The profound impact of Werner Erhard’s work on culture and society is a manifestation of an incredible insight, the experience of being.  Erhard has at times described aspects of his method as ruthless compassion, and like all forms of compassion, evident here is a fundamental motivating desire to alleviate the suffering of others.- James R. Doty, Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine

Werner Erhard has been creating transformational models and applications for individuals and organizations for over 40 years. He has spent his life on a quest to discover the nature and function of being for human beings. For the last decade, Werner Erhard has been at work in the ontological / phenomenological domain, publishing academic papers, most notably on leadership and integrity. He has presented work at, among other institutions, Simon School of Business at Rochester University, Harvard Law School, Erasmus Academie, University of Southern California, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Millstein Center for Corporate Governance at Yale University, Depaul University and the John F. Kennedy Center for Public Leadership. He and his co-author Michael C. Jensen are writing a book on integrity for Cambridge Press.

Werner Erhard's approach to education was developed orignally in the est training which was organized around individuals producing results and experiencing satisfying lives. As Erhard developed his ideas he applied some of the same ideas and principles to business and trained several management consulting firms in the methodology that he developed in performance and management education.

In 2011, Werner Erhard and his colleagues Michael C. Jensen and Kari Granger were published in The Handbook For Teaching Leadership, Knowing, Doing, and Being. The editors of the book, Harvard professor Scott Snook, Dean of Harvard Business School Nitin Nohria, and Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana had this to say in their introduction to the book: "In a highly provocative chapter titled "Creating Leaders," this eclectic group of scholars argues for adopting a decidedly ontological approach to leadership education that promises to leave students actually being leaders...For these authors, integrity, authenticity, and being committed to something bigger than oneself form the base of 'the context for leadership,' a context that once mastered, leaves one actually being a following a rigorous, phenomenologically based methodology, students have the opportunity to create for themselves a context that leaves them actually being a leader and exercising leadership effectively as their natural self-expression.”

Throughout his history Erhard has been extremely generous with either creating or contributing to charitable enterprises aimed at improving the quality of life. He has worked with leaders and grass root activists in peace and reconciliation in Ireland as well as international NGOs in Africa, India and other developing nations.

Werner Erhard and Associates: A Brief Look 1982 Part 1

Werner Erhard co-founded independent, non-profit charitable enterprises, including: the Breakthrough Foundation, the Hunger Project, the Holiday Project, the Werner Erhard Foundation, and the Education Network. In 1988, Werner Erhard was awarded the Mahatma Gandhi Humanitarian Award in recognition of his contribution to people and society.

In the nearly 20 years of its operation, the Werner Erhard Foundation awarded over $4 million for research, scholarly endeavors, and voluntary action. It provided support to more than 300 outstanding individuals and organizations from a variety of disciplines in the fields of individual and social transformation and human well-being. These recipients made a profound contribution to human thinking, growth, and achievement.

In the documentary, Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard, viewers get a glimpse of who Werner Erhard really is, with rare interviews with his family, press and top professionals.

Werner Erhard’s life has been devoted to the creation of ideas. Some of his ideas have been turned into programs for the public, some made available through non-profit organizations, and some have been used by management consultants in their consulting to corporations and non-profits. After more than 40 years many of his transformational ideas have become a part of society’s thinking and culture across the globe.

In the early 1970s Werner Erhard introduced the notion of "transformation" to the American public in a way that it had not been heard before.

Time Magazine, March 7, 2011, said of Erhard: "The American obsession with Transformation isn’t new. It’s about as old as the nation. But it was Werner Erhard who created the first modern transformation when he founded est seminars in 1971. It’s a tribute to the power of his central concept that more than 20 years after he sold his ideas to a group of employees Landmark is still the natural first stop in any transformation tour." [Excerpted from “Change We Can (Almost) Believe In” by Nathan Thornburgh.]

The methodology he developed provides individuals and organizations with a means to design new contexts or frames of reference for themselves. This results in more creativity, independent thinking and effective action which has a lasting impact on the important concerns in people's lives.

Werner Erhard created a program in 1971 named the est Training, which was offered to the public by Erhard Seminars Training, Inc. and after 1981 by Werner Erhard & Associates. The est Training, attended by approximately a million people, was enormously popular and became a household word. The combination of Werner Erhard's cutting edge ideas and his ruthless compassion, honesty and skill in leading seminars catapulted est into the mainstream of American culture. With this wide-spread popularity, Erhard and his programs became the subject of television, newspaper, magazine, and even movie attention.

Because Erhard Seminars Training, Inc. and Werner Erhard and Associates produced powerful results with hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in a very short time. Erhard and his work continue to be a source of enormous influence. In 1991, Erhard closed his companies that offered his programs to the public. His former employees started a company of their own called Landmark. Erhard's original thinking and the processes developed from it are found updated and further developed in the programs of Landmark.

