The basic premise of this sales metaphor offered by the modern master of the “pitch,” Gary Vaynerchuk, is that you have to “give it away” before going in for the knockout. The actual title of his book is Jab! Jab! Jab! Right Hook! But I’m left-handed. I jab with my right!
I am thinking about an obscure branch of Hindu Tantra known as Aghora. The way of the Aghori is an approach to life that literally means “not difficult, or terrible,” but you might not think that after learning about the ordeals the Aghori put themselves through. The life of an Aghori may not be difficult or terrible from the point of view of an ascetic, but such a life certainly doesn’t appear easy to the rest of us. They are spiritual masters who make a demonstration of a point rather than quoting chapter and verse from a book. Gary V, like the Aghori, ought to be commended for his extraordinary discipline and devotion. Life probably isn’t terrible or necessarily difficult for Gary either. He is the “Vimalanada” of merchants, an Aghori for the digital age, only he does not negate the material world in the least, he embraces it. Stepping out into the void, fearlessly! Somehow knowing that if he “jumps, the net will appear!” He works! He can’t help it! But none of this means that life is anymore difficult for him than for followers of Aghora. A point he might relish in, because material negation (Ahori) and spiritual negation (materialist) are opposite bookends on the same shelf. Extreme opposites on the same pole of existence. The extreme discipline of the one way, makes way for the extreme discipline of the other.
My goal is to portray the core of Gary Vaynerchuk’s chart, not cheapen the deep spiritual work of Vimalanada. By putting their work on display for the everyman we learn that not everyone is capable of attaining the level of mastery demonstrated by the guru. Still, everyone can aspire to that level. Ancient spiritual practices like Aghora were more in keeping with the renunciation of material life in proving devotion to God. Today the pursuit of wealth, lifestyle, and success has reached a fever pitch of material fundamentalism. But rather than a “negation” of the spiritual, this new religion of self worship seems to suggest that success is proof of God’s favor, an affirmation of self worth that comes in the form of a material reward. More income. More assets. More privilege. More shit.
Vaynerchuk isn’t flat out wrong in the way Michael Schein describes. Gary V. is just busy being that guy who is being “true” to himself. He can’t help his obsession and makes no apology for his extreme work ethic. He is a guy who eschews education, takes an unconventional view of business, and when thoroughly investigated presents a profoundly logical business ethos, like Hickel’s environmental theory, or Vimalanada’s spiritual philosophy. They all embrace the extreme. Doing so calls bullshit on the cult of mediocrity. Schein wants to dilute the “Jab, jab, jab, crush it,” mantra with the “balanced life” approach, with less extremism. He wants to displace insane work hours with a more rational and realistic time commitments. Vaynerchuk on the other hand is devoted to a formula that “works” for him, and more than any other business leader shares that formula freely. But like Vimalanda, or Hickel I think there is another component to Gary’s formula that Schein glazes over. Gary V. is obsessed with what he does. He is passionate not only in his “work” but also in helping others “realize” a path forward in the new digital world. If work-life balance is a thing for you, then you are in the wrong line of work. Simple!
Jason Hickel in his book called Less is More suggests that these instincts that misalign our passions are not only misplaced, but that they are an existential threat. Shein is not making the same argument. Shein’s attack on Gary V. feels personal. Hickel is focused more broadly on a redistribution of efficiency, “to ensure flourishing lives for all.” Veynerchuk wants the same for his followers. Hickel’s theory espouses remarkable logic that might get a chortle out of Vimalanada and like Vaynerchuk, Hickel calls bullshit on the conventional way of seeing the economy. But the two quickly veer beyond that point from any potential opportunity to start twinning. There will be no photo shoot! Degrowth is the antidote to a culture ill with an obsessive compulsive disorder, an addiction to the idea that more is more. Now, Gary V. chortles. The Aghori, better known as the “fire keepers,” did not have the advantage of digital marketing to spread their inspirational message, that less is more, so not surprisingly the message fell by the wayside. The improbable heroes of tomorrow, leaders of the less is more crowd, are selling their ideas upstream against the consensus view. In a sense we are all swimming upstream against the tide of consumerism. People just aren’t ready to admit there is a problem. Addiction is a river of denial!
