In today’s New York Times, author and columnist James B. Stewart quotes Yaron Brook, the Ayn Rand Institute’s executive chairman, at length in an article titled “As a Guru, Ayn Rand May Have Limits. Ask Travis Kalanick.” The article discusses Rand’s influence on a growing number of businessmen and entrepreneurs, including Kalanick, the recently departed chief executive of Uber. Kalanick, the article points out, was a fan who even used cover art from her novel The Fountainhead as his avatar on Twitter.

More generally, Stewart’s article asks why a number of entrepreneurs who count Rand as an inspiration have been involved in significant failures. In answer, ARI’s Yaron Brook explains that, while many in the business world are fans of Ayn Rand, “[f]ew business people have actually read her essays and philosophy and studied her in depth” and that Kalanick appears to have taken only a “superficial inspiration from her ideas.” The article continues:

[Brook] emphasized that Rand would never have tolerated sexual harassment or any kind of mistreatment of employees. Rand “had enormous respect for people who worked hard and did a good job, whether a secretary or a railroad worker,” he said. “Her heroes ran businesses with employees who were very loyal because they were treated fairly. Of course, some people had to be fired. But she makes a big deal out of the virtue of justice, which applies in business as well as politics.”  

Brook also points out that Rand’s critics are eager to link Rand to her fans’ failures while ignoring conspicuous success stories like that of John A. Allison IV, who built BB&T Corporation into a banking powerhouse having studied Rand’s works “in depth.”

Read the whole article here.