I have been an admirer of Ayn Rand and a supporter of her philosophy for almost 50 years. My knowledge of Objectivism is extensive. It is from that position that I can say that Ayn Rand stands to philosophy as Darwin to biology or Einstein to physics. She completes what Aristotle started and she supplies the philosophy the Founding Fathers vaguely sensed but could not define and defend.
First, I must give my standard warning: Never believe anything anyone tells you about Ayn Rand (yes, including me) until you have enough understanding of her thought to be able to judge not just her but also those who claim knowledge of her (yes, including me).
There is no convincing people who reject reason, so I won’t address anyone who claims to have read Ayn Rand and to have rejected her thought. I will only say to anyone with an honest curiosity that the only way to judge Ayn Rand and Objectivism is to first read her major works in both fiction AND non-fiction. Objectivism is much more that a few speeches from novels or a host of misrepresentations in academia and the media. As a complete philosophical system at odds with millenia of irrationalism, Objectivism can’t be understood from a little undergraduate dabbling. It takes work that a lot of people are simply not up to.
Finally, I ask: How does one take a philosophy that advocates that you live your life for your values, your success, your happiness - and twist that into the idea that one should be emotionless if not heartless? This reason/emotion dichotomy is a stereotype going back millenia and it does not apply to Ayn Rand or anyone who understands her. Your goal in life should be a happy life, not preparation for death.