OSI has had a highly productive first year, full of achievements and extraordinary results. I’d like to share with you some highlights and our plans for the future. (You can make a tax-deductible contribution here.)
One year ago, Sarah and I, along with our amazing team, launched OSI with a vital mission: to teach the rising generation about the importance of philosophy, the principles of Objectivism, and related ideas for loving life and advancing liberty.
Here’s an indication of what we’ve done in just twelve months (June 2020–May 2021).
- We produced and delivered twenty-four courses to 394 students. These courses, each six to twelve hours in length, include “Introduction to Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Loving Life,” “How to Write Powerfully in Defense of Liberty,” “The History and Philosophy of Liberty in America,” “Ayn Rand’s Place in the History of Philosophy,” “The Elements of Thinking in Principles,” “Your Supersystem for Flourishing,” “The Art of Finding and Creating Opportunity,” and “Henry Hazlitt Meets Ayn Rand.”
- We produced and published 104 episodes of three podcasts—“Philosophy for Flourishing,” “The Hero Show,” and “Culture and Causation”—with topics ranging from “Aristotle on Means, Ends, and the Good Life,” to “Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin,” to an interview with Walter Williams.
- On OSI’s blog, Level Up, we published sixty-one articles by sixteen writers on subjects ranging from rational decision-making frameworks, to soul-fueling art, to the source and value of self-esteem.
- We created an all-star lineup and a stellar program for TOS-Con 2021: Philosophy for Freedom and Flourishing (July 21–24 in Boston), where we expect 300 to 400 attendees. Speakers include Cal Newport, Gloria Álvarez, Andrew Bernstein, Jason Hill, Timothy Sandefur, Doug McGuff, Rajshree Agarwal, Jon Hersey, and more.
- We introduced millions of people to Ayn Rand’s ideas through two hugely successful video collaborations with PragerU—“God vs. Ayn Rand” (a Fireside Chat with Dennis Prager and me) and “Understanding Ayn Rand” (a five-minute video narrated by Gloria Álvarez and co-scripted by OSI and PragerU). These videos currently have more than 4.5 million views. (We have more projects with PragerU in the works.)
- In collaboration with Students for Liberty (SFL), we produced a three-part webinar on “Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Life, Liberty, and Happiness.” This series has been published on SFL’s “Learn Liberty” YouTube channel, which has more than 250,000 subscribers. (More projects are planned with SFL as well.)
- We created the “Republic of Letters,” a twice-monthly meeting of writers and intellectuals committed to improving their thinking and communication skills to become better, more effective advocates of the principles on which freedom and flourishing depend. (RoL participants are producing high-quality articles for The Objective Standard, Students for Liberty, Quillette, Foundation for Economic Education, and other outlets.)
OSI is helping people to discover, understand, and apply the principles of rational, life-serving philosophy. And the people we’re reaching and engaging with are delighted. Indeed, we’ve received so much positive feedback that it could fill a book. So I’ll provide just a few examples from two areas: my interview with Dennis Prager and OSI’s courses.
Here’s how Prager’s fans responded to our discussion:
“I want to thank Mr. Biddle for appearing on Dennis Prager’s Fireside Chat. I am a devout Christian and was a bit skeptical, but I was enormously impressed with the civility, mutual respect shown, the depth of subject matter discussed, and especially how much I was challenged to think! I wish there had been more time to answer the additional questions. I hope there will be a follow-up in the future.” —Barb
“Your breakdown of the evidence as to why we don’t have to believe in a god to do what is morally right was, in my opinion, spot on. It was an absolute delight getting to listen to you, as well as Mr. Prager. I look forward to exploring OSI’s website as well as reading more information for further insight into freedom as an atheist.” —Robert
“I always enjoy the Fireside Chats, but this show was so great! A civil exchange of ideas, in which two people agree to disagree on some ideas, but are willing to explore their perspectives in a friendly and educated manner. Bravo!” —Debbie
“I watched your Fireside Chat with Dennis Prager and wanted to thank you for illuminating the philosophy of Objectivism for us. Though I don’t totally understand it yet and may not totally accept all its tenets, it is rare these days to find anyone who believes that objective truth even exists let alone anyone who promotes the importance of discovering it and living in the freedom it provides. Your efforts are to be commended.” —James
Here’s what Objectivists and fans of Ayn Rand are saying about the Fireside Chat:
“I loved your calm, eloquent explanations of Objectivism and the deft way you repeatedly turned the conversation to fundamental issues. You made clear that Objectivism stands in sharp contrast to what young people are taught in schools, churches, and the culture at large.” —Kevin
