Last week, I wrote that in order to save our economy and culture we need more entrepreneurs to emulate Ayn Rand’s fictional hero in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt . Certainly, emulating Galt is a challenge as he is a fictional hero who seems larger-than-life. But it is hardly an impossible feat; the late billionaire co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, was a true-to-life John Galt.
If you are an entrepreneur, I challenge you to pick the role model you most identify with—Galt or Jobs—and take action before you lose your profits, freedom and ability to innovate.
Become involved in public policy
Entrepreneurs can no longer stand by and “take it” when the federal government unveils excessive taxes and regulations. Instead, they must push Congress for their overhaul.
Repeat this loudly if you are an entrepreneur: "Get the hell out of my way!" This was Galt's response to the government puppets trying to control him. Jobs, a lifelong Democrat, also took this attitude toward the federal government. Jobs told Obama that he needed to ease up on regulating businesses and catering to unions or American jobs would inevitably flow to China. He also challenged Obama’s notion that every American should get a (taxpayer-subsidized) four-year college degree. Galt too balked at how higher education was becoming a branch of the state.
Both Galt and Jobs believed that entrepreneurs, not the federal government, should retain ownership and oversight over production. If the government is telling you as an entrepreneur how to run your business or if you are spending more time filling out forms for government inspectors than you are growing your business, then you must speak up.
‘The guilt is ours… If we who were the movers, the providers, the benefactors of mankind, were willing to let the brand of evil be stamped upon us and silently to bear the punishment for our virtues—what sort of “good” did we expect to triumph in the world?’ steel magnate and friend of Galt, Henry Rearden, ponders in Atlas Shrugged.
Rand’s philosophy is that when someone creates something, they have a moral obligation to oversee its production. For example, when the government tries to use Rearden’s metal for a mystery “Project X,” he says: “I do not wish to sell my Metal to those whose purpose is kept secret from me. I created that Metal. It is my moral responsibility to know for what purpose I permit it to be used.”
If you don’t speak up, and your company achieves success, the government will use your name to try marketing socialist policies to the American public. The government stooges in Atlas Shrugged did this with a gun to Galt’s back as they pitched the “John Galt Plan.” President Obama essentially did this when he used Steve Jobs’ name (after he was dead and could no longer defend himself) at the 2012 State of the Union Address where he pitched socialist policies like the Buffett Rule as a way to create “…the next Steve Jobs.”
Be a ‘flame-spotter’
You can’t protest the federal government alone. You must recognize and recruit other entrepreneurs and bring out the best in them. Encourage them to push themselves, be courageous and join you in defending entrepreneurial freedom in the marketplace. Both Galt and Jobs did this.
When Galt walked off the job at a company (Twentieth Century Motor) that had become a socialized bureaucracy, he said: “I went out to become a flame-spotter. I made it my job to watch for those bright flames in the growing night of savagery, which were the men of ability, the men of the mind—to watch their course, their struggle, and their agony—and to pull them out… I gave them the pride they did not know they had.”
Galt brought his ‘men of the mind’ into a secluded community called Galt’s Gulch to rest, preserve their ideas and innovate freely before they would return and restore American capitalism: “The road is cleared. We are going back to the world.”
Likewise, Jobs recruited the best and brightest into Apple—a company that created wealth, jobs and built products that revolutionarily improved the lives of countless ordinary Americans. One of his employees, Debi Coleman, explained Jobs’ charismatic management style thus: “You did the impossible, because you didn’t realize it was impossible.”
Jobs also rallied his fellow Silicon Valley tech giants like Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, John Chambers, Larry Ellison, Carol Bartz and Reed Hastings; he organized a meeting where they attempted to advise Obama on how to be more pro- business.
Galt’s motor. Jobs’ iPad. Both innovators had a vision—which they executed in a virtuous way—thereby attracting other talented people to their vision and revolutionizing the world. Now, go. Be like them.