NLP Mentors

With Tad James 1990

Here is a list of my NLP teachers in chronological order. They all had different approaches and presentation styles, but I enjoyed learning from every one of them.

I feel privileged to have trained with such legends.

Tony Robbins 1980s
Anthony Robbins 1980s
Anthony Robbins


I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Robbins in May 1985 when I attended his Fear into Power weekend in Los Angeles, which included the firewalking experience. I was so impressed with the workshop that I resolved to learn all I could about the NLP methodology Tony taught, and contacted the originators, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, in Santa Cruz, California.

I attended a number of Tony's events for graduates, including a training session for assistants where I broke a board with my bare hands for the first time. Since the 1980s, Tony has become the number one success trainer in the world, with a client list that includes presidents and royalty. Along the way he's modified the NLP material into his own unique approach, which he calls Neuro-Associative Conditioning.

Tony continues to be an inspiration through his books and tape programs.

To watch a video of Tony, please click on Tony Robbins Video.

Richard Bandler


Richard Bandler is one of the creative geniuses behind NLP and is the originator of many of its most popular and effective processes. I did my NLP Practitioner training with Richard and his associates, Christina Hall, Max Steinbach and Gary Boone, in Santa Cruz in August 1985.

Richard was an inspiring teacher who taught with skill and humor. He chose me as a subject to demonstrate an auditory swish pattern, and apparently the videotape of that session has been played at subsequent NLP trainings. I think of it as my five minutes of NLP fame.

To watch an interview with Richard on video, please click on Richard Bandler Video.

Richard Bandler 1980s
Richard Bandler 1980s

Todd Epstein and Robert Dilts
With Todd & Robert 1986
Robert Dilts & Todd Epstein


Robert Dilts and Todd Epstein were two of the guest trainers at my NLP Practitioner training, and I enjoyed their teaching styles so much that I chose to do my Master Track training with them in August of 1986.

Robert and Todd were a great double act, their teaching sessions interspersed with some entertaining comedy patter. During the training, I volunteered for a conflict resolution demonstration conducted by Todd and Robert. While resolving my conflicting impulses of aspiring to the status of a respected professional while simultaneously desiring to dance on table tops like Zorba the Greek, Todd christened me 'Zelda the Greek', which remained my name for the remainder of the training. I'm grateful to Todd for giving Zelda permission to play.

Since Todd's death, Robert and Judith DeLozier continue to operate the NLP University in Santa Cruz. Robert was one of Bandler and Grinder's original students at the birth of NLP and remains one of its most respected figures.

John Grinder


John Grinder, the brilliant co-founder of NLP, offered a number of trainings in the 1980s after his split with Richard Bandler. I attended his NLP Practitioner Training Using Ericksonian Hypnosis in 1987.

Grinder's team of trainers was exceptional, and included Susan Marcus, Michael Colgrass, Charlotte Bretto and Judith De Lozier. Herbert Lustig and Robert Dilts were guest lecturers at the training. John has an amazing presence and is one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. The highlight of the training was a private demonstration John gave three of us of a double induction hypnotic technique.

John has since moved on to other types of training, and his former partner, Judith DeLozier, now runs NLP University with Robert Dilts.

John Grinder 1980s
John Grinder 1980s

Norma Baretta 1980s
Norma Barretta


In 1988 I elected to do some one-on-one NLP training with Dr Norma Barretta, an associate of John Grinder. Over the following 10 months, I drove from Los Angeles to San Diego monthly for private sessions with Norma.

She taught me a variety of approaches, answered my many questions and guided me through some personal changes. It was a wonderful experience on both an educational and an emotional level.

I always looked forward to my sessions with Norma. She was smart, knowledgeable and a lot of fun. Norma said she would always remember me as the girl who burned her list of negative beliefs and buried the ashes in LA's Pan Pacific Park.

Marilyn Blank


Late in 1988 I made two additional trips to San Diego to participate in a process called Imperative Self Training. This intensive two-part workshop is the brainchild of Leslie Cameron-Bandler, a co-developer of NLP. Imperative Self Training focuses on a person's overall approach to life, and is a powerful instrument of generative change. My trainer was Marilyn Blank, one of the first therapists Leslie trained in this method, and the core of what she taught me is something I use to this day.

I've always regretted not doing a training with Leslie while I lived in California. In her books she comes across as a committed and caring person, and she played a vital role in both the development of NLP and the professional accreditation trainings.

Leslie Cameron Bandler 1980s

Wyatt Woodsmall 1990
Wyatt Woodsmall 1990
Tad James & Wyatt Woodsmall


In 1989 I attended Tad James's workshop on Creating Your Future, based on his book of the same name. Tad specialized in Timeline therapy and published the definitive book on the subject, co-authored with Wyatt Woodsmall. He is also a teacher of Huna, the spiritual tradition of Hawaii, his home state.

Tad has an entertaining and effective teaching style, so I decided to do my NLP Trainer's Training with him and Wyatt Woodsmall the following year (1990) in Washington, DC.

The training was excellent, with some fascinating material provided by Wyatt, a true scholar and an expert in world religions as well as a host of other subjects.

To watch a video interview with Tad, please click on Tad James Video.

NLP Authors

Other NLP mentors I've met only through their written works but greatly admire include:

  • Steve and Connirae Andreas are the editors of the first books on NLP: Frogs into Princes, Reframing, and Tranceformations, and later wrote their own, Change your Mind and Keep the Change and Heart of the Mind. For a time I was part of a program in which Steve and Connirae made their videotape library available via the postal system to NLP graduates throughout the United States. I regret that I left the country before I had the opportunity to take one of their residential trainings in Colorado.

  • Leslie Cameron Bandler is the author of a series of NLP books, including Know How, The Emprint Method and The Emotional Hostage. I'm a great fan of Leslie's books, and appreciate her unique approach to NLP.

  • Joseph O'Connor, a UK-based NLP practitioner, co-authored two very readable works on the various aspects of the technology. Steven Lankton, Genie LaBorde and David Gordon also write excellent books on NLP.

  • For a list of NLP book titles, go to the NLP Resources page.

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