Sarah Edmondson (@sarahjedmondson) and Anthony “Nippy” Ames (@nippyames) are two former NXIVM cult members turned whistleblowers. Together, they host the podcast A Little Bit Culty, and are featured in HBO’s series The Vow. Sarah’s 12-year ordeal is chronicled in Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life. [This is part one of a two-part conversation. Find part two here!]
What We Discuss with Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames:
- How NXIVM began as a community of like-minded individuals who were committed to personal growth and self-improvement and devolved into a cult under the leadership of its narcissistic founder, Keith Raniere.
- How Hollywood celebrities came to be courted and ultimately controlled by Raniere and the NXIVM cult.
- The endless abuses suffered by NXIVM’s victims — from mind games to being branded as property and trafficked as a way to fund Raniere’s lavish lifestyle.
- Where Sarah and Nippy existed within NXIVM’s hierarchy, the parts they played, and what broke the spell that held them enthralled in the cult’s sinister machinations.
- How Sarah and Nippy are coping with the aftermath of their traumatic experiences, and what they’re doing to raise awareness of how cults like NXIVM ruin people’s lives.
- And much more…
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NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) was a self-help group that ultimately became an abusive cult. Its leader, Keith Raniere, has been sentenced to 120 years in prison and five months of probation for his crimes, including sexual abuse and sex trafficking. NXIVM started out as a program to help individuals achieve more in their personal and professional lives, but over time it became something much darker, with Raniere using the organization to fulfill his own narcissistic and sociopathic desires and to manipulate and exploit people for his own gain.
Sarah Edmondson and Anthony “Nippy” Ames were both members of NXIVM, with Sarah serving as a high-level teacher within the organization and both witnessing firsthand the transformation of NXIVM into a malicious cult. They eventually became whistleblowers, helping to expose the illegal activities of the group and contributing to its downfall. Together, they currently host the podcast A Little Bit Culty, The story of NXIVM was featured in the HBO documentary series The Vow, and in Sarah’s memoir, Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life. In this two-part episode, Sarah and Nippy share their ordeal — how they managed to get tangled up in NXIVM’s transformation into a cult, what prompted them to escape from its clutches, and how they’re dealing with the aftermath of the experience. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part one of a two-part conversation. Find part two here!]
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Miss our two-parter with former Westboro Baptist Church spokesperson Megan Phelps-Roper? Make sure to catch up starting with episode 302: Megan Phelps-Roper | Unfollowing Westboro Baptist Church Part One here!
Thanks, Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames!
If you enjoyed this session with Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames, let them know by clicking on the link below and sending them a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Sarah and Nippy at Twitter!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson and Kristine Gasbarre | Amazon
- The Vow | HBO
- A Little Bit Culty with Sarah and Nippy
- A Little Bit Culty | Twitter
- Sarah Edmondson | Twitter
- Anthony “Nippy” Ames | Twitter
- NXIVM | Wikipedia
- How NXIVM Seduced Hollywood Stars and America’s Most Powerful Elite Into a Barbaric Sex Cult | Esquire
- A Timeline of the NXIVM Sex Cult Case | The New York Times
770: Sarah Edmondson & Nippy Ames | Surviving NXIVM Part One
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is sponsored in part by Peloton. It's the time of year where we start thinking about what next year will bring. We make New Year's resolutions to exercise more, but let's face it, will you actually stick with it? It's been proven that you're more likely to stick to a routine if it's something you enjoy, which is why so many people stick with Peloton. The instructors are so fun. It's like working out with a friend. There's a very strong Peloton community. Also, I'm all about data, and Peloton tracks your metrics so you can keep tabs on your performance over time. And right now, Peloton's got a gift for you. Get up to 200 bucks off accessories like cycling shoes, heart rate monitors — both of which I have and use regularly — and more when you purchase a Peloton Bike, Bike+, or Tread, and up to a hundred dollars off accessories with the purchase of a Peloton Guide, which will turn your TV into an AI-powered personal trainer. Make this the first step toward achieving your fitness goals in the new year. Choose from Peloton's cycling to scenic runs, boot camps to power walks. A huge variety of classes that work for you, taught by world-class instructors who know exactly how to get the best out of you. So don't wait. Get this offer before it ends on December 25th. Visit onepeloton.com. All-access membership separate, offer ends December 25th, cannot be combined with other offers. See additional terms at onepeloton.com.
[00:01:06] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:01:09] Sarah Edmondson: I think one of the first things is creating the belief that we found the best thing, which creates an "us versus them." So there was a sort of internal righteousness as individuals but as a collective. So the community that we came to love felt like they'd say things like, this is eventually like chosen family. So if anyone was criticizing, that created the isolation. They never said, that was never active like, "You can't talk to somebody," but it was more like, "Well, what does it mean if you're communicating with somebody who doesn't support what you do?"
[00:01:40] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, and psychologists, even the occasional mafia enforcer, Russian spy, rocket scientist, or hostage negotiator. And each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
[00:02:06] If you're new to the show or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about it, I suggest our episode starter packs. These are collections of some of our favorite episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything that we do here on the show — topics like persuasion and influence, disinformation and cyber warfare, crime and cults, and more. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:02:29] Today, we're talking with Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames, former members of a cult called NXIVM. Now, if you've seen The Vow on HBO, you've seen the expose on this. We're going to hear stories from the inside and how somebody who should know better in theory, gets roped into and stays in a harmful and abusive coercive cult. Really a fascinating conversation with two people who've done a lot of thinking about this and a fascinating inside look at one of America's most famous cults. This is a two-part episode. There was a lot here and I co-hosted this one with none other than Gabe Mizrahi. So we have two hosts and two guests, why not? Kind of a different format for us here today.
[00:03:07] So for those who don't know or are not familiar, NXIVM, it started as a self-help group and became an abusive sex trafficking cult. And the leader, Keith Raniere, is now in prison for 120-plus years and five months of probation. And it was shocking, right? Because the people who joined, they joined what they thought was a regular sort of self-help group. It turned out to be a crazy cult. There was sexual abuse people branded themselves. They went on the run to Mexico. It's a whole thing. I mean, it's a whole crazy saga that started as a way to be better at work or with your friends and family. Am I hitting all the bases here?
[00:03:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that's pretty much it. I mean, if you guys haven't seen The Vow, which is remarkable by the way, it's on HBO. I highly recommend it. NXIVM was this cult that really didn't seem to start out quite as culty as it became. And the thing that started as a curriculum designed to help you achieve more in your personal life and level up in your business and be a better citizen in the world became something much darker. And it's one of the fascinating things about NXIVM is that it's unclear whether the more diabolical stuff was really baked in from the beginning, or whether Keith Raniere, who's the founder and the so-called vanguard of the organization, used this fairly benign and helpful in some ways, curriculum to do some really dark stuff. And namely what ended up being sex trafficking, sleeping with minors, manipulating people, and keeping them in the organization and creating like a whole apparatus that basically supported his narcissistic and sociopathic impulses to sleep with people, get a ton of attention, probably extract a ton of money out of them because that was a big part of the organization. So NXIVM is a strange thing, but what it ultimately ended up becoming was, yeah, a very malicious cult.
[00:04:53] And Sarah and Nippy were in the center of it. Sarah was a fairly high-level teacher, and Nippy was also a teacher, and they both were there from very early days and saw this organization morph and become something very sinister. Sarah obviously has a very intense personal story that we are going to get into on this episode. She was there firsthand for some of the darkest aspects of NXIVM. And once they realized that there was this very malicious stuff going on, decided to become whistleblowers and let the authorities know what NXIVM was actually up to and ended up becoming the people who helped take the organization down. It's absolutely fascinating.
[00:05:30] Those are the broad strokes, but if you guys want the details and you should get the details, watch The Vow.
[00:05:34] Jordan Harbinger: Here we go with Sarah and Nippy.
[00:05:41] I would love to start with what NXIVM is, or at least what it was supposed to be, because — and its face, it's like, okay, this is a personal growth seminar that probably had intros at a hotel near the airport. And you show up, your boss sends you there or something to learn how to be more communicative with your new team at work. And it just looks kind of harmless. And then it turned out to not be harmless at all, and it turned out to be this crazy, crazy cult that was worth HBO creating two seasons and counting on what's going on there. It's shocking. And I think that's part of the story, of course, but what initially was NXIVM supposed to be?
[00:06:20] Sarah Edmondson: It's a great way to ask it. There's what we thought it was and then what it turned out to be. And what we thought it was, what we were signing up for, was a personal and professional development program. Had I met you at a coffee shop, or I would've found out what your goals were and where you felt limited in your life, usually it was some emotional thing, like you got angry at people or couldn't follow through on your goals or had limiting beliefs about yourself or your self-esteem. And I would ask if it would be worth two grand to fix that limitation for five days. And if it was, I'd help you get into a program. And that's what it was.
