Pluto’s entrance into Aquarius in March 2023 has coincided with remarkable technological advancements that have swept across society. Pluto, known as the planet of transformation, has the ability to reconcile the realms of chaos and order within both the world and ourselves, leading to a sense of wholeness. Aquarius, an independent and freedom-loving sign, governs the field of technology. It compels us to question how we can liberate ourselves from our own limitations. So, how does all of this relate to the recent rise of AI?
Throughout history, technology has always been designed to alleviate burdens and provide us with the freedom to explore new possibilities. Each technological advancement has offered us opportunities to delve into deeper aspects of our being as we evolve as a species. Less than a century ago, societal roles dictated our lives, leaving little room for self-exploration compared to the freedom we have today.
It is amusing to think about what our grandparents would have said if someone suggested practices like breathwork or yoga to ease their burdens during the Great Depression. They would likely have responded with confusion, as they were unaware of any other way of life. Their focus was on fulfilling basic needs and taking care of their families without the luxuries we have today, such as readily available Whole Foods or Amazon deliveries.
In the 1920s, gathering food, milk, and eggs could occupy an entire day. Today, technology takes care of these tasks for us. Our grandparents didn’t contemplate the meaning of life, our place in the Universe, or the why and how of our existence because their faith provided answers.
As technology rapidly progressed throughout the 20th century, societal roles evolved, granting individuals more freedom to make personal choices about their lives. Computer technology, in particular, experienced astonishing growth as we entered the 21st century.
For those of us born in the seventies and raised in the eighties, comparing the past and present is a fascinating perspective. We may even long for the simplicity of the eighties that our children will never experience. The younger generation, having grown up in a world where technology is the norm, lacks the before-and-after perspective that their parents possess. There is a sense of ambiguity surrounding what might be lost when we rely so heavily on technology.
For example, as a 15-year-old, I would have had 150 phone numbers memorized. Today, I have to look up my son’s phone number when filling out paperwork. However, when I consider the value that technology brings, I find myself less nostalgic about my Talking Heads records and Pearl Jam tapes. I appreciate the convenience of having access to every Beatles song ever released on Apple Music.
On March 23rd, 2023, Pluto made its first entry into Aquarius in 240 years. Coincidentally, ChatGPT also released an update on the same day, allowing plugins that enable ChatGPT to access up-to-date information, perform computations, and utilize third-party services. While ChatGPT was initially launched in November 2022, this recent release, coinciding with Pluto’s move into Aquarius, transformed the product and captured the attention of the culture. Everyone was discussing the rise of AI and its implications for society.
Speculations about the positive transformation AI could bring to the workplace and concerns regarding its potential to further diminish our ability to think for ourselves were commonplace. As with any new technology, there are gains and losses to consider. It is our responsibility to determine how to use AI appropriately. We can draw parallels to everyday appliances like refrigerators and washers/dryers. It’s difficult to imagine living without these conveniences today. Yet, before the advent of refrigeration, we were more mindful of food waste, sourcing only what we needed and ensuring it was consumed before spoiling. Now, my kids open a full fridge and claim there’s “nothing to eat.” Does this mean we should give up refrigeration in the name of sustainability? Of course not. However, it is incumbent upon us to make an effort to be less wasteful. The key lies in finding balance rather than adopting extreme resolutions.
The same principle applies to ChatGPT. Should we ban it due to potential misuse? No, but we can set an example of using it with integrity and hold society accountable if it is used irresponsibly. While a high school student seeking an easy A might save time by using ChatGPT for a book report, they should be cautious. Pluto represents consequences in all forms, and it is wise to resist the temptation to utilize this technology to cut corners.
Pluto in Aquarius presents an opportune time to reassess our reliance on technology. By integrating both the tried and true methods and the new, we can achieve balance.
For instance, regenerative farming combines modern technology with ancient agricultural wisdom, offering a solution for carbon sequestration. While modern advances offer various products and pills to enhance sleep quality, stepping outside in the morning to bask in sunlight can help rebalance our circadian rhythms, leading to deeper and more restful sleep. When combined with a Sleepnumber bed that allows adjustment of mattress firmness, our sleep hygiene becomes stronger than if we relied solely on technology.
