Jump to content


My Choice Center Experience


  • Please log in to reply
46 replies to this topic

#1 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:19 PM

Read some things on the internet that need some clarification. First of all, I am not in a cult, nor does Choice Center have anything to do with religion in the slightest. It is a 100 day course on emotional intelligence that I graduated from last weekend. It cost $2700 for the entire training, and you are never asked for a penny on top of that. Ever.

I was introduced to this course by my agent, and good friend Brian Balsbaugh who completed the first two weekends, Discovery and Breakthrough. The leadership course is once a month for the next three months and Brian wasn't able to complete the whole course because of prior engagements, but he told me he got a lot out of the two weekends he was there and recommended it. No, he didn't get a percentage of me attending, he just figured I'd like the course so I started it on November 1st and just finished it last weekend.

Just like with any course or training, you will not find 100% satisfaction and some people don't like it and aren't comfortable with it so they quit. They are free to go whenever they please. You can choose to stay or leave, it's entirely up to you.

Antonio Esfandiari, as well as Nick & Michael Binger, and several other poker players have completed the course as well. After Antonio graduated he went on to win the One Drop, a WSOP Bracelet, a WSOPE bracelet, and finished 4th at the WPT event in December. Now, I'm not suggesting that Choice is the reason he won, but I certainly noticed the positive changes in him both in terms of his focus and presence at the table, as well as his direction in life.

Nick Binger and his brother Michael have always been two guys in our community that I've had a lot of respect for, and Nick ended up being in the same class with me. Nick is a sharp guy and as I said, I respect his intellect. We were never forced into anything at all, as you always have a choice.

Many of the things I read on the internet are wildly inaccurate. If there was anything "fishy" going on, I would be the first to bring attention to it as I have in the poker community for the last 10+ years. I'd say that my record speaks for itself.

As part of our "leadership legacy" project we were challenged with the task of raising $100,000 for the St.Jude's children's hospital in 7 days. I'm proud to say we raised $277,000 in 7 days.

Over the last 15 years, over 15,000 people have attended Choice and I personally know close to 100 of those people. Of those 100 I know, one quit on the first night, another quit after the first weekend, and the other 98 all had a great experience with it. It's not for "everybody" I guess, but from my experience it was a powerful experience for the vast majority, including me.
Posted Image

#2 Vtlaxer09

Vtlaxer09

    ohhaider

  • Members
  • 6,157 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:D.C.
  • Favorite Poker Game:Nlhe Mtt's

Posted 04 March 2013 - 10:03 PM

Daniel,

I read the post from Brian Micon earlier today and now this. I think it'd be really great if you addressed some of the specific things in his article.

Specifically, can you address some of your tweets around the time of the NBC HU championship and how they seemed to indicate that you were catching up with old friends or attending to some kind of crisis among a group of your old friends when in fact you were just attending a session with CC.

With the 277,000$ you raised for St. Jude's (which I think is great btw), do you know whether or not Choice Center is able to use that 277.000$ as a tax deductible donation on its books? You also mentioned that you were "challenged" to raise 100k in a week. Was this a normal challenge for participants in Choice Center or was it specifically targeted at you/other high worth individuals?

A lot of people would like to know what happens in the first couple days of this program. Brian Micon mentions that part of the program is mentally wearing you down so that your mind can be shaped into believing that it is benefiting more than you should from the program. Please talk a little bit about the first few days of the process and how you felt afterward.

Last thing: Can you talk a little about the relationships you built through Choice Center? Did you have a romantic relationship with anyone in your class? Was it instigated from your teacher/ leaders?

Thanks for sharing.

-Vtlaxer09

#3 Essay21

Essay21

    forum legend

  • Members
  • 9,984 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 04 March 2013 - 10:16 PM

Posted Image

#4 IQCrash

IQCrash

    Coke & Whores.

  • Members
  • 4,262 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Los Angeles
  • Interests:Coke & Whores. Strippers & Blow.

Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:20 AM

You're smarter than this.

#5 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:34 AM

Wanted to add Nick Binger's take on it:

Hi guys,

Seems there’s some drama recently regarding Choice Center. As a recent graduate of the program who is no longer affiliated with them in any way, I feel like I’m obligated to add my 2 cents to the discussion.

First things first, what is it?

Choice is essentially a variation of an LGAT (large-group awareness training) that focuses on personal development, effectiveness and leadership. The types of techniques used include role-playing, one-on-one and group discussions, games and visualization exercises. It’s formatted as two weekends focused on personal development and an additional three weekends focused on leadership. There is one flat fee for the entire course (currently ~$2600, although I had a coupon and paid $1800). Beyond that there are a handful of optional one weekend courses offered on specific topics (relationships, wealth, etc) that are ~ $600. There is also private coaching available but it’s not really marketed and I never used it.

When I first heard about Choice from Antonio and my brother Michael, I was very concerned, as I was well aware of the mixed history of LGATs. I have a background in chemistry and I’ve always hated pseudoscience and con artists. In the past I’ve experimented with a variety of personal development/growth type programs including, but not limited to: meditation, sensory-deprivation tanks, NLP, ayahuasca, yoga, and lucid dreaming. Some were effective and some not so much. So having lots of experience with the bull**** rampant in the self-help/personal growth arena, I felt comfortable enough to sign up and evaluate it for myself.

