Keith Raniere Executive Success Programs NXIVM

When you think back on your life, whom do you recollect as having helped you along the way? When we look at someone like Keith Raniere, his intelligence, creativity and compassion set him apart as extraordinary. But what influences does he credit as instrumental in helping him become who he is today?

From judo masters, to authors, thinkers and world leaders, enjoy this short list of some of Keith RaniereÕs greatest heroes, and discover more about the people who have influenced his unique worldview.

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was a Russian-born American philosopher and novelist. She is best known for developing the philosophy of Objectivism and for writing the landmark novels The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, We the Living, and Anthem. Growing up in St. Petersburg, Russia, she began writing screenplays and novels at the age of seven. Amidst the growing squalor and brooding atmosphere of post-Bolshevik Revolution Russia, Rand left for the United States at the age of 21. She settled in California and soon after began her writing career.

RandÕs philosophy and written works emphasized the concepts of reason, individualism, rational self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism. She believed people must choose their values and actions by reason, holding the individual has a right to exist for his or her own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self. She also believed no one has the right to take what belongs to others by physical force or fraud, or impose their moral code on others by physical force. In the appendix of her most famous work, Atlas Shrugged, Rand offered this summary: My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in Porbandar, India. He earned a law degree from University College of London and was admitted to the English bar in 1889. In 1887, after bringing his wife and children from India to a new home in South Africa, Gandhi experienced first-hand the abuse was commonly inflicted on his countrymen by British authorities and even British subjects. He began speaking out more forcefully against discrimination and soon emerged as a leader of Indians in South Africa.

A wise and resourceful man, Gandhi developed a method of action based on the principles of courage, nonviolence, and truth called Satyagraha. Satyagraha promoted nonviolence and civil disobedience as the most appropriate methods for promoting political and social agendas. Gandhi believed the way people behave is more important than what they achieve, and was quoted as saying, “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” Through Satyagraha and his willingness to serve on the frontlines for his beliefs, Gandhi rallied millions of countrymen and foreign sympathizers to his cause, ultimately leading India to independence from British rule in 1947. One year later, Gandhi was assassinated at the age of 78. His life and message continue to inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.

Rudolph Steiner

Rudolph Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, architect, playwright, educator and social thinker. In his childhood, Steiner was interested in mathematics, philosophy, and chemistry, and was highly influenced by the works of the German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Steiner studied theosophy and later went on to develop what he called “anthroposophy,” a movement based on the notion there is a spiritual world comprehensible to pure thought but accessible only to the highest faculties of mental knowledge. Anthroposophy helped spread his belief in the possibility of uniting the careful, systematic methodology of modern science with the study of the soul and spirit.

Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a spiritual component. In his epistemological works, he advocated the Goethean view that thinking is a perceptive instrument for ideas, just as the eye is a perceptive instrument for light. In addition, he upheld ideals of critical thinking and the concept that educational institutions should be free of government control. In 1919, as a result of lecturing factory workers in Stuttgart on the topic of education, the anthroposophy-based concept of Waldorf schools and Waldorf Education arose. Also known as “Steiner Education,” Waldorf Education has grown to be one of the largest independent schooling systems in the world—with over 900 schools throughout the world—and the achievement for which he is best known.

Milton Erickson

Dr. Milton Erickson was considered one of the foremost authorities in the field of hypnotherapy. As a boy he suffered from polio so severe a doctor forecasted his imminent death. Erickson eventually overcame his illness and the determination thus revealed in him drove him to obtain degrees in medicine and psychology. He later became a psychiatrist, working first in a number of institutions and later as a professor of psychiatry. He was a fellow of many international professional bodies and was founding president of the American Society for Clinical Hypnosis.

In 1948, Erickson settled in Phoenix, Arizona and practiced privately. In later years, as his fame spread, more and more of his time was taken up with lectures and seminars on his approaches to hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. Erickson had a strong, flexible and clever mind, grounded in what could best be described as “common sense.” He believed the unconscious mind was creative, solution-generating, and often positive. His approach to hypnotherapy was often described as “informal, flexible, holistic, and non-dogmatic.” Erickson taught by example, analogies, and metaphors and was not one to propound any overall theory. Erickson served as a model and mentor for John Grinder and Richard Bandler, the co-founders of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP).

Isaac Asimov

Russian-born American Jewish author and biochemist Isaac Asimov was a highly successful and exceptionally prolific writer. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Asimov taught himself to read at the age of five. He was introduced to science fiction magazines while working in his parentsÕ general store and quickly became a voracious consumer of the genre. At the age of eleven he began writing his own stories and a few years later was selling them to pulp magazines. Asimov attended Columbia University, graduating in 1939. Years later, he would return to Columbia to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Asimov was a master of science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, is considered one of the “Big Three” in science-fiction writing. He was a humanist and a rationalist, not opposing genuine religious conviction in others, but vocally challenging superstition and unfounded beliefs. Asimov was a progressive thinker on most political issues and considered himself a feminist even before WomenÕs Liberation became a widespread movement in the 1960s. He became president of the American Humanist Association in 1985, a position he held until his death in 1992.

Eugene J. Waddell

Eugene J. Waddell was a vaudeville performer, world-class tumbler, judo sensei, and aikido sensei. He first reached international fame when he and his two tumbling partners devised and performed an acrobatic stunt poised upon the 86th floor balcony of the (at the time) newly built Empire State Building. This semi-spontaneous pose, in which Waddell is the topmost acrobat, was photographed and became the internationally syndicated “Acrobats on the Empire State Building.” After achieving a black belt in judo, he and his wife opened a gymnastics, judo, and ballet school in Wyckoff, New Jersey. The modest school became the home of many champion judo players, many of who were directly inspired by the strength, wisdom and extraordinary ability Waddell humbly embodied. After retiring from judo in the mid-70s, Waddell became a potent factor in the furtherance of aikido in the Northeastern United States and was personally promoted to the rank of Godan (5th degree black belt) by Yamada Sensei. Waddell is still formally remembered in the New York Aikikai. In the words of one of his students and closest friends, “Most people who met him knew there was something unusual and special there. He seemed like a ÔregularÕ guy at first, but he certainly was not regular at all.”

Waddell was diagnosed with ALS in the late 1980s and succumbed to its effect in 1990. Many still consider him one of the most influential men in their lives. Waddell, or “Gene” as he liked to be called, transformed many people with his gentle presence. As stated by those who were with him at his passing, “He was the perfect example of a fearless, calm death.”