I first heard about Aghora from Robert Svoboda in his book At the Left Hand of God. We can be certain that Vaynerchuk hasn’t read it. Gary by his own admission doesn’t read much. Therefore, Ambi Parameswaran’s book Sponge, probably hasn’t made Gary’s reading list either, even though Ambi’s book lands a right hook that is more in keeping with Gary’s obsession, marketing. Ambi represents India’s version of the The Real Mad Men. These founding fathers of marketing and advertising were expert in the psychology of persuasion, bordering on zealotry. What drives consumerism today requires a hat tip to these masters of materialism, the ad men. The modern gurus of desire who transformed our world, but at what cost?
Now I am thinking about the hit song Losing My religion by the band R.E.M. off their Out of Time album. “Consider this,” Michael Stipes sings, “the slip, that brought me to my knees.” Even after personal disaster we struggle with faith, question our beliefs, and in the midst of wrestling with God, still doubt his existence, or not. The modern entrepreneur attempts to assuage this angst by evangelizing self-reliance. An odd marriage formed between the puritanical ethos taken directly from the bible to follow God’s “commandments,” winning His favor, and the perpetuation of individual exceptionalism. The Aghori laugh! The same laughing I’m certain Michael Stipes thought he heard. Laughing that is perhaps lost on the likes of those who break the bank explicitly selling the more is more concept, that business is a type of worship (Tony Robbins). Vaynerchuk’s new religion may be preachy too, but it is also demonstrative, like Vimalanada asceticism, he shows his “work” in action. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks it! And, documents his walk for all to see. His focus is on the “realization of experience,” not on developing understanding that comes from what Schein calls “deep concentration,” a privilege that accrues to people with vacation time, during their “time off.” Gary V. lives what he preaches, and puts it on display for the world.
Gary would have been 17 when “Losing My Religion” hit the airwaves in ’91. The REM anthem is not a song of renunciation. It is a “cry” that captures the angst of a generation looking for the promise religion has offered for thousands of years, The realization of a deep and abiding love, not a waste of emotion (Venus in Pisces trine Pluto in Scorpio). But since that realization has not materialized at scale, skeptics argue that religion is “just a dream.” The spiritually inclined might argue that Andrew Cracknell’s “mad” becomes a sort of simile for greed, an over attachment to the material life. A waste! For the capitalist “mad” becomes a double-entendre for success, as in “this shit is mad good.” A simile for detachment from the spiritual life, and to “waste not,” time!
“Oh, no. I’ve said too much.”
Sponge is a book on leadership. Lessons from a Vaynerchuk like marketing guru who built an ad agency in India. The influence of Hindu philosophy on modern culture is lagging the Judeo-Christian influence on culture in the west, but the gap is closing dramatically. A transforming world, powered by technology, is super charging global materialism, a kind of permission slip, granted in the name of god to strive for more than enough. Business seems to have coopted the religious motivations and sentiments of people, even if those individuals are self-proclaimed atheists. People crave a sense of belonging and purpose, however transient that purpose might be. Social media and online manias satisfy this craving by adopting crusader like attitudes to convert the heretics, in business, and in politics. The trend is clear! In For God’s Sake, also by Parameswaran, he argues how the population is getting “more religious” yet “more materialistic.” Yet the religious “brand” grows more saccharine with each passing day, in competition with self-help movements. Preachers and seminar leaders steal each other’s lines. Secular views meanwhile, are increasingly challenged as misguided by science. Distrust for academia grows, or worse is simply seen as satanic. The global transformation underway, fueled by new technology and new attitudes toward god, exploit the sentimental biases people share. Developing a dispassionate view of the chaos may be an important coping mechanism, so that one can become more selective in what gets soak up, versus what gets woke. Clearly, a heavy backdrop to introduce a horoscope, but relevant.
Listen to The Seen and The Unseen here: Episode 199: An Adman Reflects on Society & the Self My take away is that business has become a platform for a new kind of faith. Evangelists have moved out of the revival tents, permeating self-help movements, social media, and becoming marketing and promotional aspirants for a new digital age. Gary V. is a preeminent example.
