On the latest episode of Giving Ventures, DonorsTrust Vice President Peter Lipsett talks with Tal Tsfany president and CEO of the Ayn Rand Institute and Jennifer Grossman, CEO of Atlas Society. The three talk about the life of Ayn Rand, a philosopher and bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction.
Students Worldwide Requesting Copies of Ayn Rand’s Work
Ayn Rand Institute staff work to propagate Ayn Rand’s view of the world—namely, objectivism, a term coined by the Russian-born philosopher. Rand disseminated her philosophy through her books, thereby introducing the world to the four main tenets of objectivism: reality, reason, self-interest and capitalism.
“There are tens of thousands of students all over the world asking us for free books—both of fiction and non-fiction—and we’re doing a lot of events, conferences in America, Latin America, Europe,” says Tsafany, adding his organization even has a mobile app with lessons on Rand’s philosophical principles.
So far, the institute has distributed hundreds of thousands of Rand’s books, translated her writing into 36 different languages and delivered 200,000 lessons on her novels, including “Anthem,” “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” a portrayal of the ideal man and—arguably—Rand’s seminal work.
Ayn Rand ‘Next Best Philosopher After Aristotle’
The Fountainhead details the life and work of protagonist Howard Roark, an innovator whose story is allegedly based off of Fallingwater architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Rand, through her protagonist, anthropomorphizes the tenets of objectivism, creating her ideal man and a foil to would-be collectivists.
“[Rand] overturns thousands of years of philosophical thinking; she goes against most of what is being taught today in philosophy departments. She says—well, she’s building on Aristotle and I think she is—and it’s a big thing to say—she is the next best philosopher after Aristotle,” says Tsfany.
A libertarian icon, Rand was born under Soviet rule and saw first-hand the destructive influence of collectivism and communism. Her work is an outpouring of that first-hand experience and a legacy Tsfany and his team are preserving by sharing her books with students all over the world.
Nonprofit CEO Bullied for Her Achievement Drawn to Work of Ayn Rand
Jennifer Grossman, CEO of the Atlas Society, is one such student that—unbeknownst to her at the time—during her primary-school days was building a foundation for hard work and achievement that would later attract the nonprofit leader to the life and work of Ayn Rand.
“I had experiences where was bullied, not necessarily for a lisp or a handicap, but I was bullied for achievements and for my strengths and not my weaknesses. And, looking back at that time, I think that I had my first experience with envy and it wasn’t until reading Ayn Rand’s literature … that it really helped to capture some of what my life experiences have been…”
That’s when Grossman says she determined she wanted to share Rand’s ideas with other students who may have experienced similar bullying or who are being spoon-fed messages that aren’t empowering and don’t encourage students to pursue their full potential.
“I decided that this is something I really wanted to share with other young people so that they would be inoculated against the mind viruses of envy, entitlement, victim-hood—and I think that Ayn Rand’s literature does a great job of that.”
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