The following text was sent to me by a man named Austin. The detail to the course agenda for the period of time he participated in the course is quite good and I thank him for providing us with this insight to Rapport. He writes:
I enrolled in Leadership Breakthrough 1 unknowingly as I was part of a
foriegn study program in Italy, ran through the University of Kansas.
While I was told about this program, it was amongst several other
activites we were to participate in during our travels, so I did not
take the time to research the company or the program I was going to be a
part of. I trusted the academic institution's integrity, rather than my own
due dilligence. Basically, the University of Kansas program gives
Rapport appx. 100 new students each term, and the price of the seminar is
included in tuition.
I went into the program with an honestly open mind and a positive
attitude. I understood that while on a forgein study, one must have an
open mind in order to fully appreciate the experiences. However, red
flags went up in my head the moment the program commenced. Past
graduates had voiced "praises" for the program by explaining to me such things
as, "LB1 was a more difficult experience than saying goodbye to my father
on his deathbed."
After the first excercise, an attempt to breakdown individuals by
forcing them to engage in public speaking in front of strangers, I knew this
program and I were not going to mix. Basically, all the students
"fail" the first excercise because they are asked to give an irrelevent,
unresearch speech without gesticulation or proper preparation.
However, I consider public speaking a personal specialty. I actually enjoyed the opportunity to voice my talents of verbosity and eloquence. After I
gave what in my opinion was a wonderful speech, I was told I failed the
excercise because I didn't not speak with enthusiasm. I wanted to
dispute this failing, but was denied any opportunity to even discuss the matter
with the handlers. Incidently, after the speech I was given my
complements on my abilities by other students.
There were many other excercises that rubbed me the wrong way. From
singing a new age version of the United States National Anthem to
extremely contradictory teachings such as "trust and obey the system
while standing up for your beliefs". These red flags were greatly reinforced
as I went on the internet after the first night and read other
questionable reviews of the program.
I was determined not to be a rebel rouser though. I went through every
activity with an appropriate attitude, passing all the excercises as
the program was designed with ease. However, it was quite apparant to the
handlers and other students in the room that I was not buying into
their program. The psychological effect was not taking hold on me.
I was not actively causing any problems towards the class. I am a
natural leader, however. My talents of presentation and eloquence were causing
other students to question the material being given to them. My own
leadership was inadvertently subverting the handlers' abilities to
create the necessary environment in the room.
After the first session of the second day, the handlers called me out
individually and questioned me as to why I was not buying into the
program. I explained that I simply do not agree with what is going on,
but I am participating because I don't want to hinder the experiences
of others. They told me I was "passively resisting" and damaging the
experiences of others. After which they effectively asked me to quit
(without any reiumbursement).
It was quite obvious then and there that myself and the company were
not going to be able to work together, so I removed myself from the
program, after much belittling from the Rapport staff and the academic
I was in the program for a total of 2 of the (I believe) 5 sessions.
The first night and the morning of the next day.
Basically, I experienced the "break you down" portion of the program.
In terms of an agenda, here is what I recall. This was last Sept., but
I remember it pretty well because this was a pretty demanding experience
My handlers were Michael Saletta and Mitra McNeely -
Dinner - None of us really knew what we were getting into. We were
still all getting to know eachother since we had just arrived at foriegn
study in Italy. It was a basic dinner in a cafeteria, except that if one
student (out of about 60) wore a hat in the room (totally acceptable
behavior given the building's dress code) a handler would stand up and
scream at them, calling them out in front of the whole group, yelling,
"Respect would dictate that you take your hat off sir!!!!" Even though
the no hat rule was not given to us at any time prior. Rather than
simply explain the rules in the beginning, they wanted to make an example of
what happens when you don't bend to every whim of the program, public
Activity 1 - You have five minutes to prepare a three minute speech on
punctuality. This was being conducted with two groups in the room, so
essentially two students were attempting to speak at the same time.
Speaking in a room full of strangers with intimidating, screaming
handlers caused some individuals to break down and cry in front of their peers. Everyone failed the activity, despite some speeches actually being
good. The main point was that we needed to project and speak with enthusiasm.
Projecting and enthusiasm really just meant yelling at your audience
and looking like a fool.
Activity 2 - Pair up with one other student, you have 5 minutes to
exchange life stories. Then you must stand in front of the group and
convince them to "hire" your partner. The group the voted as to
whether or not the individual was hired.
Not a terrible activity, except the voting was entirely obsolete. The
handlers would overide any "sympathy" votes and fail the individual,
even when the group passed them. A couple students in my group passed this
excercise because they yelled, rather than spoke to the group, as we
were being trained to do. The main thing that was stupid about this
activity is that we were judged strictly on enthusiasm, rather than
well-spokeness and the content of our speech.