[00:06:52] It helped me so much in my life that I was such a zealous promoter of it, that when I met people, it was a really easy pitch. It was, spend five days, look at your life, upgrade your software, apply it to your life, achieve your goals — easy. And in some ways, I still think most of the five-day was that if you didn't continue. I've since learned that there was lots of things in that initial training that hooked people in and could be really abusive if used by people with that intent. But for the most part, people came and took trainings, all the things you said, better communication, higher self-esteem, working through what we called disintegrations. So areas that you felt limited in, maybe you had conflicting beliefs around things like money, like "I want to earn money, but I also think it's the root of all evil."
[00:07:37] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:07:38] Sarah Edmondson: Like that's a really common thing that a lot of people have — we found, growing up in NXIVM, we found there's a lot of common things that people would struggle with.
[00:07:47] Nippy Ames: Which I think was the intent of the curriculum. Find things that we can all kind of agree upon that we struggle with, and have a curriculum and deep discussions around them, and then provide kind of a working answer.
[00:07:57] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay. And there's nothing wrong with that on its face. And that's one of the reasons that this is so interesting, and I'll get into this a little bit later, but I'm watching The Vow on HBO, right? And I'm watching this terrible cult, and I've followed the news and I know how it ends. And yet, I hear Nancy Salzman, who's one of the chief creators of the curriculum, or the chief — and I'm like, "This is so interesting. I should totally take this class. Wait a minute. No, they're in prison now. Hold on. Get a grip, Jordan. These are not the droids you're looking for, right? This is not the thing." Because it's just—
[00:08:25] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:08:26] Jordan Harbinger: It turned out to be like many self-help groups. It had this dark underbelly. It's funny, a long time ago. I wanted to take Landmark, and people were like, "It's a cult." And then other people were like, "It's fine." I took it three years ago. I sort of remember some of it. It was kind of useful, the end. And other people are like, "I've been in it for five years and my brain is — I can't even talk like a normal human because all that comes out is Landmark words." And I'm thinking like, okay, there's clearly a level where you go in and you come out and it's fine, which is where most people went with NXIVM. They took the course, it helped them a little bit, and they left. They never came back. And they were like, "Oh, that was kind of fun. I sort of remember it. I think it helped me with X, Y, Z." And then, the people who come out and they're like, "I was sex-trafficked from another country." And it's like, wait, is this the same thing? How does that—
[00:09:11] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:09:12] Jordan Harbinger: —work? It's like joining the YMCA to go to the gym and suddenly your organs are harvested. You're like, how did that happen?
[00:09:17] Sarah Edmondson: It's such a good example. We had a friend actually who did both Landmark and ESP. So ESP is executive success program. It's the program that we taught in NXIVM, the personal development stuff. And she said, "With all of it, it's like if you take the tools and put them in your life, you're fine. But if you make the tools your life is when it becomes a problem." And I see that with both Landmark students and NXIVM students, the people that went up the stripe path, the people that became coaches in Landmark and devoted all their time unpaid. Same problem. In fact, I have to be careful because the Landmark is incredibly litigious.
[00:09:49] Jordan Harbinger: They are.
[00:09:49] Sarah Edmondson: That's why we haven't yet done an episode on them. We sometimes refer to them as [schmund-mark] so that we don't get sued.
[00:09:56] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Something, "Wait, I didn't say Landmark. I should [schmund-mark]. It's totally different."
[00:10:00] Sarah Edmondson: Totally different.
[00:10:00] Jordan Harbinger: If you see a similarity that's on you.
[00:10:02] Sarah Edmondson: Exactly.
[00:10:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:03] Sarah Edmondson: So [schmund-mark] in my opinion is the same thing as NXIVM minus the leader having a harem of women.
[00:10:10] Jordan Harbinger: Minus anything that could incur legal liability for us doing this podcast right now.
[00:10:13] Nippy Ames: Which—
[00:10:13] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:10:13] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:10:14] Nippy Ames: —you might say—
[00:10:14] Sarah Edmondson: Exactly.
[00:10:15] Nippy Ames: They've done it smarter because it was originally the brainchild of Werner Erhard and then he, in the early '80s, kind of stepped out—
[00:10:23] Sarah Edmondson: Split.
[00:10:23] Nippy Ames: —and I still think he gets some of the revenue or something like that. So—
[00:10:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:10:26] Nippy Ames: —you know, maybe for him, it wasn't about sex with 15-year-old girls, it was about keeping the power and the money and he is able to outsource it and smoke and mirrors it. Whereas Keith—
[00:10:34] Sarah Edmondson: He needed to be the vanguard.
[00:10:35] Nippy Ames: Yeah. He had his own vices and couldn't temper them, obviously.
[00:10:39] Jordan Harbinger: So for people who are like, who's Keith? What are these names? I don't know who — basically, any sort of self-help seminar, these names are people that have started these seminars. If you don't know the names, it doesn't really matter. But Keith Raniere or Rainier, is it Raniere or Rainier?
[00:10:51] Sarah Edmondson: Raniere.
[00:10:52] Jordan Harbinger: Raniere, okay.
[00:10:53] Sarah Edmondson: We call him Alan, but that's okay. You can call him Keith.
[00:10:56] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Well, we call him Vanguard.
[00:10:58] Sarah Edmondson: Alan is his middle name, and we just like, you know, Keith is just—
[00:11:02] Nippy Ames: A couple of people who have left have been like, "We're done using his name. We're going to go with his middle name."
[00:11:05] Jordan Harbinger: Got it, okay.
[00:11:06] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. It's like, "He who shall not be named." It's like the Voldemort.
[00:11:09] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:11:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay, got it.
[00:11:10] Sarah Edmondson: Voldemort.
[00:11:10] Jordan Harbinger: This guy is, now, spoiler alert, he's imprisoned for a long time. Lost his appeal. We can talk about that in a little bit, but he's the leader and one of the founders of NXIVM, which is the cult. Nancy Salzman, as I mentioned earlier, was the designer of the curriculum, and you have some other notable names. Allison Mack, who was on Smallville, she's an actress, was an actress. And Claire Bronfman, who is the heir to, is it the—
[00:11:30] Sarah Edmondson: Seagram's.
[00:11:31] Jordan Harbinger: I always get this wrong. Seagram's liquor.
[00:11:33] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:11:33] Nippy Ames: So her father's, Edgar Bronfman [Jr] who's head of the Hillel House and—
[00:11:36] Jordan Harbinger: Big time ball, yeah, hundreds of millions of dollars.
[00:11:38] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:11:39] Nippy Ames: Yeah. He pulls levers.
[00:11:40] Jordan Harbinger: He pulls levers. Yeah, that's one thing that was surprising about this too. If my daughter's in a cult and I'm a billionaire, you think I've got people who can research this, who can take this whole organization down because I am basically a billionaire with unlimited amounts of power, and yet he still just couldn't. He either didn't pay attention early enough.
[00:11:58] Sarah Edmondson: Oh, I think he tried.
[00:11:59] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It looks like he tried and that says something about your power.
[00:12:02] Sarah Edmondson: Apparently, he's behind the first big article that was written against — the Forbes article that came out, back when they were this tiny little group. So it seemed that maybe he had something to do with that. But that's just what we were told when we were in it and we were told so many lies.
[00:12:14] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:12:14] Sarah Edmondson: We don't really know like what's what anymore.
[00:12:16] Jordan Harbinger: Which end is up?
[00:12:16] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:12:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. So Claire Bronfman, her dad, the wealthy liquor magnate, possibly the guy who ended up writing or having a big expose written in Forbes about NXIVM. So what does NXIVM mean? It actually sounds like the name of a medication.
[00:12:32] Sarah Edmondson: It is. There's a heartburn medication.
[00:12:34] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, it is.
[00:12:34] Sarah Edmondson: N-E-X-I-U-M.
[00:12:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like, talk to your doctor about Nexium. If you're in a sex trafficking cult, stop using NXIVM immediately.
[00:12:43] Sarah Edmondson: It's a made-up word. Well, N-X-I-V-M is made up.
[00:12:46] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, it's a made-up word.
[00:12:46] Sarah Edmondson: We do know — we've since learned that every name that he came up for each company is his own kind of little inside joke for himself. DOS, which came later and we'll get to that—
[00:12:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:56] Sarah Edmondson: —is the first computer program software.
[00:12:58] Jordan Harbinger: That's what came up for me, the first computer, like the text-based before Windows computer operating system.
[00:13:04] Sarah Edmondson: And that was his era when he would've learned in the, what is that? Like early to mid-80s? I don't know I don't know my computer history, but—
[00:13:12] Jordan Harbinger: '80s.
[00:13:13] Sarah Edmondson: [Gynas], same thing. That's the women's program that comes from the root word, G-Y-N, like gynecological, so it's like, of the woman. And NXIVM, apparently, we were told it was place of learning in Latin or Greek or whatever, but it's actually from the root word, which means debt bondage.
