Out of the Clouds
March 9, 2023, Anne V Muhlethaler

S3:E10 Kamil Tyebally

on experiential design, empathy and engineering serendipity

Kamil Tyebally from Early Spring

Kamil Tyebally is the founder of Early Spring NYC, a company that works at the crossroads between events, culture, connection and marketing, to create immersive brand events.

Kamil’s is an unusual story, and he starts by telling Anne how he went from Singapore to Myanmar to Thailand in his teens, and how he first discovered that life experience could match academic performance. 

His early passion for taking pictures led him to follow a path in photo-journalism in NYC at first, and Kamil explains about how his father sparked his adventurous spirit, which led him to meet his future self in Mexico City and develop two book projects that took him to Algiers (Algeria) and later to Baghdad (Iraq).

Coming back to NYC, Kamil landed in marketing and business development. But, he tells Anne how he was set on getting a job at the innovative Fake Love company. This mission took him on a journey to explore culture, connection, technology and empathy — where, at the end, he found himself as the co-creative for immersive experiential events at Fake Love. 

Kamil’s artistic leanings and his keenness to find what makes people tick is neatly encompassed when he talks with Anne about creating value beyond transaction and sparking moments of connections at his events. Kamil launched his company, Early Spring, just before the start of the pandemic with the objective (and the tagline) of ‘engineering serendipity’ — which he describes as finding what people need before they even know they need it themselves. 

The two close the conversation by discussing vulnerability, instinct and finding a connection to their roots. A wide-ranging and fascinating interview with a thoughtful entrepreneur. Happy listening! 

Selected links from episode

You can find Kamil on LinkedIn @KamilTyebally

on Instagram @NYiskillingme

His company website is Earlyspring.nyc

His personal website is NYiskillingme.com

Fake Love

Refinery 29

29 Rooms by Refinery 29

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

The School of Visual Arts in New York City

Algiers, the Algerian capital

LUsage du monde, the book by Nicholas Bouvier

and in English ‘The Way of the World’ 

The Stranger, book by Albert Camus

The song New York is Killing Me by Gill Scott Heron

Amritsar in Punjab

An Era of Darkness, the book by Shashi Taroor

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:00:04):

Full episode transcript

Hi. Hello, Bonjour and namaste. This is Out of the Clouds, a podcast at the crossroads between business and mindfulness. And I’m your host Anne Muhlethaler.


Today my guest is Kamil Tyebally. Kamil hails from Singapore, but he’s been a New Yorker for many years now. He started his career in photojournalism, but found himself compelled to work for an agency in New York called Fake Love, and that’s where he started developing a love of immersive experiential events for consumers. I caught a glimpse of Kamil’s life story in a blog post that he shared on LinkedIn, which is what prompted me to contact him to do this interview. And as you’ll see or rather hear his is a pretty unusual or even adventurous life journey. We’ll also talk about his work. So first at Fake Love, then 29 Rooms with Refinery 29, and the work that he does today with his agency called Early Spring. I was so curious to ask him about that since their tagline is Engineering serendipity. I don’t wanna say too much more because you’ll see ours is a very wide ranging conversation, not a massive surprise for, for those of you who listen to Out of the Clouds regularly. But anyway, without further ado, I give you my interview with Kamil Tyebally. Enjoy!


Kamil, welcome to Out of the Clouds. Thanks for being here.

Kamil Tyebally (00:01:59):

Thank you. And I’m so excited to speak to you today.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:02:02):

Well, so am I actually, you may already know this, but I love to start my conversations with my guests with asking them to tell me about their stories. And I’ve had a glimpse of your story and I’m curious and want to hear more. So I’m gonna put this in your hands and I’d love for you to tell our listeners who you are.

Kamil Tyebally (00:02:24):

Well, yeah, absolutely. So I’ll start kind of from the beginning. I was born in Singapore, but when I was around four, my family moved to Myanmar and then most of my childhood there learned to speak Burmese. At around 14 I was sent to boarding school. Well, I guess I insisted on going to boarding school in Phuket in Thailand, went through high school there. And then being as I’m a Singaporean citizen, I had to go back to Singapore to serve a national service. So I did that for about two and a half years. I was in the police force. And then I came to New York to study photography. You know, the ambition was to become a photojournalist. I sort of did a couple projects in that field for a while before getting into the ad world, which really started with cold calling people and selling ads in a industry focused directory.


