Lunch with the famous Werner Erhard! The founder of EST, Landmark Education and America’s most famous personal development guru just gave his first interview in many years. His choice? The Financial Times and Saturday’s “Lunch with the FT” slot, written by the notoriously sharp Lucy Kellaway. The purpose? To discuss Erhard’s latest work, developed with Harvard economist Michael Jensen, about the nature of integrity and how it applies in the business world. Erhard says expansively, “I want people to know that most suffering in their lives is the product of out-of-integrity behavior”.
Kellaway in her write up veered between portraying Werhard as exhausting and draining and then, most tellingly, a poor listener. Mistakenly calling her “Suzie” during the interview Erhard introduced an exercise from one of his training sessions as the interview seemed to flag. The result was more than a hint of irritation from his luncheon companion.
This was a tough lunch and probably better done as a team, with his associate Jensen on hand to have provided some balance. Not only would it have reduced straying into Erhard’s checkered and much previously discussed personal history, but it may have served as a brake on Erhard using workshop techniques on a seemingly reluctant journalist .
The PR Verdict: “C” for Werner Erhard. For a thought leader with much to say and contribute, this was a disappointment. This interview got lost in distractions.
PR Takeaway: Make your point by giving examples and make them easy. This interview lacked solid illustrations as to how an absence of integrity was the genesis for some of the more recent seismic scandals to have hit the corporate world. With Erhard’s colleague Michael Jensen, previously one of the more vocal advocates of aligning management interests with stock options, an analyisis of Enron, Tyco and the 2008 financial crisis might have been a good place to start. It might also have postponed Erhard’s one-on-one workshop with Lucy Kellaway to a later date.
To read the interview click here
What your PR Verdict on Werner Erhard’s interview?