❀ the cult of: ➥motivational speakers ➥life coaches ➥personal growth gurus ➥new-age charlatans ➥AWESOMENESS FEST

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so much shame in that room...

his hands are a dirty fountain through which lives spurt (contenderizer), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:47 (2 years ago) Permalink

part of an email friend got back when trying to get paid for the two weeks before he was fired:

On an practical and business front. Since you were hired on as a subcontractor in the get go and that from the outset we were going to take a look a few months down the road as to how we were to proceed, I feel as though that has come to fruition. And although the review of things did not look like we both thought it was going to, both initially and according to where we were playing weeks before christmas, it happened the way it did. In my mind it occurred and adjusted to suit the situation and position I found myself in (with complete commitment to not doing another thing that looked like it did prior to that moment). Although that might be hard to explain, interpret or understand, things like this happen for some of us and there is a watershed and things change overnight. It did, there's no other explanation or rationale.

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

holy shit

the "intenterface" (difficult listening hour), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

honestly that is the freakiest thing about this phenomenon to me, the way it seems to curdle people's ability to use language properly. a college roommate got really into the landmark forum and it was like she just spoke gibberish all the time suddenly.

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:55 (2 years ago) Permalink

i have a couple of friends who got into landmark forum and invited me to join a writer's group they were putting together, and i realized about three meetings in i was accidentally getting landmarked.

omar little, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

i quit before we went to "cafe gratitude"

omar little, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

A BREAKDOWN OF A LIFECOACH:

Here's the first email my friend got from the dude:

This is the start of something big and quite frankly something never before developed or experienced on the face of this planet.
What we will accomplish together will be directly downloaded from Source and put into practice by You and Me.
It will change not only our lives but the world as we know it and expand all that is from this moment forward.
I am excited, enthusiastic and looking very much forward to our creation of team and moving this into action.

Welcome!

Here's the last email friend got from the dude:

I am simply not ready to move forward with my business endeavors at this point.
Everyday I wonder when and if it will surge but to date I am simply disinterested in reentering into "business as usual" again.
It is actually repulsive to me at the moment and thus keeping me from engaging in anything that resembles what we were doing prior to years end.

I am not exactly sure what else to say as a result of the experience I am having.
I suppose we can go through the week from my standpoint and see what occurs and because I have no idea when this experience I am having will change, I can not predict the outcome and really have no desire to do that anyway.

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

funny thing is the most landmarky of that group really DID write in total bizarre gibberish

omar little, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:57 (2 years ago) Permalink

in his defense the only reason the friend worked for the dude was to get some money after travelling a bunch and ending up back in his home state

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

In my mind it occurred and adjusted to suit the situation and position I found myself in (with complete commitment to not doing another thing that looked like it did prior to that moment).

his hands are a dirty fountain through which lives spurt (contenderizer), Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

but still it was a p horrible idea

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 07:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

can we call awesomefest Burning Mind

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 07:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol @ "Burning Mind"

omar/horseshoe: i am unfamiliar with landmark!!!! enlighten me!!

⚓ (gr8080), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

so much shame in that room...

― his hands are a dirty fountain through which lives spurt (contenderizer), Wednesday, February 1, 2012 8:47 PM (1 hour ago)

feel like we could do a whole ws of shame pollthread w/ this page:

http://www.awesomenessfest.com/meet-the-tribe/

⚓ (gr8080), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

xp This Observer article (yeh, lol observer, but still . . . ) seems an even-handed write-up.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/dec/14/ameliahill.theobserver

It makes the whole thing sound like the plot of Good Will Hunting.

get ready for the banter (NotEnough), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

i have a coworker who spends all his vacation days flying to like new zealand and places for life coach training, but i have tried to avoid the subject because he's a bit of a talker and also i kind of enjoy the insane ambition of the term LIFE COACH devoid of whatever weird 10-step literature goes along with it, especially since dude is such just a regular ho-hum guy. it's so weird to think that he could be another guy's life coach, i don't know.

rent, Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:29 (2 years ago) Permalink

like, does anyone actually hire a freelance life coach??

rent, Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

or i guess you just run meetings and that huh. i want a life coach to follow me around and suggest i do things all day, like "you should take an umbrella".

rent, Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

how to live.