We need not fear technology as long as we consciously incorporate the wisdom passed down by our ancestors. This approach allows for growth and evolution without stagnation or the destruction of the environment and culture caused by technology.
Harmony requires balance in all aspects of life. Regardless of one’s faith or spiritual beliefs, various schools of thought have demonstrated the need for collective efforts to restore balance when we veer too far from center. With Pluto in Aquarius, we are being compelled to make peace with the shadows and dispel fears regarding their perceived implications.
Astrology, at its core, is never about causing harm but rather seeking balance, and the rise in AI is the ideal time for all of us to practice just that.
Businesses regularly turn to personality assessments such as the DiSC profile, Myers Briggs or the Enneagram to assess and build team dynamics. However, what I consider the original personality assessment is making a rapid return to the workplace, and I am here to encourage you to consider utilizing the ultimate tool for understanding human potential — astrology.
Let’s focus on the planet Saturn. Where it falls within a birth chart can tell us a lot about someone, including their level of discipline, work ethic and how they respond to having responsibility. It is said timing is everything, and that is particularly true when considering the energy of the transiting Saturn and its potential implications in the workplace.
Saturn is a force of reality that can ground us and lead us to our true path in life. However, during certain times in our lives, Saturn’s influence can be challenging to navigate. In this article, we will explore the different Saturn cycles that occur during the working years and how it might be playing out in your office.
In this article, I am going to focus on the working years to midlife and briefly describe what we can generally expect not only from ourselves, but also those on our team.
The Saturn cycles occur every 7-8 years and can be broken down into four sections each.
Second Saturn Square Saturn
Ages 21-22 are typically a period of transition that often coincides with the end of the college years. Whether you have finished college or not, there is often a feeling of pressure and desire to go after something. This influence comes from our societal disposition, and what we think we “should” do along with our early conditioning. It’s a good age to hire because there is an eagerness to explore, even if it’s not the right path. But if it is the right path? Congratulations! You just might have hit a home run with the hire.
At 29.5, the Saturn Return occurs, which can feel like a stripping away of what doesn’t belong to us. It’s a time of endings, and it can be tough to hire someone during this period. When I speak to entrepreneurs, I often get knowing nods followed by a story of someone leaving the corporate world and starting their business during this time.
To truly understand the impact of the Saturn Return, we must look back at our earliest Saturn transits. At this point in life, we have been conditioned by family (Saturn at ages 7-8), peers (ages 14-15) and society (ages 21-22). You are inching toward aged 30 and almost 75 percent of you belongs mostly to your family, peers and society. But what about YOU? What do you believe? What do you crave?
The Saturn Return is here to strip away the façade of what doesn’t belong to you, and sometimes in Saturn’s deeply conservative fashion, this will put a heavy dose of reality for you to carry on your back, often in the form of an unexpected ending. At this point in our journey, if we simply align ourselves to what is trying leave us and let it go without a fight, this period can be less tumultuous. That being said, most of us equate familiarly with what is right, and we fight against change during the Saturn Return. Because of this, it is very tough to hire someone around this age, and it’s also a time when you can lose employees either through their own major life change, or lack of motivation because subconsciously, they know their heart is not in their job.
Saturn Square Saturn
At ages 36-37, people are developing their true self-image. If the person has ignored this internal calling for true authenticity and continues to work on patterns that limit them, they can find themselves stuck.
In reality, much of the healing at this age goes back to the first Saturn Cycle from when you were 7-8 years old, an age that typically we were the most authentic, and we begin to gravitate toward more of our true nature.
When interviewing potential new employees, pay attention to those who have worked at their previous job for five years or more and are seeking a challenge. If they spent a significant amount of time in their last role, and are making a change on their own, this is a good candidate to consider. In the interview, you want to see a focus on how they have bettered themselves, or how they are seeking more of a challenge.
Be wary of those who spend the interview trying to convince you of their worth. This signals that they are still struggling with their own self-worth, and potentially life is asking them to change careers and do something else. You want to see a candidate that is self-reflective by this age.