Not long ago, circa 1989-1991, self-help gurus like Stephen Covey and Tony Robbins, bragged about the number of books they read. They sold the idea that they were informed by the greatest thinkers of all time. Gary V. says reading books is overrated, a challenging statement to anyone who “reads too much.” But Gary, the provocateur, sends his contrary message wrapped in the disguise of a guy who doesn’t give a fuck. Why? Two things: 1.) Like Vimalanada Gary seeks “realization” within experience, not vicariously through some book, like Will in the movie Goodwill Hunting played by Matt Damon. 2.) He knows that “people who care too much about what others think, really care too much about themselves.” That’s not a direct quote from Gary V. I am paraphrasing the immortal Don Juan, captured in the series written by Carlos Castaneda. Vaynerchuck reminds me of a modern Don Juan as much as he reminds me of Vimalanada. Pretty good company supporting the idea that reading is overrated. Despite his lack of reading, Gary shows enormous erudition and has an immense store of knowledge, wisdom that he shares with viewers freely, multiple times throughout the day. His charismatic intelligence is at its best when engaged in discussion and spontaneous truisms spill out of his head like gumballs from a vending machine. He projects a likeable self-awareness, even for the few who are determined not to like the guy. Gary is an empath. The audience nods appreciatively when he shares his common sense logic wholesale. He knows shit! And he gives it away.
The Aghori laugh! They laugh at everything. Their recognition of life’s priorities is seen in the denial of self-gratification. Higher priorities are seen in the unseen devotion of an unorthodox life, sometimes steeped in the profane, and extreme overindulgence. For example, guzzling an entire quart of scotch and not showing the slightest effects, or ingesting powerful drugs and somehow not coming under the influence, never losing consciousness. The Aghori remain unattached to any substance because their attachment to God is infrangible. Without such inner development, modern workers succumb to attachments, find themselves addicted to failure, or as an antidote to failure, addicted to success. I think that Vimalanda’s obsession to negate the material life is mirrored by Gary V.’s obsession to master it.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a Digital Magician, a Marketing Guru. An Aghora! And by his example, he thinks you can be one too!
The Sun-Moon blend says a lot about a person and Gary’s Sun and Moon are working in sync. Only 5 degrees separates the Moon from making a perfect trine with the Sun in his chart. Together, they making not a ripple! A harmonious “saturation” of emotional energies floods the personality.
There are four elements in Astrology: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. One key to understanding a chart is to realize the elemental relationships. Signs of the same Element are always 120 degrees apart. Scorpio and Pisces are both Water Signs. They are 120 degrees apart. It becomes evidently clear from Gary V’s comportment that he is an extremely empathetic and sensitive individual. There is an incomprehensible depth of understanding and compassion, likely born of suffering. His face reflects this as much as his chart does, but what he “cares” about is that people should “careless” and not “give a fuck.” Stop letting inhibitions run wild, and get on with living your life. Get on with the business of “being you.”
At first glance, the faux yob look that comes across the screen carries the authoritarian zeal of a plutocrat. He grabs our attention. But that first impression is really a projection common to Scorpio. Self-protection! Scorpios size up relationships quickly, and with an emotional intelligence that is off the charts. They need to be in control. Gary V doesn’t suffer fools lightly, which in business, is a good trait because as a CEO, he needs to be a tough taskmaster. He needs to be in control.
Another energy people pick up on with Scorpio is excessive broodiness. A defensiveness designed to guard and protect the personality, against the many jabs thrown at them, and in an attempt to block any incoming hooks. You can feel the protectiveness. There may be a chip on the shoulder, a grudge, or some hidden pain too buried to talk about. Gary describes this tendency time and again, he observes that “…people who always razzed on” him, motivated him by saying he “sucked shit at school,”3 This self-evaluation argues that his course was set early on. He became obsessed to prove to those who criticized him that they were wrong. Somehow Gary elevated his emotional response to take the best revenge possible; to prove his own worth with outsized success, by not “giving a fuck,” and by amplifying his worth by giving more than he gets.
Fortunately, the Moon in Pisces takes the potentially toxic emotional charge from Scorpio and lightens it up, softens the edges a bit. Maybe not in all his private entanglements, but what viewers see is a sincere, genuine, and empathetic individual, someone who out of the goodness of his heart, doesn’t give a fuck! (I know! This sounds so wrong until Don Juan explains it.) People can be so concerned about others that they leave themselves behind. This is not what Gary V. teaches… he aims to be infinitely more helpful to others by preaching his own brand of self-reliance.
Scorpio’s investigative mind, nourishes the Piscean intuitiveness of the Moon, which suggests an intellectualism that is hard to pin down. People’s jaws drop in amazement at what this person knows, perplexed by how they know it, and especially because the person themselves doesn’t quite understand how they know what they know. Scorpio-Pisces just feel everything! They have an immediate grasp of people, they understand global concepts instantly. Their instincts align with “universal ideals” and for what is the right thing at the right time. They know shit!