Through that, I discovered this incredible agency called Fake Love. They were sort of a pioneer of, you know, immersive tech forward, narrative driven, experiential marketing and art. And for a year I pastored them for a job, finally got hired and that’s sort of how I came into the world of experiential. I was there for a while and I then went over to Refinery 29, which at the time had a 10 pole experiential project called 29 Rooms. An amazing project. I think we’re gonna speak a little bit more about that, but spent a couple years there and then in the summer of 2019 I started my own agency called Early Spring.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:04:10):

Thanks. I was just dot jutting down some notes cuz you went through this very fast and I’m gonna have to make you rewind and go back. Thank you so much Kamil. What was high school in Phuket? Like

Kamil Tyebally (00:04:21):

What was high school in Phuket like? Well, you know, you’re on a holiday island away from your parents, so, you know, I guess wonderful in some ways. The truth is that I’ve never really been great at school. Academically. I find it really hard to focus <laugh>, you know, sort of apply myself. I, I feel like if you went through like the history of my report cards, they would all say more or less the same thing. Distracted by a falling leaf would do so well if he applied himself. But I really excelled at like the things that surrounded school, right? Like after school activities, there were certain subjects that I was, you know, more inclined to be successful at. But it was a wonderful experience. I think in retrospect I would not have left to go to boarding school at such a young age. I think you kind of miss up, you miss out on growing up within the family environment, which you really start to feel the effects of like in your thirties. It’s certainly instilled a lot of independence that has been super useful in my life. Now I live in New York by myself. I don’t really have family anywhere near and closest families in Dubai. And I think there’s definitely been some great life lessons and got a lot of value out of it that’s paying dividends now.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:05:43):

So I So that you wrote that in your teens you discovered that experienced matched performance in determining successful outcomes.

Kamil Tyebally (00:05:52):


Anne Muhlethaler  (00:05:53):

So is that linked with the experience that you had in high school? Is, did that happen around the same time

Kamil Tyebally (00:06:01):

Even before? I think from a very young age, the one sort of wonderful thing about my family is we love to travel and so we did a lot of traveling from a very young age when on safari. And my mom’s from India and we’ve traveled India pretty, pretty widely. And there was always something that you would take away or learn or observe within different cultures and in, in different places that informed the way that I live my life, right? At least you don’t realize it at such a young age. But as I got older, I, I started to see the value in like having these experiences and you think about school as sort of the precursor to having a a career. I found that going out and doing jobs when you were young was kind of the, the best way to, to be prepared for, you know, a career. And I think I was pretty good at like finagling my way into things that were into jobs that I was interested in, right? Like when I was, I think around 15 or 16, I had an internship at the Myanmar Times and Business Review. It was like a weekly journal and amazing.


Yeah, it was super interesting. You know, it was like writing articles for the cover of a section or going out and interviewing people or taking photos and you know, I’m 15, 16 and sort of a newsroom with people that are much older and you sort of observe and and learn a lot. What else have I done? I mean I spent some time working in my parents, they at a restaurant for a while and I would go over and probably cause more of an inconvenience than anything, but you sort of watch and see and learn and kind of absorb how things work. That’s always been very valuable to me. I just figured, you know, if I couldn’t really ace my math exams and you know, my science exams then having this story and having this experience would eventually come to serve me. And you know, that’s really where I poured my energy.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:08:09):

It’s so interesting what you say. It’s true that I find that the school environment really there’s not teach us much about what the greater world holds in store for us. So you’ve projected me back into <laugh>, into my own late teens and gosh, I just loved working. That’s why I didn’t finish uni. But this podcast’s not about me. I wonder at which point did photography become a passion for you? Or maybe I’m speaking out of term, you didn’t say it was a passion, you went to study photography, so you wanted it to be a career. So when did that happen?

Kamil Tyebally (00:08:52):

So there’s actually a very distinct moment in which that that happened. I think I was back in Myanmar for some holidays from boarding school and I, I feel like I must have been about 15 or 16 at the time. And we lived in this apartment building that had a really sort of amazing view of, it’s called Agon Pagoda. It’s this beautiful sort of towering, gold plated pagoda and Yangun that’s super bright at night. And a friend of my parents rather came over and wanted to take a photo of it was kind of trailing him and watching him work and the whole process just was very ena and this was a film camera. And a few days later he sent over a copy of the print and I was like, this is incredible that you could do this with that camera. And I watched it happen and that really sort of got me started or got me curious about photography and you know, I sort of within days found an old film camera at home and just like, you know, wandered around and and started taking pictures.


