This was such a fun conversation!
Today, I had the chance to livestream with famed astrologers Steven Forrest and the Astro Twins, along with Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL star Ricky Williams about their collaboration on the new relationship app, LILA. Hear how they are preparing for their go-to-market launch and seed stage fundraising. Let's see what's in store for their future and yours!
Hello. We're into January, we're into 2021. There were a lot of people who were hoping to get out of 2020 as quickly as possible.
But 2021 also has a lot of uncertainties, and certainly kind of rocky start. There are a lot of people who are looking to anything they can, to give them some indicators as to how to plan, and prepare for the rest of this year.
Some people who maybe thought astrology was a little woo woo, or just didn't really know much about it, are starting to look at astrology as a tool to at least help prepare, and plan, and engage with the world, in a more positive way this year.
Today, we have some amazing guests that I'm super, super excited about, on a personal level, and on a professional level. Who are going to talk to us about astrology, and relationship building through astrology. And how to build a relationship-based business, where the heart of it is really around building deeper connections through astrology.
This business is at a very, very early stage. We'll get to hear a little bit about the journey of the team in building this new experience, so that we can all connect and form deeper relationships. I will bring our guests on just now. I'll let each one of them introduce themselves.
But I think what I would like to do first is give you an idea of kind of where these people come from, and where we're all going as a team. Jamie, I think we should share Ricky's story. Look at this guy, talk about badass, this guy means business. This is Ricky Williams, former NFL star, and is here with us today. Because his journey is, I would say even more powerful than that image conveys, which says a lot.
Ricky, can you tell us a little bit about what you're up to now? Then we'll have Steven and Ophi introduce themselves, and then we'll kind of get into what astrology is, and what it means.
It's interesting you shared that picture. At the time, I was playing in Miami, and Sports Illustrated sent their best photographer, because they wanted to do an issue, really about the NFL. I was very fortunate that they chose my face on from that afternoon to show the world what the NFL was all about.
It's also interesting that when most people think about astrology, they tend not to think of NFL football players. But here we are. 99% of what I'm doing on a daily basis has something to do with astrology, whether it's working on the app that we're building LILA, or it's doing personal readings for my own recreation. I really enjoy reading astrology, mainly Steven's books.
It really speaks to what astrology can offer. For me it's like, I grew up as an African American in Southern California, and I could run really fast. The environment helped define who I was, and I attracted, and I was the best. I won the Heisman Trophy winner.
But I started to reflect on my life, and realized there's actually something deeper brewing inside. I looked everywhere to find something to help me speak to or get in touch with what was going on inside, and I couldn't find anything. I didn't find anything until I found astrology. It gave me a way to understand the deeper parts of myself that I didn't see acknowledged by the environment around me.
I was at a time in my life when I found astrology that I was really looking for something. I really just soaked it up.
It's become a passion to help share what I know with people, to help them get a clearer sense of what's going on with themselves.
When we introduce you, and I would love for you to tell the story of you stalking Steven. That's the way I'll characterize it.
It was. I won't get into too much astrology, but I'm a Virgo rising. I'm part of Virgo. Is really about learning, and we see that if we can find a teacher, someone who's been there before us, a mentor, the learning process is much easier. So much so with astrology, it's such a vast subject.
I was at a point in my life where I really was ready to take my study seriously, and I realized, "I need to find a teacher." I kind of racked my mind in my favorite books, I always came back to Steven Forrest books. I went online and to see if I could find him, and I saw he was presenting at an astrological conference on my birthday.
As a gift to myself, I said, I'm going to, and again, I'm a football player, going to this astrological conference, where all these weirdos, sorry. I was scared to death, but I did it. I sat in Steven's presentation, and after he kind of walked to the back room, and I rushed over to get in line to say something to him.
I remember I asked him a question about an aspect between Mars and my ascendant. But the first thing he said to me as I approached him, and again, I'm a big football player, he looked at me, and he said, "Don't hurt me." I got such a chuckle out of it, because the truth is, when people meet me, that's what they're thinking. For someone to actually put words to, it lightened the mood, and really was a great first meeting between us.
