Aries Leaders: Value Statements
Perhaps Will Kellogg would describe the state of the Aries soul as “snap, crackle, pop.” If so, the champion of corn flakes and crisped rice would be right on the mark, because while leaders of any astrological persuasion tend not to be lazy, Aries is preeminent in the capacity for what seems like the mother of all sugar rushes. It is so befitting that an Aries first popularized pre-sweetened, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal.
The many tales of Aries’ energetic efforts honestly seem like exaggerations, something that schoolyard toughs might try out on each other to gain status. One learns of a 100-hour/7-day workweek (Tom Monaghan); an 18-hour workday and three short vacations in twenty years (Gloria Steinem); the incomparable effectiveness of working hard “23 or 24 hours a day” (Cesar Chavez); and the capacity for personally directing a virtually unprecedented 24-hour service company (Jim Casey in the early days of UPS). And there will always be that much-circulated image of Hugh Hefner perennially in pajamas on a document-covered bed, working, always working.
Indeed, an Aries leader is the sort that tends to have a huge problem with delegation, preferring by nature to be directly involved with all aspects of an enterprise. Music impresario Clive Davis, a lawyer with no formal musical training, is legendary as one of the few major recording company executives who discovers artists, picks their material, and shows up at recording sessions to make comments about the volume of the bass player. With Aries micro-management is almost as much about limitless energy as it is about control.
David Glass, a key associate of Sam Walton, summarizes this Aries quality when he talks about a management style that Walton himself characterized in his autobiography as “management by walking and flying around.” Notorious for being constantly on the go and involved in every aspect of his business, Walton demanded work on weekends and found it impossible to stay retired when persuaded by family to do so. According to Glass, Walton’s management style was actually best characterized as “management by wearing you out.”
Do It First; Do It Fast
Robert W. Johnson, Jr., according to a 2003 Fortune magazine profile, started attending Johnson and Johnson business meetings at the age of 5 and became general superintendent of the family trust at the age of 25. James Casey began working at the age of 11 and started the company that was to become UPS at the age of 19. At the age of 14, starting quarterback-honor student-class president-steady jobholder Sam Walton became the youngest person ever in the state of Oklahoma to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
While such information may be interesting to most people, it is the stuff of thrills to an Aries leader. No other sign is so devoted to being or doing something before anyone else. J. P. Morgan creating America’s first billion-dollar company (U.S. Steel), Elisabeth Claiborne becoming the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Liz Claiborne), and Clive Davis creating the first major recording label exclusively dedicated to album-length rock and roll (Arista Records) are just some of the examples of this quite intentional rush to glory. Even when an idea is occasionally derivative, as in the case of Larry Page’s Google not being the very first search engine, you can be sure that the issue is going to become one of top speed; the rapidity of search execution and the early introduction of service extensions have always been a prime Google concern.
It is in this light one can best appreciate Hugh Hefner’s wry declaration of his own feminist trailblazing while simultaneously appreciating fellow Aries Gloria Steinem’s rise to prominence as the first person to do an inside expose on the life of a Playboy bunny. One may also bemusedly reflect upon the fact that Aries leaders are responsible for the national emergence of rapid delivery (UPS/Domino’s) and the introduction of Band-Aids (Johnson and Johnson). And there is also Henry Luce’s instructive comment to a Time magazine bureau chief that, “the function of enlightened journalism is to lead, to put in what ought to be.”
It is sometimes said, not entirely unfairly, that an Aries leader will lose interest in a specific project over the long term simply because it no longer seems fresh or innovative. Certainly, the truth of this assertion will be astrologically qualified by factors in the horoscope other than the sun sign. Few Aries leaders would, however, find fault with Hugh Hefner’s observation in an Esquire magazine article that “the best part of any relationship is the beginning.”
It Is Better to Be an Ideologue Than an Intellectual
Henry Luce endorsed a way of approaching information that he called “directed synthesis.” The essence of this outlook is that life’s inescapable complexity begs for an over-arching, simplified, and somewhat omniscient summarization. This theory received expression via the all-knowing journalistic style invented by Luce’s Time magazine and was even more apparent via the photo-journalism orientation of his Life magazine. And if you think about it, “directed synthesis” is not all that different from what is being addressed by the rankings of the Google search engine.
