What does Lighthouse do?
Vague. Confusing. Pages and pages of word salad.
Check out any Lighthouse International Group webpage and you’ll be met with a big helping of word salad. Business jargon, inspirational quotes, incredible claims like “10,000 kids saved”, etc, but hardly any actual information, evidence, overview of structure, company ethos, products or pricing; and even though "mentoring, coaching and counselling" are mentioned, there's little sense of what Lighthouse International Group actually does.
So many words, so little information might give the reader a sense that something's not quite right. And there's a dearth of posts on social media, too.
There's an overall sense of vagueness; ex-members report they are told that any other approach would attract the wrong sort of person, and that what the organisation has to say simply can’t be put down online. In fact, they’ve had the same word salad approach since the early 'oos.
What we do know is...
Members are often recruited through Meetup, LinkedIn, 'book groups', Facebook, forums, and word of mouth...
Here’s how it works:
Someone might connect with you on LinkedIn or MeetUp or another channel – they'll mention they're doing some important research and would love to chat with you about it – perhaps it's to do with personal development, or successful living. They'll point out you have similar interests or are in the same online group.
Or, perhaps you search "personal development" or "self-improvement" online and find a local group on Meetup.com or Facebook, or maybe in your local listings?
It might be called something like Emotional Intelligence Group for a Better Life, Family and Work, or have a much clearer function, like groups that analyse a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey or The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
There’s nothing obviously spiritual or religious about these ‘Mastery Book Study Groups’ and the meetings could be free or affordable. Then, the group leader or a long-time member approaches you to tell you how well you’re doing, how dedicated and open-minded you are.
In either case, you'll be told you're a great fit to meet that person's mentor – someone who's truly changed their life – and maybe you could even have mentoring yourself?
It's very similar to the coffeeshop method favoured by Multi-Level Marketing (aka Pyramid Selling) schemes.
Here’s how it could work in a coffee shop setting:
You’re waiting in line for your latte and a friendly stranger approaches you. They complement you, you thank them, and even though it’s kind of weird, you think: ‘to hell with it’ and end up talking. In fact, the stranger tells you that you’d be a great fit to meet their mentor, and/or they have an amazing book that changed everything for them, and perhaps you should read it? They definitely think you should meet again. Oh, but only if you’re ambitious, open-minded, creative, etc.
Noah Williams describes this sort of meet-cute tactic over on Medium.com.
At this point, the reveal could turn out to be anything: you could be asked to sell beauty products like Mary Kay, hair products like Monat, cleaning materials from Amway, books by Usborne, etc – or personal development sessions, with immersive tasks, levels of attainment to invest in, a pay-for mentorship structure, a big big big launch always just around the corner; eventually a spiritual dimension might be revealed, and the task to sign up new recruits.
Once you join, and your mentor-mentee relationship is established, you'll work towards rising from Level 1 all the way up to Level 4, and then the real work begins.
Members seem to pay to become "Associates"
Full-timers and/or those who have invested thousands of pounds to become "associates" or “associate elects” have a very, very busy schedule. Hours and hours of sermon-like talks on conference calls, transcribing, re-reading, recitations of pledge-like passages, and the expectation of lots of personal emotional feedback on many different chat channels, plus mentor sessions and evening discussion groups.
For the "associates" who are presumably training to be Lighthouse mentors, coaches, or even counsellors (Lighthouse say they offer this service) the purpose of these five-six hour sermon-like sessions is unclear. "Associates" and “associate elects” don't seem to be employees of Lighthouse (and therefore are probably not protected under employment law), or considered freelance, and LIG does not seem part of a recognised qualification or mentorship association. And counselling – at least in the UK – is unregulated.
With no qualifications whatsoever, this could mean that any of the "associates" could find it almost impossible to find coaching and mentorship work outside of Lighthouse. To but it simply, it's unclear what's in it for them.
We also know of members paying many thousands of pounds to become an "associate" but it's also unclear if any have yet seen any financial return whatsoever – apart from Lighthouse's inner circle.
If you know different, if you've had a positive experience with LIG, or have seen a return on your investment, do let us know.
So, what exactly are members investing in?
Again, this is unclear. It seems many members pay for mentoring sessions, and one ex-mentee reported they enjoyed the experience - until the mentoring style changed and the push to purchase more sessions and a training course became too much – and so the ex-mentee moved on. But, considering the members who go further and invest tens of thousands of pounds – what's in it for them?
Ex-members tell us there is often talk of the launch of a big project, one that requires a big investment of time and money, that "PhDs" are working hard on it, but that it – whatever it is – is perennially beset with delays. At one point, LIG's site referred to something called "The Global Respondency" but it's unclear what this is – even ex-members can't explain it.
Other ex-members allege a publication was about to be launched, perhaps an anthology of Lighthouse's transcribed talks, but were unable to obtain any details about the product; not the marketing plan, distribution schedule, printing tenders, or press release, or a single expense receipt.
In fact, we can't find evidence of the successful launch of any large scale project, publication, or product, not in the more than 10 years since LIG has been in operation. For this reason, it's unclear where any of the funds from Associates and Associate Elects end up. If you know any information, please let us know.
A religious organisation?
Sources report that, in late 2020, Lighthouse leader Paul Waugh introduced a religious element into his frequent sermon-like talks.
Biblical stories, and a general Christian philosophy – particularly the concepts of repentance, sin, and being "broken", etc – started to dominate.
Ex-members allege that Waugh would also occasionally discuss his own past experience of being a Jehovah's Witness, which might explain any preoccupation with religious ideals – but is Lighthouse a religious organisation itself? Certain aspects seem to have been ritualised (reciting The Ode to Lighthouse, The Vision, and group meditation, etc), but whether or not Lighthouse International Group is now a religious organisation is unclear.
For balance, there is obviously absolutely nothing wrong with a group being religious or having a religious ethos.
If you know different, if you've had a positive experience with LIG, do let us know.