Steven, for people who aren't familiar with your incredible work, can you tell us a little bit about you and your work?
I'd be happy to. Before I do that, I do want to do my side of the story.
Yes. Go for it.
misunderstand it. But I was afraid of Ricky. Here's this big, black football player. Actually, our eyes met, and he was my friend. I liked him right away. His sun falls in my house of marriage, a little preview of LILA, it doesn't mean we'll get married. But there was an instant simpatico between us.
I just totally got it that here's a guy with a big, deep spiritual heart, and everybody looks at him and says, "Please don't hurt me." I wanted to sort of mock that, and I think it worked. Because we, it took us about nine tenths of a second to become good friends. Fair enough, Ricky?
It was quick, very quick.
Really quick. My story, I'm 72, so I don't want to take up the whole show with my story. [inaudible 00:08:04]. I was a product of my environment, just like Ricky was. Born in 1949, I was a smart kid, not very athletic, so immediately I'm on the science track. I got into amateur astronomy, built telescopes, and that kind of thing. I'm 12 years old, New York City, looking through the telescope in the roof of my apartment through the muck in the atmosphere.
There was a sense of magic, not just science, but the magic. The sense that I was looking at living things when I was looking at galaxies. It's like, "Is the universal alive? Is it a great mind? Is it communicating with me somehow?"
That totally unscientific attitude just wouldn't go away. It took root in me, and it sort of fused with astrology by the time I was in my late teens. I was making my living as an astrologer by my middle 20s, I had a contract with Bantam Books to write my first book, The Inner Sky when I was in my early 30s.
I've never really had to worry about a career. I came to a turning point where the way I like to say it, this may be a little bit unfair to Justin Bieber, but [inaudible 00:09:28]. Do I want to be Carl Jung or do I want to be Justin Bieber? I had some opportunities to be kind of more popular, but I decided I wanted to do the deep teaching of serious astrology.
I began to self-publish, because the mainstream publishers would not, they weren't open to the kind of deeper material that I wanted to write. The last thing I knew I was in my early 30s, and now here I am 72. I haven't had a breath since then.
You are one of the busiest men in astrology for sure.
Thank you for that, Steven. Then Ophi, I have to share our story, just because I love it so much. Then I'd like you to let people know more about you, and Astro Twins. Well, working with Ricky and Steven, and Matt and Fred and the team, we were really excited about our potential partnership, and bringing you into the business.
I had remembered that, and I follow your stuff daily and weekly. I think I bought every product that you've ever probably [crosstalk 00:10:44] market. Yes. Over, I don't know, years.
I had remembered you guys saying at some point that you're talking about your father, and being from Michigan, and I was like, "Oh, that's so cool." [inaudible 00:11:00], I just felt connected a bit. Then when we talked, then it turns out that you went to high school with my brother and sister in Michigan.
[crosstalk 00:11:11] are these astrologers that I love, that I've been following religiously, based in New York. Then I find out that you went to high school with my brother and sister. I feel like we were meant to be family.
So meant to be. We're both Sagittarians, right?
I know. I love it.
Isn't that wild?
Tell us a little bit about Astro Twins.
Well, I'm Ophi Edut, one half of the Astro Twins. My twin is not feeling well today, so I'm going to holographically bring her in through me or whatever.
I have been doing astrology for about 30 years, I did end up going the Justin Bieber route, but I came from more of a Carl Jung background. At the University of Michigan, my sister and I started a magazine called Hughes, which was for women of all cultures, and sizes, and identities. This was in the early 90s, was bit ahead of its time.
We found that the one unifying topic, we were dealing with identity politics, which is everybody knows nowadays can be very polarizing. But the one thing that everybody could come together on and feel joyful about was astrology. That was sort of a background passion, I worked for Gloria Steinem when she organized some female investors to buy back Ms. Magazine. I was their youngest editor in, I guess 1999.
I love that, I didn't know that!
But, I would creep into the copy editing room and chat with the ladies there, and I saved one of their relationship. She was a Cancer, about to break up with her Leo boyfriend that night. I ended up intervening cosmically, and they're still married to this day with three kids.