Werner Erhard and his work continue to be an enormous influence in the world as well as a frequent subject of the media.

If you are interested in more information about Werner Erhard's life there is only one biography published about Werner Erhard that is both factual and includes extensive interviews with Werner Erhard and family members. The book is titled Werner Erhard, The Transformation of a Man: The Founding of Est by William Warren Bartley III. While other publications exist in print and on the internet it is important to note that they do not have factual rigor as they are not properly referenced and in many cases rely on anonymous sources.

Werner Erhard's life is best understood through his work and ideas, several of which are gathered in a collection at the website Werner Erhard Biography. One of the writings highlighted there is "A Shot Heard Round The World: Werner Erhard on The Context for Creating a Transformed World: A World that Works for Everyone.


Werner Erhard in the Media


THE NEW YORK TIMES, November 28, 2015

"For several years before his latest professional reincarnation, Mr. Erhard consulted for businesses and government agencies like the Russian adult-education program the Znaniye Society and a nonprofit organization supporting clergy in Ireland."

"Enter the Harvard economist Michael Jensen. Dr. Jensen, who is famous in financial circles for championing the concepts of shareholder value and executive stock options, had taken a Landmark course in Boston at the suggestion of his daughter, who mended a rocky relationship with Dr. Jensen after taking the course herself."

“I became convinced we should work to get this kind of transformational material into the academies,” he said, adding that he considers Mr. Erhard “one of the great intellectuals of the century.” 

Read the full article on Werner Erhard in The New York Times


FINANCIAL TIMES, April 28, 2012

Excerpts fromThe FT's Management Editor Andrew Hill on Erhard and Jensen:

"Werner Erhard and Michael Jensen look an unlikely pairing but their leadership teaching fits into a broad stream of business education and research about ethics and integrity. "

"In 'A Positive Theory of the Normative Virtues', the draft introduction to their forthcoming book, they write that their desire to confront their own “personal contributions to the mess generated by out-of-integrity behaviour” was one trigger for their research. But it was the Enron scandal of 2001 that prompted business schools to refocus attention on this area. The financial crisis of 2008-2009 gave this effort new impetus, as management schools realised they had to bear some responsibility for the bad corporate behaviour of their alumni. "

Read the Full Article on Werner Erhard in The Financial Times



In its 40th Anniversary issue (May 15, 1985), Fortune Magazine recognized Erhard’s significant contribution to corporate leadership and strategic thinking. Fortune noted that Erhard's work, which introduced the idea and value of empowering people, was the major management innovation of the 1970s.


Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard
This documentary was created by the independent filmmaker and two-time Emmy Award Winning Producer for PBS, Robyn Symon.  It chronicles the history of Werner Erhard, his life, the world of The est Training and his work and ideas, all put into perspective through the dozens of stories told by numerous professional and academic experts. Transformation: The Life and Legacy of Werner Erhard is available in DVD by clicking here. 




Speaking Being: Werner Erhard, Martin Heidegger, and a New Possibility of Being Human

Werner Erhard Timeline: Follow the development of Werner Erhard’s work, for personal, business and academic communities, including notable expressions and acknowledgements, from the inception of Erhard‘s models for transformation made widely available in 1971 through to the present.

Werner Erhard Biography Website: Werner Erhard's life is best understood through his work and ideas.

Werner Erhard and the Werner Erhard Foundation

Werner Erhard Video: Ideas In Conversation

Werner Erhard at Stanford University's Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, November, 2017

Werner Erhard and Gonneke Spits

Werner Erhard Foundation: Established in 1973 to provide an opportunity for individuals to express their commitment to significantly altering what is possible for humanity. Its mission was to foster and support catalytic projects that would provide far-reaching breakthroughs in fields related to both personal and social development.



Werner Erhard on the Internet Erhard bio.Werner Erhard on Facebook.Werner Erhard on youtube

Werner Erhard

At all times and under all circumstances, we have the power to transform the quality of our lives.

Werner Erhard



Werner Erhard's life is best understood through his ideas and their application to people's lives.




Werner Erahrd
Werner Erhard



"Erhard’s influence extends far beyond the couple of million people who have done his courses: there is hardly a self-help book or a management training programme that does not borrow some of his principles."

The Financial Times, April 28, 2012

Werner Erhard
Werner Erhard


"Erhard’s work talks us through a process of transformation by showing us what it means to be an authentic human being in an inauthentic world, and what it means to take a stand for a world where everyone matters and where everyone can make a difference.”

-Wiley “Chip” Souba, MD


Werner Erhard
Werner Erhard



Werner Erhard 1982
Werner Erhard



"The real purpose of
est was to create space for people to participate in life – to experience true space and freedom in life."


Werner Erhard
on the est training


The best place to find Werner Erhard's ideas at work for personal and professional training and development is at Landmark.



Werner Erhard and Gonneke Spits