During difficult times the inner life can become a sanctuary, allowing them to find calm within the storm. This is no small observation for Gary and something we’ll come back to on a successive post.
Let’s wrap up today’s post by identifying modifications to Gary’s Sun-Moon blend.
First, the Sun makes no Ptolemaic aspect with any other planets which is rare because Venus and Mercury are never far from the Sun. In this case, we might easily miss this unaspected Sun due to the exact conjunction with the North Node (the relationship with mother is extremely important here) and the proximity of the Sun-Node to Mercury-Uranus. The Sun doesn’t look peregrine at first blush. However, since the aspect relationship with the Nodes is not considered, and the aspects with Mercury-Uranus are too wide the Sun is peregrine and threatens to wreak havoc by running away with the horoscope.
Here we have a powerful focus of emotions. The energy to know everything there is about the environment, combined with hyper control issues, fuels his intuitional needs. Gary’s awareness, like a pilot light is always on, keeping his consciousness on a low boil. This is a personality defense structure to protect the self, and to guard against inner frailties exposed in childhood. With the Sun peregrine in Scorpio the energy can soar to great heights, and plumb the depths, embattled to understand a wide range of human experiences. Noel Tyl observed that this measure suggests an ability to “feel the swamp and sense the heavens, to commandeer the resources of others for the self’s security.”2. The Sun in Gary’s chart alone suggests enormous power is unleashed and running wild in his chart, but the threat for disruptive behavior can spill out and run roughshod over the lives of people close to him. His astrologer would need to counsel him, that he might be insufferable to others at times. He needs a countervailing antidote to the extremes in his chart. Venus as final dispositor and in the first House is one such offset, and Jupiter retrograde in the 7th is perhaps another. A topic that we can return to in a later post.
Aspects to the CORE bring next level modifications to analysis. In addition to the peregrine Sun, we need to analyze the Moon’s position. The Moon, in the workaholic 6th House, suggests the need for uncanny instincts, and for the recognition of, and identification with the ideal, within the work situation, within service. Gary will read impressions like a newspaper and project impressions with laser precision. He understands the intangibles of life. This isn’t a “weak” position just because the Moon is in Pisces. Some armchair astrologers might think so, but the Moon in Pisces describes massive intuition, and this attribute is well suited to Gary’s other “super powers,” one of which is to absorb tremendous sacrifice.
Aspects to the Moon emphasize Lunar tendencies that compel behavior and in this case, Gary’s reigning need to understand is powered up and intensified to an extreme degree. From a vocational perspective, Mars is square the Moon and invigorates the work needs. The Midheaven is the most significant point within the Midheaven Extension Process (A process that answers the question, What should I do for a living? How can I find fulfillment in life?), and Mars is conjunct the M.C., “marketing and promotion.” The picture taking shape suggests an applied intuition that willfully reinforces the drive and fight for security gains.
In addition, Pluto is quindecile the Moon; the quindecile is an aspect that suggests separation, upheaval, and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Suddenly the “lake” we thought was calm and clear, now has big BIG waves in it!
Gary thrives in an environment of change and chaos. All four angles in his chart are in mutable signs. Moon-Pluto contacts sometimes correspond with individuals who flourish in such environments, self-reflecting for having been born at an auspicious time. They identify themselves with major events in world history, as a way to improve their “self-evaluation,” but in the process may carry a certain amount of “guilt.” Guilt can be subconscious, for example, escaping Belarus? Taking over his father’s business; not starting from nothing? People hurt in the past by extreme rebelliousness? Only Gary knows… Personal power works hard to convert “guilt” into self-empowerment, and then into empowering others.
These insights come from the research of Danish astrologer Chrisitan Borup as cited by Noel Tyl and confirmed in his practice. People with Moon-Pluto aspects work to defy the odds, they work overtime to justify that they belong, and they will expend tremendous effort to prove their independence and self-reliance; reworking ways of doing things, course correcting for past mistakes, and creating new forms along the way. 2 The “hook” here is that Gary Vaynerchuk has defied the odds no matter how you look at it, and the astrology supports his dramatic ascent.
- Ferriss, T. (2017). Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (First Edition). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Tyl, N. (2002). Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology: The Professional Manual (1st ed.). Llewellyn Publications. p.162
- Tyl, N. (2002). Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology: The Professional Manual (1st ed.). Llewellyn Publications. p.128