She ended up giving us our first column at Teen People Magazine. That's why it was, it was actually Britney Spears, Justin Bieber was probably twinkle in his father's [inaudible 00:13:09]. But like Steven, we haven't really stopped. We now write for Elle magazine for 11 years, we've written multiple books. We also self-publish our yearly guide.
Steven and I both have Jupiter at 11 degrees Capricorn, that only happens every 12 years. Ricky and I are opposite signs. It's all astro family here.
I love it. I think, you guys are all deeply rooted in astrology. I'm a huge follower, but by no means an expert. I love the journey of learning that I'm on, and all three of you are so helpful in my journey.
But for people who don't really know what astrology is, or maybe they think it's a little woo woo, or they're a bit cynical about it. What is astrology to you and in what ways can it be helpful to people?
I think Steven should answer that one.
How would you define [inaudible 00:14:25]? Because as Ricky says, it's so vast and multi-layered.
Well, first thing I'd like to do is say what it isn't just very simply. At least the way we do it. It's not fortune telling, we do not feel that you're a marionette, and the planets have you by your strings, and we can predict everything that you will do. That's a common notion about astrology.
It puts a lot of people off. I don't blame them, if that's astrology, I don't want anything to do with it. It robs humanity of dignity, of freewill, of the whole notion of personal responsibility. That's a sermon I often make.
What astrology is, positively, I go back to some notions that are literally pre historical. The idea that God or gods, and goddesses, or spirits that are invisible to the naked eye are interested in us, and speak to us, and guide us, and inspire us. That there is a benign quality in the universe that wants to help us. This is a almost universal idea in at least historic cultures. [inaudible 00:15:43] a few challenges in the last 100 years, in this materialistic, existentialist context that we're living in now.
But the notion is that in astrology, we assume that the gods, and the spirits, and so on, actually speak to us. Offer us guidance, help and assistance through the motions of the planets. That astrology is the bridge language between the invisible, benign realms that care about us, and our confused labyrinthine lives here on the earth. We let the gods speak to us through the motions of the planets. That's it as far as I'm concerned. It's a sacred art.
I love that. Ophi, does that kind of capture your thoughts around what astrology is?
I knew he could say it 1000 times better than [crosstalk 00:16:41]. So yeah, absolutely. I think it's the instruction manual that they say that human beings don't come with.
When I was a kid, and my mom would get upset with us, and she'd make a mistake in her parenting. She would always remind us, "You guys don't come with instruction manuals." Actually, we do. [crosstalk 00:17:08].
What Steven said, to reiterate it, this idea, for me, it makes perfect sense. As we're living our lives, especially now, there's so many chaotic things going on, and a lot of times, we haven't been given the proper words or perspective to really understand.
One of the things, so it seems chaotic, but as we look up into the skies, and astronomers and scientists have done for millennia, they notice that there is some harmony. There's some order when we can predict where the planets are going to be, at certain points in time.
To superimpose the order that we notice in the cosmos to the chaos that we experience in our lives, it helps us find meaning, and dare I say, a sense of order. I'll use my first experience with astrology. It reminds me of 2020. Soon as COVID hit, I flashback to when I first found astrology. It was a time in my life where I invested my whole life in becoming the best football player I could be.
It started to dawn on me that maybe I'm here to do something else. It was an extremely frightening thought. Because I invested everything I was into this one dream. As it started to melt away, I was utterly confused about what is going on.
I had a sense, but utter confusion. I met this Vietnamese woman who was a Swami, and someone told her I was a football player. She was into astrology, and she walks up to me, and she says, "Where's your Mars?" I looked at her, and I was like, "I don't really know what you're talking about." She just said, "Come talk to me later."
I gave her my birth information, and she started talking to me about my chart. It might seem simple, but the simple insight she pointed out is that something in my chart pointed to the fact that I tended to attract stressful situations to myself.
Anyone who looked at my life, it was plainly obvious, professional football player, so it's a stressful environment. But it never occurred to me, it never occurred to me. She pointed it out to me, and something just clicked. At that moment, I realized that yes, the choices I have made, a lot of them unwittingly, but the choices I have made, have created my life is a pile of shit.
