1) Tell us who you are? What’s the couple of sentence summary of what you do and what you’ve done?
I’m Heather Wagenhals, native Phoenician (from Phoenix, Arizona, that is!), author, speaker, professional coach, and radio talk-show host. I am a biology-based personal finance expert, certified identity theft risk management Specialist, and in my writing, speaking, and personal and professional appearances I discuss the “why we do what we do” from a biology and behavior based perspective. I help people identify what’s keeping them where they are from where they want to be, and how to deploy specific techniques to achieve whatever it is they desire whether it’s better money management, better weight management, career management, etc.
2) When did you first become familiar with Ayn Rand and her works?
My first exposure to Ayn Rand was when I was eleven years old. As a super nerdy bookish super jock, I always had all my book reports done for the whole semester within the first month or so. My sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Harris, would not let me read books less than a couple inches thick in an attempt to slow me down and Atlas Shrugged was one of those books.
3) What most interested you or hit you with an “Ah hah!” about her thinking?
I came to the philosophy via story and not formal philosophical instruction. I picked up Atlas again at the age of nineteen accidentally. I was always kind of being a tomboy and liking things the boys did like playing football, and auto shop. Even though I liked girly girl things too like being a cheerleader, I loved the fact that Dagny competed successfully in a world dominated by men. I liked how Dagny was neither here nor there about it, as if it was just a foregone conclusion that she would be successful regardless of who she was competing against. Not a specific Objectivist theme per se, but an amazingly powerful role model for young women.
4) How does her work help or inform you today?
Ayn Rand’s work heavily influences what I do because of at the core of what I teach, whether it’s my sales training seminars, money management, or weight management workshops, I give people the resources and the tools to achieve the Man of Reason ideal Rand created in her books. My goal is to give people the tools and to help them build a bridge from where they are to actualizing the Objectivist inside of them.
5) Rand wanted us to aspire to a world as it can be and should be. Can you tell us something optimistic you see in the world today or in the future?
What I see in the world today is a new group of readers to works of fiction and philosophy half a century old because they realize they are living in a dystopian society and are tired of reaching outward for solutions that do not exist or are just merely hyperbole that will continue to be unrealized. Through my clients and customers I have learned that people will not change until the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same. And because so many people are tired of being in pain, they are motivated to make change and for that, I have of the optimism of a prosperous Objectivist future for us all.
[You can hear Heather speak at The Atlas Society Summit in Las Vegas, starting July 11!]