I realized quickly during the first weekend that the techniques and games employed tend to make people introspective and often very uncomfortable, which is kind of the point. Purposefully creating cognitive dissonance is one the most effective ways to teach anything. That being said, there is no food deprivation, sleep deprivation or abuse of any kind. Before taking part, you have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire that includes any history of mental illness or therapy. If you have ever been in therapy, you are asked to have your therapist informed of the program and have them sign off on your participation. I felt this was a very responsible move from both an ethical and legal standpoint.

Going into it I knew that there was a broad spectrum of LGAT-type trainings that range from the craziest cults imaginable to really boring mainstream business development courses. The type of training regimen in LGATs can be used for positive or nefarious purposes and can be very effective at both. From the beginning, I was on the lookout for violations of integrity (especially Lifespring-like hardcore tactics) that would signal time for me to go, but I never saw anything that would qualify. I personally found it to be very interesting, fun and generally a catalyst for positive life changes.

The broad array of techniques are designed to be effective for a diverse group of people, which means some people find certain techniques effective and others less so. For example, I personally got a lot out of the one-on-one discussions but got very little out of the visualization stuff. Those parts were a little wishy-washy for me, but I know some people really liked them. So what ideas do they actually instill during these trainings?

A big thing for many people was learning how to communicate and listen more effectively, IE in a way that builds relationships. I was surprised at how many people struggle with this in general and the training encourages repairing bad relationships (parents, spouses, siblings, boss, whatever) through honest and open communication.

Other key points were responsibility, personal effectiveness, integrity, and making positive impacts on others. I really don’t think anyone would have issues with the actual teachings at Choice, as for the most part they are pretty standard personal development principles. There is no weird ideology instilled and there is no charismatic leader (the trainers were different every weekend). Also, it is not insular, like a cult, but rather the opposite in encouraging others to expand their relationships, engage more with others, and make a difference in the community with no expectation of reward.

The most damning thing I could find about Choice was that it is certainly a business and during the leadership portion you were encouraged to refer the friends you felt would benefit. I really disliked that aspect of it, but it is a business and that model works. On the plus side, during leadership there was extensive personal and business goal-setting, strategic planning, community service (outreach and volunteering), and charity fundraising. Our graduating class of 48 people had some pretty sick concrete results. During the 3 month leadership period the group lost 361 lbs of fat, gained 51 lbs of muscle, paid off $345k of debt, created $945k in new annual income, raised $280k for St. Jude Children’s hospital, and 4 people quit smoking.

All in all, I feel like I learned a ton from doing Choice, but I’m also somewhat relieved it’s over. When people ask me if they should do it, I tell them that, assuming no history of serious mental illness, I can wholeheartedly recommend the personal development portion (first two weekends). Those two weekends were extremely valuable. The leadership portion I would only recommend for those willing and able to dedicate lots of time and energy during the 3 months and are okay with being asked to enroll friends. This is understandably a deal-breaker for many. Also FYI the trainings are demanding but not physically so, as there were several people in their 60s that graduated.

I’m very aware that this will be a very polarizing issue in the poker world and I’m happy to honestly answer any questions you guys have. Like most things, this is not a binary case of IT’S EVIL or IT’S AMAZING but it’s whatever you choose to get out of it. In short, I found it generally effective, tons of fun, eye-opening and absolutely got my money’s worth but also wish it was non-profit and didn’t encourage enrolling friends during the leadership portion.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I have not seen any detrimental impact on anyone’s life from this training (other than paying $2600) and do not believe it presents a danger to anyone of sound mind. Also, there aren’t any higher tiers of “knowledge” that you pay more and more for, like scientology. What you see it was you get as far as money.

Also, you guys should lay off Daniel. The guy just raised $180k for sick children and personally donated $50k of that. He’s also one of the nicest guys I know and genuinely cares about the people around him.

Anyways, I’m sure you guys will have some questions…

-Nick
Posted Image

#6 BigDMcGee

BigDMcGee

    Forum Entitlist

  • Members
  • 27,144 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:41 AM

Sounds like scientology meets Amway to me.
"We are only wise in knowing that we know nothing"
-Socrates

"Dust. Wind. Dude."
-Ted Theodore Logan

"I'm a basketball player and a businessman, not a Thundercat,"
-Lebron James

#7 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:44 AM

1. NBC- Many of the people in this class had become really close friends of mine, including Nick Binger and many others that you wouldn't know. I chose not to mention Choice at the time because I didn't want to confuse the issue as to why I was not playing. I wanted to stick with my group and finish the course with them and I'm glad I did. No one ever asked me to skip NBC, it was 100% my choice.

2-St.Jude's- every group is tasked with a challenge to raise money for various charities including Habitat for Humanity or what have you. Choice receives no tax credits for it to my knowledge and if I had to speculate I'd say that in helping facilitate the fundraising it actually costs Choice money.