⚓ (gr8080), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

⚓ (gr8080), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

all this inspirational shit working so fucking hard to deny the essential tragedy of the human condition just makes me think of it more and more.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

landmark is this super-culty west-coast based semi-offshoot of scientology (maybe not an offshoot, per se, but they emerged around the same time and w/similar ideas.) basically a self-help pyramid scheme, promises to get rid of all negative energy etc, the usual. you go to these seminars that are apparently super intense and you're supposed to just talk and let all your secrets out or whatever and basically talk away the pain with other people and then you're all bros and you're supposed to recruit friends into the group and they make you teach courses as well (as part of your membership.) it's similar to scientology in that it tries to be all super-positive but if you question it, they get aggro. plus it's "suggested" that you should cut negative people out of your life (which = lots of non-landmark folks, which i think is what sort of happened to my two friends.)

i mentioned cafe gratitude b/c it's this big vegan chain from SF that recently "sprouted" (lol) in l.a. and i guess they were going to close the SF locations b/c of lawsuits stemming from people working there being pressured to take landmark classes and in some cases being canned if they refused.

it's basically creepy b/c it's very high-pressure and people get all vacant-eyed when they sing its praises. i tend to think self-help shit is for complete suckers anyway, because there's no one group that has to answers to complex human emotions, relationships, desires, and pains, but hey people believe it anyway.

omar little, Thursday, 2 February 2012 08:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

article regarding the cafe gratitude thing w/some hilarious dead-eyed comments from landmark acolytes (which as per usual w/this sort of thing go beyond the "hey it's really not that bad" form of damage control.)

http://laist.com/2011/11/29/agressive_lawsuits_forcing_cafe_gra.php

omar little, Thursday, 2 February 2012 09:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Wasnt there a news story about some Landmarked woman who went nuts and jumped out of a window?

thanks to denial, I'm immortal! (Trayce), Thursday, 2 February 2012 09:43 (2 years ago) Permalink

can we call awesomefest Burning Mind

― puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, February 2, 2012 2:03 AM (4 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

lol

wolf kabob (ENBB), Thursday, 2 February 2012 11:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

honestly that is the freakiest thing about this phenomenon to me, the way it seems to curdle people's ability to use language properly. a college roommate got really into the landmark forum and it was like she just spoke gibberish all the time suddenly.

― horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 06:55 (5 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i know 'did u go to grad school' has been a go-to ilx zing recently but seriously, all this reminds me a little of that - i'm not calling BS on grad school but i think there's an ability to change the register you speak in, & then feel like, as a byproduct, you're handling/relating to things in a totally different way. so w/school it's saying 'unpack' & with this it's DREAM ACTUALIZATION, like there's some social comfort in fluency of the particular vernacular, maybe bc it can separate you & non-believers.

really loving this thread, gonna put this on my résumé:

unschooled and yet probably has the equivalence of a college degree in the events and trainings she has attended

quick brown fox triangle (schlump), Thursday, 2 February 2012 12:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

it was in the early '00 that i first heard of personal growth gurus /motivational speakers; i was a working poor and fairly stressed out about it, their sales pitch intrigued me so i downloaded some of that to figure out if it could be of any help, brandler, robbins , the big names and the b listers... listening to that while playing video games i finally began to feel weird then noticed something that was -in the unsaid- , some sophistic strategy like some sort of "guru's nlp secret of the trade" most of em were using... i don't know exactly what they were doing or what they think they were doing but i figure that they were manipulating to make me feel bad, to aggravate my distress to big up he worth their "solutions" and most importantly to install themselves in a position where i am dependent of them in the long term.

