I want to be like Tyler Brûlé in three years

(Photo: Roger Deckker)

Editor, taste-maker, entrepreneur, and mini media mogul. Yes, that’s who I want to be in three years.

Tyler Brûlé is the man who created Wallpaper magazine and he is the founder for Monocle, a ten-times-a-year print journal published in the UK that touches on global affairs, business, culture & design and is the epitome of discerning taste.

“I guess what unifies things for me is a passion for quality,” Brûlé says. “And that has to strike both high and low. I’m on a campaign against cheap veneers and varnishes.”

In many ways, Brûlé, 42, has become the gold standard of what is currently considered modern “good taste,” a Martha Stewart for the global elite (like Stewart, he inspires acolytes and parodists). Just look at what Wallpaper unleashed.


He started to dream about a new magazine. “It was a reaction to wanting to live every moment,” he says, “to be a little hedonistic.” He took out a small-business loan and launched Wallpaper in 1996. It quickly got bought up by Time Inc. At that point Brûlé disengaged a bit; the corporate life was not his style.

A noncompete clause in his contract meant he couldn’t publish another magazine for two and a half years, so he focused his attention on a branding and advertising agency he’d started called Winkreative, which he still runs and which has counted among its clients companies like Toto, the high-end Japanese toilet manufacturer.

Brûlé also lived out his noncompete by going back to a series of binders he’d filled, over the past twenty years, with his favorite clippings from all sorts of magazines: a column by the Village Voice’s Michael Musto here, a shoot from German Vogue there. One day, toward the end of his noncompete, a Spanish branding client asked him why he had so many empty desks, and he explained that he was planning to launch a magazine when he was again able. The client, the matriarch of a wealthy family, offered to invest, but only if the other investors were in similar situations. And so Brûlé assembled a group of five family foundations, each from a different country, to finance the project—in combination with the income generated by Monocle shops selling the harder-to-find items from the pages of the magazine (ecofriendly Lebanese stationery, a perfect Korean tote bag, a limited-edition Finnish milking stool). In addition to the store here, there are outposts in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Hong Kong (“in Bo Fung Mansion! How great is that?”), and they also sell such things as Monocle-branded bags from Porter. Eventually, he’d like to have shops all over the world, with foreign bureaus in the back.

Yes, that’s where I want to be – staying in designer boutique hotels, drinking posh bottled water, jet-setting from Rio to Seoul, among other cities, on business. In my mini media empire, I will have a print magazine, radio show, retail outlets and eventually, a TV programme.

First, I shall start by wearing suits from now on.


Ring in the new year happy

This is the fourth day of the new year and I am having a bout of the dreadful “Back to School” feeling. I start work again tomorrow after a two-week break. Have I mentioned that it’s dreadful?

I bet I will have a sleepless night later – tossing and turning, wondering what to wear, what to eat for lunch and if I should go into the office early to start clearing the tons of work that has been piling up since 22 Dec and set a good example to my team. I am also mentally practising typing 2011 in my head.

I remember back in school when we have to write with 2B pencils and blue ballpoint pens, I always had difficulties adjusting my hand to write the correct year on my daily homework. I’d get the day and the month right but fail at filling in the right year. It takes me about a week or so to finally get into the routine. Ah-HA! But not this time, suckers! My mind has somehow accepted that this year will be an awesome year and therefore we are going to embrace it accordingly. Aw-yeah!

Plus, reading articles dripping with positivity and self-love always help. Barbara Hayes, author of “Beware of Dogs: How to Avoid Dating Disasters”, has some great advice for any of us still sulking about 2010 via CNN.

The new year is a great time to think about what we truly want, to look at ourselves in a new light. We can start training for a triathlon (well, you can), learning Italian (in case we ever meet Andrea Bocelli — sigh), painting delicate watercolors, or lounging in comfy sweats on a lazy day without anyone making cutting comments.

So, start the year by making big goals that you can achieve in baby steps taken every week. If you falter, do not think of it as failure, think of it as a temporary setback, a learning experience.

Research shows that reframing our “mistakes” in that way makes the difference between ultimate success and failure. Reward yourself for every tiny successful step. Keep it all in perspective: At the end of a week, a month, and so on, look back and acknowledge the small but significant changes that you have made.

If it made me smile, you will definitely smile after reading this last bit.

Then, smile! Research also shows that smiling sends a signal to your brain that you feel happy, which causes you to smile more, which causes you to feel even happier, and so the cycle perpetuates itself.

Which brings us to losing the holiday weight I’ve most unwillingly gained. I have been searching high and low online for a way to speed up my metabolism after the non-stop feasting I had days ago. Apparently, this is the best way to jump-start your metabolism after a plateau. I’m sure it’s useful. Just that it lost me after I realise I have to keep a food journal and that I have to do challenging exercises. I might revisit the article again.

Where on earth will I find myself in 2011?

I certainly hope it’s New York, listed as CNN’s top destination to be in 2011, or somewhere equally unforgettable before this year ends.

1. New York

A huge tourist destination in any year, the city will be especially unforgettable as it marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks next year.

Visitors who have been flocking to ground zero are finally expected to get a chance to pay their respects to the victims at the National September 11 Memorial, which is scheduled to open in time for the anniversary.

Visitors also shouldn’t miss the High Line, once an abandoned elevated railway track that’s been turned into a popular park.

Remember, your new year will be a great adventure because you will make it one. And SMILE!