I was in a position that I could do something about it. As I started to really dive in into learning more about myself, mainly through astrology, I was empowered to the choices that I could make to make a difference.
A simple astrological example, my chart says, for me to be vibrant, and for me to be myself, I need to travel, I need to experience so many different things. Again, at this time in my life, I gave up this huge football career in order to travel and experience the world. I felt affirmed, I felt seen, and the proof is in the pudding. Since that point in my life, I feel like I've truly come alive, and I truly lived. In my experience is, this is what astrology can offer us.
I love that. That's incredibly profound. I think you mentioned at the beginning about whether are these kind of instructional manuals, and how your mom was like, "You don't come with an instruction."
I remember when I was a teenager, and having boy troubles with one of the boys I was dating. As almost always certainly happens at some stage. She talked to me about it a bit, and she gave me Linda Goodman's, is it Love Signs or Sun Signs?
Both. She said, "Well, maybe you should get to know a little bit about him through this other lens, through this other context." It was fascinating, because there was so much truth in there, and I thought, "Oh, my God."
Some of the behaviors I was interpreting, and filtering through my own way of being, and my own values, very differently than what they were intended. It really, in that particular situation, opened up my eyes to astrology. But also having almost an instructional guide, at least a framework that I could start to relate to somebody, and be more open to things that I wasn't necessarily interpreting in the way that they were intended.
Which made me kind of think, a lot of people know about their sun signs, but astrology is much more than that. What can you guys share about sun signs versus all the other aspects?
Got 10 hours?
No. I'm Just kidding.
When we were preparing for this, I was like, "We're going to give people such a small snippet. They're not even going to get the full." But as long as there's enough to tease people into learning more, I think it's great.
I can speak to that briefly. I always knew I was a Sagittarius. I had a paper route, I'd read my horoscope in the paper. But when I was 21, my college boyfriend got my chart done for me as a gift. I didn't even know what a chart was, and I found out I had four planets in Scorpio, and Capricorn rising. There's this whole other dimension of myself that was suddenly explained by this piece of paper.
Some people go looking for astrology, but for most of us, like you, Angel, it finds us in those critical moments where like, "Oh my God, nothing makes sense." Astrology made sense of these things that didn't make sense for me. Parts of myself, like you said, Ricky, too.
You can't deny it. I think it's really good to be skeptical, but a skeptic and a cynic are two different things. A cynic dismisses things outright. Most people saying they're skeptical about astrology are just not giving it a chance.
Be a skeptic, try it on, suspend judgment. If it doesn't work for you, great. There's plenty of people it does, I got no attachment. But if it does give you this other language and instruction manual to yourself, then great. Find out your moon sign, your rising sign.
We have this primal triad in our project. I don't know if one of you guys want to talk about that, Ricky or Steven?
Ricky or Steven, you should share about the primal triad.
Sun sign astrology, I think even really serious astrologers, we have a lot, we have a debt to pay. Because I don't think astrology would have survived to this day with as much vibrancy, if it wasn't for sun sign astrology.
It's interesting, because the way we understand ourselves, we call it the primal triad generator. It's the sun, the moon, and what we call the rising sign or the ascendant. These are really probably the three most profound symbols in astrology. They represent probably parts of ourselves that I would say are the most easily identifiable.
I think the sun and where the sun is placed, it really, like the sun and the solar system. Everything revolves around the sun, and it's a source of vitality. In our charts, that's what it represents, with the sun, the values. Values that if we're true to those values, we will remain vibrant and alive.
I mentioned, my sun is in Gemini, and so feeding my curiosity, taking in information, learning, keeps me happy. Keeps me happy that I wake up in the morning.
As a young athlete, people could identify, they would say, "You're very articulate for an athlete." They're able to notice something about myself that shines, some sort of intelligence.
But they would always say, "I don't understand, you seem so sensitive. You seem so sensitive for a football player, you're so soft spoken." Or even people would say, they say, "Wow, I'm so shocked. You're this big football player, but you seem so humble, and reserved, and shy."