[00:13:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: Oh, wonderful.
[00:13:30] Sarah Edmondson: The debt bondage that happened in Roman times. So I think that was his way of being like, "Yes, I'm going to lock you down forever and create dependency and you won't even know it. And you think you're free, but you're not."
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's so on the nose. It reminds me of, you know, those conspiracy theorists that say, "Look, if you look really closely here, all these Illuminati, super powerful people are leaving clues," and it's like if they're that powerful, they're not putting a clue in a painting for some idiot who lives in his mom's basement to find. And yet Keith Raniere is like, "You know what? I'm going to make this really obvious during trial. Then put evidence everywhere that only I understand and that somebody who has Google can find out later on and make me look really bad."
[00:14:06] Sarah Edmondson: And also save all my text messages with my slaves about all the bad things I'm going to do.
[00:14:11] Jordan Harbinger: Funny you bring that up because when I was looking at the trial here, they said we got his WhatsApp messages and I was like, "Crap, the law enforcement can get WhatsApp messages. I thought they were all encrypted," and then two seconds later, the narrator's like, or the prosecutor says, "For some reason, he saved all of his text messages." And I'm just thinking like, "Oh, what are you doing? You're using an encrypted chat app," and you're like, "Let me just make a record of all this in plain text for the FBI later on."
[00:14:35] Sarah Edmondson: Well, he saved everything. Everything was filmed. Every single thing was filmed. And this was not in The Vow. So just to give you an extent of it, if he went on stage and did a forum—
[00:14:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:14:43] Sarah Edmondson: —which is him speaking word salad for two to four hours, he would have about 10 people in the audience with the clipboard marking down with the stopwatch. "Oh, at 10:42 Keith told a joke about flatulence."
[00:14:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:14:56] Sarah Edmondson: At 16, he made a statement— like basically gathering all the quotes in different categories and that would all be documented so that they could one day make a library of his genius. This is why there was so much footage and so much audio because everything was recorded.
[00:15:09] Jordan Harbinger: So The Vow for people who haven't seen it, there's tons of footage and you think, "What is all this about? How did they get this amazing insight into this?" And the reason is because this narcissistic cult leader wanted everything documented. And he even says, "One day, you know, they might think we did something wrong, and then they'll watch the footage and they'll realize we didn't." It's like, you know, that's not what happened actually. What happened is there's a sh*tload of evidence for you being a narcissistic cult leader. And it's all in HD and well lit.
[00:15:36] Sarah Edmondson: Not to jump to the end. You do know that there are people who are still loyal saying that was all planted.
[00:15:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:15:42] Sarah Edmondson: And it's all been tampered with and he is good. And yet—
[00:15:46] Jordan Harbinger: It's like, hey man, there's a lot of, there's a lot of stuff in there that probably didn't even make it into The Vow that—
[00:15:52] Gabriel Mizrahi: For sure.
[00:15:52] Jordan Harbinger: —was probably used in court because you know — it's just amazing.
[00:15:56] Sarah Edmondson: It's amazing. It's amazing how like when we came forward with what we knew, it was like a 10th, not even, like two percent of what came out in court. Like what we knew was one thing and then that was the tip of the iceberg, which was, it's a whole other story.
[00:16:08] Nippy Ames: Yeah. We weren't their problem after a while.
[00:16:10] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:16:11] Nippy Ames: Initially, we were their biggest problem and then once we kind of broke the dam—
[00:16:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right, because you two were the initial—
[00:16:16] Nippy Ames: Right.
[00:16:16] Jordan Harbinger: —or some of the initial whistleblowers.
[00:16:18] Nippy Ames: Right.
[00:16:18] Jordan Harbinger: And then once the prosecutors started digging and found all that stuff, it was like, "Thank you for your service. I think we're okay here. We got plenty of stuff to chew on."
[00:16:25] Nippy Ames: It was actually just like that. It was actually just like that Sarah had our second child and they were like, we thought she was going to have to testify because we got dragged into this. It turned out it was like, we got this.
[00:16:36] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We'll call you if we need you, but we have a freight train full of incriminating text messages and footage.
[00:16:42] Nippy Ames: In fact, if you want to help, you can help us unload the footage.
[00:16:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You carry some boxes because we have a lot of tape. Tell me about collateral, because I think a lot of people are thinking, "You know, what is this stuff that the cult does? It's got the executive success program, it's got this weird sorority of people that turned out to be kind of like sex slaves. But how are you bonded in this organization? Why not just leave?" And that's where collateral comes in.
[00:17:07] Sarah Edmondson: That's like the number one thing people ask me, right, into being like, "Why would you give them a false confession or a photo or things that you wouldn't want leak to the public?" And the concept of collateral had been built in three to four years, maybe even longer before. Keith was so brilliant at the long game. I say brilliant like sociopathically, brilliant—
[00:17:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:17:25] Sarah Edmondson: —knowing that he had to like plant seeds and build and build and build. In fact, he even taught a class about how true sociopaths play the long game.
[00:17:32] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:17:32] Sarah Edmondson: They don't just like key your car if they're mad at you. They'll like slowly poison your dog over many years and watch you suffer. So collateral is, I think, a good example of that. We've been doing it for years as a practice in terms of putting something down as a weight for your word. Like, I say that I'm going to go to the gym and if I don't, "I'm giving you this collateral. Nippy, I give you permission to give $500 to charity or whatever." Like there is something that you'd place. Like the same thing collateral's used to purchase a home or any big asset, right?
[00:18:01] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:01] Sarah Edmondson: But it became more personal and more damaging.
[00:18:04] Nippy Ames: But just one caveat here.
[00:18:06] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:18:06] Nippy Ames: Those are clear exchanges.
[00:18:07] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah, exactly. You know what the exchange is. And so it felt like in that community, that was a normal thing to — it became very normalized.
[00:18:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Okay. So this is like, "Hey, if I don't quit smoking, you're going to write a $500 check to the white supremacist nationalist party," and I really don't want that, so I'm not going—
[00:18:24] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:18:25] Jordan Harbinger: —to smoke—
[00:18:25] Sarah Edmondson: Exactly.
[00:18:26] Jordan Harbinger: —that's the collateral. Whereas this was more like, "I just have damaging stuff on you that I'm going to keep for an unspecified period of time to be used whenever you don't do what I want you to do.
[00:18:36] Sarah Edmondson: Well, it wasn't quite presented that way. I was invited by Lauren, who's my best friend, and somebody I trust, probably more than anyone other than my husband. And she's saying, "I'm going to hold this to make sure you stay on path, on track." And in that context, if what she was saying was true and it wasn't a women's organization, started by a man who's collecting collateral for his spank bank—
[00:18:54] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:54] Sarah Edmondson: —you know, then it might have been a nice thing to have a sisterhood where someone's keeping you on track and you're accountable to somebody.
[00:19:01] Nippy Ames: That was nude photos.
[00:19:02] Sarah Edmondson: You don't need nude photos to do that.
[00:19:03] Nippy Ames: It's important to add that.
[00:19:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:19:04] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. So the nude photos took things obviously to the next level. I'm just saying for people who don't understand, this is 12 years in. This isn't a community where I trust everyone. I think the people who are helping me have my best interests at heart and that this exercise that we're doing is an exercise and it's a game. She's not really my master and I'm not really her slave. We don't even live in the same city. Like it's a title. It's like guru-disciple. Everything was like, "It's just this. There's no big deal."
[00:19:34] Jordan Harbinger: You are listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames. We'll be right back.
[00:19:40] This episode is sponsored in part by SimpliSafe. Winter is the time where property crimes like burglaries and package thefts spike. And if you're traveling for the holidays, make sure to keep your home secure with SimpliSafe. We've been long-standing customers of SimpliSafe. The system's really easy to set up. There's no drilling. You don't have to wire stuff around. It's plug it in, connect it to your Wi-Fi. If the Internet goes kaput, it connects to cellular backup. It's got a battery backup. It just sort of sticks on. It just really just takes a few minutes to set up. I get frustrated with tech. This was not one of those things. They've been awarded Best Home Security System of 2022 by US News and World Report for a third year in a row. They've got a lot of high-tech sensors and HD security cameras. They can detect floods, fires, and other threats. Plus 24/7 professional monitoring. We haven't had any serious threats, just Jen setting off the alarm by mistake at night, which has happened before. We know it works because they call right away. Thanks to Fast Protect technology. Customize the perfect system for your home in just a few minutes at simplisafe.com/jordan. Go today and claim a free indoor security camera plus 20 percent off your order with interactive monitoring at simplisafe.com/jordan. There's no safe, like SimpliSafe.
