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Forging a Path to the Future: An Interview with ARI’s New CEO

Objectivist Summer Conference 2018 has come and gone, but not without making its mark on the 600-plus people in attendance, including Tal Tsfany, ARI’s new President and CEO. In this interview, Tsfany relates highlights from the biggest OCON to date and describes some exciting details about his plans for ARI’s future.

So, Tal, how was your first OCON as CEO of ARI?

Well, I have to admit that, at first, it was a bit overwhelming. Being at the center of this amazing event, meeting so many new people and having so much energy directed at you, was quite an experience. But about a day and a half in, and as the event started ramping up, I relaxed and started to really enjoy it. And as the weekend progressed, especially after my talk, the positive feedback and support were truly inspiring and motivating.

Sounds like hard work . . .

By the end of the conference, I was running on very little sleep, but it was well worth it. I met hundreds of interesting people, heard amazing stories, and discovered so much willingness to support ARI, and not just financially—people offered technical expertise, help with implementation and marketing, and new partnerships. It was heartwarming to see how many believe in our mission and want to help drive it forward.

Bottom line, participating in OCON as CEO of ARI was exhausting but tremendously rewarding. I have committed to ambitious goals for the Institute and believe we have the clarity, focus and resources needed to achieve them.

Tell us a little about the planning that goes into putting an event like OCON together.

My first goal was to ensure that OCON 2018 was the best OCON ever. Many of those in attendance would tell you we accomplished this goal, myself included. The amount of time and effort that goes into organizing our biggest event of the year, with limited resources, is significant. I want to give kudos to Anu Seppala, Keith Lockitch and the entire ARI staff, including all our volunteers, for their outstanding work.

Then there are the speakers and the content. We had more than forty featured speakers at OCON 2018 and the caliber was phenomenal. Here’s an anecdote—I was standing in the hall when people came out of Lisa VanDamme’s session. I saw dozens of red, teary eyes and thought to myself, “What did I miss this time?” I can’t wait to see livestream recordings of several of the sessions I missed.

On top of that, it was remarkable to see how an idea that was born over dinner with Dave Rubin turned into a compelling, jam-packed event with Jordan Peterson, Yaron Brook and Greg Salmieri. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was surprised how quickly the discussion turned to epistemology—and to think that more than 250,000 people have tuned in on YouTube to view it so far! Yaron and Greg did an exceptional job of presenting the power and consistency of Objectivism, showing that for each topic raised, regarded as unanswerable or confusing, Objectivism offers a clear, integrated answer. It was quite an experience.

We will continue to strive to provide the best speakers and the best content for future events.

Can you share more about the goals you are setting for ARI?

After some well-needed rest, we’re back in the office and the team has hit the ground running. For starters, we’re planning to host an ARI conference in Europe. I’m sure many of those who traveled across the ocean to join us in Newport Beach were happy to hear that announcement at the conference.

ARI will focus on content creation, curation and distribution. We are scheduled to release many new courses and talks that will be available on ARI Campus and on YouTube. Our goals include producing ten times more Campus content than currently available, offering learning tracks to people at different levels of knowledge, hosting a series of webinars and podcasts, and rolling out the Campus mobile app. At present, we have fourteen new courses set to be released, and we’ve announced that the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC) is now open to all. The registration for OAC is closing later in August and I myself am planning to join it.

Another of our focus areas is the immediate release of a gold mine of existing content. We will disseminate incredible content from Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff and other prominent Objectivist intellectuals to as many people as possible around the world.

Doing more also includes creating more intellectuals. We are building a plan around the concept of the “Intellectual Incubator” that starts with education through the OAC, leads to the Junior Fellows Program and, ultimately, to ARI’s support of new Objectivist intellectuals as they develop their careers as educators, communicators, academics or businesspeople.

How will you measure success?

We are implementing many business-oriented practices that include clear measurement and quantitative objectives that evaluate our ongoing levels of impact. We have a wonderful team that I hope will get bigger. ARI truly has an amazing content product, and we have robust plans to make a significant impact throughout the world. We also have a new ARI membership program that allows for monthly, quarterly or annual contributions, and we hope that as we grow our influence, more individuals dedicated to spreading the life-promoting ideas of Objectivism will join us on the path to a world of reason, individualism and capitalism.