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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Date: April 01, 2012 01:26AM

While Just Reener makes a valid point for freedom of speech, the issue is the training method used.

I have known countless people involved in LGATs, cults, sects, extreme groups... most have short term benefits, long term nightmares.

However, rather than blame the LGAT, I would recommend confuddled examine what would cause your loved one to get involved there in the first place. Something in their lives was missing. What can you do to help supply that? People joining cults are often looking for a place to belong. This does not imply you are doing something "wrong." Some of the most loved people on the planet join cults. But they are looking for something. Knowing what that something is, might help.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: April 01, 2012 10:38PM


However, rather than blame the LGAT, I would recommend confuddled examine what would cause your loved one to get involved there in the first place. Something in their lives was missing.

This isnt "blame' it is assigning agency.

Many LGATs recruit.

Some report having had to participate in LGATs because their bosses or supervisors were into LGATs and felt entitled to pressure employees.

Many LGATs set it up so that participants are excited into near mania and then arrangements are made for them to bring their friends and families to recruitment events.

And LGATs bundle together skilled methods of persuasion and do NOT tell subjects what will be done with them, making adult informed consent impossible.

That is why many successful people who seemingly have nothing missing from their lives get pulled in. Lots of LGATs are packaged for people who are already ambitious and want to become more successful.

Not everyone who gets sucked in can be said to have something missing from their lives.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: Did it, liked it ()
Date: May 25, 2012 11:29PM

I did the Zarvos training about six years ago; my wife did it a few months after me, as did some of my friends. We did the four months of trainings offered and we haven't done anything since then, but I suppose we'd consider it if they came up with something new to offer. I own a mid-size company in Indianapolis and a few of my business friends took the training; one of them does require his employees to do at least the introductory training.

LGAT are definitely strange, there's no question about it. Lots of group activities and exercises, and at times they feel intensely emotional. And yes, I was encouraged to enroll my friends and family. I suppose that's how the economic model works with LGAT. I eventually found a way to enroll my friends so that it was a growth opportunity for me, but in the beginning it was awkward and forced and I still cringe at some of the conversations I had.

This is a completely subjective statement based on my observations, but I would say that about 1/3 of the people who do the trainings actually approach life much differently afterwards (for the better). Another 1/3 like the training and get a temporary boost from it. Another 1/3 don't get much from it or don't like it.

Is it a "cult" ? No. It's actually funny to see it called that. You do the few months of training and you're done. Some people stay and volunteer for awhile, as they're looking for more. Most people might volunteer for up to a year or so, and then they're usually done, too.

My wife and I notice that six years later we're both much quicker to take responsibility for our own actions, and not blame the other person so much. I feel I'm still right 99% of the time in arguments with her; the difference is I now come off my high horse much quicker than I used to. The Zarvos training did that for me (for us), and I'm grateful. Do I want to go through that intensity again? Probably not. But am I glad I did it? Definitely yes.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: Amelia ()
Date: May 27, 2012 07:50AM

Read your "comment" on what I had expressed on "my experience"with BYB. Bully for you! I did not need to go beyond level 1 to know it was crap. For me I saw it for what it was. And, I didn't need to be manipulated into thinking I needed the "wisdom" of Jim and BYB.

Most people have their own intuitive insight or discernment whatever you wish to call it. You tell me not to judge but didn't you do that towards my opinion( what I experienced) of BYB? Yes you did. So much for your enlighten ways of the Mighty Oz and BYB. You really give him too much credit. He's an individual not God.. wake up!!

I wasn't giving Jim or his BYB one more dime to realize what I wanted or what I had for the most part was already a part of me. Maybe you felt the need to pay for BYB legalism and brainwashing. One has to wonder why you have to sign so many forms especially when it comes to money. Oh, and let's not forget their rule " no side talking."

Lets face it you have to jump through "their" hoops march to "their" program to be "accepted" in order to graduate. Isn't that special. When the "high" or "cloud" of BYB wears off ... it will interesting to see how you are a year from now. And, for the record I wasn't the only "one" that has this opinion. Read on.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: tmtmtm ()
Date: June 14, 2012 11:36PM

JIm Zarvos is a good man. Jim Zarvos is an honest man. He cares deeply about others- not just in a self serving way. I participated in two of Jim's workshops last October. Were they intense? Yes. Did they change my life? No. Because I, like many other folks, had a couple of peak experience weekends followed by nothing but a return to my unfulfilled life.