[00:20:49] This episode is also sponsored by Better Help online therapy. Holidays can be a very stressful time, unresolved issues, conflicts, feelings from the past. All that stuff can bubble up. You might have some people staying with you — you don't like — and don't read into this, mom. I love having you here. We can reclaim the peace and joy of the season by talking to a licensed professional therapist. Having someone to talk to about how you're feeling and what you can do about it, it really is a gift that you can give yourself or someone you know that might be going through some holiday blues. Even if you're not experiencing something specific, any serious problems, some mental health counseling can always be a useful tool to improve your communication skills, reduce the stress, give you a place to vent, set healthy boundaries, deal with some trauma, whatever you got going on. Better Help online therapy is a great option. You can access mental healthcare from the comfort of your own home. No driving, no parking, no office visits. Plus, if you got a hectic schedule like we do, there's so many options with Better Help you. You just can't beat it.
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[00:22:14] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Shopify. That's the sound of another sale on Shopify. The all-in-one commerce platform to start, run, and grow your business. Now, I used to sell some stuff online. This is a long time ago now, well, before Shopify. You had eight billion plug-ins. One of them would break. You'd be losing sales and you'd find out that something broke because you'd realize you made no money in the last five days or whatever, and it was a huge inconvenience. Not to mention quite costly. Shopify makes it simple to sell to anyone from anywhere. Giving mere mortals like you or me, the resources once reserved for big business, you know, like stuff that doesn't break every five seconds. But also great-looking online stores and tools to manage the day-to-day and drive sales. You don't need to know how to code or design to get started on Shopify. There's 24/7 support if you need help. And Shopify has all sales channels sorted from in-person point-of-sales systems to all-in-one e-commerce platforms, even across social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. You've probably used it. You didn't even know you were using Shopify. You've bought stuff from them or using them. I love how Shopify makes it easy for anyone to successfully run their own business. And you can sell physical goods, but also digital services, virtual in-person stuff on Shopify, salons, voice acting tours, photo sessions. Or you can sell intangible things on Shopify, like coaching, consultations, fonts, installations, whatever you want. Shopify powers millions of entrepreneurs, just like me, from first sale to full scale.
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[00:24:32] Now back to Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames.
[00:24:37] When do you realize that you are in a cult? Because Mark Vicente, your friend and colleague in the organization, he says, "We didn't join a cult. Nobody joins a cult. We joined a movement to do good," and he comes across as a pretty smart dude. I think his point was that smart, reasonable people can get caught up in organizations like this. And the organization either becomes a cult over time or it reveals itself to be a cult over time. Because a lot of people are going to go, "I would never get caught up into this." And it's like, well you don't go, "Hi, I need to join your cult. I'm here to join your cult." You join because you think it's going to help your acting career or your business, or something along those lines. It's the frog in the boiling water concept. You just don't realize it's boiling because it happens so slowly and you start to — you're rationalizing it yourself over a period of months or even years.
[00:25:27] Sarah Edmondson: Thank you for summarizing our main message from the past five years. That's really it. I mean that's—
[00:25:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:25:33] Sarah Edmondson: —something that we've been really passionate about, but it's changed. Like when we got out five years ago, it was more skepticism and a lot more of like, "That can never happen to me." And now, thank you to The Vow and many documentaries about cults that I know that you're a fan of, not just The Vow, I think people are more on that side a little bit. Like, "Well, I might not have joined NXIVM, but I definitely would've joined CrossFit or like that church or that yoga studio or whatever." You know, there's different—
[00:25:58] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:58] Sarah Edmondson: —draws depending on what people's values are. But for us, in terms of how we woke up, there were so many things. I mean, there's so many red flags along the way from day one, but as you probably know from watching The Vow, we were trained to override our intuition. We have the feeling of something's not right. There must be something that limitation within me. "I don't like the sashes. I don't like the sashes. Oh, it's because I have authority issues. Oh, you're right. I do have authority issues. Okay, I'll stick it out. I'm not going to say anything."
[00:26:23] Nippy Ames: One thing too, Sarah—
[00:26:25] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:26:25] Nippy Ames: Caveat to that, like with the sashes and those things too, yes, they seem weird, but when you're in a curriculum and they're saying human beings generally establish rules and rituals. Ours were emulating the Dojo system as a ranking system. I'm like, "Okay, I can get on board with that for today."
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, white belt, green belt.
[00:26:42] Nippy Ames: For today.
[00:26:43] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:26:43] Nippy Ames: Right. And there was other things that they kept going. They minimized the weirdness pretty well and they got good at minimizing the weirdness to the point, we're like, "Okay, I'll stay for a couple of days. I'll do my five-day," you know? Because I can remember for me, I was, "I'm going to do my five-day and I'm peacing out," right? And then—
[00:26:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:59] Nippy Ames: —over time, I took a class here and there and it was a slow kind of burn.
[00:27:03] Sarah Edmondson: The example they also gave was like when you go to someone's house and they take off their shoes at the house, like you take your shoes off—
[00:27:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:08] Sarah Edmondson: —even if you like, it's going to ruin your outfit. Maybe that's more of a woman thing. But like, "Okay, I'll take my shoes off because it's your house and that's your rules." So that's sort of how it's presented. It's like, "It's what we do here. While you're here, you know, wear the sash, take your shoes off, and we bow and say, thank you, Vanguard, after every class, because he created the curriculum. Okay."
[00:27:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And you're like, okay, it's a little weird, but—
[00:27:27] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:27:27] Jordan Harbinger: —who cares? I can deal with this for five days, whatever.
[00:27:30] Sarah Edmondson: We even had a class about what a cult is because we were taught that people are going to say, you're in a cult and how do you respond to that? And we had a whole diatribe about that. And I didn't mind that objection because I knew how to handle it. And specifically, it was, people use the word cult — and I think this is true — and they just want to say something's bad, but they don't say specifically what's bad about it. Are you murdering children? Are you drinking Kool-Aid? Are you stealing people's money? Are you creating dependency? Are you isolating them from your families? No. So we couldn't see the bad thing. So we saw the bad thing eventually, which is all of those things — being isolated, create dependency. There's a lie, there's a con. There's sex happening. Like sex in itself is fine, but the fact is that he's saying he's celibate and now we find out that he's got a harem.
[00:28:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right, the co-leader, yeah.
[00:28:16] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:28:16] Jordan Harbinger: I'm celibate, except with the five underage women that I have locked in rooms, in houses around the neighborhood.
[00:28:22] Sarah Edmondson: Do you know what a betrayal it was to find that out after I've spent 12 years being like, "This is Keith Raniere. He's most noble, humanitarian, ethical man in the world who created the most incredible curriculum that changed my life," who also has a harem of women and he may or may not be poisoning them. That's a whole like—
[00:28:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:28:38] Sarah Edmondson: —separate.
[00:28:39] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god, I didn't even see that thing.
[00:28:41] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:28:41] Jordan Harbinger: But in the book, you mentioned a friend of yours tried to tell you that NXIVM was a cult early on.
[00:28:45] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:28:46] Jordan Harbinger: I assume when that came in you were like, "Oh, I took a class about this."
[00:28:49] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:28:49] Jordan Harbinger: I'm going to tell you why you're wrong or ignore it or whatever.
[00:28:52] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. I was like, "I get it." I'm like, "You know, if I didn't know what we were teaching and looking at from the outside, I think it was a cult too. And maybe it is a cult, but it's a cult of happy, successful people and I don't see anything bad."
[00:29:02] Jordan Harbinger: That's a cult I can get behind.
[00:29:03] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:29:04] Jordan Harbinger: Right, yeah.
[00:29:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, I mean, look, it's so interesting. In season two of The Vow, Nancy really grapples with the paradox of NXIVM, looking back, that a lot of what the organization taught, the core curriculum outside of the horrible, dark stuff, Keith was doing, that that material was still possibly good and valuable and maybe designed to help people, and I'm sure she was somewhat biased because she created the program, but as she comes to terms with how bad Keith really was, she starts to ask herself like, "Was the curriculum actually good? Or Did Keith just create the good or have me create the good in order to justify or enable the bad?" I found that so interesting. Whether the teachings of NXIVM are still useful in some way, or if they were, you know, corrupted and manipulated to serve Keith's agenda. What's your take on that?
[00:29:51] Nippy Ames: I would say because the curriculum never opened itself up to standard practices where we have in our society agreed upon, these are standards you should meet and all that stuff, we're never going to know. We do know that it was stolen from a lot of different places. Sarah and I have subsequently gone out and find books. I think again, Morty Lefkoe, is that the Lefkoe method?
[00:30:11] Sarah Edmondson: Morty Lefkoe is a method that we think he stole the EM tech from.
[00:30:15] Nippy Ames: I read a book called Power versus Force by David Hawkins and down to the examples in the book where some of the examples in the modules almost, he was too lazy to change the language. I read it and I was like, "F*ck me," I was like, "What the sh*t?" I was like, this is exactly like I could have read this.
[00:30:32] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:30:32] Nippy Ames: And so—
[00:30:33] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:30:33] Nippy Ames: —there's a lot of that and I don't know how much more there is. I just think that she was, he was effective at cobbling together basic self-help stuff, putting it into packages that were pretty digestible so people could have some shifts and then had to keep them get going and Nancy was more than willing to do it, knowing what she knew.
