ayn-snap

Why Ayn Rand Would be Among the First to Snapchat

Would Aristotle have Tweeted? Would Isaac Newton have been too busy being distracted by Facebook that he would not have written The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy?

Would Ayn Rand have Snapchatted?

In reading about historical figures it is easy to forget that they were once living, breathing beings. We can read and even watch the voluminous material about Ayn Rand’s life, but forget that she would have had restless nights just as we do. We can read her works and hear that she fled Soviet Russia in 1926. We may know of her as a stolid stoic, but undoubtedly, in leaving her homeland, her family, and her friends, she wept.

The lives of those who came before us can be a guide to our own choices. We learn about staunch idealists like Ayn Rand and Winston Churchill and we become more idealistic ourselves.

Ayn Rand was a revolutionary in many ways. Not merely in challenging two thousand years of entrenched morality, but in the way she lived her life. She may not have had snapchat, but she had moving pictures.

From today’s perspective, we see her life and many of her choices as quaint. Watch the movie The Fountainhead or Love Letters, both written by Rand,and you will probably experience this feeling too. “Aww how cute she is creating little romances where they kiss on the cheek.” Seeing old films in general can cause this reaction in most people today.

No doubt in fifty years people will look back at our snapchat, instagram, facebook, and youtube activities as quaint and cute “Aww look how cute they are without cameras in their eyeballs.” Or whatever may be coming.

In our own day, especially among intellectuals and the more traditional or “pure” artists, there still remains a reluctance to fully embracing the culture which we all clearly live in today (for future generations this is January 2017).

To help you see just how revolutionary Ayn Rand was, here is a timeline of her life and that of the brand new technology: Motion Pictures. This was the artform that most inspired her to leave Petrograd for America.

When Rand was 8 years old, while living in Petrograd she saw a flicker across a screen — the motion picture camera was less than 20 years old at that time; when she moved to America she got her first job as an extra on The King of Kings, she was 20 years old and the feature length film was barely 13 years old. Even by the time she wrote and sold The Fountainheadscript in 1948, “Talkies” were barely 20 years old and the industry was not yet 40.

Every step of the way, even in her desire to adapt a teleplay for Atlas Shrugged in the 70s, she adopted whatever new technology existed as a means to tell her story. By the way, her adoption of technology had nothing to do with her age. She was planning a teleplay adaptation of Atlas Shruggedtill her death.

Let us imagine Ayn Rand being born in 1990 rather than 1905.

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springboard

Review: Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success by G. Richard Shell

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Before he was an award-winning Wharton professor, Richard Shell was a lost young man. He had defied his father, a U.S. Marine Corps General, by deciding that a life in the military wasn’t for him. It was the Vietnam era and Shell turned in his draft card to become a pacifist. But now he was lost. His life was no longer narrated for him. After a few years wandering from job-to-job, he set out to travel the world with his life savings of $3,000. Traveling from monastery to hostel, in country after country, reading philosophy, doing drugs, and trying to “find himself,” he succeeded only in finding rock bottom. Not everyone can clearly identify the exact moment they hit the bottom, but professor Shell can. It was the day he contracted hepatitis and passed out on the side of a road in Kabul. He says, “Something shifted in my life. I had pushed myself to my psychological and physical limits and had ended up alone, filthy, sick, and no closer to finding my direction than I was a year earlier” (p. 5).

It would take Shell many years to finally find his true productive purpose: teaching. As a senior faculty member at Wharton School of Business, he created the popular course “The Literature of Success: Ethical and Historical Perspectives.” His book, Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, is a wonderful condensation of this course. It takes the reader through thousands of years of “success literature” (as he identifies the genre) from Plato and Aristotle down to Covey and Gladwell.

Springboard is broken into two parts, both designed to be a guide for the reader. The goal is to answer for oneself two big questions: What is success? How will I achieve it?

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AR featured

Career Advice From Ayn Rand

“Look.” Roark got up, reached out, tore a thick branch off a tree, held it in both hands, one fist closed at each end; then, his wrists and knuckles tensed against the resistance, he bent the branch slowly into an arc. “Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That’s the meaning of life.”

“Your strength?”

“Your work.” He tossed the branch aside. “The material the earth offers you and what you make of it

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand

All great writers are polarizing. Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, certainly fits this proposition. People tend to love her work or hate it. But as Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

What cannot be denied is the enormity of Rand’s success. After having everything taken from her in Soviet Russia, she fled to America with nothing. She proceeded to work year after year, taking odd jobs; sometimes working on movie sets in Hollywood, sometimes working as a waitress. But she never lost sight of her goal: To be a novelist. It would take decades — including enduring the great depression — before she finally achieved success in writing. Her books have sold well over 30 million copies. Atlas Shrugged has shaped America’s intellectual landscape. And decades after her death not a week goes by when she isn’t mentioned somewhere in the public.

Below are some quotes taken from various novels, interviews, and other writings, where she explains her views on career success. The advice is applicable not only to Rand’s success, but as you will see, to the careers of any great achiever.

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Amelia Earhart

A Lesson for College Grads from Amelia Earhart

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“Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” – Amelia Earhart

If you’ve ever complained that some part of the world is unfair, that the economy is difficult, or that it’s just too hard to succeed in the field you have chosen, then the inspirational story about Amelia Earhart from the bestselling book The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday is for you.

Unlike those of us entering the job market today, Amelia Earhart pursued her career during a booming economy. It was the Roaring 20s and it seemed as though everyone was growing wealthy. But not Amelia, for she had the wild dream to be a pilot. There was one problem, though. She was a she. It was the 1920s and women had only recently won the right to vote. She could read about being a pilot; she could listen to the great pilots talk on the radio; she could even marry a pilot, but no one would ever put a woman in a plane.

For people like Amelia, all this was irrelevant. She had decided that she would become a pilot, and nothing would stop her. While she eked out a living as a social worker, she wrote to everyone and anyone who was putting people in the sky.

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