Eighteen months ago, I sat at Sydney's International Conventional Centre and listened to a man named Dr Jordan B Peterson tell me how to live my life.
He spoke for 90 minutes to an audience of more than 9,000 people. He told us to find a purpose. Something to fight for. To make the world better than it would be otherwise. To make our bed literally and metaphorically. He said that life is hard. That we're all capable of turning into monsters. Rather than wallowing in self pity, he told us that we all have a responsibility to be the best version of ourselves. That we all ought to tilt the world a little more towards heaven and a little further away from hell.
The speaking tour came off the back of his bestselling book 12 Rules For Life which has sold more than three million copies – a figure just about unheard of in publishing. A clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, Peterson was described in early 2018 as "the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now."
Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing, however, has been discussed everywhere from The New York Times, to The Washington Post to The Australian to Mamamia, where robust debates have echoed within our office walls.
On the one hand, he preaches personal responsibility and seeks to empower ordinary people to do and be better. On the other, he erases the importance of class structures, advocates against political correctness, and, in 2016, famously refused to use gender-neutral pronouns. He's critical of feminism and the notion of white privilege, and is oftentimes seen as an alt-right figure, even if that isn't where he sees himself.
Peterson began hosting his own podcast at the end of 2016, and was a regular guest on The Joe Rogan Experience. Last year he appeared on Q&A and was the subject of a 2019 documentary called The Rise of Jordan Peterson. His career was sky-rocketing in his mid-fifties in a way he'd never anticipated.
Watch Jordan Peterson on ABC's Q&A. Post continues below.