3. Discovery- the first weekend is the initial training that is designed to prepare you for Breakthrough and then Leadership if you choose to continue you with the course. I think Nick's post best describes what the training actually entails pretty well.

4. Relationships- my relationship with my brother, who has not attended Choice and likely won't, has never been better. I call him more often, and am much more accepting of our differences. As far as people in the class, there are definitely a decent number of people in that class that I see as life long friends. Romantically, no one has ever pushed me to be in a relationship with anyone from class, in fact, it's heavily frowned upon. The class isn't a place to "meet chicks" if that's what you were wondering :-) 30 days after you graduate from class, you are free to date whoever you please which I think is a great rule.


View PostVtlaxer09, on 04 March 2013 - 10:03 PM, said:

Daniel,

I read the post from Brian Micon earlier today and now this. I think it'd be really great if you addressed some of the specific things in his article.

Specifically, can you address some of your tweets around the time of the NBC HU championship and how they seemed to indicate that you were catching up with old friends or attending to some kind of crisis among a group of your old friends when in fact you were just attending a session with CC.

With the 277,000$ you raised for St. Jude's (which I think is great btw), do you know whether or not Choice Center is able to use that 277.000$ as a tax deductible donation on its books? You also mentioned that you were "challenged" to raise 100k in a week. Was this a normal challenge for participants in Choice Center or was it specifically targeted at you/other high worth individuals?

A lot of people would like to know what happens in the first couple days of this program. Brian Micon mentions that part of the program is mentally wearing you down so that your mind can be shaped into believing that it is benefiting more than you should from the program. Please talk a little bit about the first few days of the process and how you felt afterward.

Last thing: Can you talk a little about the relationships you built through Choice Center? Did you have a romantic relationship with anyone in your class? Was it instigated from your teacher/ leaders?

Thanks for sharing.

-Vtlaxer09

Posted Image

#8 AdamForde

AdamForde

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 4 posts
  • Favorite Poker Game:NL Texas Holdem

Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:20 AM

Daniel,

I have been very interested in your involvement with Choice Center since prior to you even speaking openly about what it is. My curiosity came when I saw you using language that is very familiar to me, and that I would say to be "in leadership". I, myself, have not been through Choice Center, so I cannot speak to the validity of this Leadership University. However, I have gone through a series of seminars that is all too similar to what you have describe about Choice Center, and what has been leaked through Brian Micon's article (Choice Center should really reconsider how much printed material they put out, if they wish to maintain confidentiality). I am not sure what connection Choice Center has to the series of seminars I have been through, but it is possible that the principles taught at Choice branched off of the same groundwork that the seminars I've been through were based off of. I completed the series of seminars I attended around 4 years ago, and too was accused of being involved in a cult or something else of the sort initially after attending. My feeling is that people will fear that which they do not understand. Also, the idea of confidentially scares people because we are taught in society that if it cannot be talked about openly that it must have something (negative) to hide. We are taught to fear things that are shrouded in secrecy and link them to cults or secret societies.

Based on my experiences, I think I have some tips for you that may support you in talking openly about your experiences with Choice Center without breaking confidentially and, while at the same time, being able to fully express your experience in a way others who have not done this sort of work may understand.

First, I would encourage you to use the term personal development. I have found that people tend to be a bit less skeptical of this term because they can relate it to people they know in the public eye, such as motivational speakers like Tony Robbins. I feel that using terminology like "Leadership University" can be off putting to some individuals because they have no basis to relate this terminology to. Which brings me back to people fearing that which they do not understand. If you wish to break past the barriers that others are going to create around you sharing your experiences with Choice Center openly, I would encourage you to break past the jargon and speak from your heart. The more I've seen you do this the more genuine, I feel, you have come across.

Secondly, share what has changed in your life since going through the Choice Center. Here are some things I have seen in you, just as someone who is a fan and follows you on Twitter: A new found desire and dedication to working out (P90X BRING IT!), Taking action to repair and strengthen your relationship with your brother, A newfound focus in being the type of man who is going to attract someone who you could envision spending the rest of your life with (although I think it would be helpful if you shared what this looks like for you ie; a better listener, living an active lifestyle, etc.), and Valuing friendship and your commitment to those friends greater than you had previously. These are just a few things that I have heard you express, and I am sure there a ton more that you could share. The importance of this is showing what you've honestly gained from your experiences at Choice, and encouraging others to focus on that. Because that is really the importance of all of this, what You have gotten out of this experience. From my understanding, from my own experiences with a similar series of seminars and from what people have expressed about Choice, everyone gains different things from going through Choice Center and it is importnat that when sharing about this with the public they have a clear understanding of what you've gained.