Sébastien, Thursday, 2 February 2012 12:38 (2 years ago) Permalink

What's the difference between Mind Valley and Emerson et al's Brook Farm? Is it the difference between a resort and a commune?

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 13:23 (2 years ago) Permalink

Many people in the community wrote of how much they enjoyed their experience and, in particular, the light-hearted atmosphere.[68] One participant, a man named John Codman, joined the community at the age of 27 in 1843. He wrote, "It was for the meanest a life above humdrum, and for the greatest something far, infinitely far beyond. They looked into the gates of life and saw beyond charming visions, and hopes springing up for all".[74]

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 13:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

landmark is this super-culty west-coast based semi-offshoot of scientology (maybe not an offshoot, per se, but they emerged around the same time and w/similar ideas.) basically a self-help pyramid scheme, promises to get rid of all negative energy etc, the usual. you go to these seminars that are apparently super intense and you're supposed to just talk and let all your secrets out or whatever and basically talk away the pain with other people and then you're all bros and you're supposed to recruit friends into the group and they make you teach courses as well (as part of your membership.) it's similar to scientology in that it tries to be all super-positive but if you question it, they get aggro. plus it's "suggested" that you should cut negative people out of your life (which = lots of non-landmark folks, which i think is what sort of happened to my two friends.)

omar, i don't want to minimize your experience with this but this is all pretty much not true. it's is a semi-offshoot of scientology in the sense of werner erhard did scientology before "inventing" Est (which is what Landmark really is an offshoot of). but they don't promise to get rid of all negative energy, you're not supposed to let all your secrets out while talking at a seminar (they're pretty rigidly organized and are mostly lecture-based), you don't talk away the pain, they don't make you teach courses, and it is not only not suggested that you cut out negative people from your life but the organization is primarily designed around improving people's relationships w/ family members / people in their actual real lives. I've done courses with Landmark (tho not for many years) and I've literally heard ppl in positions of leadership tell groupies, "If you do this course and what you get out of it is you start to hang out and Landmark with all your new Landmark friends, you've basically wasted your time. It's only of value if you use it in your life."

Re: what "it" is, is primarily (it seems to me) basic continental philosophy and I suspect it's not dissimilar to those practical philosophy courses they advertise on the MTA subway.

nb I think it fits really nicely on this thread but if we're going to talk about it we're should probably talk about what it actually is and not call it a super-cult. And I'm sure your friends did ostracize you bc of Landmark, but I know that isn't encouraged at all.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:00 (2 years ago) Permalink

I was busy yesterday and now wish to bask in the wealth of this thread.

namaste, folks!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:11 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbf, Mordy, these groups don't have to directly tell you that people are full of negative energy or that you have to ditch your family. When you're going full speed ahead on your goal to get to awesomefest or whatever any dissenting or critical voice is going to seem negative!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:13 (2 years ago) Permalink

I read a book that synthesized the origins of est/Synanon/Landmark/etc and how those philosophies/organizations lead to a lot of those teen death camps (my term for them) where "troubled kids" whose parents have a lot of money send them to an island or the woods or whatever to be "straightened out." This book was interesting for a lot of reasons, but seeing the development of that seed of an idea that lead to a lot of the weirder and more aggro incarnations of expensive/dubious self-help was my favorite part. The book is Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids.

I'm trying to think of all the ways I can inspire you (Abbbottt), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

Fun fact! I used to work at a psychic hotline in the mid-90s and after it went tits up, the owner became a freelance life coach, which she remains to this day.

There's a Landmark thread around here somewhere.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

tbf, Mordy, these groups don't have to directly tell you that people are full of negative energy or that you have to ditch your family. When you're going full speed ahead on your goal to get to awesomefest or whatever any dissenting or critical voice is going to seem negative!

True, but there are enough organizations (like Scientology) that directly tell you that people are full of negative energy and that you have to ditch your family that you should at least distinguish. For what it's worth, though, Landmark explicitly coaches people to repair bad relationships with people in their lives. Cynical interpretation: So that they can bring them to the next meeting. Optimistic interpretation: Who cares why? People report that the biggest stuff they've gotten out of the course is renewing relationships w/ ppl esp ppl they've had bad blood with for a long time.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, did you work for Miss Cleo?

