After being in “school” a couple of years, a “teacher” swooped in and announced, “ I need to see these people.” She listed off names, including mine. We anointed filed into another room where the “teacher” said, “Robert needs our help. You are to embark on a very special ‘third line of work’ (congratulations!) And it only requires you to go out and make new friends.” Another version of this recruitment tactic is: “We’re going to do a presentation and we need you to ‘invite people’.”
The euphemisms “make new friends” and/or “invite people to a presentation” translate to “school” needs more money, therefore, more students. “School”, as a super-secret institution, must somehow extend its invitations invisibly. Savvy recruiters can’t reveal last names, occupations, hometowns, whether or not you have kids, own a dog, floss your teeth, or, of course, that this “presentation” is really a recruitment tactic for a super-secret-esoteric “school” that prides itself as having “life’s answers.” And just for fun, when inviting your new friends to a “presentation,” the event often has no title, topic, date or location until the last minute. How, pray tell, did we do this? Where do you find innocent seekers, unaware they are about to be tapped for a chance to study hidden ideas and the mysteries of life and the universe? Allow me to offer a little overview:
1) Grocery store encounters: People who are longing for something indescribable are everywhere: buying lattes at Starbucks; in bookstores; on trains; in line at Whole Foods; drinking at bars, etc. Our recruitment trainers told us, go out, live your lives, and be friendly. It’s easy! Do the things you love and, while doing them, target and talk to the discontented masses.
2) Initiate conversations: Don’t just say hello while in line at Starbucks. Tell your potential student that you are writing a book about inspiring people from history; ask, “Who do you admire?” That’s one tactic. Another — ask a provocative question, like, “Do you ever wonder what you are doing here? Have you ever considered that perhaps our lives are an experiment for a greater purpose?”
That’s right! “School” suddenly encourages us to reveal its super-secret esoteric ideas. If your potential recruit engages in the conversation, appears interested, excited, open, well… then say, “I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. I have to run, but we should get together! Would you like to exchange phone numbers?” Lest we reveal anything about ourselves – even phone numbers — our recruiting bag of tricks includes a private voicemail line through which we’ll communicate with our targets. This number is reserved for “school” business” only! Soon we find the amount of “school business” growing exponentially, for ideally we are making many “new friends”. We will need to check our messages multiple times a day as we schedule meetings and report our progress back to “school” leadership…another tentacle from the cult wrapping itself around our daily lives. Soon we find we have even less time for family, friends and personal passions.
Maybe you feel uncomfortable with this, as though you are participating in a vast deception that spans coast to coast and over four decades. Maybe you will recognize how these tactics were used on you. Maybe you will remember wondering why, at that time, you could never reach your “new friend” in person; if you wanted to talk with that person, it had to be on his or her timeline. Luckily you’ll be reminded that you could be the person who changes a poor soul’s life! You recognized somebody’s yearning and brought that soul to kindred spirits. Remember that someone once (in my case, Lisa) did this for you!
3) Five Meetings: Call your intended recruit. Pursue patiently, as illustrated by Lisa’s stellar recruitment work detailed in Chapter 2 – How to Join a Cult. Schedule and meet with potential recruit, who believes you to be a new friend. See what you can learn about this person: Occupation? (i.e. income level?) Married or single? Kids or no kids? Longings? Aches? Desires? Hopes? Keep the focus on him/her to “protect your privacy”, and be in the “external considering–what can I do for you” mindset. By the way, the “how do I bring you to “school” mindset is also acceptable.
Meet with said recruit five times. And report information gleaned back to the leadership. Keep notes, you don’t want to forget or confuse the many conversations! Eventually schedule an introduction of this possible recruit to an older more experienced recruiter or “teacher”. “School” has its requirements: the recruit must have an income, or the possibility for an income. Some have been told to rule out those who don’t earn at least $60,000 a year. (That obviously wasn’t the case for me.) Oh, by the way, leadership will reject recruits working for law enforcement, military, or the media.
At the fifth meeting, introduce the new recruit to Robert. He will determine whether this person qualifies for “membership.” If he views them favorably, he will invite the lucky soul to try a “free five-week” or “eight-week experiment”.
Remember The “Don’ts”: Do not tell your recruit “I am part of a “school” of thought.” Do not ask, “Are you interested in this “school?” When you have developed a trust and connection, you might ask if they are interested in meeting others who are studying ideas, having interesting discussions, are seeking meaning. Make it sound informal. Do not mention the $350 monthly tuition, the extra expenses that pop up over time, and that your personal life is being devoured by the process of “making new friends”.
Do not tell them that you are constantly on the go, squeezing your family relationships, friendships, professional obligations, and personal passions in between these pursuits of higher calling. Don’t tell your “new friend” that you are sleep deprived and vulnerable to manipulation.
Inevitably, “school’s” newest recruiters will butt up against the, “I don’t want to do this” resistance. “School” will calm your fears by pairing you up with an “older student,” an experienced coach. You will then report progress or lack thereof back to your coach. In turn, the coach will then report back to the team leaders. During my time, the team leaders were Lisa, the woman who recruited me, and Michael, the teacher who led us through a questionable form of tai chi. Thus the never-ending and exponentially growing phone tree kicks into high gear.