How many times in your life do you get to interact with someone who’s truly infamous?
And we’re not talking about a little notoriety here. We’re talking about so unspeakably abominable that his enemies tremble at the sound of his name.
I’m not even kidding.
The adversaries for the man we’ll be talking about today often refuse to print his name. It’s as if they fear it might conjure him up like some monstrosity from the deepest bowels of the internet.
Behold, a colossal miscreation from the void, some sci-fi horror experiment gone completely wrong, the most hideous behemoth of the digital deep! And it demands to feast on the flesh of its enemies!
Personally, I’ve always thought the weird kids were more interesting.
The Resume of an Evil Genius
And that’s just it, isn’t it?
Men like Vox Day, our most notorious man today, are considered firebrands because they’re simply too hot to handle. Those who dislike these individuals, don’t just fear the ideas will spread. They also fear getting stomped out themselves by a better dog, a slugger who knows what a fight is about.
On the other hand, if you agree with him on anything, prepare for hell. This being the most scandalous name to mention online, if you actually utter his name, all sorts of craziness may break out. DDoS attacks, doxxings, screaming, gnashing of teeth.
Even in writing about him, there’s a chance you might get banned from Starbucks. Or stripped of your website hosting. (Jokes on them: I haven’t been to Starbucks in years, and I keep backups).
Again, you might think that I’m joking, but I’m not.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at a few of these shellackings that Vox Day has doled out.
- American science fiction writer John Scalzi happened to lie about his own site traffic, launching an epic, decade-long feud between the two.
- Around the same time, Vox was kicked out of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. So, he took over the industry-premier Hugo Awards for years, half-dictating the outcomes. Even Game of Thrones’ very own George RR Martin made an appearance.
- Lest you think it’s all about the science fiction, Vox also taunted the New Atheists for some time. When Richard Dawkins’ forum got on his radar, he was plenty willing to publicly duel with them.
- Speaking of New Atheists, Mr. Day so terrified famed biologist PZ Myers, the man wouldn’t even agree to debate with him, offering up the weakest excuses.
- When Patreon thought they’d de-platform people, Vox Day wasn’t having any of it. Combined he has lead his followers to cost this corporation millions of dollars in litigation because of their inability to intelligently see what they’re doing.
- When self-help guru Jordan Peterson annoyed Vox enough, Mr. Day authored the #1 Best Seller in Political Philosophy on Amazon, all dedicated to roasting Peterson for his bullshit.
- In response to corporate America’s obsession with SJW culture, Vox Day literally wrote the book on fighting illiberalism in the business world and beyond.
Talk about a take-no-prisoners approach. And that’s just a sample.
To tell the truth, Vox Day isn’t unlike international soccer or the orchid world. Sometimes half the fun is trying to keep all the drama straight. And wonder what crazy thing might happen next. Of course, that’s because Mr. Day is willing to step out and express extremely unpopular beliefs. And he’s also known for calling out charlatan intellectual bullies who like to pick on others.
With a resume like this before us, is there anything we might learn from the popularity of this monster?
Time to roll out the DISCLAIMERS and FINE PRINT!!!
Simply because we’re talking about this most notorious of specters does not mean you or I agree with everything he’s ever written. We don’t, and that’s fine. After all, we’re not signing up for a Vox Day Super Fan Club here today.
But his writing is not for the faint of heart. Or men with lesser steel.
So, be forewarned.
Unchaining the Creature
Oh, did I forget to mention… Vox Day is also actually, really, truly a certified super genius? He’s also…
- Founded a growing publishing house and comic imprint;
- Created an online competitor to Wikipedia;
- Launched an alternative subscription service to YouTube;
- Run other successful businesses out of the limelight;
- Published a well-trafficked blog with thousands of posts;
- Authored a diversity of books, from economics to fantasy;
- Thrived as a businessman, professor, editor, game designer, and more
Although he’s outrageously controversial, there’s obviously much more to this dark apparition of the online world. And this despite what his critics like to claim about him being a no one.
Still, you don’t need to look far to see keyword traffic for his brand name and books are indeed impressive. Each month 10,000 to 100,000 people search for “Vox Day” in Google alone. While his pseudonym has waxed and waned as a search term over time, his “darkstream” via YouTube appears to have added a healthy bump to his overall search volume as we went toward 2020.
