A Different Life

Some time ago (2011), an article entitled, "A Different Kind of Life," caught my eye, reminding my of these words of Ayn Rand:

"From the beginning of history, two antagonists have stood face to face, two opposite types of men: the Active and the Passive. The Active Man is the producer, the creator, the originator, the individualist. His basic need is independence—in order to think and work."

"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone." [Ayn Rand, For The New Intellectual - The Fountainhead, "The Soul Of An Individualist"] [Emphasis mine.]

True creators, producers, and innovators are always different, always individualists.

An Individualist

Paul Baran, was a true creator and individualist who passed away on March 26, 2011. Paul Baran is a familiar name to me, as it would be to anyone with many years experience in the field of telecommunications. He is best known for his work in developing what made all modern telecommunications possible, the data packet and packet switching.

Paul Baran is most often associated with the Internet, which packet switching made possible, but Paul was, as the article states, "the first true lifelong entrepreneur."

"Baran created his first enterprise in 1968. He was working on his last, one of the most ambitious of his career, on the day he died. In between, Baran, often teamed with his business partner, Steve Millard, and later his son Dave, founded as many as a dozen companies. As with any entrepreneur, many of these companies failed. But Baran also had as many hits as anyone. Once, after I introduced him as having founded four $1 billion public companies, he quietly corrected me: 'Only three. The fourth was only $700 million.'"

Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet with Bob Kahn, reportedly said about Paul Baran, "Paul wasn't afraid to go in directions counter to what everyone else thought was the right or only thing to do."

"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current," which is exactly what Paul Baran did.

And He Shrugged

Paul's was not a wholesale strike, like John Galt's, but a piecemeal refusal to submit his mind to political force, choosing to live his life as freely as possible.

"As decisive as Baran was in creating his companies, he was equally decisive—even ruthless—about walking away from them. ... more than once—most recently with a smart home electric metering design—he abandoned brilliant inventions because he didn't have the time nor patience to deal with the obstacles (usually government bureaucracies) needed to make them real."

Paul Baran was an independent individualist, living his own life for his own sake, and the entire world is the beneficiary.