In October 2006, Yale University student Aleksey Vayner applied for a job with UBS, an investment bank. Amused by Vayner's apparent puffery, an unknown member of UBS staff emailed his application materials to other investment banks. The video was posted on various blogs, then YouTube, where it became an immense viral Internet phenomenon.
The video opens with an apparently scripted interview between Vayner and an offscreen voice, which consists of a single question, to which Vayner gives a lengthy response. Using considerable amounts of business jargon, Vayner praises himself and shares his various insights on success, talent, and overcoming adversity. Interspliced with the interview are clips of Vayner performing various feats, including bench pressing, skiing, playing tennis, ballroom dancing, and karate-chopping a stack of bricks. The video ends with a dedication to Radomir Kovačević and a credits sequence.
Vayner's job application includes:Cover letter
Resume: one and a half pages
Writing sample: eight pages
A glamour shot of Vayner
Seven-minute video that features the following feats by Vayner:
Interview: gives advice for achieving life goals
Bench press: 495 pounds (225 kilograms)
Downhill skiing with jumps
Tennis serve: 140 miles per hour (225 km/h or 63 m/s)
Ballroom dancing with a female dancer
Karate chop: seven bricks broken
Legal threats by Vayner against UBS, YouTube, and various blogs did not slow its progress, and only provided further fodder, subject to the Internet Streisand effect. One blog, IvyGate, became famous from its disputes with Vayner. When Vayner emailed a cease-and-desist letter demanding that IvyGate remove "Impossible is Nothing" links from its website, the blog instead published the threat and taunted Vayner to sue them. In further investigating the incident IvyGate learned and published that:Youth Empowerment Strategies, a charity Vayner said he started, claimed a "four star" rating by Charity Navigator on its website, when in fact the charity did not exist (other than an organization by the same name unrelated to Vayner) and did not receive the rating. According to The New York Times, Vayner defended himself by saying that "he had outsourced the design of his charity's website to companies in India and Pakistan and had no role in placing the Charity Navigator banner on it. Vayner told a reporter that he had the banner taken down immediately when he learned that the group had disclaimed the banner, some time around September 15. When a reporter then told Vayner that the banner was still on the site as of the preceding week, Vayner clarified that he had sent notification to take down the banner." Trent Stamp, the president of Charity Navigator, has stated that he believes Vayner should be expelled from Yale for this.
Vayner Capital Management LLC, a hedge fund Vayner says he started, had a complete website describing its personnel and investment strategies. The firm did not exist and the website content was plagiarized from a firm in Denver, Colorado.
Women's Silent Tears, a book Vayner self-published on the Holocaust, contained passages lifted verbatim from various Internet sites. Vayner claimed that the text was a "pre-publication copy".
Other investigating publications learned that Vayner has variously claimed the followingHe won two games against tennis great Pete Sampras, and taught Jerry Seinfeld and Harrison Ford to play
He is an expert in Chinese orthopedic massage
The Dalai Lama wrote his college recommendation letter
He was an action stuntman and professional skier
He is a professional model and has appeared in promotional ads for multiple clothing stores including Ann Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue
He worked for the Central Intelligence Agency
He is a master in the art of Tibetan bone-setting
He forged passports for the Russian mafia
He participated in Tibetan gladiatorial contests
He is one of four people in the state of Connecticut certified to handle nuclear waste
He was the original developer of Napster
Rumpus Magazine, a Yale University tabloid, had already exposed Vayner as a possible fake before attending Yale.
The Internet meme surrounding "Impossible Is Nothing" spread in typical fashion: by word of mouth on blogs and by Internet, then covered both as a meme and a human interest story by major newspapers, which further accelerated growth. After the first phase of popularity, blog posters and others began adding their own fanciful contributions to Vayner's legend. These include several classic meme features:Hyperbolic statements of accomplishment: Vayner is licensed to handle nuclear waste, must register his hands as lethal weapons, and participates in Tibetan gladiatorial contests.
Actor Michael Cera created a parody video, "Impossible is the Opposite of Possible".
The U.S. sitcom How I Met Your Mother featured an episode entitled "The Possimpible" in which a main character has a video resume that is a clear parody of "Impossible Is Nothing."
Vayner did not receive a job offer from UBS or any other bank. He took a leave of absence from Yale.
In January 2008, Vayner set up a website promoting his book, Millionaires' Blueprint to Success.
Cracked.com, an Internet humor site, pointed out that his book is extremely similar in layout and content to a book titled Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker in their article "Where Are They Now: Six "Stars" From Embarrassing Viral Videos," about the aftermath of several viral videos.
Vayner appeared in Winnebago Man, a 2009 documentary about Jack Rebney, whose profanity-laced outtakes from a Winnebago industrial film also became an internet meme. In it, Vayner discusses his video resume and seems to accept that his unwelcomed fame is simply a part of who he is.
On 23 January 2013, the Ivy League blog IvyGate reported, and Gawker.com later confirmed, that Vayner had died of unknown causes. A relative later said he had been told Vayner apparently had a heart attack after taking medicine of some kind.