Activity 3 - Sit in a big group, go around the room and introduce
yourself and say what you are going to get out of Rapport. This was also when
we made very creepy "agreements". The agreements were made by the handler
giving us the rule, then everyone raising their hand in agreement. If
someone did not raise their hand, they were singled out in front of the
group. There was no time to question or discuss the agreements. The
agreements were things such as, everyone participates in everything,
nothing that takes place in the private room leaves the room, support
eachother at all times, never be last in any activity, you are not
allowed to leave the campus we were on, no making rash decisions for two weeks,
(and the creepiest one) don't address anyone by their first name, it is
Mr. or Ms. so and so (reminded me of the Matrix).
After I removed myself from the program, they kept citing my violation
of the agreements, to which I argued that you can't contsrue me raising my
hand in a crowd as a legitmate agreement. My action was a combination
of complacency and coercion.
Activity 4 - The song - This is what really told me I was in the wrong
place. We were given a song to sing called the "Earth Anthem". The
tune was identical to the US national anthem, the lyrics were just
different. It started, "Oh say can you see, by the one light in all...". It is an actual song, but the new age rhetoric evoked feelings that someone was
trying to undermine my own patriotism.
The song was meant to help us learn to project. We were taught
breathing excercises to help us with this. We were constantly being threatened that if we did not sing with enough projection or enthusiasm, we would be singled out and told to sing in front of the entire group.
Activity 5 - The report - This is when are told to write a report about
what we have learned according the exact specifications of the handlers
(specific number of lines, proper spacing, etc.). It is important to
note that we were only allowed to give positive feedback regarding the
program. There were no sections for questioning the program or voicing concerns or complaints.
Closing of night one - The handlers turned down the lights and we stood
in a circle while they played the anthem to Chariots of Fire. People
would go around the room and say words like "trust", "progress", or "unity".
Very rediculous, it was hard to keep a straight face at this point.
At this point it was about 12:00pm, we were to be at breakfast at I
believe 7:00am. This may be a good nights sleep in some places, but we
were all Americans who had arrived in Italy literally about 30 hours
prior. Jet lag was rampant, many people got sick. I spent the entire
night researching Rapport and considering my situation. I even sent
the academic administration an email saying I wished to speak with them
regarding this program before continuing the next day, explaining my
Next morning - We ate breakfast in the cafeteria, but only after
everyone of the handlers was done eating. They claimed it was because they had to set up the program room while we ate. Really, this was to encourage
submission to the handlers, they could have set up the chairs in a semi
circle in about 5 min, and there is no reason they couldn't just wake
up earlier, set up the room, so we could all eat together.
Second morning introduction - The handlers pick a member of the group
to stand up in front of everyone and yell about how terrible we are all
doing, and how we need to get our act together. Our perfromance the
previous night was unnacceptable, and we were to double our efforts.
Activity 1 - Song again - Worked on projection skills.
Activity 2 - $50 million dollar enthusiasm - This activity was
downright ridiculous. As one big group (appx. 40 people) we had to go up one by one and display enthusiasm. We did this by screaming and jumping around
the room for about 30 seconds. When I say screaming and jumping I mean
really screaming and jumping. A similar voting system to the introduction
activity was imposed. The students voted on whether or not the person
was enthusiastic, but the handler just overided "sympathy" votes and made
people do the activity in front of everyone again and again. Some
people had to go as many as 7 times.
Now this may not have been a terrible activity if people were 1 - given
the opportunity not to participate, and 2 - not based on materialism.
In order to evoke enthusiams, the student was told (more screamed at) that
they had just won $50 million dollars. We were "taught" enthusiasm in
the context of materialistic gain, rather than genuine passion for one's
actions. In light of corporate fraud and rampant greed, this kind of
training has no place in the professional world.
Same closing sequence as the night before, end of session 2.
Also, there were various readings and self-reflection times in between
several of these activites. Some were relevant and valuable, others
were cliche and worthless.
This is when I was called out and effectively asked to quit.
Again, I pretty much went through the "tear you down" portion of the
program. Had I finished I bet I would have a slightly different
outlook because I would have experienced the "build you up" portion. However,
it was apparant to me what they were trying to do and I was not about to
let them control my thoughts and emotions.
I agree with Bruce Audley when he says that his gripe is not with the
material being taught, but the methodology it is being taught with.
Rapport does use techniques consistent with brainwashing, very powerful
techniques. They are employing these practices without and underlying
set of core values, or a common understanding of respect and
professionalism between student and teacher. Basically, I'm the type of person that if you can't speak to respectfully, no matter what you are saying I am going to disagree.