World Domination Summit (WDS) Review: A Creepy Cult

Donovan Nagel
Written by Donovan Nagel

I’ve had a WDS review sitting on my hard drive as a draft for over 4 years.

I’m finally hitting publish (with some updates).

World Domination Summit announced recently that 2020 will be their grand finale which makes this incredibly odd timing to be releasing a review.

After 2020, everything I’ve written here will be irrelevant.

The reason why I initially wrote this post and then hesitated hitting publish is that I didn’t think it was important enough to share at the time.

Plus I met some genuinely lovely people there so kept my opinion to myself for their sake.

But the whole WDS experience was such a momumentally disturbing event that I literally started rage typing a review in Portland airport while I was waiting for my plane.

I felt gross - even spiritually violated.

For the past 4 years, I’ve periodically looked back on WDS as a deeply regrettable choice.

Have you ever had such an indelible experience that you almost can’t let it go until you debrief it somehow?

As a service to myself more than anything, I’m hitting publish today.

What is was the World Domination Summit (WDS)?

WDS is vaguely defined - even on their own website.

The World Domination Summit (WDS) is a gathering of creative, interesting, and remarkable people from all over the world.

Admittedly, part of my initial frustration was that several of my friends and colleagues in my niche were attending, and I was led to believe that WDS was a business-oriented gathering.

Several speakers were well-known for their entrepreneurial reputation.

Being my first major international conference (first time in the US, in fact), I registered.

I expected to be surrounded by digital nomads with online businesses and startups, and to learn from the stage from the thought leaders who were presenting.


It couldn’t have been further from what I expected.

There was some occasional mention of topics in the entrepreneurial vein but WDS is was definitely not a conference designed for the business-minded.

The website is (I believe) intentionally vague about who it’s for and what it’s designed to do.

It’s for creative, interesting and remarkable people.

That’s as defined as it’s going to get.

What I actually enjoyed about the World Domination Summit (and Portland in general)

You have to look for some good in everything.

While I absolutely hated the experience of WDS and Portland, I tried to take something away from it.

Portland in general:

  • A beautiful location. It’s a cesspit of a city but where it’s located is very green and absolutely beautiful.
  • Food truck and coffee variety are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere.
  • Public transport and getting around on foot is super easy compared to other parts of America I’ve seen.

WDS positives:

  • There are some genuinely kind and decent people who attend. I made a few good friends in the short time I was there.
  • I managed to encounter some nuggets of useful information in the sessions regarding entrepreneurship and so on.
  • One or two of the speakers managed to give me some inpiration for projects I’m working on and general motivation (Lewis Howes and his talk on Creative Live was one).

WDS negatives

Where do I even start?

Attending World Domination Summit was my first visit to Portland, first time in the US and first time attending an international conference.

Needless to say, it left a terrible first impression.

Portland has well and truly earned its reputation as one of (if not the) worst cities in America

We’ve heard a lot about Portland lately on the news.

It used to be known for its motto:

“Keep Portland weird.”

There’s no doubt that it has an alternative, unique urban culture up there.

But these days Portland is more famous for groups like Antifa (domestic terrorists who basically have the green light from the mayor to run amok), homelessness and a plague of drug addiction.

Portland WDS

I was repulsed by the filth I saw when I was there.

Homeless drug addicts all over the place. Some of them extremely aggressive.

During one of the lunch breaks at WDS, I stepped out to get a bite to eat at one of the famous food trucks downtown.

I sat down on a bench to eat my lunch and within minutes, there was a naked woman, high on drugs and covered from head to toe in open sores, standing a few feet away from where I was eating.

Before I even finished my meal, I had a homeless guy come up to me and tell me to put my food into his shopping trolley.

I was mugged for my leftovers.

Normally I would have said, “I’m still eating this”, but I was so put off my food by what was going on around me that I was glad to get rid of it and leave.

You know what surprised me?

Portlandians (is that the term?), sat around eating their meals totally oblivious to the druggies and filth a few feet away from them.

Is this the beauty of Portland?

In addition to this, I saw all kinds of weirdness and liberal perversion.

WDS was very much about Chris Guillebeau

World Domination Summit is the brainchild of Chris Guillebeau.

And the attendees all seem to be his sycophants (I had barely heard of him before buying a ticket).

I often wonder why guys like Chris Guillebeau and Seth Godin are held up in such high esteem.

Other than blogging and writing bestsellers, what exactly have they achieved (how can anyone not see the irony of a person with no authentic life achievements write a bestseller advising others on life)?

What has Chris Guillebeau done?

Travelling to every country on earth is a fun story to tell at dinner parties but it doesn’t give you street cred as an authority on life and business.

The only noteworthy achievement Guillebeau, Godin and others like them have is that they’re experts on self-promotion.

WDS is a gigantic fanfare for Chris. 👏

WDS = a megachurch without God

I’ve never been a fan of Christian megachurches .

But I’ve attended many of them over the years.

There was a tangible sense at WDS that they are attempting to somehow replicate and exploit the feel-good, highly emotive atmosphere of a megachurch.

A truly humanist worship service.

The emphasis and praise was on the “remarkable” individuals present who aspire for “world domination”.

WDS was almost indistinguishable from a Hillsong service in many ways.

Enter Lissa Rankin

A “doctor” by the name of Lissa Rankin gave a new age speech that was next-level disturbing. I’d even call it Satanic.

In her speech, she prayed to and welcomed “angelic beings”.

Bizarrely, Lissa Rankin then proceeded to ask the auditorium to close their eyes while she sung Amazing Grace (ironically making no mention of God who that song was written to glorify).

People were literally crying around the auditorium.

Lissa Rankin WDS

I don’t usually go this far in describing events but there was a very tangible demonic sense there during that speech. It made me sick to my stomach - especially seeing the effect it had on a full auditorium.

She also made several quips against conservatives if I remember rightly.

I had to leave.

Lissa Rankin MD

The fact that Lissa Rankin is a medically licensed “professional” is frankly terrifying.

And the fact that a packed auditorium were spellbound by her bizarre incantation is even more worrying.

Lipstick and funding

One of my chief complaints about WDS is that they appear to use the registration fee money to fund projects of their choosing.

I was in disbelief toward the end of the conference to discover that my fee money was being used to fund a local far-left program for youth or something to that nature that I had never consented to.

I would have rathered my money end up in Guillebeau’s pocket.

Who does that?

No organization - profit or non-profit - should invest registration money into political and/or ideological projects without first making that clear or having the option to opt-out.

But it’s no surprise.

WDS is a conference for a certain political persuasion who, unlike myself, would not object to funding projects of that nature.

They even had a segment of the conference where men were given lipstick and asked to put it on. 💄

Overall, WDS felt like a pilgrimage spot for liberals

A prominent figure in my niche and associate talked once about his need to get back to WDS to “charge up his batteries”.

It’s a spiritual retreat for the non-spiritual.

Church for the humanists.

WDS will remain on my list of most regrettable and disturbing experiences.