Keith Raniere has a perverse twist in the ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ for Executive Success Programs, Inc. (ESP).
This is found in Section 3 -c of the agreement.
Section 3-c, may be Keith’s way of showing how smart he is.
It may be his twisted way of saying: ‘See how stupid you are? You will sign anything. Even something that forbids you from using what you paid to learn in ESP.”
Any binding contract must include consideration on the part of every person or company that enters the contract. Anything of value promised by one party to the other is deemed to be “consideration”.
There must be mutual consideration.
Section 3 -c forbids a student from using what he or she is paying for, without Keith’s permission.
ESP sells life coaching seminars called “intensives” that were “invented” by Keith Raniere, who prefers to be called Vanguard. The “intensives” utilize teaching modules that are based on a set of principle Raniere calls “Rational Inquiry”. Raniere once applied for a patent for “Rational Inquiry” and still describes the system as “Patent Pending” even though the application was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Before a student can begin an intensive, he or she has to sign a “Confidentiality Agreement”.
The agreement is between the student and four entities: First Principles, Inc., ESP, Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere.
In reality, as everyone who ever spent any time in ESP knows, Keith controls the other three entities.
“Proprietary” means Keith owns it.
“Confidential” means the student must not disclose it.
“Proprietary and Confidential Information” includes all …information … communicated to [student] during the … Instruction, [including] … copyrighted material, trademark material, Trade Secret material, software, hardware, technical information, business information, financial information, marketing information … written materials, oral disclosures, verbal communications, visual communications, graphic materials, pictorial materials, data files, and software.
Everything spoken, written, pictured, played, demonstrated, transmitted or conveyed during training is “proprietary and confidential”.
A student may not tell anything taught in ESP to “family members, friends, employees, employers, agents, representatives, associates, and co-workers”.
This is the heart of the agreement:
In consideration for disclosure of Proprietary and Confidential Information [student] agrees to protect [it] against disclosure
Without Keith’s written consent, the student will not:
3 (a) disclose … any … Proprietary and Confidential Information…
A student can not say anything about what he or she learned during an ESP training without Keith’s consent, nor make copies or let anyone make copies of any material.
3-c. The student will not:
(c) make any commercial or personal use of Proprietary and Confidential Information, including, inter alia, use for: therapy, teaching, consulting, entertainment, business activity, conflict resolution, personal development, family activity, and relationship enhancement.
According to Section 1 Definitions, proprietary and confidential information includes all:
information generally associated with TRAINING and communicated to RECIPIENT during the course of an Instruction.
Let’s go back to 3-c:
Without Keith’s permission in writing, the student will not:
(c) make any commercial or personal use of [ESP] Proprietary and Confidential Information.
Since absolutely everything taught during training is proprietary and confidential, a student cannot say anything about what he or she read, heard or saw in an ESP intensive without Keith’s permission.
The dirty little secret of the agreement is that you cannot use anything you purchased for anything.
Without Keith’s consent, you cannot use ESP for therapy, teaching, consulting, entertainment, business, solving problems, personal development, family activity or improving relationships.
This may explain why no one in ESP makes money.
It may explain why their lives are messed up.
Section 3-c, reveals Keith secret: Everything he teaches, you can’t use. Unless, of course, he gives you permission to use it – permission that can be withdrawn at any time.
In other words, Keith teaches something that once learned can never be used again without his permission.
Whatever a students learns has no value because the ability to use that knowledge is conditioned upon getting permission from Keith to do so. And even if such permission is granted, it can be withdrawn at any time.
Imagine any other kind of knowledge taught this way: Someone teaches you something that is supposed to make you a success in life, but you cannot use what you learn without the permission of your teacher.
By filling your head with his teachings, and not allowing you to use it [without his permission], Keith gradually enslaves you. As you take more intensives, with more ESP “proprietary and confidential” information, you wind up where you can do less and less.
This is called brainwashing and it is classic cult.
If you follow the terms of the “Confidentiality Agreement”, you can not use anything you learned from the ESP teachings to make money – or to just improve your life – without Keith’s permission. Thus, it becomes inevitable that, if you take enough ESP classes, you will have to work for ESP.
This is why so many people keep taking classes and give up their successful jobs and become low paid, full time employees of ESP/Keith Raniere cult (Editors Note: ESP really doesn’t treat its staff as “employees” because that would require the company to withhold and pay payroll taxes and to pay its staff at least the prevailing minimum wage – and those things are not part of Raniere’s “business model”).
Think of Allison Mack as a good example. There are many others.
A few of the other sections of the “Confidentiality Agreement” further illustrate the absurdity of its terms.
4. Improvements: This section states that if you find a way to improve ESP, you must offer your idea for free to Raniere.
5. Term: This section states that you will keep ESP teachings secret until Raniere tells you otherwise, or it becomes public knowledge.
6. No Rights Granted: This section states that only Raniere has the right to use ESP without permission.
7. CONTRACTOR’s Rights: This section states that Raniere is the sole owner of ESP.
8. Return of Materials: This section states that within 30 days of demand, you have to return any materials from training. If you took personal notes jotted during intensives, you must surrender that to Raniere. If you wrote or sketched something later that was derived from something you learned from ESP, you have to turn that over to Raniere as well, upon demand.