“The results you have achieved from the Dennis Prager interview are almost too good to believe. This accomplishment, made so early on in the existence of OSI, is exactly the type of thing that is needed if we are to make progress towards reversing the accelerating downward spiral in our culture. Kudos to you and your team—a very impressive start!” —Brent
“I just watched the Prager video again, this time with my son . . . That’s my third listen and it keeps getting better every time. In my 30 years with Objectivism, this has already proven to be one of the most effective pieces of content published ever. I’ve waited a very long time to find video content that I could proudly forward to my non-Objectivist friends, that elegantly and succinctly encapsulates Objectivism without alienating the audience. Now, thanks to your efforts, I have one.” —Rob
“Hearty and profound congratulations on this interview. The very fact that you engaged so successfully with Dennis was, to my mind, a breakthrough for Objectivism . . . I could say many good things about this conversation, but suffice it to say your combination of knowledge, benevolence, patience, and genuine interest in what Prager had to say was ‘pitch-perfect.’ You represented our philosophy well!” —Jim
Here’s what students are saying about OSI’s courses:
“[Your Supersystem for Flourishing] is packed with principles and tips to enhance your life. I’m already using some of these ideas, for example, the 5-second rule. If I want to start a new habit, I now move into action quickly.” —Ellen
“[Ayn Rand’s Place in the History of Philosophy] was an excellent course from which I learned a great deal—even though I knew quite a lot about philosophy at the beginning.” —Paul
“[The Art of Finding and Creating Opportunities] provided many great viewpoints on how to look at the world from a perspective of creativity and growth. I recommend this course to anyone who is looking to improve his or her life.” —Keira
“[In How to Write Powerfully in Defense of Liberty] I worked with professional writers and professional editors, and I went through the process that you would actually go through to write something professionally. Learning that all the roadblocks you face when trying to write a piece can be overcome, and getting feedback throughout that process, was incredibly helpful. This course has enabled me to become a much better writer.” —Maggie
All of the above goes to OSI’s four-point approach:
- Show people how rational philosophy integrates with self-development, economics, history, entrepreneurship, art appreciation, writing, and more.
- Show them how these integrations can help them to think more clearly, live more fully, and defend freedom more effectively.
- Engage and collaborate with other organizations to reach active minds and introduce them to our ideas and programs.
- Constantly improve our systems, methods, and products.
In OSI’s first year, we introduced millions of people to Ayn Rand’s ideas, taught in-depth courses to nearly 400 students, engaged thousands of minds with our podcasts and articles, and broke new ground in effective ways to advance Objectivism.
Now we aim to multiply our efforts and expand our reach by orders of magnitude.
OSI’s expenses in our first year of operations were $510,000. The payroll portion of that total—including all salaries (Sarah’s, mine, everyone’s)—was $303,000. That’s the salary of a single executive at a typical nonprofit.
OSI is lean, efficient, and extremely effective. We’ve done more in our first year with $510,000 than many other organizations do in a year with ten times that budget. Imagine OSI ten times larger and ten times more effective than it was in its first year of existence.
We’re working to create that future—and more. For instance:
- We’re organizing and engaging in more collaborations to introduce many millions more people to Ayn Rand’s ideas.
- We’re creating and delivering more courses, constantly improving their quality, and helping more people to engage deeply with our life-serving ideas.
- We’re producing and constantly improving OSI’s podcasts, which help people to learn about the role of philosophy in their lives and get involved.
- Beginning in 2022, we’ll be delivering several TOS-Cons each year in various locations around the world, helping more people to discover and enjoy our philosophy for life, liberty, and happiness.
This is how OSI is changing our world for the better. We have a proven concept, a powerful new way of advancing Objectivism, and a highly competent team. We are now positioned to make massive positive change.
And to do so, we need your help.
Will you make a tax-deductible contribution to help us continue and expand our efforts?
I appreciate your consideration.
Director of Education and Development
Objective Standard Institute
Objective Standard Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. OSI’s federal identification number is 84-3575279. OSI’s mailing address is PO Box 2745, Laguna Hills, CA 92654.