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‘Going Galt’: When Technological Innovation Stops and Entrepreneurs Disappear

Among devotees of Ayn Rand’s novels, the ultimate form of protest by business owners – a literary brand of wish fulfillment for political absolutists – is the idea of “Going Galt”: An homage to John Galt, the beau idéal of Randian masculinity, selfishness-as-a-virtue and opposition against the State, all of it cataloged in Atlas Shrugged, a thousand-plus page novel of self-imposed exile (by capitalists) and lengthy speeches better suited for the forced applause of members of the Politburo or compulsory attendance by the island prisoners of Fidel Castro.

But, in this dystopian world of deliberate economic collapse, where inventors and intellectuals retire to Galt’s Gulch, until New York City loses electricity – the skyline blackened; its chrome, concrete and monochromatic shine temporarily obliterated – in this coup by Rand’s heroes (and heroines) to reorganize society, there is some genuine truth. Meaning: When innovation stops and entrepreneurs vanish, there can be no progress.

On a practical level, this point is true. In fact, Robert Samuelson, columnist for the Washington Post, has a piece (“Where have all the entrepreneurs gone?”) about this very subject, arguing that the United States may have a “senile economy,” which is old, rigid and undynamic.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than within the area of safeguarding confidential information, in which marketing too often supplants innovation and sloganeering acts as a (poor) substitute for technological advancement.

I write these words from experience, where, in my role as Founder and CEO of Impervio E-IRM System (Enhanced Information Rights Management), I seek to provide – and I already offer – an alternative to the antiquated and immovable situation described in their own respective ways by Madam Rand and Mister Samuelson.

Indeed, there is an inversion of Galt’s Gulch among the majority of companies that claim to protect and encrypt data. This reversal is a sort of silent act of collusion, where, instead of suspending economic progress as a protest against onerous taxes or an invasive government, executives have Gone Galt to defend mediocrity and ensure the consistent flow of royalties for inferior products.

This scenario defies Rand’s depiction of the capitalist-as-savior, a mythological figure as revered as the lone cowboy, the solitary sheriff or the brave explorer, whose courage propels America to new heights – literally – culminating in the ultimate ascension of Economic Man: The planting of the Stars and Stripes on the surface of the Moon, a lasting tribute to adventurers; outfitted with modern equipment and a gold, reflective sun shield, but possessed of the eternal values of independence.

In a word: Wrong!

The lack of innovation within the realm of information rights management disproves this thesis, leaving entire industries vulnerable to attack and theft. From financial transactions and mobile payments to medical files and content from major publishers, the residents of Galt’s Gulch prove that, requests from clients to the contrary, mediocrity can reign supreme in such a vital arena.

Delivering Excellence: A New Standard for Information Rights Management and Business Leadership

The theme of this discussion, which is also the overriding issue about defending the intellectual property of individuals and businesses, is simple: Innovate to win, or succumb to insignificance as a failed attempt at survival.

The point about true innovation is that, and this rule applies to my own work on behalf of Impervio, new fields emerge where you are the leader; new opportunities arise, in which you have no competition, and there is strong demand for your respective services.

Let others Go Galt by defending a shrinking piece of digital acreage, consumed by an appetite for profits at the expense of a craving for technological advancement. Let others be the cheerleaders for the status quo.

Our duty – a responsibility shared by kindred spirits – is to lead.

With boldness and confidence, we shall advance towards that same destination labeled Progress and Success.

That is the essence of genuine leadership.

Randy Reaney  is the Founder and CEO of Impervio E-IRM System (Enhanced Information Rights Management), a dynamic new software company comprised of some of the world’s brightest and most sought-after security, software and technology experts. He has over twenty-five years of global business experience with organizations in the software, banking, real estate, media, sales and marketing fields. 

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