Third, the accusation that Choice Center is a cult is an all too familiar experience and something I heard from some of those around me after attending the seminars i went through. What I have seen is that over the 4 years since I have attended the seminars the growth that I have created in my life, the achievements I've made, and simply the way I carry myself and live my everyday life now are evidence enough that my experience was with nothing even closely resembling a cult. Also, I think everyone should be very careful about throwing the word cult around because cults are very serious and I personally believe that there are people who have used structures similar to the Choice Center to exploit people in the past. To me, there is one thing that distinguishes a cult from anything thing else. Cults seek to isolate individuals and separate them from friends and family. In no way have I seen the Choice Center, or the seminars I attended, isolate individuals from friends/family. I will say, though, that I cannot speak to this for sure, in regards to Choice, because I have very limited knowledge of Choice Center and their 15,000 students who have attended over the last 15 years. In my experience though it is the exact opposite, these seminars supported people with becoming closer to their family, friends, and, for some, their relationship with whatever higher power/religion they personally believe in (I am an agnostic/atheist and I never felt pressure to adapt to any other religious belief, but I have seen others become closer to their own personal religious backgrounds after their work in these seminars).

Forth, when speaking about confidentially I think it is important to explain why there is confidentiality. In my opinion these sorts of seminars have confidentiality for two reasons; to protect the students who attend these seminars and to allow the best experience possible for anyone who is going to attend in the future. In regards to protecting their students, confidentiality is important because it allows students to share things about themselves freely in these seminars without fear of someone outside of the seminar knowing about these things or using it against them. A lot of Anonymous groups (such as AA) have this same sort of confidentiality, it is not uncommon. The other reason Choice Center asks for confidentiality is to prevent students from relieving exercises in the seminar that have to be experienced without any other prior knowledge to be fully appreciated. This may seem like a dumb analogy, but it is similar to recommending a book, t.v. show, movie, or anything where knowing the ending would spoil the experience.

I hope these tips really help you express your experiences more openly and have your audience receive you a bit better. I know that there is no way to control that outcome and reactions of those around you, but presenting your experience a little differently may have you being received a little differently too. I personally would love the opportunity to go through Choice Center and see what the experience is all about and how similar it is to the seminars I have attended (and continue to volunteer with). I am not currently in any financial situation that would allow me to do so, but hopefully in the next few years I will be and could take advantage of such an opportunity and see what it's all about. I think that organizations like Choice Center and the seminars I have attended are great at supporting people in creating the kind of lives they truly wish to live. I hope in the future people become more open to these ideas too because I believe that the tools that they teach can be of great benefit and I am already seeing the positive impact they have had on your life. Keep it up!

~AdamForde

#9 Jam-Fly

Jam-Fly

    FCP's resident Irish guy

  • Members
  • 4,910 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ireland

Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:32 AM

to be fair Daniel. THAT is something someone in a cult would say...
"Growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional"

Posted Image
Baller


My blog - www.JamFlyPoker.blogspot.com

#10 rab1234

rab1234

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 11 posts

Posted 05 March 2013 - 11:07 AM

If you only ever paid them the one time fee of $2700 and are never planning on giving them any additional money, and you saw a benefit from it, no problems.

If they've hooked you into signing up for extra classes or special coaches that are going to cost you more and more over time, you should try to take a couple of hundred steps back and look at it as you might look at scientology.

BTW: still waiting on my signed book from placing in the top 20 in the WSOP challenge last year. :icon_surprised:

Good luck in poker this year.
CasinoLand - Making three bonuses, you return up to 100% of them extra on your account!



#11 GWCGWC

GWCGWC

    Poker Forum God

  • Members
  • 14,697 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Between Thought and Expression

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:03 PM

DN don't want no stinking coupons.

#12 PiescoCause

PiescoCause

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 2 posts
  • Favorite Poker Game:Battling Pokers

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:28 PM

This is my first post here, so feel free to tell me to go away. I might stick around though if it stays this interesting :)

Daniel, I think that the problem is that however, you reply, if positively about Choice Center, to some it will sound like you are "taken in" by it. It does sound like you ( And Antonio from what I gather) have been successfully "love-bombed" by this group.
At this point we can cross off for now, many of the classic "cult" attributes - charismatic leader, apocalyptic future with only the chosen ( members who have paid $$$ in time and money) to be saved, slave labour, emotional brutality, etc. Bear in mind though that as a celebrity member, if they were doing these things they would be hidden from you. Your endorsement is far too valuable to them. The same way that our Scientology friends hide their worst excesses from Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

However, there is a set of problems in the self-help movement that may not add up quite to a "cult", but can still be damaging.
Thing is, the proof of the pudding is not in the number of pound lost or money raised in the three months since you started doing it.. what I would like to see is how the 48 people in your group are doing 1 year, three years and five years from now, and how it compares to how they were doing before. Not only that, but what other self help therapies/workshops etc have they done in the mean time either with this group or another.
I, (as it sounds like you have) spent many years of my life trying out everything from rebirthing to NLP to you name it, truying to improve myself. After such a workshop I would feel better, inspired, motivated, and then a few months down the line that wears off and I needed another fix to pick myself up again. This is apparently what happens to a lot of people.
It is so easy to fit circumstances around a set of beliefs - I know you know that from poker!
For example, you mention that after doing the CC workshops, Antonio won the One-Drop, one WSOP bracelet, one WSOPE bracelet and a 4th Place WPT finish. OK - I could point out that most WSOP bracelets last year were won by people who hadn't done this course, including ones in which Antonio took part ( eg the Main Event).
And to be fair to him, he may well have won all these events anyway - there is absolutely no way of telling whether Choice Center helped him, even if he believes it did! Because people fit circumstances to their beliefs. Correlation is not cause and effect.