But what makes him so incredibly popular if he’s so magnanimously devilish?
Over a decade ago, I learned the answer. For me, I had just been laid off from my corporate job. And the economy was in a death spiral. And that’s to say nothing about how I hadn’t yet started any businesses. Plus, the world seemed to be slowly losing grip on its institutions.
Then, by chance, I came across one of Vox Day’s books on economics.
Unlike the financial media, this barbarian was arguing against bailouts. Now, you might be tempted to wonder what the hubbub is about with that opinion. But back then, it wasn’t as fashionable to see the cronyism for what it was.
But there was something more.
Vox Day was out scorching Paul Krugman, the leading public economic figure at the time. Instead of shying away or towing the line, Mr. Day was taking this buffoon to task. And without shame. In fact, there was a distinct contrast between the candy-coated bullshit on one side and the intelligence and hard-work of the other.
You only need compare the corporate and consulting worlds to the real world to appreciate the difference.
But at the end of the day, it’s not just that he’s willing to fight. As many businessmen and autodidactic thinkers can appreciate, it’s that he knows no bounds or limits. He pushes himself hard to create lasting foundations for others to step and rise up from.
Sometimes we might disagree with what those foundations are; sometimes not. However, as a younger man, I found it so different from the pasty technocrats that spoke out of both sides of their mouths. Or refused to put their money where their mouths are as they engorged themselves like ticks.
And in business and politics, it’s hard to overlook this different standpoint. Plus, he’s rare in that he’s unafraid to kick gentlemanly norms to the curb when others won’t play by their own rules.
In a nutshell, he’s not scared to play a mean game in a world of meanness.
Lessons from the Internet’s Most Notorious Man
If that doesn’t fucking influence you get to get up and rage against the dying of the light, I don’t know what will.
And if that doesn’t speak to you, despite all the controversy and your disagreements, I don’t know what to tell you. Personally, I don’t care who anyone is, I’m willing to meet them where they are.
And take whatever lessons are offered up.
This is as much true about the truth of someone’s words and actions as it is their mistakes or errors. There are always lessons from every experience and every life, however frightful, horrifying, or alarming they might be.
And after a decade of curiously watching Mr. Day chisel at the marble, I’ve learned a thing or two. Best of all and as always, what I’ve learned, in business, leadership, and life, has been tested out in the field, in real life.
Building a Business
- The experts make a lot of mistakes to capitalize on
The Patreon fiasco mentioned above is a huge mistake. And a huge opportunity for those willing to take advantage of it. And as we saw this week, corporations are serving up an endless buffet of entrepreneurial opportunities at the moment. But whether it’s your mortal enemies or your business competition, you’ve got viable possibilities for hitting back or building an alternative.
- There’s strategy, and then there’s logistics
If I had a dime for every strategy meeting I’ve been asked to attend, I’d be an international bank. What became of most of those strategic plans? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The corporations and consulting firms love cooking up useless strategy plans. But Vox Day taught me that deploying your plans, taking stock of the real means you’ll do it, is just as critical as your scheming. It’s the only way to rise above mere bullshitting.
- Marketing, including SEO, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
Once upon a time, slick, well-financed, and professional won the race. But those days are gone. What’s most interesting about Mr. Day’s website is that he admittedly knows nothing about SEO. Or advanced website metrics. In fact, he seems unaware of large swaths of the marketing industry. But with his kind of site traffic, you can see that the marketing industry is clearly jerking itself off.
- Business is war by other means
Although I suspect Vox Day may disagree, business organizations are just as much political organizations as anything else. Corporate espionage, protection racketeering, dark intelligence services. What separates governments from private enterprise is more paper-thin than you might imagine.
And if you’re going into business today, you may want to study up on military history as much as business models. His career shows that it’s not always business as usual. And in this way, you can have a better real-world understanding of power and might.
Claiming the Leadership Title
- You can tribe build even if you’re deemed untouchable
With traffic like his, you’d think most people would pay close attention to Vox Day. And it’s not just that. Indeed, he did it while being locked out of many services and platforms. That’s no small feat when you’re considered as controversial as he is. But what it proves is that he’s speaking for people, more than a few, who are in the same boat. There’s power in that lesson alone. Rallying a tribe isn’t easy; it’s more difficult when you’re an untouchable leviathan.
