I read "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" when I was 18-19 (16-17 ya). I identified with her philosophy at the time and it drove me. I worked hard and became successful in every industry I touched over the next 5 years and was making over $100k/yr by the time I was 23. Then I realized that my life was shit. My work ethic and philosophy had driven my family away and distanced me from other good friends and potential new friends. In my misery I threw away everything that I had worked for (capital) and was left in almost the same position as when I started only with a lower credit score and and a new passion - getting drunk.
Long story short; it took me many years to realize where I had gone wrong. The motivation that I derived from AR was gone and a new passion took over. I live at the poverty level with my wife and second child but we spend more time together than most families and are happy to spend the rest of our time educating ourselves whether it be through classes or reading at home. Ayn Rand's books still sit on my bookshelf as a reminder of the humanity they, and I, denied for so long.
Hi PRG! It was a time in my life when I thought I had to grow up and become a "productive member of society" (I always want to say that phrase with half lidded eyes and drool coming out of my mouth). I didn't know what the book was about or who AR was at that time. I was looking for something and that was what fell in my lap. But thanks to Wanderer up there I now think my dad might have had an objectivist type of influence on me as well.
Yeah, I'm in no hurry to sacrifice my lifestyle for money any time soon again. I remember taking my ex-fiance to the beach for the weekend several times. We stayed in nice hotels but I was always so tired from working 70+ hours a week that I never enjoyed any of the amenities and hardly ever even set foot on the beach! Just about every other time I'd end up driving back to work on a Saturday morning from the hotel and come back late that night, get up Sunday, pack up, eat and go home. No enjoyment at all....