Based on Micon's article and what else I've seen, CC does have the hallmarks of these "mind control" (not necessarily "cults) movements. According to some forum posts I've seen, it came out of the Lifespring Movement ( which has apparently split into dozens of organisations with different names in different cities, CC being the Vegas one) which in turn was founded by one of the original EST people.
I would strongly recommend you to bear in mind that what you see is what they want you to see - per my comments above.
I'd also strongly recommend you read this book - and look at the guy's website. SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America helpless, by Steve Salerno, which IMO should be required reading for everyone along with Fast Food Nation. As you say yourself, a little cognitive dissonance is an excellent teacher.

Finally, it just occurred to me that maybe you know all the problems and dangers inherent in LGAT and other self-help groups, and you and Antonio are just pretending to like it, in order to encourage your potential poker opponents to do it and become mind-controlled zombies that are even easier to read at the table - so this could be a ploy. If that is the case, then Huge Respect to you both for that play! ;)

Cheers

Mike

#13 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:33 PM

Thanks for sharing, and I agree that "personal development" course is a bit more appealing and acceptable in terms of how people view it. I really don't take any of this personal. People are often wary of LGAT for good reason. Choice is set up in such a way that you can leave whenever you want and once you have paid your $2700 that's the end of it. The signature course are $600 and you are never pressured to take any of them. I took one called "Relationships" over a weekend and I thought it was a lot of fun, but no one pressured me to do it.

View PostAdamForde, on 05 March 2013 - 09:20 AM, said:

Daniel,

I have been very interested in your involvement with Choice Center since prior to you even speaking openly about what it is. My curiosity came when I saw you using language that is very familiar to me, and that I would say to be "in leadership". I, myself, have not been through Choice Center, so I cannot speak to the validity of this Leadership University. However, I have gone through a series of seminars that is all too similar to what you have describe about Choice Center, and what has been leaked through Brian Micon's article (Choice Center should really reconsider how much printed material they put out, if they wish to maintain confidentiality). I am not sure what connection Choice Center has to the series of seminars I have been through, but it is possible that the principles taught at Choice branched off of the same groundwork that the seminars I've been through were based off of. I completed the series of seminars I attended around 4 years ago, and too was accused of being involved in a cult or something else of the sort initially after attending. My feeling is that people will fear that which they do not understand. Also, the idea of confidentially scares people because we are taught in society that if it cannot be talked about openly that it must have something (negative) to hide. We are taught to fear things that are shrouded in secrecy and link them to cults or secret societies.

Based on my experiences, I think I have some tips for you that may support you in talking openly about your experiences with Choice Center without breaking confidentially and, while at the same time, being able to fully express your experience in a way others who have not done this sort of work may understand.

First, I would encourage you to use the term personal development. I have found that people tend to be a bit less skeptical of this term because they can relate it to people they know in the public eye, such as motivational speakers like Tony Robbins. I feel that using terminology like "Leadership University" can be off putting to some individuals because they have no basis to relate this terminology to. Which brings me back to people fearing that which they do not understand. If you wish to break past the barriers that others are going to create around you sharing your experiences with Choice Center openly, I would encourage you to break past the jargon and speak from your heart. The more I've seen you do this the more genuine, I feel, you have come across.

Secondly, share what has changed in your life since going through the Choice Center. Here are some things I have seen in you, just as someone who is a fan and follows you on Twitter: A new found desire and dedication to working out (P90X BRING IT!), Taking action to repair and strengthen your relationship with your brother, A newfound focus in being the type of man who is going to attract someone who you could envision spending the rest of your life with (although I think it would be helpful if you shared what this looks like for you ie; a better listener, living an active lifestyle, etc.), and Valuing friendship and your commitment to those friends greater than you had previously. These are just a few things that I have heard you express, and I am sure there a ton more that you could share. The importance of this is showing what you've honestly gained from your experiences at Choice, and encouraging others to focus on that. Because that is really the importance of all of this, what You have gotten out of this experience. From my understanding, from my own experiences with a similar series of seminars and from what people have expressed about Choice, everyone gains different things from going through Choice Center and it is importnat that when sharing about this with the public they have a clear understanding of what you've gained.