For current employees hitting ages 36-37, be on the lookout for coping mechanisms to stay motivated. Sometimes an employee asking for more money is a way they are trying to drum of more energy for something they are no longer happy about and it is the easiest way to make a change, when ultimately, their purpose is best fulfilled elsewhere.
Saturn Opposition Saturn
At ages 44-45, people are much clearer about who they are and what they want. It’s a good time to hire hungry new employees who are motivated. There are other big astrological happenings that lead up to this point, and adding Saturn to the mix really puts us in a blender if we aren’t stripping away self-deceit. This is the midlife crisis we hear so much about.
The years leading up to this time can be really liberating, or it can feel like the rug has been yanked out from underneath you. Rest assured that on the other side of age 45, when the dust settles, this can be a time of great courage and freedom. I often see clients with the confident to finally focus on things that truly move the needle of their soul. This time will free us from our blind spots and send us on our way.
Saturn Square Saturn
Ages 52-53 are when we get to apply our hard-won knowledge to patterns that align. We also become more honest with ourselves and worry less about what others think — but only if we have been paying attention!
This can also be a time when we come to the realization that our youth is completely behind us. In many ways, this realization can make it easier to clear out the emotional clutter from our lives. For many, worrying about what others think becomes less of an influence. There is more of a personal honesty that will continue to peak into the next cycle comes seven years later. This is often when business owners begin to think more seriously about their exits and if they are on the right track.
Second Saturn Return
At ages 58-59, the second Saturn Return occurs, and we are considered astrologically a sage.
This means we have experienced both Saturn Returns that represent the end of our ego identification and the personification of our spiritual or authentic representation — and all before the age of sixty!
This is a time of black and white choices, and we can choose to retire or continue to work with clarity and purpose. With clear eyes and less fear, we have an opportunity to make our own free will choices, while still striving to be the best versions of ourselves.
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)
It’s not uncommon for companies to reject traditional staff meetings these days. Many CEOs and business leaders – particularly Gen Xers and millennials – have denounced the once-sacred staff meeting as unproductive, inefficient and easily replaced with a quick group email or a well-run Slack channel
But I am finding myself bombarded with requests for one-on-one meetings with my team to talk about their professional growth, issues and client accomplishments.
On the one hand, I love that they feel invested enough to learn how they can improve their work and grow with the agency.
On the other hand, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to meet with everyone individually, maintain our company’s growth trajectory and spend time with my family.
So what’s the solution? To run. Not necessarily away from meetings, but during them. Or walk or hike. In 2017, I started giving employees these three options if they wanted to meet with me, and here’s why you should consider doing the same in 2018:
Office meetings are a drag.
This is an obvious one. I’m on the bandwagon to ban pointless meetings as much as anyone, but some meetings are still necessary to move projects and people forward. Taking a typical meeting outdoors can lead to more honest and productive exchanges by eliminating the intimidation of an office boardroom or possibility of eavesdropping colleagues.
Fewer distractions from your phone and email, a change of scenery and the introduction of endorphins into your workday puts both parties in a better mindset to receive and process information. Better yet, studies show that working out with others can help build stronger relationships between people.
Multitasking is essential.
As mentioned, there aren’t enough hours in the day – and not just for me.
Our employees have packed schedules with client meetings, projects and events in addition to carving out time for their personal lives and wellbeing.
Researchers have found that employees with a better work-life balance work 21 percent harder while in the office and are 33 percent more likely to plan to stick around at a company long-term. If I can help my team get in a workout while also checking something off their to-do list, I’m all for it.
It develops grit.
I decided to run every single day in 2017 as a practice in discipline and grit.
I was hesitant to take meetings during my runs at first. If running is my happy place, did I really want to bring work into it? But ultimately, I realized a couple of miles on the trails – whether hiked, walked or run – can do more than clear your mind and give you an energy boost: It challenges you to dig deep, go a little further than you thought you could and see something through to the end. It’s important to me that our team has this sense of dedication, and I’ve seen it translated into our client work time and time again since implementing these active meetings.
