Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! Today, I’m here with Kyle Ingham from The Distilled Man. Welcome, Kyle!
Kyle Ingham: Thank you, sir.
Sven Raphael Schneider: Nice to have you here. We’re here in LA at man camp at the art of charm headquarters. Today, we want to have a discussion about gentlemanly things and the introductions to skills that every man should possess that maybe not every man learned from his father or the family he grew up in. Is that an accurate description of what you do at the Distilled Man?
KI: Great introduction, absolutely!
SRS: Alright. So, Distilled Man, when you hear that, first impression could be that it’s about booze but after looking at your website, one realizes that’s not quite the case. how did you come up with the name and what does it mean?
KI: What’s interesting actually was brainstorming with friends and one thing that we, one theme that we were brainstorming around was this idea of borrowing a little bit from the equity of cocktails because I think one thing when you drink cocktails, you drink distilled spirits, it’s not just about a drink or alcohol. I think everyone associates it with something bigger or sort of a vibe.
SRS: It’s a social component, right?
KI: Absolutely! Social component and you know, when you think of a martini, for instance, you don’t just think of a martini in a plain glass. Maybe you think of a man with a tuxedo so instantly, I think when you think of cocktails, you think of liquor, you’re transported to a different scene.
SRS: Alright! So is distilled, also does it mean you distil skills to the essentials for the men?
KI: You know, I’ve always been cagey about actually defining my brand name but absolutely! I think there’s that element of refinement. Because obviously, when you distill something, you are refining that liquid and I think that that idea is something that has carried over in our brand. Every man, when he goes through his life’s journey is hopefully trying to get better and with the experiences that you go through, with the education that you give yourself, the things that you seek out, the people you meet, you try to refine yourself and you want to be that better person. So that’s really what the Distilled Man is all about. It’s learning those essential skills that will make you a better man.
SRS: How would you say is the distilled man different from a gentleman? Or is it the same thing?
KI: I think it’s the same thing but I think what I like about the Distilled Man or what I’ve tried to bring out at the Distilled Man is about that process. So, a lot of people think about a gentleman and then think of it as sort of a static thing. Either you are born a gentleman or you’re not, you know.
SRS: But that’s not the case, right?
KI: Absolutely not!
SRS: It’s a development. Especially as a modern gentleman, we wrote a piece about it. It’s a quality and it’s not an inherited title.
KI: Absolutely! It’s a constant… continuum..right? There’s always people who are a little further ahead of you. There’s always people who are behind you. But what I enjoyed especially since I started the business because not because I was an expert in any of these things but the opposite. Because I felt like I was lacking in certain areas as a man and I wanted to learn these things so for me, I feel like the process of the learning and the experiential aspect is a really big part for me and that’s something I want to bring out for my readers.
SRS: That’s an interesting perspective because oftentimes you have these expert blogs and you take the opposite approach “I’m an everyday man and I’m finding it out and taking you along the ride with me.
KI: Absolutely! In many ways, I think of myself sort of as a journalist where I pick a topic that I’m interested in. In many cases, I do know a fair amount, maybe more than the average guy but a lot of times, I’ll pick a topic that I would want to know more about. I’ll do the research, I’ll call some experts, interview some people myself, and then I report back. And I feel like my goal is to not be an expert but to be able to distil down that information and simplify it for my readers.
SRS: That was a good general overview. Do you have some more specific things?
KI: In terms of topics that I cover?
KI: Well you know, I think one of the areas that I really think is sort of a meta area is the social skills. Because that’s something that obviously helps you with your personal life and it helps you in your professional life.
KI: And from a personal perspective, being able to just feel confident in your own skin and be able to..you know people like to talk about small talk, or being able to have conversation skills, it really is something that again, you are not born with. It’s something that you have to work on and that you shouldn’t be embarrassed to work on.
SRS: Absolutely. I mean, studies have shown that being lonely and not being able to socialize with others has a much bigger impact on your life expectancy than smoking or eating red meat.
SRS: So, it’s important to be among people and to have friends and have these social connections to enjoy life.
KI: Yeah, what’s interesting you bring that up because one of the areas that I started to explore within the social sphere is this idea of male friendship. I had this sort of hypothesis myself that a lot of guys as they get older, have a difficulty making friends. And I certainly experienced it as I gotten older. You know, you get out of college, maybe you move to a different town, you change jobs, and suddenly it’s you know, you don’t have your social sphere just automatically created for you. You actually have to work at it.