9 . Warranty: This section states that Raniere does not guarantee you will become successful.
10. Injunctive Relief: This section states that if you ever tell an ESP secret, it “may cause irreparable harm’ to Raniere “for which monetary damages may be inadequate.”
If he suspects you, Raniere has the right to inform a judge that you are [or plan to] tell ESP secrets. The judge can issue an injunction to stop you.
Raniere can also take other legal action to punish you.
11. Attorney Fees: This section states that the loser in a legal battle must pay the winner’s legal expenses. With Bronfman money to back up his “legal strategies”, Raniere will spend a lot in legal fees (He once appealed the denial of a preliminary injunction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court).
12. Integration and Modification: This section states that you cannot change the contract after it is signed.
13. Non-Material Modifications: This section states that if Raniere wants to change the contract, he simply changes it and sends you the changes. You must object within one week and explain why the changes will have a negative impact on you. If Raniere disagrees, he can sue you [with Bronfman money] if you don’t comply.
14. Applicable Law: This section states that all lawsuits regarding your involvement with ESP must be brought in New York State [with Bronfman money].
15. Invalidity: This section states that you agree that the judge should favor Raniereover you, if a section is invalid and Raniere needs to modify the section, and you do not agree with Raniere’s modification.
16. Section Headings are for convenience only
In consideration for disclosure of Proprietary and Confidential Information to
RECIPIENT, RECIPIENT shall protect such Proprietary and Confidential Information in accordance with Provision 3 of this agreement.
If the student signs the “Confidentiality Agreement” – and First Principles, Executive Success Programs, Nancy Salzman and Keith Raniere sign it – you have a valid contract.
Or do you?
In the contract, you promise to never use anything in ESP for personal or commercial use without Keith’s written consent. You are agreeing to learn to be Keith’s underling.
As a result, the teachings are worthless to you since Keith [not you] controls whether you can use them.
It’s kind of like buying a car but needing the dealer’s permission to ever drive it.
But what if there is fraud?
What if you were misled about the genius behind the teachings?
What if you were told the “confidential and proprietary information” was devised by someone who had certain accomplishments. Because of those accomplishments, you were induced to pay the high cost of the intensives and agree not to use the teachings unless approved by that stellar individual.
Suppose you were told many astonishing things about Keith Raniere. Because of his spectacular abilities, you were persuaded to take the course and sign the “Confidentiality Agreement”.
Based on who Keith Raniere was said to be, you were induced to pay for the seminar, sign the “Confidentiality Agreement”, take the seminar(s), and consent to let Raniere decide when or if you can use what you learned from ESP in your professional or personal life.
Raniere is described by ESP salespeople as “the smartest man in the world” or as “one of the top three problem solvers in the world”: as a super athlete; as a brilliant musician, scientist, martial artist, inventor, scholar and millionaire businessman. They also tell you that “Rational Inquiry” is a “Patent Pending” invention that Raniere created.
What is ESP selling?
The ESP “sales model” calls for attractive and seemingly bright women to sell seminars by edifying Keith.
That is the reason why most buy seminars: Keith Raniere knows something they don’t know.
How do they know he knows something they don’t know?
Because of the things he has done. This is told orally by salespeople and is published on ESP websites.
The reality, of course, is that Raniere was a total failure in business; he cheated on his IQ test; he was never a great musician; not much of an athlete; not a martial artist [although he is a bullshit artist]; a mediocre scholar who never invented anything. In sum, a great “non-accomplisher”.
And Rational Inquiry is not “Patent “Pending” but “Patent Denied”.
But if that were told to prospective students, who would buy a seminar?
When a student pays for an intensive and signs a “Confidentiality Agreement”, chances are they did so because they believed a a bogus life story about Keith Raniere.
Students wanted to learn the wisdom of a man who was described as nearly superhuman, a genius, and extremely ethical.
The student agreed to keep his teachings secret and not use them commercially or personally. The Raniere described by ESP sounds like a man who could be trusted.
ESP presents a false Keith Raniere.
Students buy a lie.
He is not what he is represented to be in his bio.
There are also lies by omission.
Keith Raniere is a pedophile; a gambler who lost students’ money; a man who has kept a harem through lies, fear, manipulation, intimidation and hypnosis; a man who has cheated his followers by taking heir money under false pretenses; and a man who has convinced a significant number of his followers to commit financial and other kinds of crimes. He also seems to have led two women to commit suicide. He is a man who collects blackmail material on women to coerce their silence and obedience. He leads a secret program that applies a hot-white branding iron on women’s pubic region with his initials.
None of these real facts about Raniere are told to prospective students.
If you were told and relied upon lies about Raniere – and if significant parts of his life were left out of the sales pitch – it is quite possible that no enforceable contract was ever created.
Of course, violating it is not without risk. Raniere has Bronfman millions to sue anybody. He is also able somehow to convince Clare Bronfman to perjure herself on any or every legal matter they are involved in.