, Simon (15 September 2011). "Inspiring tale from founder". The World Today. ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  39. "RUOK? - Home". Retrieved 22 May 2015. 
  40. Alford 26 November 2010, p. L1.
  41. Nathan Thornburgh (10 Apr 2011). "Change We Can (Almost) Believe In". Time Magazine. Retrieved 3 Nov 2015. 
  42. "Landmark Forum: One Weekend to fix your LIFE?". Irish Mail on Sunday. 2012-02-18. 
  43. Allinson, Amber (April 2014). "Mind Over Matter". The Mayfair Magazine (U.K.). 
  44. Palme, Christian (3 June 2002). "Kursföretaget Landmark: Kursen ledde till psykos". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  45. See:
  46. See:
  47. Communication for planetary transformation and the drag of public conversations: The case of Landmark Education Corporation.Patrick Owen Cannon, University of South Florida
  48. See:
  49. Puttick 2004, pp. 406–407.
  50. Scioscia 2000.
  51. Amelia Hill (13 Dec 2003). "I thought I'd be brainwashed. But how wrong could I be...". The Observer. Retrieved 3 Nov 2015. 
  52. See:
  53. Roy 24 May 2004.
  54. 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.
  55. Palmer 2011.
  56. See:
  57. Landmark Education and the Internet Archive. Self-Help Group Backs Off Attack on Internet Critic. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2 October 2015.


External links