When trying to run a company, meet with prospective clients, keep existing clients happy and squeeze in a few hours of sleep occasionally, it can be tempting to push off employee requests for one-on-one feedback. However, these frontline employees are the lifeblood of my company. They hold valuable information that helps me make critical decisions to propel the agency forward.
Taking an active approach breaks up the monotony, ensures they feel heard by leadership and helps me continue my daily running streak. It’s a win-win all around.
(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL)
They say ignorance is bliss. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, many of us find ourselves wishing for unknowing bliss we knew just a few weeks ago.
Little did any of us know that this virus would have Americans hunkered down at home for weeks on end, with major events canceled and schools out for the foreseeable future.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), as early as a few weeks ago, my company was starting to get a close-up preview to what might be coming our way through our PRGN partners, which is a collective of more than 50 hand-selected public relations firms spanning six continents. With PR leaders embedded into the fabric of the communities across key cities throughout the world, we had a front-row seat for what was happening in China, Italy and even Washington state before COVID-19 made its unfortunate and unwanted debut in Tennessee.
As agency owners shared what they were seeing with their clients and in their cities, the severity of the situation became apparent quickly. As a business owner, I experienced mixed emotions. While it was alarming to hear the financial impact from peers, I was grateful for the lead time, albeit brief, that allowed us to ensure our clients had updated crisis communications plans in place.
It has also been encouraging to lean on business owners in cities that were dealing with COVID-19 before it hit Nashville. As we all know, this pandemic is changing daily, and a business owner who has been living this for even one week longer than we have can provide invaluable expertise.
For example, while chatting with Aaron Blank, owner of The Fearey Group in Seattle, he reminded me of the importance of a quiet place to think. For him, his jacuzzi is a place where he can creatively and safely think about the status of both his business and their clients without distraction. This quiet time led to his spearheading BusinessSavingBusiness.com to bring together business owners (virtually, of course, because of social distancing) who are currently faced with tough decisions.
Your message matters.
How we act and appear to the world now has the potential to impact our brand for years to come — good or bad. Especially now, your message matters, both from you as a leader and your brand voice. Leaders set the standard for how others under their leadership behave. As we have all seen, fear is contagious, and your ability to keep calm and stay level-headed is critical.
Throughout all of this, three things have been obvious.
In times of crisis, saying the wrong thing can wreak havoc for your brand. Now is not the time for off-the-cuff remarks or emails. Be thoughtful and deliberate. In this age of social media, anything you say or write could end up on the web. Don’t be afraid to correct the record and set facts straight at any sign of misinformation.
As a business leader, you are living under a microscope right now. Employees, clients and vendors are all looking at you for clues and direction about what to expect. Everyone wants to know what is next in a time when that is impossible to predict.
True story: We rewrote an article for a client three times over the past week. As soon as it was approved, something changed. As a leader, I chose to roll with the punches and do it with a smile, showing my team the attitude that I expect. Why? Because I know being frustrated — especially in a business of our size — could have a nearly immediate domino effect, particularly in such uncertain times.
This is why having a go-to spot is critical. Find a place where you don’t have to be “on” and decompress. Mine is the running trails (six feet away from other runners, of course) or at home with my golden retriever puppy, who has yet to ask me one question about COVID-19 and the impact on our company.
If you’re asking employees to social distance, show them that you’re all in it together. Our company has set up a Marco Polo group to ensure we don’t lose the day-to-day camaraderie. Rumor has it we have some virtual happy hours on tap and maybe even a group online workout coming up.
This is also not the time to post on social media about your amazing travels (even if the pics are pre-pandemic) or to get overly political online.
Work the plan — but be nimble and never be opportunistic.
The point of contingency plans is to have them before you need them. If you don’t already have a business continuity plan and communications plan, at a minimum, do some “what if” scenarios with your leadership team. It’s OK for plans to change and evolve. The key to success is how we communicate those changes.
Depending on the industry or message, now may not be the time to launch that new product or promotion. When uncertainty is prevalent, your key audiences probably aren’t as likely to pay attention or act. Stay agile.
Most importantly, stay resilient. Nashville is a city of creative and resourceful people. How we do business and take care of our employees through these unprecedented times are what people will remember.