Landmark Education graduate Chip Wilson is the founder and chairman of Lululemon, a leading Canadian athletic apparel company. Wilson was recently interviewed by Business Edge, a leading Canadian business publication, about many different aspects of the company, including Wilson’s thoughts about Landmark Education, why some persist in promoting ‘Landmark cult’ misinformation, and Wilson’s charity project, the Chip’s Not Dead Yet Memorial Mile to be held June 20, designed to raise $1.5 million for the BC Children’s Hospital. A portion of the interview is excerpted below:
Q: Why are you funding this run?
A: No. 1 is because I have five boys and it’s like I have a 1-800 number to the Children’s Hospital. They’ve all spent a lot of time there. One boy had hip surgery and I actually got to go into the back halls and see what was going on. I could have given a large donation, but I wanted something that would be sustainable over time. It’s called the Chip Not Yet Dead Memorial Mile because I didn’t want to wait until I was dead to have something named after me. I kind of wanted to attend my own funeral. You don’t know war unless you know peace. You don’t know black unless you know white. You don’t really know how great life is until you learn to give back. Both my younger boys had meningitis. That’s notwithstanding the five or six times I’ve been there for broken arms (and) legs.
Q: How would you describe the philosophy behind Lululemon?
A: I guess it would be creatively creative. In other words, creating the time to be creative in life. A lot of that is about understanding how to freely choose in life and freely choose to live in the moment, because I believe that’ when poweful creativity occurs.
Q: How do you try to spread that philosophy in your day-to-day operations?
A: Well, we have some courses that we send people to, the Landmark education course, called the Forum. that would be the one that we basically set up on creativity and self-responsibility. And then comes a culture of achievement. In eight hours, we give people a lesson that it takes most people about 40 years to learn. If all successful people did the same thing, it would be very easy to become successful very quickly.
Q: Some people have questioned why your managers take Landmark training, and some people question Landmark, because it has ties to the EST (Erhard Seminars Training) movement. They suggest that Landmark is like a cult. How do you respond to those criticisms?
A: Because it’s a creative organization, it’s recreated itself thousands of times since the EST program (started) and probably has very little in common with the EST program anymore. Every business has to start a certain way and evolve in some ways. It shows up like a cult because it has become a very simple concept that releases people from a lot of their blocks in life. When people are released from those blocks, it has that aura. People who don’t understand greatness are scared by greatness. Canadians especially, I find, are like a wall of mediocrity. The whole socialist backlog that we’ve heard for so many years that it’s wrong to be rich, that it’s wrong to be powerful, that it’s wrong to be great, that it’s wrong to be an individual. That’s just wrong.
Q: What has Landmark done for your employees and the business?
A: It sets up a culture of no complaining and of being responsible for the job that you’re doing, for clear communication, and not bringing your own personal crap to work.