Instead, within the space of minimal but significant structure and discipline, I ended up doing a lot of reading and thinking about life and its possibilities. I remember, in particular, reading Atlas Shrugged that first summer on countless subway rides. After I’d emerge from a station, I’d reflect on the story. And with New York’s great skyscrapers as a backdrop—towering symbols of human aspiration—I grew excited by my own prospects. I wanted to strive for excellence in one endeavor or another while also never forgetting that anyone and everyone I might meet, from college professors to corporate CEOs to the old men who sat on the benches in Battery Park, harboring lifetimes of unshared wisdom in their hearts—potentially had something to teach me.
I'm always heartened to know that Ayn Rand's work has helped others to see man's excellence.