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ARCHIVED  August 13, 1999

Community-minded Group sheds Rcult’ label

No limits.It’s a two-word motto that slips into conversations with almost any “Groupie,” as members of The Group Inc. Real Estate call themselves.
When, in the early 1980s, the principle led members of the company into a brief and lighthearted excursion into the paranormal, community reaction became a hurdle for brokers, managers and staff members to overcome.
An innocent invitation to New York City mentalist Diana Gazes — known for her mind-over-matter seminars — eventually led to The Group’s conspicuous appearance in a New York Times Sunday magazine cover story on so-called “New Age” cults in Colorado.
“It was very damaging,” Group president Sharianne Daily remembers. “It took some work to put that behind us.”
The 1982 Times article opened with a description of Gazes leading Group members, seated around a boardroom table in the company’s former Old Town headquarters, through a telekinetic exercise. Each person at the table held a spoon that Gazes said could be bent with sufficient focus of mental energy.
Never mind that the Times reporter was not in the room. His vivid description of what transpired there became part of Fort Collins community lore.
“That mind-over-matter thing — I remember hearing that The Group did that,´ said Gene Vaughan, president of Re/Max First Associates Inc. “But those techniques of increasing confidence and boosting self esteem are nothing new. People have been doing that all over.”
Group chairman Larry Kendall said that the national publicity of the “spoon-bending” session led to misunderstanding in the community, especially among local church congregations.
“We have a culture of wanting to be a learning organization,” he said. “We have speakers coming in from all over, and we learn from one another. I think that when people look at us from the outside, they say, well that’s a little bit different. But when you look inside, No. 1, we just have a lot of really nice people.”
In 1985, when nationally known seminar leader Tony Robbins led barefoot Group members across a 15-foot-long bed of glowing coals, the “cult” brand resurfaced. But company members who were there say that the experience was not so far out as it was perceived to be by others.
“I was around for the walking on coals,” senior broker Harvey Nesbitt recalls. “It was a huge metaphor for turning fear into power. That event was just awesome in terms of realizing what we could do. There was nothing cult-like about it.”
Joey Porter, a long-time Group member who invited the spoon-bending Gazes to Fort Collins, said the commitment to community projects by brokers and staff, for which the Group is well-known, has helped dispel misunderstandings.
“After the fire-walking, we got such a flash profile going around the community that we began to play it down a bit,” she said. “But it’s all part of the philosophy. Be creative. No limits.”

No limits.It’s a two-word motto that slips into conversations with almost any “Groupie,” as members of The Group Inc. Real Estate call themselves.
When, in the early 1980s, the principle led members of the company into a brief and lighthearted excursion into the paranormal, community reaction became a hurdle for brokers, managers and staff members to overcome.
An innocent invitation to New York City mentalist Diana Gazes — known for her mind-over-matter seminars — eventually led to The Group’s conspicuous appearance in a New York Times Sunday magazine cover story on so-called “New Age” cults in Colorado.
“It was very…

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