Change is hard. And the world does not reinforce our efforts to change- not in the way that we all really want. Does Jim Zarvos offer a magic way to internalize the changes that many of us would like to make in our lives? No he does not.
He offers a challenging and exhilarating process that can be transformative. More fundamentally, I know from personal experience and from observation- as one who is deeply skeptical- that Jim lives the values that he preaches.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: S3CDave ()
Date: September 19, 2012 10:07PM

Full disclosure. I am a graduate of all 3 levels of the Zarvos program - formerly Beyond Your Best. I've done work with the Zarvos' and consider them my friends. I felt compelled to tell my story to add a bit of perspective to this thread.

I first heard of Beyond Your Best when one of my family members went through it. They were eager to talk about the experience and asked my parents and sister to give it a try. All declined politely, but those of us who had not been through the program wondered about this 'incredible' program. It seem suspicious - very much like the comments posted by those on this forum who have not been through the program.

A year or two later I met Jim Zarvos at a business networking event. He was looking for some help creating videos and we began working together. Part of my work was to tape a session of graduates running through the curriculum. It was to become an internal training video. The graduates seemed very passionate and eager to talk about the program with me. I was polite, but was not ready to jump in. Honestly, I didn't think this sort of thing was for me.

Over the next months (actually probably a year or so), I continued to get to know Jim and do work for the program. I was never pressured or coerced to go through or to join and my relationship with the program was very professional. After about a year, I decided to go through the program. The program was (and is) very intense. At the same time, it is not about Jim, or the organization, or any religion. It is about you and your understanding of yourself. As I went through the program, I watched people come and go with no pressure to stay. Since graduating over 3 years ago, noone has ever tried to get me to give more money, recruit others, or engage in activities for the group (other than social reunions). At the same time, what I learned through the program has greatly impacted my life and relationships. I've learned how to take more responsibility, how to respect others, and how to take a stand for what I believe. I am an active advocate to my friends who ask about the program.

To those who have not been through the program, my advice is this. Find someone you know and respect who is a graduate and talk to them. If you don't feel right, don't sign up. If you are someone who has been through level 1 and it was not for you, that is fine. Not everything is for everyone. My encouragement, however, would be to present your perspective for what it is - your perspective. Even now, my family has not been through the program. I've talked openly to them about my experience, but it is not something they want to experience. Could I have convinced them to go? Probably. Do I want to coerce them? Absolutely not.

I think anyone who has been through the program would tell you a couple things. First, the program is expensive, but is worth every penny. Having said that, if money is an issue for you and/or you think that this type of program should be free, you're probably not going to enjoy or appreciate the program. That is ok, but don't chastise those who appreciate the value. Second, the program is about you and how you experience your world, not any other agenda, cause, or sect. Graduates are passionate and eager to share the experience, but are no more coercive than a passionate sports fan. Finally, this program is all about doing the right thing. As part of my time with the program, I learned about myself and my fears, I worked to help feed the needy, I listened to a man who marched with Martin Luther King in Selma, and I made lots of great friends. I would not trade those experences for any amount of money, but again, those are just MY perspectives.

It pains me to hear such hateful accusations as posted on this forum. No doubt the program is not for everyone, but it is so far removed from being a cult. If that term weren't so hateful the charge would be laughable. For me, I'm glad to have been able to participate. For anyone else, don't be pushed into a decision you are not sure about. Talk to people you trust. Learn all you can. If it is not a fit for you, don't attend, but if it is, enjoy your experience.

David Anderson
VIA 54

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: rrmoderator ()
Date: September 19, 2012 10:49PM

To whom it may concern:

Anyone interested in any form of large group awareness training (LGAT) should investigate the history of such training.

LGATs generally have a history of bad press, complaints, litigation and in some situations labor violations.

For example, such LGATs as Landmark Education, Executive Success Programs (aka NXIVM), EST, Sterling Institute of Relationships, Mankind Project and Lifespring.

See []

Psychologist Philip Cushman wrote a research paper about LGATs, which he called "Mass Marathon Trainings".

See []

Cushman identified 13 liabilities of encounter groups, some of which are similar to characteristics of most current mass marathon psychotherapy training sessions:

1. They lack adequate participant-selection criteria.

2. They lack reliable norms, supervision, and adequate training for leaders.

3. They lack clearly defined responsibility.

4. They sometimes foster pseudoauthenticity and pseudoreality.

5. They sometimes foster inappropriate patterns of relationships.

6. They sometimes ignore the necessity and utility of ego defenses.

7. They sometimes teach the covert value of total exposure instead of valuing personal differences.

8. They sometimes foster impulsive personality styles and behavioral strategies.

9. They sometimes devalue critical thinking in favor of "experiencing" without self-analysis or reflection.

10. They sometimes ignore stated goals, misrepresent their actual techniques, and obfuscate their real agenda.

11. They sometimes focus too much on structural self-awareness techniques and misplace the goal of democratic education; as a result participants may learn more about themselves and less about group process.