[00:30:51] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. Just to add to that, and I agree with Nippy. We don't really know, but the jury's out. Like there's people in NXIVM who are like, "F*ck all this. Throw the baby out. I got to start again."
[00:30:59] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:30:59] Sarah Edmondson: I spent 12 years there. Nippy in and out for 16. I didn't want to do that and I did get a lot of value. I just had to find out where it came from originally. So, I don't have to say, Thank you, Vanguard," after being more productive with my time or communicating better or lots of things that I learned were not from him. And I do think if you pull all these things and also Scientology, which is actually from like other things, like the good parts, there's good parts and all of these things. Otherwise, why would people stay?
[00:31:25] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:31:25] Sarah Edmondson: It doesn't justify staying, it just, you have to understand why people would even join. There has to be good tools. And most of the cool, good tools like you can find in books and other leaders that are not culty.
[00:31:35] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. They're sort of universal and ancient. I mean, some of the stuff—
[00:31:38] Sarah Edmondson: Yes, ancient.
[00:31:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: —so many other texts. I mean, do you guys ever find yourself still using—
[00:31:42] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:31:42] Gabriel Mizrahi: NXIVM techniques and do you ever like, turn to each other when you get into a fight, you're like, "Babe, let's EM that." Like, talk about that.
[00:31:48] Sarah Edmondson: We actually joke about it a lot. Like we use the language in a jokey—
[00:31:53] Nippy Ames: She'll get mad at me and I'll be like, "That's your life issue."
[00:31:55] Jordan Harbinger: Maybe we need to go visit Keith in prison and hash this one out.
[00:31:59] Sarah Edmondson: Oh god.
[00:31:59] Jordan Harbinger: Towards the end of the book, you describe a very emotional scene having lunch with your parents after you made it out and your mom says she feels like she got her daughter back. And you ask her why she never tried to pull you out of NXIVM and she says, "Because it was your life. I didn't want to lose you. My connection with you was always the most important thing." Do you think this is why many family members don't try harder to get their loved ones out of cults because they know that — I mean, we've done shows on cults before. One of the primary defensive measures cults take is isolating cult members from people who either aren't in the cult or say negative things about the cult. And I think a lot of parents realize this. And if they don't realize that, they realize it pretty quickly when they say, "Hey, we think you're in a cult," and you start chanting or singing something on the phone. Like the moonies were instructed to do, where they were instructed to do these chants and say like, "You're not my real father, or whatever it is." I mean, I think if my kid was in a cult, I'd be more, even more scared of pushing them away completely than I would be of them being in the cult itself, potentially.
[00:32:58] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah. I think she did the right thing. And we've subsequently instructed other family members. In fact, Nippy and I are in touch with family and friends of almost everybody who's still loyal except for one person. And that's the advice—
[00:33:11] Nippy Ames: That's a process.
[00:33:11] Sarah Edmondson: —we give them. It's like, "Stay close. Give them a safe landing pad. Don't judge them. Don't criticize." I mean, if anything, ask loving questions. And I think my mom knew that she's, you know, in the mental health profession. She didn't know the extent of what was happening, but she knew that, you know, he was a megalomaniac and that it was a problem for sure.
[00:33:29] Jordan Harbinger: I'd like to talk about some of the classic cult tactics that Keith used to keep people on the hook, sniffing out their vulnerabilities, leveraging them. One example is punishing people's natural responses and intuition. You sort of alluded to this earlier, the skepticism, retaining personal control, wanting to protect your body, framing things like resistance to a concept as defiance in order to make people compliant. I mean, it's sort of gaslighting—
[00:33:54] Sarah Edmondson: Yes.
[00:33:54] Jordan Harbinger: —with maybe a fancier label on it. What else happened here? Because I think folks might be wondering, what does this guy say to you to keep you here or to wrap you up? It doesn't make any sense.
[00:34:07] Sarah Edmondson: I think one of the first things is the creating the belief that we found the best thing, which creates an "us versus them." So there was a sort of internal righteousness as individuals, but as a collective. So the community that we came to love felt like they'd say things like, "This is eventually like chosen family." So if anyone was criticizing, that created the isolation, they never said, there was never active, like you can't talk to somebody. But it was more like, "Well, what does it mean if you're communicating with somebody who doesn't support what you do?"
[00:34:34] Jordan Harbinger: You almost come to the answer yourself, which is, "Oh, it means, I've got one—"
[00:34:38] Sarah Edmondson: Right.
[00:34:39] Jordan Harbinger: "—I'm not committed, I've got one foot out or whatever."
[00:34:41] Sarah Edmondson: It was always tacet instructions.
[00:34:43] Nippy Ames: They hold you hostage with your principles in a lot of ways, and they make a question like that will go, "Whoa, well, my highest value is X, Y, Z. Obviously, I should do this." But I think it's also case by case. Like, I remember initially with my family, I once or twice chose the NXIVM event overseeing family and I got a little pushback from that and I evaluated and was like, "You know what? This isn't more important to my family." So from that point on, I never let a NXIVM event take precedence over a family event. And that was my boundary.
[00:35:14] Sarah Edmondson: Which is probably why he stayed orange sash.
[00:35:16] Nippy Ames: Yeah. For whatever reason, I like my family more than the people in the cult.
[00:35:20] Sarah Edmondson: Whereas I was more obedient.
[00:35:22] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:35:22] Nippy Ames: Well, I wouldn't even say I wasn't being obedient.
[00:35:24] Sarah Edmondson: They would've said that.
[00:35:25] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:35:25] Sarah Edmondson: They would've said Nippy is being defiant. Yeah.
[00:35:27] Nippy Ames: They would try to get me to stay and do things and be like, "Well, what's your highest value?" And I'd be like, "My family."
[00:35:31] Jordan Harbinger: Sure. Yeah. And they're like, "Ooh, wrong answer."
[00:35:33] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:35:33] Jordan Harbinger: Or they'd reframe NXIVM as your family, right?
[00:35:36] Nippy Ames: That was solid in me, I guess.
[00:35:37] Sarah Edmondson: And I think that protected you from future abuse.
[00:35:40] Nippy Ames: Yeah, I think so. Yeah.
[00:35:41] Jordan Harbinger: It protected you. Also, yeah, you never made brown belt or whatever, brown sash.
[00:35:45] Nippy Ames: That was fine with me.
[00:35:47] Jordan Harbinger: I've been in these groups, not deep enough at all. I've taken like the intro seminar to some of these things and I'll — it's funny because these people add you on Facebook and a year later or something on their birthday, back when I used to do this, I would check in and say, "Hey, how are you doing? Happy birthday, dah, dah, dah," and they would — some of them were still in the group and it was mind blowing. Because I thought, this is such a weird oppressive group with a lot of, what's the word I'm looking for? A lot of really inappropriate use of influence. And since I'd been studying this stuff, teaching this stuff, doing this podcast for so many years, I remember being like, this is a really creepy way to do the upsell to the advanced program.
[00:36:22] And one of the program, I don't mind naming it, it was called MITT. My opinion is that it was really creepy and it was also a shoot, offshoot of something called lifespring, which got sued into oblivion back in the day.
[00:36:32] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:36:32] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:36:32] Jordan Harbinger: And I just remember they would say like, "Anybody who wants the advance go in this other room." And then, there'd be this group of 40 of us left and then he'd go, "Come up to the front of the stage," and he'd be like, "Why is it that you're so resistant to continuing your education with us?" And somebody would say, "I can't make the dates because it's my best wedding shower or something next weekend." And then the guy would just drill into that. "How often do you make excuses to not do things for you, to do things for other people?" And she's like, "Well, this friend, actually, I'm kind of on her sh*t list because I missed other things in her life that were really important for work."
[00:37:06] Sarah Edmondson: Right.
[00:37:06] Jordan Harbinger: And they would go, "Oh, so your friend doesn't support your work or your personal development, and I'm sitting there going, "No, she's been a sh*tty friend. She needs to go to this important life event for her other friend. Have her go to the one that you're having in a month?" And they're reframing it as, "This is a bad friend. She's holding you—" What I'm thinking, "This person's holding you accountable," and they're like, "No, this person is—"
[00:37:26] Sarah Edmondson: Right.
[00:37:26] Jordan Harbinger: "—holding you back in life because they don't want to let you go to our $500-weekend-long thingamajig instead of her freaking wedding shower."
[00:37:33] Sarah Edmondson: Jordan, you just described the exact conversation I had two years in, and I didn't go to my best friend's wedding because of Vanguard week. I was going to leave early, and then they were like, "Why would you leave early for someone who doesn't support your values?
[00:37:43] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:37:43] Sarah Edmondson: "Is she taking trainings with you? Why would you go there?" you know, same thing.