In all manner of communication, it is the Aries leader’s fervent intent to get to the point as quickly as possible. The Aries-led meeting is summarized as one of marshaled facts, instant answers, and snapping ridicule of those who wander into the weeds of resistance, delay, or obfuscation. Along with Zeus and Jupiter, the powerful J. P. Morgan also proudly bore the nickname “yes or no Morgan.” As Morgan once observed: No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking.
Unsurprisingly, in the lives of great Aries leaders one comes across a great deal of reliance on belief systems or creeds. These creeds range from religious fundamentalism to militant patriotism to sexual role definition to personal health habits to the rightness of big league capitalism, all of which exist to establish in the eyes of their adherents the underlying and, most importantly, the inarguable values and acceptable limits of human behavior. All considerations of the “rightness” or sincerity of such creeds aside, the Aries leader appreciates better than anyone that while contemplative introspection breeds caution, ideology is hot-wired to action.
The Rules Are Meant to Be Broken, but Only by Me
Thomas Jefferson wrote the American Declaration of Independence, one of the greatest expressions of man’s inalienable right to liberty that has ever been recorded. The debt owed by all Americans to this great and courageous visionary can hardly be calculated even to this day. And yet it is a simple fact that Jefferson himself owned human slaves.
It’s certainly not the intent here to pick on Thomas Jefferson, but it is essential to recognize in an honest discussion of Aries leadership a propensity to sometimes be a little less than personally rigorous about strongly espoused ethical beliefs. The deeply religious Sam Walton was an admitted talent stealer and spy; the ardently feminist Gloria Steinem had romantic trysts with notorious woman haters; the venerable J. P. Morgan was a leader of the Society of Suppression of Vice but was a well-known adulterer; the ardently anti-handgun Rosie O’Donnell was discovered to have an armed body guard escorting her son to kindergarten; and Enron’s Ken Lay once simply announced, “We don’t break the law.”
Let it quickly (Aries-style) be stated that no one astrological sign has a monopoly on roguishness or regrettable actions. But Aries, as has already been mentioned, does like to quote a scriptural party line and then to start firing away. Just keep in mind the subtlety of the observation by Henry Luce that “a useful lie is better than a harmful truth,” and J. P. Morgan’s observation that “a man always has two reasons for the things he does . . . a good one and the real one.”
In short, for an Aries leader business is business. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
It’s a Man’s World
With apologies to popular relationship author John Gray, both men and women Aries leaders tend to hail from Mars. This is no slap at the femininity of Aries, but it is a caution to those who would simply see all women, including leaders, as fundamentally subordinate and reactive. Befitting the war god and zodiacal ram, who lend their mythic personae to the natives of this sign, an Aries damsel can initiate a hack and a head butt with the best of them.
Speaking of hacking and butts, there was a time when the surest way to spot an Aries was through the haze of cigarette or cigar smoke that surrounded them. Aries leaders of an earlier era, as most memorably exemplified by the cigar wielding J. P. Morgan, were famous smokers. Joseph Cullman, former CEO of Phillip Morris, is an Aries best remembered for a tenure that includes the creation of the uber guy, the Marlboro Man.
An even more prevalent icon for an Aries is the vehicle built for speed, be it car, boat, train, or airplane. Unlike Henry Ford, who championed the bland Model T, Aries-born Walter Chrysler saw his opportunity in adapting the far larger and more powerful cars he originally built for racing to a general consumer market. Along with amazing cars, Aries history includes a near-legendary fascination with boats and airplanes; J. P. Morgan owned a famous series of sleek yachts (his company also built the Titanic), and it was Aries-born Donald Douglas who changed aviation history when his company introduced the swift and luxurious DC-3.
Hugh Hefner has to be mentioned here again, of course, as the testosterone-fueled icon of icons. Ironically, some critics have said that what Hefner actually accomplished was to turn the male of the species into a peacock. But in the natural world that doesn’t equate to any less “action.”
As for the women leaders born under this sign there is obvious recognition that the male of the species has traditionally held the power and now it is time to share. With all the overtly aggressive feminist pronouncements of someone like Gloria Steinem, there is just as much revealed by a women’s fashion mogul like Liz Claiborne. “We didn’t want to be women dressed as men,” she once explained to the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs regarding her breakthrough line of women-in-the-workplace clothing created in the late 1970s.
Only after her business was established did she deem it of consequence to add a line called Claiborne for Men.