Notes from CAM: Werner Erhard Spoke at Conversation Among Masters Last Week

The folks at CAM sure know how to create a memorable, meaningful, transformational experience. I’ve been attending CAM for four years now — my annual retreat where I get to learn from and share best practices with 200 master coaches from around the world for a few days.
This year, I was looking forward to our first “conversation starter”, Werner Erhard, who is kind of the mac-daddy genius behind much of the foundational coaching methodologies that we master coaches employ in our businesses. Best known for creating the est programs in the 1970’s that then became Landmark Education’s Curriculum for Living, Werner had a great deal of negative press and has largely been out of the country for the last 20 years. Since I’ve had my coaching business for nearly 20 years, I was excited to be in the presence of the legend himself. Some call him the father of transformation. Anyway, here are a few of my notes from the day we had with Werner…I started trying to tweet them, but gave up because I can write faster than I can type with thumbs only:

A Day with Werner



Without integrity, nothing works. Integrity, morality, ethics, legality. You can count on me to be always committed to that. I don’t always make it, but I will be committed to it.
Discovery – insights don’t create behavioral change
Committed that whatever is of value you have to discover for yourself in order for it to make any difference in your effectiveness.
“What I can’t create I don’t understand” – Dick Feynman
Discovering rather than learning or having an insight into
Knowing that you’re breathing is a different state than discovering that you’re breathing. Contrast what you learn and understand with what you discover for yourself. If it doesn’t move or shock you, you haven’t discovered it (as opposed to learned it, understood it, had insight).
Profound difference if you discover it yourself.
“He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality.” ~ Anwar Sadat
People who have mastered life are ordinary people. They see/ perceive life differently than most of us. They interact with life differently. They make sense of it/ interpret life differently than most.
In order to be effective at dealing with life, it’s a product of how you interact with life. How they interact with the world, others & themselves.
What you already know easily gets in the way of changing the fabric of your thought.
Experience life through a unique conversational domain (linguistic domain).
A master experiences life…perceives, comprehends, and interacts with life.
Explain it versus access it.
CONVERSATIONAL DOMAIN: Specialized terms networked together in a specific way forms the specialized linguistic domain through which a master perceives, comprehends, and interacts with the thing in which they have mastery (i.e., physician and human body)
What it explains versus what creates access so that they open up a world for you so you can dance with what shows up in that world. A pottery master dances with the clay within specialized terms networked together.
See if your mastery of whatever, is a product of/ given to you by a conversational domain: a set of specialized terms networked together that allow you to perceive and make sense of and interact with it effectively with a high quality of life.
Perceives includes all senses.
Comprehends – makes intelligible, makes sense of, the meaningfulness.
All objects include the space around it. Order rarely produces a sense of order.
Mastery is a product of mastering a conversational domain, a lens through which it is viewed (“although that’s an explanation and I don’t like explanations”). Helps us understand it but it doesn’t give us any access to it.
Understanding of: knowledge of does not equal mastery unless you’ve mastered those terms and the special way they’re networked together, you won’t get that world to open up. It’s not just knowing what I don’t know, the master sees/perceives differently.
More notes from a day with Werner to come in a future post…
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Comments (7)

uhhh, not that this matters in the big or even the small picture, but just so you know, there’s no “t’ in Erhard!

Thank you, Eliezer! I think you’re referencing the photograph of the actual twitter posts from that day, and I realized my error a few minutes into his talk after I switched from taking notes on twitter to good old fashioned pen and paper. As you can see, I’ve managed to get it right in this post. 🙂

Thanks for sharing these Suzi – particularly loved your tweet that “explanations don’t make a damn bit of difference to real breakthrough.” So so true. Was sad I couldn’t attend but looking forward to part 2 of your notes… very powerful.

Wish you were there, Margie. It was really great!

Thanks for posting these, Suzi! It was great to see you too!

This man is INCREDIBLE! Thank you for your notes.

Thanks, Ashley! I felt the same way! 🙂

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