Jerome Downes: “The Difference an Individual Makes”

Jerome Downes

I first met Jerome back in the early 1980’s. He was a trainer candidate with est, (formerly an intense hockey player). I was sitting in a meeting with him and the manager of the Newport Beach Center, Ingrid Doherty. I remember the sparkle in Jerome’s eyes. The intense way in which he was focused on me, and standing powerfully that I was going to make things happen out of this meeting. Jerome, as an est Trainer Candidate was there to empower and partner up with the Center Manager, in making things happen in the Newport Beach Center. He was only going to be there for a few days. The purpose of the meeting I was in was to inspire me to take on sharing the est Training with Asians in Orange County, California. I was one of the few Asians who were participating in Orange County, CA with est, an educational corporation founded by Werner Erhard, creator of the est Training. The purpose of the est Training was to “transform your experience of living such that the things you are putting up with or trying to change, clear up in the process of life itself.” At the end of the meeting, I agreed to take on organizing a guest seminar for Asians in the Newport Beach Center of est.

I formed a small group of Asian graduates whose purpose was to share the est Training with other Asians. We created a name for our team, “County of Orange Asian Network.” (COAN).  Our vision, was that by sharing ourselves with other Asians that eventually the est Training would be brought to Tokyo, Japan by the year 1984, and to Beijing, China by the year 2000. There was a similar group at the Los Angeles Center, called “Asian Community Transformation.” (ACT).  We combined our efforts on a few occasions. Eventually Jerome Downes became the Center Manager of the Los Angeles Center. This was the second time I was touched by Jerome. He highly encouraged our efforts. When with Jerome, you got the sense that you mattered as an individual, and your actions and your speaking was honored and made a difference. We continued our efforts for a few years. We had picnics together, dinners, meetings, and of course, guest seminars. One of our goals was achieved In 1986, the est Training was taken to Tokyo, Japan by the graduates and the leadership of est Trainer, Nami Komenagi. Over the following decades more and more Asians participated in the est Trainings, the Werner Erhard & Associates Forums, and now Landmark Education’s Forums.

The next time I met with Jerome, was when he was organizing the Seminar Leaders of the Los Angeles Center to be a body of leaders that made a major impact with their community. I was a Seminar Leader Candidate in Newport Beach, but Jerome included us in his special trainings and “intensives.” Jerome always shared that his “strong suit” was being INTENSE! It was around this time, that the Rodney King riots broke out in South Central Los Angeles. Jerome’s response was to set-up a series of community workshops that worked with local citizens, gang members, the LAPD, business-owners of the community. This resulted in a transformation at the level of community which forwarded healing, mutual understanding, and new projects, scholarships, and other work that brought workability to South Central Los Angeles.

In 1990, I was signed up to review the Forum (Werner Erhard’s reinvention after the est Training.) Jerome Downes was the Forum Leader. Back then the course was two week-ends long. At the end of the first week-end, Jerome shared that he and several other staff members of Werner Erhard & Associates were representing the Staff in a bid to buy the rights of the technology from Werner Erhard who was leaving the organization and leaving a public life. Jerome openly shared how it looked hopeless and how we might be in one of the last Forums ever led. His honesty was riveting. The next week-end Jerome shared how he was able to cause a breakthrough and the negotiations were successful. It had looked hopeless, but he said he had been inspired by the individuals in the Forum he was leading, in how we were standing in the unknown, and courageously bringing forth our transformation. Jerome said he shared about us with the other Staff present. He looked around the table at the members of the Staff who had been selected to represent the rest of the Staff. He said he saw each of them were being their Strong Suits. (i.e. legal expert, distinction expert, enlightened, relationship expert, and Jerome was being “intense.”) None of this was working. They needed to stand outside of what they knew they knew, and what they knew they didn’t know. They needed to stand in the unknown, just like the people in the Forum he was leading, and create from nothing, standing in nothing. This was how they had negotiated the purchase of Werner Erhard’s technology. It amazed me how Jerome got his power from the people, the individuals.

In 1999, Jerome accepted the promotion to be the executive accountable for Asia, and the Assisting Program of Landmark Education Corporation. He took over the leadership of the Tokyo and Osaka offices, which Landmark Education re-opened as new centers. It was under Jerome’s leadership, that these two centers expanded and transformation flourished to Nagoya, Japan; Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, China; Manila, Phillipines; Bangkok, Thailand; Seoul, South Korea; Malaysia; and Vietnam.

Jerome with Poornai, and Richard.

By 2009, under Jerome’s leadership there are several Landmark Forum Leaders in Asia. This area is the fastest growing regions for Landmark Education, LLC. To people who haven’t participated with Landmark Education this may just seem like a man who made a business more successful. More than a business succeeding, this is a man causing the success of humanity. Great thinker, inventor, Buckminster Fuller, in his book Critical Path, predicted that there was a small window of opportunity that humanity had to have this “experiment” called “Humanity” to succeed or fail. Jerome’s work in Asia has greatly widened this window of opportunity. As China grows to be the world’s largest financial and military super-power, Jerome’s work has brought progress to human development to catch up with this financial and technological progress. Without their “humanity” great powers cannot realize the success of all. Jerome’s life was and IS dedicated to Werner Erhard’s vision declared in 1979, “A World that Works for Everyone with No One and Nothing Left out.”

My last conversation with Jerome was in 2009. He was on a conference call with the team of Global Assisting Program, Center Assisting Coaches. He was our source, and he was coaching this international team on who we are, and what there was to get done. He was in Vietnam, meeting with business leaders to take Landmark’s work there. He asked all of us to quit our jobs and everything and to come join him in Japan. He said he had more to get done that he could do himself, and said he would welcome us on his Staff to make it all happen! I did not take him up on this invitation, but was inspired at how freely and honestly he had extended it.

Jerome, passed away in December of 2009. Before his death, in November, 2009 he co-led a Landmark Forum for over 2,200 participants in Bangkok, Thailand, along with Landmark Forum Leaders, Poorani Thanusha, and Richard Condon. This was generated by the 100 people in an Advanced Course he also led. He continues to inspire me, with the difference that individuals make. Thanks to Jerome, I recognize how I am responsible to inspire others to the difference they can make with their lives. Jerome taught me how “the buck doesn’t stop here,” it is to be contributed to the Community and it need never stop anywhere…


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