Third, the accusation that Choice Center is a cult is an all too familiar experience and something I heard from some of those around me after attending the seminars i went through. What I have seen is that over the 4 years since I have attended the seminars the growth that I have created in my life, the achievements I've made, and simply the way I carry myself and live my everyday life now are evidence enough that my experience was with nothing even closely resembling a cult. Also, I think everyone should be very careful about throwing the word cult around because cults are very serious and I personally believe that there are people who have used structures similar to the Choice Center to exploit people in the past. To me, there is one thing that distinguishes a cult from anything thing else. Cults seek to isolate individuals and separate them from friends and family. In no way have I seen the Choice Center, or the seminars I attended, isolate individuals from friends/family. I will say, though, that I cannot speak to this for sure, in regards to Choice, because I have very limited knowledge of Choice Center and their 15,000 students who have attended over the last 15 years. In my experience though it is the exact opposite, these seminars supported people with becoming closer to their family, friends, and, for some, their relationship with whatever higher power/religion they personally believe in (I am an agnostic/atheist and I never felt pressure to adapt to any other religious belief, but I have seen others become closer to their own personal religious backgrounds after their work in these seminars).

Forth, when speaking about confidentially I think it is important to explain why there is confidentiality. In my opinion these sorts of seminars have confidentiality for two reasons; to protect the students who attend these seminars and to allow the best experience possible for anyone who is going to attend in the future. In regards to protecting their students, confidentiality is important because it allows students to share things about themselves freely in these seminars without fear of someone outside of the seminar knowing about these things or using it against them. A lot of Anonymous groups (such as AA) have this same sort of confidentiality, it is not uncommon. The other reason Choice Center asks for confidentiality is to prevent students from relieving exercises in the seminar that have to be experienced without any other prior knowledge to be fully appreciated. This may seem like a dumb analogy, but it is similar to recommending a book, t.v. show, movie, or anything where knowing the ending would spoil the experience.

I hope these tips really help you express your experiences more openly and have your audience receive you a bit better. I know that there is no way to control that outcome and reactions of those around you, but presenting your experience a little differently may have you being received a little differently too. I personally would love the opportunity to go through Choice Center and see what the experience is all about and how similar it is to the seminars I have attended (and continue to volunteer with). I am not currently in any financial situation that would allow me to do so, but hopefully in the next few years I will be and could take advantage of such an opportunity and see what it's all about. I think that organizations like Choice Center and the seminars I have attended are great at supporting people in creating the kind of lives they truly wish to live. I hope in the future people become more open to these ideas too because I believe that the tools that they teach can be of great benefit and I am already seeing the positive impact they have had on your life. Keep it up!

~AdamForde

Posted Image

#14 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:37 PM

View PostJam-Fly, on 05 March 2013 - 10:32 AM, said:

to be fair Daniel. THAT is something someone in a cult would say...

For 10+ years in this community I've done nothing but live in integrity and call em' like I see em. This 100 day course, and make no mistake that's exactly what it is, is something I think is really beneficial to people and I recommended it to many friends who shared that same view. My assistant Patty, for example, went to just the first two weekends and she got a lot out of it that she will carry with her the rest of her life. She didn't continue with leadership, and she isn't being asked to do anything else. She is still friends with some of the people from her class, and that's the end of it.

People who are throwing the term "cult" around are totally misinformed as to what a cult actually is. You can't just leave a cult! This is a course. A course where you learn stuff, and you leave when you are done. I have graduated, and am not "in" anything.
Posted Image

#15 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:38 PM

Sorry about the book! I will sign in before I go to London and have Patty get it to you. I have never been asked to pay for extra coaching, and frankly didn't even know that existed because I never heard anything about it. I've never been asked to shell out a single dollar outside of the initial cost. Oh, I did have to buy a notebook though! Not sure if that counts :-)

View Postrab1234, on 05 March 2013 - 11:07 AM, said:

If you only ever paid them the one time fee of $2700 and are never planning on giving them any additional money, and you saw a benefit from it, no problems.

If they've hooked you into signing up for extra classes or special coaches that are going to cost you more and more over time, you should try to take a couple of hundred steps back and look at it as you might look at scientology.

BTW: still waiting on my signed book from placing in the top 20 in the WSOP challenge last year. :icon_surprised:

Good luck in poker this year.

Posted Image

#16 AdamForde

AdamForde

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 4 posts
  • Favorite Poker Game:NL Texas Holdem

Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:11 PM

View PostDanielNegreanu, on 05 March 2013 - 01:33 PM, said:

Choice is set up in such a way that you can leave whenever you want and once you have paid your $2700 that's the end of it. The signature course are $600 and you are never pressured to take any of them. I took one called "Relationships" over a weekend and I thought it was a lot of fun, but no one pressured me to do it.

Daniel,

Thanks for writing back so quickly to me, this whole thing I find very fascinating and if nothing else I am proud that you are spreading awareness of these types of organizations and their benefits. I am curious to know, is there any sort of "money back guarantee" with Choice Center? For instance if I were to go through their base seminar for the $2700 cost, and felt as though I did not benefit from it is there a way to get my money back? The seminars I've been through offer a full money back guarantee as long as the individual completes the entire seminar. I feel, this helps prevent the feeling that this is a scam or that it is simply in place to make money.

~AdamForde

#17 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:41 PM

No there isn't a money back guarantee and I don't think there should be because it could negatively effect someone's experience. I've never met, or heard of a graduate who has done all the training having a bad experience. It's possible I imagine, but I've never come across anyone, or read anything on the internet that would suggest a graduate didn't get their moneys worth. If someone were allowed to take the class, and at the first moment they were uncomfortable, quit the training and get a full refund, I think that would damage the whole process.

