Landmark Education and the Landmark Forum

May 22, 2013

Landmark, Cult Brand, not Cult

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — landmarkeducationinaustralia @ 8:59 pm

One of the things that gives rise to the Landmark cult myth that floats around the internet and gets recycled like Facebook rumors debunked by Snopes a year ago, is the fact that Landmark and The Landmark Forum, are in fact a cult brand. Now a cult brand isn’t a cult – a cult is weird group that separates you from your family and your money and tells you some fable about the origin of the world is the god’s honest truth (this is much closer to many religions today than it is to Landmark).

A cult brand, on the other hand, is something that can feel ‘cultish’, by which I mean simply that it has a group of passionate devotees, who speak incomprehensibly in their own jargon about things outsiders don’t understand, and spend a lot of time on their shared passion. This definition applies to Manchester United fans, Landmarkers, and those who worship at the church of Apple.

Now, those other groups don’t get taken seriously as real ‘cults’ because they are selling computers or football, which most people can understand, but if you feel ‘culty’ and you are selling ‘personal development programs’, well that just seems dodgy, some people conclude, maybe it is a real cult.

Personal development in general tends to have a dubious reputation outside of those who aren’t personal improvement diehards. The idea of going to someone to have a conversation which could improve your life seems very suspicious these days to Westerners trained to worship at the altar of individualism and self-reliance. If I walk up to you and tell you, I had an amazing conversation with my priest today, and my life will never be the same, or my therapist is the best, my life was headed downhill, but I had some amazing conversations and now I feel great, the best thing you might think is ‘that’s great for you’. Along with this you might have a hope that you don’t get invited to talk to said priest or therapist, along with a vague sense that this your friend is probably a bit soft, a tad weak.

Anyhow, when someone is in your fact, evangelical, and as I said, a bit ‘cultish’ about self-improvement – well that makes some people suspicious. This website does a good job of talking about the Landmark cult brand, and gives a good summary of the controversies. I just wish that their Man U article was a bit longer…

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