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, were you Miss Cleo?

Burritos are one of the things I'm nostalgic about!!! (Eazy), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

psychic hotline

Did you pick up the phones before they rang?

insert 2012 appropriate display name here (snoball), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:39 (2 years ago) Permalink

occupational hazard

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

ugh this thread is so disturbing

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

and i haven't even watched any of the videos

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

Not Miss Cleo - it was a small, independently owned hotline located in Boulder, CO, called M0rningst@r Psychics. I was the customer service manager.

It was one of the most weirdly dysfunctional workplaces I have ever experienced.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm sorry, she is not a life coach. She is an "@uth3nt1c pr0sp3r1ty c0@ch."

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

and i think that in some ways, a certain sort of educated and non-shammy "life coaching" is interesting and works for some people, but this is, well, something else...
xp

haha a friend of mine was a phone sex worker when she finished high school and worked next to the psychic phone line workers. the stories she told me. so dysfunctional. but oh the easy access to good/bad drugs.

obliquity of the ecliptic (rrrobyn), Thursday, 2 February 2012 14:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

I don't want to derail, but it's kind of relevant, but it wasn't like a phone in from home kind of place. They had a really intense interview and selection process for the psychics, who then had to undergo training in the methods espoused by the owners. Customer service rep's job was to talk to people and tell them who was reading at that time and use our psychic abilities to make a good match between the caller and the psychic, including telling the person to call back at another time to talk to somebody who might not have been on shift.

The two owners totally ganged up on one coworker was sick a lot (she was just kind of sickly and allergic to everything), put her in one of the reading rooms, and basically took turns berating her for being so negative and bringing her sickly negativity into the office, and told her that she was sick so often because she was negative and drew all the sickness to her and, by proxy, to everyone she worked with.

gonna give her the old fuquay-varina (Jenny), Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

It's like... all of these elements on their own could be functional, but some people need a lot more direction than "hey, I could do yoga" or "hey, I could use a way to figure out how to organize my professional life or emotions" and it's like a little life view and motivation wrapped up

so basically it's the same as people who are way too into organized religion. kind of has the same smell as megachurches where all your social events are at or through the church

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:03 (2 years ago) Permalink

Jenny, that's kind of like the obvious "you're not doing what we like / you're not with the program: you have negative energies!" formula in a nutshell!

mh, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

Mordy, you obviously know more about Landmark than I do, but my other roommates and i used to have house meetings about how we were worried this roommate of mine had joined a cult. because:

1) she was spending a lot of money on Landmark classes
2) she had begun speaking in a hyper-technical space alien sounding jargon
3) she was constantly trying to recruit us to come with her.

i believe you that a lot of what the lectures were for was personal relationships, because she was constantly trying to use her Landmark-isms on us, but it was still creepy and seemingly substance-less in execution. at the time i remember thinking that Landmark seemed to be preying on this girl's social anxiety.

horseshoe, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:06 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol, i'm such an ilx outlier. i'd say like at least 65% of my social life goes through my local synagogue (even worse, a chabad house!) xp

And yeah, horseshoe, obviously it's not a great experience for a lot of people. For one, you've gotta figure that the kind of person who would take a class like this to begin with is going to be in a particular place in their life. Fwiw, to lead introduction courses, or teach seminars, etc, you have to prove a very high level of personal success (in economic/health/relationship areas) in your life (generally to become a Landmark Forum leader -- the company is employee-owned by all Forum leaders -- you have to have complete financial independence -- or at least used to. I don't know if you still do). But anyone can take the course. Well, not anyone. If you have a history of mental illness I believe your psychiatrist has to sign off on your forms. I do know a number of ppl who lied on their applications that they don't have a history of mental illness tho.

Mordy, Thursday, 2 February 2012 15:09 (2 years ago) Permalink


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