12. They pay inadequate attention to decisions regarding time limitations. This may lead to increased pressure on some participants to unconsciously "fabricate" a cure.

13. They fail to adequately consider the "psychonoxious" or deleterious effects of group participation (or] adverse countertransference reactions.

Cushman also said such groups were determined to be dangerous when:

1. Leaders had rigid, unbending beliefs about what participants should experience and believe, how they should behave in the group. and when they should change.

2. Leaders had no sense of differential diagnosis and assessment skills, valued cathartic emotional breakthroughs as the ultimate therapeutic experience, and sadistically pressed to create or force a breakthrough in every participant.

3. Leaders had an evangelical system of belief that was the one single pathway to salvation.

4. Leaders were true believers and sealed their doctrine off from discomforting data or disquieting results and tended to discount a poor result by, "blaming the victim."

Many LGAT have been accused of using coercive persuasion techniques to convince participants of the efficacy of their assertions and/or philosophical approach.

See []

The key factors that distinguish coercive persuasion from other training and socialization schemes are:

1. The reliance on intense interpersonal and psychological attack to destabilize an individual's sense of self to promote compliance

2. The use of an organized peer group

3. Applying interpersonal pressure to promote conformity

4. The manipulation of the totality of the person's social environment to stabilize behavior once modified

No LGAT has ever published a scientific study of its objective results, to my knowledge, within any credible peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Objective results that could be measured through such a study would include higher grades for students, higher income of graduates, lower divorce rate, less need for counseling and/or diminished use of medication for stress or anxiety. This could be done through a study following participants two, three or five years out after completing an LGAT. Measured against a control group such a study could potentially demonstrate objectively that an LGAT had achieved scientifically measurable objective results.

Instead, LGATs typically rely surveys, polling, testimonials and/or anecdotal stories that demonstrate subjective results, i.e. how people feel they have been affected.

No one disputes that LGATs are effective at influencing the way people feel.

But despite all they money LGATs generate in fees, no LGAT has funded meaningful scientific research to objectively demonstrate the efficacy of its training.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: nancymyers ()
Date: October 06, 2012 10:20AM

I am another Zarvos participant who got duped. Some friends of mine kept after me to participate in this life changing experience. After several months of listening to them, I finally gave in. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!! I had to pay for both level I and II and the only way to get your money back is attending both sessions! After 1 hour of session 1, I knew this was not for me! I still had 3 days and many hours to endure to finish session 1. I am older and have participated in many conferences to help you be a better person. Currently I am participating in a year long journey from a Christian persepective addressing who I am and where I am going with God leading the way. We were treated like bad children. Not allowed to take notes, have anything with us in the room, told when we could come and go to the minute, yelled at and told we were stupid, etc etc to "break us" I guess.
Of course, we were not to tell anyone what we did. We could not write anything down and we could not have our cell phones to ensure we took no pictures or recorded anything.
I started participating in level 2 because I wanted my $1500 back! However, after 5/6 hours on Wed pm I needed to leave to go to the airport to pick up a family member who was already waiting over an hour. I told Zarvos I needed to leave and he informed me if I left, I could not return for the week. ( I think it was a gift from God!) I honestly don't think I could have spent 4 days participating in this abuse. I have to attend another level II to get my money back. Do you really think I will ever get my money back?
Is it really worth my sanity to spend 40 hours being yelled at, yelling at others, being treated like an animal and spending 12 hours a day with this potentially dangerous person? How do we keep others from being duped? Or more importantly, possibly mentally hurt from his rantings?

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT
Posted by: jwsammco ()
Date: October 10, 2012 08:32AM

I don't know if this is helpful, but I know Jim Zarvos (James Mark Zarvos). He graduated from MacArthur High School in San Antonio, Tx in 1976. He attended University of Texas in Austin starting fall 1976 and received his B.B.A. in 1981 with a major of Petroleum Land Management. Later, I believe he was a real estate broker in Dallas Tx. After that, I don't know what he did. This may be helpful in gathering background info.

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Re: Jim Zarvos & Beyond Your Best LGAT scam rip-off
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: October 11, 2012 01:40AM

Another classic LGAT scam.
Notice all the exact same patterns, banning note-taking, breaking people down psychologically, verbal abuse, scams around not refunding of money. All the same stuff.

If someone who has sold you a service is violating their agreement, a Chargeback on the credit card can be used. []
Or an application in small claims court, to get the refund.

Make it harder and more expensive to not refund the money, than to just refund it.

Reports to Rip-Off report can work. []

Just another LGAT scam to get your money and keep it.

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