#OCON2017 Meet Jim Brown

As ARI’s newly minted CEO, Jim Brown will kick off the annual “State of ARI” presentation at Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Each year, ARI hosts this reception and discussion of the current state of the culture and the impact the Objectivist movement is having on it.

The influence of Ayn Rand’s ideas in the culture is a topic Brown is eager to discuss. “I want to bring the message to people that they should have a genuine feeling of optimism. We are seeing tremendous progress even in the face of growing cultural problems,” he says.

Brown says his remarks will be inspired by the twentieth anniversary of Michael Paxton’s documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life.  “I became an ARI donor just before it came out,” explains Brown. “Looking at Ayn Rand’s cultural impact from year to year can feel like it is going too slowly, but in a long-term movement, you can’t measure progress instantly. The cumulative effect of efforts set in place twenty years ago is astounding.”

In preparation for his talk, Brown watched Harry Binswanger’s 1998 talk, “How Goes the Battle,” a retrospective about the Objectivist movement. Binswanger gave that talk just after A Sense of Life came out. “Harry was optimistic then,” says Brown, “but by every metric — the number of books, the number of intellectuals, the number of languages Ayn Rand’s novels have been translated into, the treatment of Ayn Rand in the media, the number of employees at ARI — we have grown faster than I ever thought possible.”  

He’s looking forward to attending OCON as ARI’s new CEO. “My main job at OCON is to meet interesting people,” says Brown, “and that sounds like the best job you could have. If you’re attending the conference, please come up and say hello.”

What did you learn from someone you disagree with?

I learned how to find common ground, to judge if differences are deal killers and to move forward if associations serve a good purpose. That applies in both business and life.

In your bookshelf you love . . .

I keep stacks of Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson and Francisco D’Anconia’s “money speech” on the shelf. When I get into discussions about economics with friends and acquaintances, I can just reach over and hand them a copy of each.

Favorite Ayn Rand character and why?

Hank Rearden. I identify strongly with his moral journey out of unearned guilt. That’s been a long-term project for me. 

Best OCON moment?

Pat Corvini’s course on numbers from OCON 2007. I don’t have the capacity to delve into a subject like math in my day-to-day life. It stretched my mind and was a complete break from what I usually focus on. That made it memorable.

What do you love about where you live?

I’ve lived in Coronado, California, for twenty years. I love the sense of community based around a genuine patriotism and pride in the military there. I can remember arriving in California for the first time in 1996 after accepting a position at Brandes Investment Partners. I was driving around looking for a place to live and happened upon Coronado. After just a few weeks there, I wondered why I would ever want to live anywhere else.

How did you come to ARI?

I retired in 2016, intending to take a small hiatus before re-entering investment in some capacity. ARI announced they were looking for a CEO during that time and I decided to throw my hat in the ring. I want to see Ayn Rand’s philosophy go forward, and ARI is the strong horse to make that happen.

What three things are you currently loving?

  • Getting a good night’s sleep. Now that I am settling in to my new position at ARI, that is happening more frequently.

  • Talking with my 17-year-old son. He takes such great and obvious joy in discovery. Anything from a new chemistry book to an English assignment can spark a deep discussion between us.

  • My wife, Kathy, just got a kitten. Watching her watch the cat is delightful. I don’t know who is having more fun.

Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 will take place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 10–15. You can find out more and register here.