[00:37:46] Jordan Harbinger: To me, it's crazy. But when you're in the room — and they had this poor woman, of course, she's standing up because he is making her stand. Everyone's staring at her. So she's got all this social pressure and if you don't agree, you look really bad. There was a doctor in the room who said, "I can't make it because I have surgery scheduled." And it's like, "Well, you need to take time and do the development for yourself. You're never going to advance in your career as a doctor." And he is like, "I'm the chief surgical, whatever, at this hospital and I'm the only person who can perform this tonsil—" not even a tonsillectomy. It was like a very serious whatever. It's like taking someone's pancreas out or something, you know, it's like a real thing. And they just kept making this guy look like crap. And they finally were like, "You're uncoachable." And he is like, "Fine, I'm uncoachable, but I have to do this. I'm saving someone's life here." And he walked out and I remember thinking like, "That guy has the right idea. This is a smart person who wasn't about to take your sh*t." And they knew that from stage and they kicked him out of the room because they realized, "Oh, this guy is not going to be pliable." And also I think there was probably, when you're on stage, maybe you can hear the murmurs of people going, "Ah, it's a surgery, man, it's important. This guy's a doctor." You know, he had some authority by virtue of his position. They did not want him in the room for that reason. They want people who—
[00:39:02] Sarah Edmondson: Right.
[00:39:03] Jordan Harbinger: —are just going to be like drones and listen to anything that's coming from the stage. You really do need a background in influence and persuasion and cults. Otherwise, you just kind of sit there and smart person or not, you just get sucked in. It's really easy to see.
[00:39:17] Sarah Edmondson: A hundred percent. I wish I'd said more things like that doctor. Knowing what I know, I would obviously. I actually think I wouldn't even go to the five-day because—
[00:39:24] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:39:24] Sarah Edmondson: —they pressured me with the signing the application to get the discount and I think I would've said, "Actually, I feel pressured and I feel like you're using scarcity mentality to get me to commit. And if this is really great, it'll be here when I'm ready. So thanks." But I didn't know that stuff then.
[00:39:38] Gabriel Mizrahi: But it's so interesting because in the book, Sarah, you talk about struggling to engage with one of your early trainings where you guys had to write a personal mission statement or something like that and you broke into a sweat and you say that you struggled to face your personal flaws and you were kind of jarred, I think, by some of the stuff you were confronting about yourself. But as it turns out, the NXIVM coaches, you said, were looking for your reaction in their eyes, your sensitivity or your resistance to the curriculum actually strengthened your potential as a candidate for being a lifer in ESP according to them. This is a fascinating paradox. This idea that like your healthy resistance to a curriculum that was ultimately was questionable, was actually an asset. What did they mean by that? Did they mean that you were an easier mark because you were a thinking person, or were they trying to lower your guard by saying that your skepticism meant that somehow you would go further in the organization?
[00:40:28] Sarah Edmondson: You know, I don't really know that there's answers that are still out there that I'm still figuring out. I can guess what I know now is that anything that they saw that they could flip for their own benefit, they would.
[00:40:41] Gabriel Mizrahi: Mm-hmm.
[00:40:41] Sarah Edmondson: I was a mark for a lot of reasons, being a natural recruiter, like I have a big network. I'm really passionate about things that I believe in, even like what we're doing now, on the other side of it all. I'm still the same person, but I think the fact that I was in a meltdown and I wasn't happy. Like if somebody had said, let's go, "I'll take you to the airport," right then I would've gone. But I had invested and I wanted to get, you know, my money's worth. And I think they just saw dollar signs with me in terms of what I could bring to the company, which I did. Anything I presented, they'd just tell me why I was great. Like they made me very special early on, lots of love bombing.
[00:41:16] Gabriel Mizrahi: So they saw the skepticism that like that surgeon at that event might have had, and they maybe were threatened by it or concerned about, but anything that—
[00:41:24] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah.
[00:41:24] Gabriel Mizrahi: —they could use to, to keep you guys in, they would use. So that just became an asset.
[00:41:28] Sarah Edmondson: I think. I think, I mean—
[00:41:29] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's so interesting.
[00:41:30] Sarah Edmondson: —I definitely saw them doing what they did with that surgeon. If people were super resistant to the sashes and they refused to wear them, for example, they'd ask them to leave. Like they just weeded out the people who were not compliant right from day one.
[00:41:41] Nippy Ames: Also, there's an assumptive manipulation that goes on there that Sarah's going to continue. So they say, "Oh, your X, Y, Z will allow you to be a great recruiter and you can build a center here." So they're creating the hope. It'd be like me saying, "Your smooth voice will make you a great head trainer." So I'm getting you to picture yourself as a head trainer and I'm planning the idea and like it's all this cultivating kind of mentality they have.
[00:42:04] Sarah Edmondson: Dangling like the carrot of whatever's important for that person.
[00:42:07] Nippy Ames: And based on what I listed about your values, you know, let's say, I know you're ambitious to make money, but like you can make a lot of money as a head trainer. You know, just little impassing things like that.
[00:42:19] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames. We'll be right back. This episode is sponsored in part by Athletic Greens. Jen and I take Athletic Greens pretty much every single day. Throw a scoop of Athletic Greens in a bottle of water, shake it up, drink it up in the morning. Each scoop has 75 vitamins, minerals, whole-food sourced, superfoods, probiotics, adaptogens, all kinds of stuff that I had to Google. They're all high quality. Your body's going to absorb them. My friend started this company. He's a real stickler for high-quality supplementation, not kind of, you know, a shyster, for lack of a better word. Athletic Greens is our all-in-one nutritional insurance. It's way cheaper, way easier than getting all the different supplements yourself. No GMOs, no nasty chemicals, no artificial stuff in there. It's definitely a good tasting, but not so good that you're suspicious it's not working. Again, once scoop with water, throw it in your gym bag and done.
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[00:46:04] Now for the end of part one with Sarah Edmondson and Nippy Ames.
[00:46:09] How do you think teachers and leaders or these cult leaders figure out which of these techniques to use on which people? How do they know, okay, I need to dangle the carrot of, "You know, Gabriel, a lot of powerful Hollywood people, they're in these classes"? I mean, that's what Scientology does in some ways, right? They're like, "You know, Tom Cruise is always hanging out at the celebrity center. Why don't you go to this class there and you're going to meet a ton of powerful people." And meanwhile, you're like a 26-year-old screenwriter who works at a gym, folding towels, and you're like, "This is my big break. Okay, the Scientology stuff might be a little weird, but what if I go there and I run into Tom Cruise and all these other important people that can make it happen for me, which they're saying happens? Like they're keeping it in the family. I need to be in the family. Let me just fake it until I make it, and then I'll be a rich Hollywood person and I won't care that I spent 30 grand on auditing alien ghosts or whatever out of my body." How do they figure out which techniques to use on who? Are you writing down things that they use?
[00:47:05] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah, we wrote down our goals.
[00:47:06] Nippy Ames: But I'll say this, I don't know that everyone was like if you came into a training, Jordan, I wouldn't be like, how are we going to dangle Jordan?
[00:47:14] Sarah Edmondson: You weren't the manipulator though. You were a good person. Yeah.
[00:47:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:47:17] Nippy Ames: That's what I'm saying. That's what I'm saying. So I don't know how rampant that was except I think it was Keith doing it and Keith getting the flying monkeys to go out and get the information he was trying to elicit. So he was basically outsourcing his manipulation a little bit. Like for instance, I did it for like two years and then I peace out because I didn't really see anyone in the organization I looked up to. I was like, there's no one in this organization that is thriving in their world, this is 2002, whatever. It was brand new and they were trying to coach me. I had structure, I was going to classes, I was doing my thing. And you know, acting is something you need to create your own structure to start having measurements. And I got what I got needed from the organization. And cut two, you know, I get cast in something in la I meet Mark Vicente who had taken a training at that point. And then in 2006, they invite me back to come work on a film that I was going to be in with some other people. I was going into pre-production and they moved me from Los Angeles, paid for everything, which was kind of rare in the organization. They didn't do stuff like this.
[00:48:19] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:48:20] Nippy Ames: Moved my car, moved my life. They're paying for my food and everything while I was there for that fall. Film never happens, but I'm back in the community.
[00:48:26] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, tricky. Tricky.
[00:48:27] Nippy Ames: I, still to this day, don't know why they targeted me because I was for all intense — I was, quote, "out," I would take a training like once a year maybe, because I liked just kind of looking underneath the hood, figuring out how I could be better. But I didn't want to be a part of the organization.
[00:48:41] Sarah Edmondson: I think I know why.
[00:48:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I was going to say, were you guys together at the time? Because maybe they're like, "This is the big piece."
[00:48:46] Sarah Edmondson: No, when he came back to do the film is when we met.
[00:48:48] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, okay. Interesting.