KI: And I don’t think that we are used to that.
SRS: And the neighbors may not be the right people.
KI: (laughs) In many cases, you don’t want to have them as your friends.
SRS: Or you know, if you have kids, I mean you go out but then it’s more of a parent situation like the kid is the shared denominator. So that can work as a friendship but it’s maybe more so for women. I guess today, you really can’t tell but oftentimes, most kids have two parents so it’s more like a couple friendship rather than this traditional man friendship.
KI: Well yeah. And that’s interesting too because that’s two ways to look at it. A lot of my readers that I’ve spoken to, again, I wrote a sort of a blog post about male friendship and I was amazed at the outpouring of sort of emotional response that many of these guys said Wow, I didn’t realize that other people felt this way. I didn’t realize that other guys were having the same challenges. A lot of these guys, again, were single and so, there’s the two sides that you said. The couple friendships and there’s the single guys who are trying to make friends but maybe many of their friends are starting to get married, they’re starting to have children, and so they don’t necessarily feel like they are in the same stage of life. And so that is often very difficult because you don’t want to feel like the third wheel, you know, maybe your friend is married, they have a kid, and you’re the single guy who comes over for dinner.
SRS: Yeah or for beers, three times a week. (laughs)
KI: There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, you should not feel like you’re imposing because if they’ve invited you, they probably want you over.
KI: Just saying.
SRS: So apart from friendship and social skills, can you kind of drill down a little more? To what that means, and what you try to accomplish with it?
KI: Absolutely. I think the added score, what I want to try to do for my readers and for myself in some respect, is to just give that confidence , to be able to feel like you’re a well-rounded gentleman because I think all of these things, social skills, learning how to make a cocktail, how to dress well, something that you teach; these are things that they don’t just give value on a surface level because no one needs to know how to make a cocktail, that does not improve your life on face value but I feel like so many of these things are bridges to other benefits. You know, again, cocktails, it’s a social bridge, I think it’s a social way for you to connect with other people.
SRS: Absolutely. I mean, I like to have a glass on my own but usually, you only drink when we have people over to entertain, like dinner parties, and it’s just one way to enjoy a good bottle of wine. It’s just more enjoyable and you can share it with friends.
KI: Absolutely. So again, I think these skills have value on own but I think ultimately, what I feel like they give someone is that confidence to feel like they are more connected with the people around them; like they are living life more fully, to be honest.
SRS: That’s great! At Gentleman’s Gazette, we always try to portray the gentleman as more than just the clothes that he’s wearing. We talk about etiquette or architecture or simply good food, and things a gentleman should know, a cigar, wine, or scotch. Are you dwelling in areas like that as well?
KI: I am, absolutely. I think these things that a gentleman should know, the list is endless and that’s one thing that I do love about doing what I do; It’s because readers are always suggesting areas to explore. We’ve written a little bit about cigars, about how to choose wine, how to make cocktails, how to cook. Again, I think food for me is a very personal passion.
KI: To me, again, it’s not just about feeding yourself, it’s about connecting with other people. And if you think about it, you know, when you connect with other people, usually, you’re breaking bread with them or eating with them. For some reason, it’s a tradition.
SRS: If more republicans and democrats would do that, I think the differences will be not as huge.
KI: (laughs) Yes, absolutely. But you know, especially as I think about my core audience which in your case is you know a guy in 20s, 30s, maybe early 40s who maybe is single. Being able to cook and being able to maybe host, have dinner parties, invite friends over, maybe for cocktails, to prepare some food and be able to be that, take that host role, I think is a really empowering and fun thing to do.
SRS: It also makes you more attractive to single ladies or single men.
SRS: Like it’s a wonderful way to show that you can entertain and that you can have people over and they enjoy it and they want to come back. It’s nice to host a party when everyone wants to come to you.
KI: Right, I mean, absolutely. It’s sort of a provider role which is kind of a unique way to look at that provider angle.
SRS: Yeah, absolutely. And you know sometimes it’s also that you go to a certain event and you realize something like for me, that was the funeral etiquette. I went to a funeral and I was like wow, you know, there was so many bad things, let’s talk about this and what it means and why we do it and you wrote an interesting article about how to inscribe a book. How did you come up with that?
