Thursday. 13/5/2021

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Josh Fehnert

Venture forth

Remember the giddy notion that everyone has a novel in them? We know much better now, of course – don’t we? Sadly I can spot this same flawed folk wisdom in the myth that we’re all “founders” in waiting. Give me strength; if we’re all the boss then who would be left to work for us? What’s more, the idea that a single brainwave will propel us to fame and fortune – without ever having to learn the ropes or take a few missteps along the way – is simplistic at best; solipsistic and dangerously deluded at worst. It’s not called work because it’s easy.

So what about all the well-meaning ventures that fail? The businesses that break even but do great things? Or the value of working on something you believe in? Surely there’s more to be learned in all this than in an Instagram post from a fortunate founder who retired at 21 to make silly videos in his solid gold Lamborghini? Is this success? We need more nuance when we talk about business.

In the latest issue of The Entrepreneurs, our twice-annual business handbook, we calmly suggest that success shouldn’t be measured in flips, floats or “disruptions”. Instead we’ve highlighted people who retrained, fell, failed and started over. We interview key CEOs and start-ups, and launch a survey on the best places to do business in 2021, whether you’re seeking a base in sight of the sea, kick-starting a hospitality brand or eyeing up a new HQ.

So here’s a novel idea: maybe everyone does have a business in them but with the caveat that the values they aspire to should matter as much as their value in monetary terms. For a more rounded view of what success can look like, pick up a copy of The Entrepreneurs on newsstands or subscribe today. It’s time to turn the page.

Image: Leon Chew

Diplomacy / Japan & US

Pacific posting

Rahm Emanuel (pictured) is reportedly set to be nominated as the next US ambassador to Japan. And although Japanese media reports note that he isn’t a Japan expert, one look at his CV shows that he’s a heavy hitter: a policy adviser in the Clinton administration, three-term congressman, chief of staff to Barack Obama and a two-term mayor of his native Chicago until 2019 (read our interview with him (here)[https://monocle.com/magazine/issues/122/building-a-legacy/]). Tokyo is also keen to fill the post, which has been empty since William Hagerty left the seat in July 2019. Though Emanuel still has to win the Senate’s approval, the appointment of such an outspoken political figure would mark a sign for Tokyo that the US is reaffirming its commitment to its most important Asian ally. And at a key moment too: efforts are gathering pace to boost security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region to meet China’s rise.

Image: Dan Wilton

Tourism / Greece

Pack your bags

Greece will officially open to vaccinated tourists tomorrow. In an effort to boost tourism this summer, it also announced this week that every permanent resident of its 227 inhabited islands (with the exception of Crete) will be fully vaccinated by the end of June. A rapid taskforce of healthcare professionals has been dispatched to administer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The populations of 32 smaller islands have already received the jab and those on medium-sized islands (of up to 10,000 residents) – including Skopelos, Tinos and Milos – will follow suit by the end of this month. The remaining 19 largest islands will follow in June, including Rhodes and Corfu. The hope is that prioritising the islands will convince governments such as the UK’s to allow quarantine-free travel to Greece in the coming weeks. “This initiative aims to support communities, as well as their economies,” said prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. “My message is clear: we are open again.”

Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Retail / USA

Hammer away

Sotheby’s auction house, spurred on by the success of its Buy Now online marketplace, is opening a permanent shop in New York. The new store is on the lower-ground floor of the same building in which live auctions take place. Shoppers will be able to browse and take home purchases from the house’s traditional areas of expertise – such as paintings, sculptures, first-edition books and jewellery – but also rare Nike trainers, a vintage vending machine and collectable cars. Guest curators will select pieces, starting with make-up artist and skincare brand owner Gucci Westman. What makes this new shop different from any other eclectic department store is that all of the products are pre-owned and what differentiates it from other secondary-market vendors is the authentication that Sotheby’s experts provide. We can’t wait to visit but, much as we love bricks-and-mortar shops, it won’t replace the thrill of placing a winning bid in an auction room.

Image: Getty Images

Design / Italy

Laying the foundation

Italian architect Stefano Boeri’s tree-laden Bosco Verticale residential tower has become synonymous with a modern, progressive Milan, yet the news of his selection as curator for the city’s mega furniture fair Salone del Mobile this year is surprising. Boeri (pictured) is an architect and urbanist who has appeared to veer away from the showy world of Italian furniture in years past, focusing instead on improving Milan’s infrastructure. Still, the announcement is intriguing and shows that the event’s organisers are willing to refresh the trade show’s staid format for its delayed 2021 edition in September. Organisers note that Salone will “showcase the best of the skills and innovative powers of our companies to a national and international public”, while “affirming Milan’s place as the undisputed capital of the design economy”. Boeri, a proven innovator, is a wise pick to handle the challenge.

M24 / The Entrepreneurs

Eureka 243: Nature Squared

Lay Koon Tan is the founder of Nature Squared, which uses natural materials in its luxury products such as car interiors, pens, homeware and furniture. Utilising manufacturing byproducts that would otherwise go to waste – including bamboo, egg shells, mango skins, feathers and tobacco leaves – Nature Squared has collaborated with the likes of Rolls-Royce, BMW and Montblanc.

Monocle Films / Greece

The secret to designing outdoor space

Monocle Films sits down to talk to architect Iliana Kerestetzi and see how she goes about designing courtyards in rural Greece.

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