[00:48:48] Sarah Edmondson: But we were both dating other people and then we didn't hook up for a couple of years. I think they brought him back because he's a good represent — like there's so many women in the company, and I think having, you know, a handsome dude, like an alpha male who can like, stand up in front of a room and be like, "Yeah, this helped me in my life." That's good. You need people on the outside to be the face of it.
[00:49:07] Jordan Harbinger: Hmm.
[00:49:07] Nippy Ames: Maybe. But there was no guarantee I was going to come back and do that.
[00:49:10] Sarah Edmondson: I think that's why they paid for you. That's why they paid for you.
[00:49:12] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:49:13] Jordan Harbinger: They had a plan. Yeah. Nippy, alpha male—
[00:49:16] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:49:16] Jordan Harbinger: —square jaw, perfect example of NXIVM—
[00:49:20] Nippy Ames: Devastating
[00:49:20] Jordan Harbinger: —technology, devastating good looks. Look at this guy bringing the fire.
[00:49:23] Nippy Ames: Jesus.
[00:49:25] Jordan Harbinger: Speaking of which though, how do you, how does a cult member negotiate the tension between your impulses, your instincts, and what you're being taught? Because it sounds like Nippy was like, "You know what? This is kind of — I don't need this crap." And then it's like, "Well, actually I do. Well, actually, I'm being pressured to feel like I do, or whatever it is."
[00:49:42] Nippy Ames: So, to answer that question, you know, a lot of people say that I'd say that, I want to say that. How I was indoctrinated and bought in is different. So my story is distinctly different from the one that you see there. It isn't any less like I knew better and I'm trying to protect myself image because I didn't fall for it. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. I just fell for it hook, line, and sinker in a very different way. And the one that I found, I relayed to the most was in Janja Lalich's book, Take Back Your Life, where it talks about moral injury. And I was very bought into the notion that we were making an impact in getting people to think critically about things in ways that I felt like world leaders needed to. So I was very kind of altruistic, self-righteous at times, perhaps about what I thought we were doing. We were never doing that.
[00:50:29] The moral injury example in the book, I think, she cites how a soldier goes over to another country thinking they're fighting for peace and freedom and finding out that it's a totally different story and they feel that their principles were used against them to accelerate a clandestine agenda. And that's very much how I felt when I found out what was going on. And that, moral injury was a thing that I felt like I had to tend to the most when I reconciled what had happened.
[00:50:52] So it's different in the traditional sense and I really want to pay attention to, like me trying to minimize that I wasn't conned, it was just I want to emphasize it was different. Because I think that's where the knowledge is, and I think that's where people can get the wisdom out of something like this.
[00:51:06] Jordan Harbinger: One of the core concepts of NXIVM is the idea of an inner deficiency, which is basically some specific void within each member. So for Sarah, it looked like the idea was there's something fundamentally wrong with me. And in your view, at least according to some of the things you've said before, the belief made you uptight and made you judgemental. There's also this desire to be light by people, which you'd said drove pretty much everything in your. What does the organization do with these inner deficiencies? And the second part of this is, are these inner deficiencies real or are they manufactured/magnified by the organization to get their hooks in and keep them there?
[00:51:44] Sarah Edmondson: Great question. I think this is actually where ESP or NXIVM is very much aligned with [schmund-mark] and things like that is that they have to like create a problem within you that you believe is a real problem and then you want to fix it.
[00:51:57] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:51:57] Sarah Edmondson: And then, they present the path to fixing it and you're, and you buy in, we bought in that this is the path and the only way. So they can't pull that completely out of thin air, in terms of completely made up problem. I did want people to like me. I don't know now, I don't really see that as like a major problem. It's like it's a very normal thing that people want to be liked and belong and feel appreciated and validated, maybe there's like healthier levels versus not healthy levels, but ultimately I think that's what he did with everyone across the board. We spent way too much time microscoping on feeling like sh*t about ourselves. And then, we were like, "I feel like I'm an awful person. Like I do this and like I got to do a collateral so I don't do this."
[00:52:35] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:36] Sarah Edmondson: You know, we were doing all these exercises and penances and persistencies. Persistencies were like daily commitments to like, you know, doing sit-ups or like working on your taxes or learning Spanish. We were just trying to be better and better and better and better. It's fine if you want to be better, but it's built on this belief that like you're not okay or you're broken or there's something wrong with you. Something wrong with you is not completely manufactured because I think many of us in life, whether you're in a cult or not, don't feel worthy or don't feel loved. And that's a very common challenge that people have to overcome in their lives is to learn how to love themselves and not be looking externally. You know, do you like me? Do you like me? Do you love me? Do you appreciate me? Like that can be problem. I think one of the reasons NXIVM hooked so many people at a young age is that most 20-year-olds don't love themselves. They don't have a strong relationship with themselves. They don't have a solid sense of self-worth. I think that's a normal thing. But then they turned it into, "Oh, well, that's just your inner deficiencies. So to answer your question, it's both. It's a real thing and then it's manufactured and highlighted in order to create a dependency and a hook for the whole path. Does that make sense?
[00:53:39] Jordan Harbinger: It does. And what's sort of insidious here is that everybody is going to have aspects of their personality that would attract them to a group like NXIVM. My sense is, okay, a lot of you guys are seekers, you're ambitious, you're curious, you're hungry for community, eager to grow, find more fulfillment — there's not a person listening right now who's like, "I don't have any of those qualities," right? Everybody listening, certainly listening to a podcast like this has those but all humans that have more than two brain cells to rub together have some combination of the qualities that I just mentioned. And all of those needs are legitimate. These are not personal flaws, these are qualities of really good people.
[00:54:15] And so in organization like NXIVM, praise on those legitimate needs. And I'm wondering if you think there are other qualities or other needs that made you and the other victims of this cult vulnerable. For example, in season two, you really do see Nancy Salzman's personal — I say innocence, I don't mean like in the eyes of the law because she is in prison but or was. She was sheltered really, it seems like. Not just by Keith, but just maybe even as a kid, this is all happening under her nose and here she is all huggy and everything and it's like does being sheltered make people vulnerable as well? because they just don't know how manipulative people or evil people can be. You know, what's going on here?
[00:54:53] Sarah Edmondson: Listen, I can't speak totally for her, but theory that I get, I put together from The Vow season two is that she talks about her mom, her mother called her a dummy.
[00:55:01] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:01] Sarah Edmondson: So in that framework of deficiency, she doesn't feel smart. And Keith gave her a role that gave her a lot of cloak as a leader and as a teacher. She was the prefect. She was the head of a school and people look up to her and literally threw flowers at her and just showered her. I believe that there's a certain power that she got from that role.
[00:55:23] Nippy Ames: Oh, for sure. She was revered for being smart.
[00:55:25] Sarah Edmondson: She was revered. Yeah. In fact, I probably revered her more than I revered Keith. Like I had that relationship with her and I think that she enjoyed that. And in those terms, that would've covered up the inner deficiency.
[00:55:35] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:35] Sarah Edmondson: Right. Just like she would've, when — I know that she said this about Nippy and I, when we left, they said that when I got married to Nippy and had a baby, that covered up my inner deficiency.
[00:55:43] Jordan Harbinger: That's a crappy thing to say.
[00:55:45] Nippy Ames: It is a crappy thing to say.
[00:55:46] Sarah Edmondson: Yeah, it's a terrible thing to say.
[00:55:47] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:55:47] Sarah Edmondson: It's a terrible thing to say. And in fact, I had so many EMS on my attachment to having children, like they would drill you on, like, "Why do you even want that?"
[00:55:55] Nippy Ames: Throw into it as well, Jordan, that Nancy, in about three years of the organization starting is having conversations with Edgar Bronfman, Stephen Cooper, who is the new CEO of Enron, the health security of Mexico. She's sitting down in a very short amount of time with some very powerful people as someone who's esteemed for their intelligence, ended up meeting with the Dalai Lama. So all these things that are happening to Nancy that wouldn't have happened in her wildest dream, I think, were intoxicating for her.
[00:56:23] Jordan Harbinger: To be fair, and I know I'm talking about somebody who led a cult, so I don't mean to hurt anyone's feelings here. She comes across as really brilliant, right? The curriculum looks cool. She's very well spoken. I can see how she really was somebody who meant to do well—
[00:56:38] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:56:38] Jordan Harbinger: —in the beginning at least, and gets sucked in here, not that she's blameless or completely a victim of all this and didn't victimize anyone else. That's not for me to say.
[00:56:46] Sarah Edmondson: We agree with you. I agree with you.
[00:56:47] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:56:47] Jordan Harbinger: She doesn't come across as some dumb ass who can't ever accomplish anything in life. It's kind of the opposite, and it's really sad that this is how she ended up spending, that she's going to lose a bunch of years of her life in prison. And her parents, possibly, at least one of them, has passed away while she was in. I mean, it's just—
[00:57:01] Sarah Edmondson: It's heartbreaking.
