I’m always pleased when a businessman finds inspiration and guidance in Ayn Rand’s writings. But it’s especially gratifying when an accomplished entrepreneur speaks out and publicly recommends her works to other businessmen.
Brad Keywell, co-founder of Groupon and Lightbank, has written a thoughtful essay on LinkedIn, urging others to read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and benefit from her Objectivist philosophy. Keywell’s article opens this way:
Everyone experiences a book that “changes their lives”—if you haven’t, then it’s time to read more provocative material. But for me, that book appeared in 1992 when a friend handed me a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and said I “had to read it.”
But all I could do is stare at the 1,000-plus pages. And laugh.
He wasn’t joking though, and thankfully I began my journey into Atlas Shrugged. The principles of the novel have since guided major parts of my life—the name John Galt has great meaning to me, and once you read the book it will be significant to you, too.
Keywell’s approach isn’t superficial. He names seven important points (including the virtue of profit-making, the importance of demanding the best from ourselves, and the value of limited government) while keeping in view the overarching value of philosophy:
Philosophy matters—a lot!
Before Atlas Shrugged, I didn’t have an appreciation of philosophy or the imperative of having an explicit moral framework in life.
But the book directed me toward insights about making the most of our limited time on earth, such as Aristotle’s conviction that the pursuit of happiness is at the core of human existence, and that the good life is one of personal fulfillment. Rand’s philosophy is built on Aristotle’s. Both agree that what we perceive around us is reality, that people are capable of dealing with this reality and pursuing a good life, and that humans are thinkers, and therefore, heroes who can achieve greatness. The book caused me to also understand that some philosophies can be inhibitors, like Plato’s doubting about whether we even exist and his denying that the material world is real.
Having a clear philosophy and faithfulness to that foundation is the cornerstone of a full, inspired life. Atlas Shrugged provides an empowering philosophy—a key element of the novel that makes its impact so lasting.
Keywell doesn’t claim to be an Objectivist, and even though I disagree with some of his formulations, I can highly recommend reading the entire essay, available here.