The primal triad, my sun, this Gemini energy shines, my moon. The moon is our inner nature, the part of ourselves that we tend to hide from showing people, until we feel more comfortable, and then it naturally comes out. My moon is in Cancer, which is probably one of the most sensitive signs. It's really about sensitivity of being aware of what's going on for other people, and caring about what's going on for other people, and doing what you can help them feel better.
As a big black guy, having this Cancer moon, I got picked on as a kid. As I started to understand astrology more, I started to understand that part of myself, and then my rising sign. The rising sign is, you can think of it as the mask we wear. We're complex beings, and when we go out into the world, we have to put together a social identity that interacts with the world.
The rising sign can give us information about how to best do that. My rising sign is Virgo, and Virgo has a lot to do with, I think Virgo is the craftsperson. Someone that takes pride in the details, and takes pride in doing a really good job.
As a football player, I had a way to express that Virgo rising sign, because every day, I was charged to get better at becoming a football player. I think what made me such a good football player, I'm fast, and I'm strong, and I can do all of these things. But really, it was my attention to detail, and I approached the game as a craftsperson would approach their craft. Always watching film, and looking to see what I can do better and better.
If I only had the sun sign information about myself, I would lose the information. I would lose these instructions on how to become more of a holistic, more of a full, three dimensional person.
There's eight other planets, and a whole bunch of other things we could talk about. But even looking at ourselves, is there's three separate parts of ourselves that are learning to work together. It could be so helpful for people, and help them to see themselves, and the people in their lives, more three dimensionally.
You're so good at explaining
I had a good teacher. For me, I feel like my life, so I grew up in a very religious household. What we were told in church is, you show people that you're a Christian by the way you live your life, by your actions, by your kindness.
I feel like with astrology, it's really opened my mind so much, and been such a guide for me in life, that I feel like I live it. That's the expression of it.
This project of LILA, for me, it really, it's a lot of things. LILA is the project that I'm working on with Ophi, with Steven, and the rest of our team. It's taking this astrology, and making it actionable, making it applicable.
I started studying astrology way back, 2004. I mentioned that story. It was me, with my computer, and a bunch of books, sitting in my library, just reading all of these things. Watching my friends to see how it works. But it wasn't until I got into a relationship with someone who also was interested in astrology. We took a class, my wife, Lenae, and I took a class with Steven.
I had been studying astrology for 15 years, but this was the first time that I really dove into relationship astrology, and understanding how to use astrology in relationships. It completely blew my mind. A couple of reasons. I think the first reason I talked about, our world is being chaotic. For me, I've experienced the most chaos in my life in intimate relationships. It's something that [crosstalk 00:29:43]-
It's in his chart.
Well said. It's something that all of us, we're interacting with people in relationships, all of us on a daily basis. My idea was, with this profound information that astrology offers us, relationships are the perfect field or playing ground to really interact with these things.
To me, I wanted to merge these two things because on one level, it's definitely going to help people understand themselves, and the people in their lives better. With more consciousness, with more awareness, we're going to make better decisions.
But also, astrology helps us understand ourselves and others, and more profoundly, helps us understand the world around us. I think, big picture of this, if we do a good job with LILA, people are going to understand themselves, they're going to have better relationships. But also the world is going to make more sense to them.
I love that. I think we all need that right now. Ricky, why don't you share with people a little bit more specifically about where you're at with LILA, and what it is? What is it going to offer people along the lines of making more sense to the world, and relating better with with other people.
I'll go back to the kind of moment where this was all born. Again, Lenae, my wife and I were taking synastry, relationship astrology class with Steven. What Steven does in his class, is the first three days he'll teach the philosophy, and he'll teach the technique.
Then on the last day, he draws a name out of the hat, and he demonstrates the technique. The story ends up on my birthday, again, my 40th birthday. It's the last day of the workshop, Steven pulls a name out of my hat, and it's my name.
He spends the whole day demonstrating the technique of how to use astrology to help people in relationships, on me and Lenae. At the time, I was about a year out of a marriage, and about a year into a new relationship. I was at this prime moment in my life, where I was reflecting on the past, and looking at, "How can I take what I learned from my failed relationship, and use it to build a relationship that felt better?"