There are a very small percentage of people who didn't complete the training who feel it wasn't worth it. As I said, I know of two people who left the first weekend and had a bad experience or just couldn't handle it. As I've said many times, you can leave whenever you want. It is a CHOICE. I know a whole lot more people who had a great experience from all walks of life. CEO's, successful businessmen, athletes, housewives, poker players, MMA fighters, you name it.

View PostAdamForde, on 05 March 2013 - 02:11 PM, said:

Daniel,

Thanks for writing back so quickly to me, this whole thing I find very fascinating and if nothing else I am proud that you are spreading awareness of these types of organizations and their benefits. I am curious to know, is there any sort of "money back guarantee" with Choice Center? For instance if I were to go through their base seminar for the $2700 cost, and felt as though I did not benefit from it is there a way to get my money back? The seminars I've been through offer a full money back guarantee as long as the individual completes the entire seminar. I feel, this helps prevent the feeling that this is a scam or that it is simply in place to make money.

~AdamForde

Posted Image

#18 DanielNegreanu

DanielNegreanu

    Poker Forum Veteran

  • Root Admin
  • 8,546 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 05 March 2013 - 08:59 PM

You come up with some interesting theories, but there is just nothing to them honestly. Not only have I completed this course, but as I said, 15,000 other people have attended Choice from all walks of life. My agent Brian for example attended over a year ago. This is a guy with a law degree, a beautiful wife, three amazing kids, and was already an incredible father even before attending Choice. He didn't "need Choice" per se, but he learned valuable tools to help make him an even better father, and a better businessman. Brian is a solid, stand up guy.

Nick and Michael Binger are also two guys who you can bet did all the necessary study about LGATs before attending Choice, and will tell you that all the crackpot theories people are creating, just don't apply to Choice at all. There are other extremely successful people that were also in my class that got a ton of value out of it. I have also had personal friends and family members attend and get a lot out of it. No one I know has EVER been shaken down for a single penny outside of their $2700 investment. I also know people who graduated many years ago, and they have NEVER been asked for another penny.

I'm not an expert on LGATs and I can't speak to other organizations that have come before Choice or may be similar, but I can say that Choice has been around 15 years and all I've seen from graduates is positive results and reviews.

It's a COURSE. 100 day personal development COURSE that you can quit whenever you want. Once you are done, you are done. There is nothing fishy, or nothing weird about any of it. it's completely transparent- $2700 for a 100 day course. Quit when you like, or complete the course. It's that simple guys.

Some graduates go on to staff. They aren't paid, nor do they pay, but from what I'm told by those that have staffed, they have learned a great deal from staffing and do it simply because they want to help others have a great experience.




View PostPiescoCause, on 05 March 2013 - 01:28 PM, said:

This is my first post here, so feel free to tell me to go away. I might stick around though if it stays this interesting :)

Daniel, I think that the problem is that however, you reply, if positively about Choice Center, to some it will sound like you are "taken in" by it. It does sound like you ( And Antonio from what I gather) have been successfully "love-bombed" by this group.
At this point we can cross off for now, many of the classic "cult" attributes - charismatic leader, apocalyptic future with only the chosen ( members who have paid $$$ in time and money) to be saved, slave labour, emotional brutality, etc. Bear in mind though that as a celebrity member, if they were doing these things they would be hidden from you. Your endorsement is far too valuable to them. The same way that our Scientology friends hide their worst excesses from Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

However, there is a set of problems in the self-help movement that may not add up quite to a "cult", but can still be damaging.
Thing is, the proof of the pudding is not in the number of pound lost or money raised in the three months since you started doing it.. what I would like to see is how the 48 people in your group are doing 1 year, three years and five years from now, and how it compares to how they were doing before. Not only that, but what other self help therapies/workshops etc have they done in the mean time either with this group or another.
I, (as it sounds like you have) spent many years of my life trying out everything from rebirthing to NLP to you name it, truying to improve myself. After such a workshop I would feel better, inspired, motivated, and then a few months down the line that wears off and I needed another fix to pick myself up again. This is apparently what happens to a lot of people.
It is so easy to fit circumstances around a set of beliefs - I know you know that from poker!
For example, you mention that after doing the CC workshops, Antonio won the One-Drop, one WSOP bracelet, one WSOPE bracelet and a 4th Place WPT finish. OK - I could point out that most WSOP bracelets last year were won by people who hadn't done this course, including ones in which Antonio took part ( eg the Main Event).
And to be fair to him, he may well have won all these events anyway - there is absolutely no way of telling whether Choice Center helped him, even if he believes it did! Because people fit circumstances to their beliefs. Correlation is not cause and effect.

Based on Micon's article and what else I've seen, CC does have the hallmarks of these "mind control" (not necessarily "cults) movements. According to some forum posts I've seen, it came out of the Lifespring Movement ( which has apparently split into dozens of organisations with different names in different cities, CC being the Vegas one) which in turn was founded by one of the original EST people.
I would strongly recommend you to bear in mind that what you see is what they want you to see - per my comments above.
I'd also strongly recommend you read this book - and look at the guy's website. SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America helpless, by Steve Salerno, which IMO should be required reading for everyone along with Fast Food Nation. As you say yourself, a little cognitive dissonance is an excellent teacher.

