The following case study is based on information provided by Executive Success Programs, Inc.’s (ESP, also known as “NXIVM”) corporate web sites, unless otherwise noted. For further information, or to contact the company directly, please visit http://www.executivesuccessprograms.com and http://www.nxivm.com.
What is the target market?
Based on the company website, it appears ESP has two target markets: individuals who seek “to achieve a higher level of success in the world” and business professionals or executives.
Does the company discourage participation of specific demographics?
ESP’s website does not seem to discourage participation of any particular demographic. However, its program applications screen for mental health professionals and business consultants. It is not apparent whether the screening precludes participation of individuals from either profession.
Authenticity of Material
What percentage of the company’s material is proprietary?
ESP claims its programs “employ a unique, patent-pending technology called Rational Inquiry™”. Most of its programs are trademarked, and the program descriptions note different disciplines, such as systems theory and organizational development. However, it is not clear precisely what percentage of the material is proprietary. A 1999 survey on ESP’s Ethos program reports:
52% say the material in Ethos™ is almost completely new and original
61% say 90% or more of the material is completely unique to Ethos™
97% say at least 50% is completely unique to Ethos™
Does the company disclose the source of the non-proprietary materials?
The company’s website does not specify the nature or source of any non-proprietary materials, albeit in general terms such as “systems theory” and “organizational development.”
What is the program’s duration?
According to the program applications available online, ESP’s programs range in length from one day to one year. “Intensives” have options for five and sixteen day versions available.
Is the program delivered in an individual and/or group setting?
It appears ESP’s programs are delivered in group settings. Its Executive Training “is taught in groups no larger than 15 participants,” while the personal and professional coaching is delivered in a one-on-one fashion.
Does the program require or enforce isolation or deprivations of any kind?
Based on the information provided on ESP’s website, it is not known whether the program enforces isolation or deprivations of any kind.
Program Philosophy, Scope and Results
Does the program address specific subjects or areas?
According to ESP’s website, the company’s programs address and deal with the specific areas of the mind-body connection, human psychodynamics, language, communication, emotions, self-esteem, critical thinking, stress management, goal setting, motivation, leadership, relationships, systems theory, organizational development, and personal and professional ethics.
Does the program exacerbate problems already present in individuals?
There is no evidence to suggest ESP programs help or exacerbate problems already present in individuals.
However, a non-affiliated source1 claims ESP programs have the potential to exacerbate problems in people. The same source appears in ESP’s profile on Wikipedia, however there is no mention of this assertion. Instead, Wikipedia references related claims have been raised by a “series of disgruntled executives”2.
Does the program address areas of dysfunction and/or provide tools for improvement?
It is unclear whether ESP programs address areas of dysfunction. However, the website claims to provide tools to help “develop the practical, emotional, and intellectual skills people need to reach their maximum potential.”
Does the program promote any religious, spiritual or mystical beliefs?
It appears ESP does not promote any religious, spiritual or mystical beliefs. On the contrary, its website states:
We believe it should be possible for people of all faiths-Christians, Atheists, Jews, Hindus, and Muslims, etc.-to live and work together. Humankind should be able to coexist on this planet in a harmonious fashion. Therefore, we believe the ultimate human morality cannot be based on mysticism.
Does the program facilitate short-term, long-term or permanent change?
The company website purports, “This unique model allows for the creation of permanent improvement and change.” Several testimonials featured attribute long-term changes to ESP’s programs.
What is the program’s approach for thought and/or behavior modification?
It appears ESP programs approach thought and behavior modification primarily from a thought-based perspective. From the website: “Our programs employ a unique, patent-pending technology called Rational Inquiry™, which allows you to re-examine and re-incorporate perceptions that may be the foundation of self-imposed limitations. Once these limitations are removed, the possibilities for success are virtually limitless.”
Does the program offer personal and/or professional coaching?
ESP seems to offer both personal and professional coaching.
Does the program require individuals to disclose sensitive personal information in order to participate?
It is not clear whether ESP requires its clients to disclose sensitive personal information in order to participate.
Does the program require individuals to introspect or self-evaluate in order to participate?
ESP’s website does not state whether its clients are required to introspect or self evaluate in order to participate. However, its Origins program claims to be introspective in nature and that the “Intensive” programs include introspective processes.
Founders, Leaders and Trainers
Is the program’s creator still active in developing the program?
Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman are the cofounders of ESP. According to the company website, NXIVM (ESP’s parent company) President and CEO Nancy Salzman “…is currently working with Mr. Raniere in developing and patenting an innovative, systematic business management model designed to generate and run new businesses.”
Does the leadership adhere to the principles and standards of the program?
It is not obvious from the company websites whether the leadership adhere to the principles and standards of the program. From President Nancy Salzman’s online biography located on the NXIVM website:
Ms. Salzman now allocates the majority of her time to further developing the company’s capacity to meet its ever-growing needs. Because of her strong belief in developing each individual, she personally works with over 300 Coaches and 30 Regional Executives in the United States and Mexico.
If the principles of ESP programs include a strong work ethic, humanitarianism and tolerance, then Salzman’s professed commitment to hard work, developing people and cultural inclusiveness attest to an adherence to the programs’ ideals.
Is the leadership required to certify and maintain training standards in order to administer the program?
Given the available information, it seems ESP requires individuals to train and certify as coaches to perform as such within the company. The company website states, “ESP has created international coaching standards that allow for accurate, consistent measurement of human psychodynamic performance. All ESP programs maintain standards of excellence…” The section on “Professional Coaching” further mentions, “By becoming a certified coach with ESP, you have access to full, hands-on apprenticeship, supervised practice, and ongoing experience.”
Does the leadership specialize in specific areas or fields?
ESP founder Keith Raniere is described as a “scientist, mathematician, philosopher and entrepreneur.” ESP President Nancy Salzman is described as one of the “top trainers in the field of human potential” and appears to be the sole presenter of the company’s Executive Trainings. It also appears the company encourages its coaches to specialize in one or more areas: “As a coach, you can also go on to develop an expertise in an area such as relationships, parenting, habit transformation, motivation, organizational and corporate consulting, and potential actualization.”
What is the typical duration of the program-client relationship?
Given the program durations, it appears ESP’s program-client relationships can last from anywhere between one day to one or more years.
Does the program foster dependency on the program?
There is no evidence on the company website indicating dependency of clients on the programs.
Does the program set conditions individuals must follow in order to participate?
There is no evidence of conditions individuals must follow in order to participate in the programs, other than payment, completing an application (which includes an affidavit and terms and conditions), and receipt of the information or service.
Does the company assist with the treatment of mental illness?
There is no evidence on ESP’s website claiming it assists with the treatment of mental illness.
Does the company accept individuals suffering from mental illness into its programs?
It is not known whether ESP accepts individuals suffering from mental illness.
What is the company’s policy if an individual presents symptoms of mental illness?
The website does not disclose whether ESP has a formal policy regarding how to deal with symptoms of mental illness occurring during seminars.
After exiting the program, are individuals more or less socially adaptable?
ESP’s website claims its programs help individuals acquire “skills to develop more successful relationships” and “adapt comfortably in environments of rapid growth and change.” Furthermore, a 1999 survey on the Ethos program states:
92% say Ethos™ has increased their emotional capacity and balance
60% say greatly or more
|Balance:||88% report they live more balanced lives because of Ethos™|
92% report an increased ability to understand and deal with others
32% report their ability to understand and deal with others is now beyond what they ever thought it could be
After exiting the program, are individuals more or less functional?
Numerous testimonials listed on ESP’s website attest to clients experiencing positive improvements as a result of the trainings. Additionally, a 1999 survey on the Ethos program states:
96% say Ethos™ has increased their intellectual capacity and performance
|Goals:||92% say Ethos™ has increased their ability to achieve their goals|
|Achievement:||48% report they have achieved things with Ethos™ they have never been able to do before|
Third Party Evaluation
Has the program been certified by a recognized authority in its field?
It is not known whether ESP has been certified by a recognized authority in its field.
Has the program been independently evaluated by an accredited third party?
ESP appears to have been evaluated and approved by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and Proevity Continuing Education Group as an authorized provider of continuing education credits.
Does the company have any notable affiliations or endorsements?
Numerous testimonials listed on ESP’s website feature endorsements from notable clients such as Former Minister of Higher Education Luis Eugenio Todd, Award-Winning Film Director Mark Vicente, gold medalist swimmer Michael Sorensen, and president and CEO of CCI and Natchiq/Sakhalin Keith Burke, among others.