The information that Steven delivered, it blew my mind, and Lenae and I were married a month later. It's that powerful.
Because when you go into this relationship of meeting someone, there's these emotions that pull you in there, and you get entangled. Steven says this in his class, "Getting out of a relationship is so much more difficult than getting in."
This is a touchy subject, but it's for most adults, we've had the experience of the difficulties of relationship. The truth is, what astrology teaches us, we can learn from life, but we take more bumps and bruises when we learn that way. This information can help us make better decisions.
With this insight, I just thought, we have to find a way to get this information into people's hands, because they need it. We approached Steven, after the morning of that class, and we said, "Would you be willing to work with us on creating this app?" He said, yes, thank goodness.
Really the foundation of my goal here, my vision here is to build the app as a extension of Steven's book, Skymates, his book on relationship. Because the way that Steven teaches, it's wonderful, because he allows you to take this vast subject, and break it down into a way that you can actually use it.
For instance, as he was reading my chart and Lenae's chart, the first thing he started with was each of us as an individual. Who is this person, and who is this person? Before we can think of two people together, we have to understand two individuals.
In our app, we call it the ultimate relationship app. Our first step is self-discovery, is before you can really get the most out of a relationship, you got to take care of the relationship with yourself first.
We use astrological insights to help people understand themselves, and more specifically, their own relationship needs. Because the relationship that works for me is not necessarily going to be the relationship that works for someone else.
Our next step, the next dimension of relationship that we're helping people with is social discovery. It's a social discovery feed, you'll have access to looking at other profiles. This part is really creating a marketplace for people that are wanting to understand themselves, and live a more conscious life, and then to meet each other.
My favorite section of the app, and I think this is really what differentiates us, is that once you make a connection to someone or if you're already in a relationship, is the relationship building module. This is where we use astrology to help people manage the things that show up in relationships.
There's so many tools that astrology offers to help people navigate through these three dimensions. Our task as a team is using what we know and our experiences, to help translate astrological information into ways that people can take actionable steps to improve the quality of their relationships, and the quality of their lives.
Why don't you let people know where you're at with it? Can they get it now? Can they download it now? Can they sign up? Where are things at?
We're getting close. We're getting very close. We were planning to launch in the app store this month, but we're going to do some more testing.
... yes. Exactly. Steven, the astrology of ... so before we segueway Steven on that question. Ricky, people can go to LILA on Instagram and to the website?
Right. Now, where people can go to start connecting with us is the website, and it's heylila.com.
You're also going to be embarking on fundraising as well, right?
there are investors, they can also reach out via the website?
Yes. There's a link for investors. Even a link to check out our deck on the website.
Great. Steven, what are your thoughts about the astrology of a business?
Well, anything that comes into existence, in a sense is born, and anything that is born has a chart. You can set up a chart for the the initial public offering, for example of a publicly traded company. Usually that's born in New York City at 9:30 AM on a Monday morning, for example.
There's astrologers who've made quite a lot of money just looking at businesses, and here's a business that's, here's the holy grail. One of these guys was drinking beer and told me a little bit more than he probably should have, how he's made most of his money. You look for a business that's about to have a big Saturn time, followed by a big Jupiter time. [inaudible 00:37:29] motions of the planets in the sky.
The Saturn, it may not destroy the business, but it's going to shrink it a little bit. Or maybe they have to invest in capital improvements or something, so the dividends are down. That's when you buy, right in the peak of the Saturn stuff. Then Jupiter comes along, and the business goes through the roof, and you sell it, of course right at the top.
Businesses, ideas, human beings, your cat, your dog, your new car. Anything that is born, not only dies, but also has a chart.
I love that. I'm going to have to factor that into my investments and launch dates.
Ophi, you've got, Astro Twins has something now catering to kind of Astro [inaudible 00:38:24], I think?
Yeah. Well, that was a name we came up with. Because, when people start to learn about themselves, some people find that an endlessly fascinating topic. Other people are like, "Great. Now that I know how I'm wired, what do I do with this? Ho