Finally, it just occurred to me that maybe you know all the problems and dangers inherent in LGAT and other self-help groups, and you and Antonio are just pretending to like it, in order to encourage your potential poker opponents to do it and become mind-controlled zombies that are even easier to read at the table - so this could be a ploy. If that is the case, then Huge Respect to you both for that play! ;)

Cheers

Mike

Posted Image

#19 AdamForde

AdamForde

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 4 posts
  • Favorite Poker Game:NL Texas Holdem

Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:18 PM

View PostDanielNegreanu, on 05 March 2013 - 08:41 PM, said:

No there isn't a money back guarantee and I don't think there should be because it could negatively effect someone's experience. I've never met, or heard of a graduate who has done all the training having a bad experience. It's possible I imagine, but I've never come across anyone, or read anything on the internet that would suggest a graduate didn't get their moneys worth. If someone were allowed to take the class, and at the first moment they were uncomfortable, quit the training and get a full refund, I think that would damage the whole process.

I feel like I did not explain myself well enough. I meant if an individual completes the entire coure (Discovery, Breakthrough, and All of the Leadership portions) and still wanted their money back. I can understand how Choice would not choose to offer that, and that is completely their decision. However, I think that is something that would support myself and, possibly others, with making the decision to go through Choice.


View PostDanielNegreanu, on 05 March 2013 - 08:41 PM, said:

There are a very small percentage of people who didn't complete the training who feel it wasn't worth it. As I said, I know of two people who left the first weekend and had a bad experience or just couldn't handle it. As I've said many times, you can leave whenever you want. It is a CHOICE. I know a whole lot more people who had a great experience from all walks of life. CEO's, successful businessmen, athletes, housewives, poker players, MMA fighters, you name it.

Honestly if it is anything like the experience I've had I'd bet very few would even ask for the refund, and I think it makes more comfortable with the idea. Choice is free to do as they choose, but I can understand how they would not feel this to be necessary.

#20 ChnaWht

ChnaWht

    Poker Forum Newbie

  • Members
  • 16 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Boston
  • Favorite Poker Game:PLO

Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:25 AM

Daniel,

After perusing 4, your responses, and some information on the net, my feeling is that a lot of criticism directed towards you is fueled by jealously towards your stature in the poker world combined with the 'easy target' concept. By putting yourself out on a limb and revealing some of your imperfections and insecurities as a person, people are prone to attack and try to bring down the part of you that is more vulnerable, in contrast to your relatively super strong image as a poker player. People love to see successful people brought down.

I had problems and identified areas I could improve in my life, so I went to a shrink for a while and re-examined some various life skills. You chose this CC thing. If it helped you and nobody is harmed by your involvement and promotion of the program then nobody should be taking it as seriously as some people on 4 have been.

The worst hypocrites are the people who subscribe to organized religion and then bash you for believing in CC. To include the worship and belief in someone that cannot even be proven to exist as part of one's major beliefs is alternately gullible, delusional, and sad. What if one of these more organized religions' version of God actually did exist? Then still, billions of people would be worshiping the 'wrong' God. One of the great mysteries in life to me is how otherwise savvy, intelligent people could build so much of their lives around a concept (the existence of God) that is not even close to being able to prove. So much damage has been caused by organized religion and all the good that people attribute to it was done by people that I would argue are inherently good to begin with. I don't see the difference between Unitarianism and Catholicism, Wiccans and Rastafarians, Scientologists and Mormons. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to why they spend their whole life believing in a single omnipotent, omniprescient being, but if I claimed that a bracelet on my wrist gave me extra 'powers' they would laugh in my face like I just told them God had a son 2k years ago and he did all these miraculous things (oh wait, that really is actually what Christians believe) lol.

I really enjoy watching you play poker and I think the world is basically a better place with you in it (unless there is something I don't know about). If this place helped you re-connect with some important people in your life, then I'm glad for you. Just tread carefully, knowing that if it hits the fan with this place, (fraud, more cultish than initially known, etc) your endorsement of them will be rightfully villified. Haters gonna hate and jealously is such a strong component in the criticism of public figures. I wouldn't want to comment on Antonio's involvement because I hung out with him a bit in 06 and as a far as I know he hasn't given me permission to talk about things in a public forum, but you very much put yourself out there, so that's why I responded. I think Nick Binger brought an excellent perspective to the discussion. Sometimes, trying to 'clear up' some things does exactly the opposite and emboldens people to paint you as desperately defending this organization. In the same way A-Rod 'seems' cocky and aloof to an outsider, you 'seem' like a very decent person who is trying to fill a void in life. My simple solution to that problem was finding a wonderful chick from Thailand who treats me like I was the son of God. Go ahead and brush your shoulders off- you're a busy guy and you don't owe anyone any explanation (including me).




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users