[00:57:01] Jordan Harbinger: —it's really tragic. It's heartbreaking. Yeah. And you can tell in The Vow, she feels really bad about a lot of this. I mean, just terrible. Not just getting caught, but she just like, she's looking back and going, "Was I just a tool that he used to create something that he could use to bang underage girls?" I mean, she didn't phrase it that way, but she really is struggling.
[00:57:22] Nippy Ames: She might as well, yeah.
[00:57:23] Jordan Harbinger: She might as well have done that.
[00:57:24] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[00:57:24] Jordan Harbinger: She actually said something really interesting about Keith. Let me find it in my notes. Gabriel, you know what I'm talking about with the water bottle?
[00:57:30] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:57:30] Jordan Harbinger: She holds up a bottle of water. She's being interviewed. She says, "This bottle of water is very valuable to me right now because I'm thirsty and there's water in it. But once I'm done, I just turn around and put it down. I walk away and I forget about it. And that's how Keith Raniere treated everyone in the organization and how he treated people." And I wrote that down and rewound it and paused it because I thought, this is so interesting because that really is how a sociopathic—
[00:57:54] Nippy Ames: Yep.
[00:57:54] Jordan Harbinger: —victimizer looks at other people, right? These people are here for me to use as tools and in the moment they're the only thing in my world and I can focus on them and make them feel really special and do whatever I need to manipulate them. But when I'm done, I mean, who gives a sh*t if they go, if they get run over by a truck, as soon as I turn my back, I'm not going to, I'm not going to scrape them off the road because I'm done. I'm finished with them.
[00:58:13] Nippy Ames: Listen, in order to be able to do that, you cannot have a conscience, I think.
[00:58:17] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Of course. Yeah.
[00:58:19] Sarah Edmondson: I was just going to say, it's ironically, it's the opposite of being a humanitarian.
[00:58:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It is the opposite of being humanitarian. You're just a person who's using people for their own ends, full stop. It's something that really gnaws at my subconscious as well. The manipulation here is always so unfortunately familiar, right? There's the idea of being "at cause." This was also a thing in the intro self-help creepy group that I went to, the intro seminar, the "at cause," right? "Everything in your life, you're responsible for creating it." And if you ask, which I did, "What about children who are starving in Africa?" It's like, "You are just doing this to be difficult." And it's like, then, I got kind of almost shunned and disciplined for asking what about kids who get leukemia? Because they're like, "You're just picking an example that's going to discredit the leader here in the message and you're trying to find something wrong with it." And it's like, "Okay, so I found something legitimately that pokes a hole in what you're saying. And now, I'm deliberately trying to disrupt the class—"
[00:59:18] Sarah Edmondson: Right.
[00:59:18] Jordan Harbinger: "—with this example." It's like, "Wait a minute though."
[00:59:20] Sarah Edmondson: Jordan, if you had been in a NXIVM class, it would've sounded more like, "That's an interesting example, Jordan. Why do you feel the need to find a counterexample versus looking how this applies in your life?"
[00:59:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's basically what it was, except they were angry with me.
[00:59:31] Nippy Ames: It's a nice way of doing it.
[00:59:32] Sarah Edmondson: We were more gentle with the gaslighting. We were like more subtle.
[00:59:36] Jordan Harbinger: You know, that also makes sense because this is a huge group that was probably 200 people in the room, so I think they wanted to get rid of, they were filtered. The first intro thing was probably, get rid of anybody who's going to put up any sort of resistance and be difficult. Whereas with NXIVM, later on, especially in the smaller classes, it's like, "No, no, no, if you're going to pay eight grand to be here for two weeks or whatever it is, we want to keep you in. So we're going to maybe kid glove you a little over here and try and make you fit." Whereas this was more like, "All right, we're going to get 200 people in here. We want 150 people to sign up for the next thing and a hundred people from that to go on to the super expensive stuff. Everybody else can get the hell out of here. Anybody who complains about us staying here until three o'clock in the morning can go home. Anybody who's got to do surgery in the morning can go home. Anybody who's going to find a counterexample and, you know, try to apply logic can get the hell out of here."
[01:00:25] Nippy Ames: Yeah.
[01:00:25] Jordan Harbinger: It's a filtering process.
[01:00:27] Sarah Edmondson: I think they all do that. And it's funny you said that—
[01:00:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah
[01:00:28] Sarah Edmondson: —about the personal responsibility because Livestream and Scientology and Landmark and NXIVM. It all comes from the same sh*t, but that is a main tenet that I see throughout at all, personal responsibility, being at cause, and the problem is that there's truth in it. Something happens in your life, something bad happens in your life, you can go, "Oh, this always happens to me," and complain and whine. Or you can go, "Okay, how did I participate in this? Like, what expectations did I not, you know, was I not aware of that brought me here," which can be really helpful if you want to have more potency and not make the same mistake again. But if you are being victimized or someone's lying to you or conning you, it doesn't apply. It's a self-protective mechanism of these groups because they can abuse you. And if you put up any fight or any question, it can always be flipped back at, "Well, how did you cause it?"
[01:01:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[01:01:15] Sarah Edmondson: Or in Scientology terms, "How did you bring it in? How did you author it?"
[01:01:19] Nippy Ames: It's also done normally under certain premises that you didn't know you agreed to or you forget agreeing to, right? So you come in, you go, "Well, do you see how you author it?" "Well, kind of, but like," because I've agreed to this process of accountability, I'm now forced to go, "Okay, well, I got to come up with how I author it, and I got to come up with how I offered it to end this conversation and go home." So like, you know, I want to get out. "Okay, yeah, I can see how I did it," and then, the gaslighting, the subtle gaslighting has taken effect, and then eventually you're doing it to yourself.
[01:01:50] Jordan Harbinger: Once again, special thanks to Peloton for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show. We really appreciate your support.
[01:01:56] I wanted to give you a preview of one of my favorite stories from an earlier episode of the show, Megan Phelps-Roper. She used to belong to one of the most hateful religious cults in America, the Westboro Baptist Church. She was born into this church and she later escaped. To hear her tell the story firsthand is really incredible.
[01:02:15] Megan Phelps-Roper: I started protesting when I was five years old, but even at that first picket, there was a sign that said, 'Gays are worthy of death." So God hates facts is what Westboro's message that we became known for. We were the good guys and everyone outside the church was evil and going to hell, and we had the only message that would bring the world any hope. We had to go and warn people, these terrible things are happening, and if you want this pain to stop, then you have to change because God isn't going to change.
[01:02:44] After the September 11 attacks, we had the sign that said, "Thank God for September 11." What were we thinking? This massive crowd comes down. We were at this corner of this intersection of these three streets. By the time, they actually reached us, we're just enraged. There was no space between us and them. It got really dicey. One of my cousins gave his signs to somebody else and like started standing on top of a trashcan pretending like he wasn't with us. They were, again, incredibly intense because obviously, the circumstances are so sobering. It brings me incredible sadness to think about now. I can't do this forever.
[01:03:20] My family, they would refuse to have any contact with me at all once I left. Somebody that we had confided in, sent a letter to my parents and told them that we were planning to leave, and then that email came in and — and we left.
[01:03:36] Jordan Harbinger: For more with Megan, including the details of her harrowing experience and escape, check out episode 302 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:03:47] That's it for part one, part two in a couple of days here. Transcripts in the show notes, videos on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support the show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me right there on LinkedIn.
[01:04:04] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using software, systems, and tiny habits, the same stuff I use every single day. It's our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty, folks. Build those relationships before you need them. Oh, you never know when you might get trapped in a cult and need somebody on the outside. Many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:04:30] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogerty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody is really into the cult stuff, this is going to be one for them, definitely share this with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:05:02] This episode is sponsored in part by the Mea Culpa podcast. Mea Culpa is hosted by Michael Cohen, who is Donald Trump's fixer, lawyer, right hand for over a decade. He, of course, went to prison because he defied his former boss. The Mea Culpa podcast is his redemption tour of sorts. Mea Culpa with Michael Cohen delivers political news, raw, and unfiltered. Plus Michael, well, let's just say he's an opinionated guy. Twice weekly, Mea Culpa features the most important people in politics, offering listeners rare insight into what's happening that they can get no place else. His guests are a who's who of politics, media, and beyond, especially on the left, as you might guess — James Carville, Joe Trippy, John Dean, Laurence Tribe, Ari Melber, Joy Reid, Kathy Griffin — oh, she's a fan favorite, isn't she? Congressman Steve Cohen, Elie Honig, Neal Katyal, Norm Eisen, Molly Jong-Fast, Sam Donaldson, Ben Stiller. That's probably a fun one. You never know who's going to show up and what they will say. And if you're on the right, you're probably going to hate this podcast. Don't shoot the messenger here. But hey, if you lean left, do yourself a favor, check out Mea Culpa wherever you get your podcasts. Find it in your favorite podcast app.
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