- Don’t posture and don’t bluff
Confession time: when I first started reading Mr. Day, I postured a bit. Having been raised on the wrong side of the tracks, it’s simply something you do sometimes. Then the corporate world encourages it. But if you’re going to be a leader, a true leader, especially of men, you cannot play these games. At least, not when the stakes are high. Men of character can sense men who are bullshitters. So, skip the bluffing and posturing as a first step to real leadership.
- Most people are truly and deeply idiotic
Despite screams from the libertarian crowd, Mr. Day has been known to ban miscreants and trolls from his blog on sight. And is it any wonder why? If Vox has taught me one thing, it’s that the universe is filled with outrageously stupid people. People who can’t be bothered to properly read. Or who couldn’t construct an argument to save their lives.
And they all think Wikipedia access makes them an expert on… everything. If you waste time on these people, they will drain your community the way a vampire does. At the same time, a little smarts and a little savvy can go far in helping others.
- Operational security is critical in leadership
Here’s one that you may not have learned from all those Deloitte leadership courses. Or from the recent pages of the Harvard Business Review. And that’s how there are people who will capitalize on all your weaknesses as a leader. Whether you have poor strategic forecasting or simply left the bank vault open like a doofus, you’re in for a lot of hurt.
Take your operational security seriously, especially as you get bigger and people try to worm their way in. Mr. Day has been fending off enemies for longer than some of us have been in business. And he shows the need for it in our political age.
- Work. Seriously, that’s it
So many leaders don’t really do much of anything. In my career, I’ve seen everyone from C-level executives to high-ticket consultants just passing the buck. They wouldn’t know how to build something tangible if they tried. Or grow a loyal tribe.
Yet, you can tell that Vox Day is up at all hours, studying something or growing something. It’s an easy lesson to learn but few put it into practice. And the drive to get down in the dirt and to step out first will serve any leader well.
Life in General
- It doesn’t matter who’s following, even if no one is
Turning away from leadership, let’s talk about more personal development. In the self-help industry, it’s become practically a truism that everyone is a leader. However, I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all. Many people are destined to be followers.
And that’s okay. But you don’t need a following to live your principles. Or set out on your journey. As a matter of fact, Mr. Day started small and doesn’t appear to care when anyone, let alone big-time celebrities, aren’t with him. He’s set his path, and he’s going to find where it leads.
- Foster a sense of formidable courage
We’ve talked about how the country is struggling with a serious lack of courage right now. In truth, I can’t tell you how many men I know who simply are deficient in bravery, fortitude, or valor. And that’s to say nothing about true spirit or audacious determination.
Vox Day? This man faces down giants in economics, science, self-help, and more. From my experience, the only way to learn this type of courage is to watch it, whether you’re watching your hero or your antagonist. And then you exercise it, no matter how small at first, in your own life.
- Public failures aren’t that big a deal
Some of Mr. Day’s failures have been very all out in the open. But so have some of his biggest wins. As a fellow INTJ, I can certainly appreciate wanting to guard your private life. And really, for most people, failing isn’t something pleasant.
So what happens when it’s for all your critics and the world to see? From what I can tell, Vox Day has never lost any sleep over it. And truthfully, it’s just another fact of life when you fail. As I’m sure Mr. Day would agree, it’s a sign that you’re in the game instead of on the bench.
- Never forget where you came from
Our last lesson is uncomplicated for a reason. Namely, because it’s not hard to find people who have “punched the ticket” as Mr. Day has said. You know, those people who transcended to a certain fame or success… and seemed to become other people. (And probably because they had to sell their soul to get there). In contrast, Vox Day has continued to write for decades about his very real and very common struggles with life. Sometimes, it’s the bite of age on the soccer field. Or waxing poetic about his old hometown in Minnesota.
But that’s the real story and our biggest lesson before we call it a day today. What the most notorious man on the internet taught me was more than what any bright-eyed leadership guru could teach me.
Or what any well-practiced corporate thought leader could convey.
Rather, it’s that we are, every one of us, men of an equal temper. Sure, each of us will eventually be made weak by time and fate. And in a corrupt age, we will face down historic challenges and temptations. Yet, as men, we must remain strong in will… to strive, to seek, to find, and most definitely, not to fucking yield.