KI: This was an interesting one because again, many of my articles, I’m inspired by my own interest. it’s funny because this article is actually going to be very popular so if you google how to inscribe a book, I think my article is one of the top articles in Google. But when I did it, when I did the video and did the research, I was thinking to myself, you know, this isn’t going to be very popular but I really want to write about it.
SRS: I’ll do it anyways!
KI: I’m going to do it anyway and it’s so funny because now…..
SRS: I have those too sometimes. Like this is just what a gentleman should know and I know it’s not going to make me money or a lot of good clicks but I’m still willing to invest in it because it’s just part of that skill set basically.
KI: It was just, yeah, such a fun article to write because I was just going through a new research, finding out to the extent where there are rules or is there established etiquette, and the fun part was finding examples. Not only reading examples that have been typed into Google but actually seeing the photos of the inscriptions because for folks who don’t know what inscription is, it’s that note you write in the beginning of a book where it’s personal, or a gift especially. So that was fun, to actually see real inscriptions in books and to see what people had written.
SRS: So, what were your findings? Like what are the ground rules to inscribe a book?
KI: I think, I went through it and I can’t remember all of them that I put in the post. I sort of tried to classify the different types but I think at its core, I think what you want to do is personalize it. I mean that’s really vague but the idea is giving a book to someone, usually, there’s a reason right? It’s because you want to make that a special gift because you thought of them that maybe either you read the book and it really resonated with you and you want to share that with the other person…
SRS: Because you think they’d like it or it’s something that touches their life.
KI: It’s special! Right!
SRS: It enriches them, right? That’s the point of making a good gift.
KI: Exactly. Or the other main category, of course, is when you feel like it’s an area that they love a lot. Like maybe it’s, say you love NASCAR, you probably don’t but….
SRS: Oh, I love it. (laughs)
KI: But I see a book, I know that Raphael loves NASCAR and I find a book that looks like an amazing book about NASCAR, even though I haven’t read it, even though I don’t love NASCAR, I’m really thinking about you when I find this book and so I think that’s what you should be thinking about when you’re actually buying the gift but then the goal of the inscription is I think to amplify that personalization of why you did it. So I think to say “Dear Raphael, I know how much you love NASCAR. I saw this book and I immediately thought of you. Thank you.” and then, of course, the other sort of technical aspect of inscribing a book is just documenting when it happened because I think the most fun thing about book inscriptions is going back to them years later. You know I got a cookbook I think from my stepmother in 2000 and every time I pull it out, I read it, I think oh that’s so nice.
SRS: Maybe give her a call after the meal and telling her how much you enjoyed it.
KI: It’s like this would not have been possible if you hadn’t given me this book and it’s just a little time capsule. So that’s what’s fun.
SRS: That’s awesome. Wonderful.
KI: Yeah. So, what do you see the Distilled Man producing in the future? Do you have a certain path going forward or are you just looking at how it comes to you?
KI: World domination.
KI: No, I think what I want to continue to do is one thing that I really love is connecting with my readers, connecting with my viewers and so I really want to continue to not only write about things that I want to write about but really be a good listener because I think that’s where I had some fun. You know, hearing from readers where their challenges are and what they want to hear about and trying to just do my best job of making high-quality videos and blog posts that really speak to them and give value to them.
SRS: That’s great and we found sometimes, you know that a great way to really understand what people really want but sometimes, it’s also the opposite. You have these posts where you don’t get much feedback but then they get really popular and maybe it’s because you don’t know what you don’t know but once you see it, you’re like “Oh, I’m interested in that. I would not have been able to proactively tell you that I’m interested in it but in fact, now that you mention it”.. quite interesting.
KI: Right! I think that’s the Steve Jobs motto right? Customers don’t know what they want, you have to just put in in front of them.
SRS: Exactly. You have to envision it for them, basically.
KI: But I also, I mean, In terms of other plans, I think one of the big things is doing more videos, launching a podcast very soon. So hopefully, you’ll be a guest on the podcast.
SRS: Let’s do it!
KI: But because that’s something I really love is that connection with experts like yourself.
SRS: And your readers.
KI: And my readers, of course.
SRS: Alright, Kyle! Thank you so much. If you want to check out what Kyle does, where should they go?
SRS: Alright, thanks!