But I realized that, you know, photography was a great excuse to put myself in certain situations or to discover things. It was a great reason for me to be curious. And I think that passion sort of developed over the years. It was also very much a creative expression, right? I didn’t have to use a calculator or figure out formulas or anything like that. It just sort of felt natural and and easy to, to do. And I love doing it. I would say specifically around the time that I was in the police force was when the decision to pursue it really cemented that experience was really incredible in the way that every day you were interacting with different people and sort of entering their lives and having very fleeting but intimate conversations and access with all different walks of life. And for sure there was like a little bit of photography in terms of like photographic crime scenes or what have you.


But I really felt like photography was going to expand that, that world to me, right? Like I could, I could take it and travel and meet people and you know, learn their stories and share their stories. So when I was in the police force, I applied to college at the School of Visual Arts. I knew I wanted to come to New York. I’d been here on on a model un type trip when I was 16. And like the cheesiest thing, you know, I got off the tour bus in Times Square and I was like, wow, this place is amazing. I need to live here. Sunday manifested that. And yeah, that’s sort of how I wound up in photography.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:11:41):

So, well two things came to me actually. The first one is, it sounds like it was as much a creative mode of expression as a discovery tool. Cause I, I appreciate in what you’re saying is that you were learning people’s stories, you weren’t just capturing right. You were becoming involved with the subject of your photograph. And I think that kind of speaks to the empathy that we’ll talk about through the work that you do in experience design and events. But, so the post that I read on LinkedIn notes that, as you mentioned, you have been a police officer. You volunteered weekly at a daycare center for prisoners children. You went to shoot Cyclone Nargis

Kamil Tyebally (00:12:25):

Yeah, yeah. Cyclone Nargis.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:12:27):

Right? In 2008 after Cyclone Nargis struck the Delta region of Myanmar, the international press was banned. But you went and recorded this for posterity for three months and then you went to Iraq, spent a month in Baghdad and photographed a book in Algiers <laugh>. I mean, you did, you did a lot of things and there’s more and more in that list. And though it got me wondering about how much of an experience person you are and perhaps someone who wanted an adventure at that time of your life. Tell me where I’m wrong. Maybe you, you weren’t.

Kamil Tyebally (00:12:59):

I think it’s a little bit of both, right? Like I, I love the feeling of packing my bag and having a camera and like being out, going through airports and then what, except for JFK I will say

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:13:12):

Yeah, yeah, we can, we can poke at that story in a second.

Kamil Tyebally (00:13:15):

It’s, it’s a wonderful feeling to just know that you’re going somewhere that you’ve never been before. And some of these places are not exactly, you’re not gonna find them on like the Conde Nast traveler list either, right? Like Algiers for example is, is an incredible city, right? Like, it, it’s sort of looks like Paris was left to the forces of nature and you have like the same Parisian boulevards and and parks, but they’re just, you know, covered in, in moss and like overgrown and it’s so beautiful. But no one, you know, it’s not really, everyone goes to Morocco, right? And I had this opportunity to travel to Algiers and photograph for a, for a travel book, which was a really fascinating travel book. It wasn’t like the type, you know, that was like, go to these restaurants and like do these tours. There was more a travel book that harness poetry and essays from people that, that lived in the city.


What’s it called? It’s called, I don’t even remember. I got, oh, I have it here somewhere. I’ll, I’ll think of it. I mean it was, it was fascinating, right? Like when I got to Algiers, my luggage was lost. I had one contact who told me to meet them at a bar and this bar was like hidden under an overpass of a freeway and you had to like knock on a door and then there’s like a little sliding thing and they look at you and then you walk through a kitchen, then you go upstairs and it was very small, very smoky, but it felt like it was the place where sort of like the, the creatives and the rebels were hanging out. Cuz you, you know, Algiers is, or Algeria rather is a pretty closed off country.


But everyone that kind of thought differently was, felt like they were in this bar. And, and I went around the bar, I sat with all the tables, all the groups of friends and for each night that I was there, each day that I was there, I spent with a different group of people. And it wasn’t so much about like seeing the sites, it was more about hanging out with a group of friends and doing whatever it is that they do on a regular night, right? So like some, some nights we were playing cards and drinking and smoking ish and like a parking lot of a, of an apartment building. You know, I went to like a, it was like a artist colony that a few people were, you know, working out of and spent some time there, you know, went to local restaurants with groups.


It was just, you know, all sorts of different things. It was really wonderful. Went to like a Algerian nightclub, which, you know, that was, it was super fun. And I think I’m more interested in like what it is that people do, you know, how people live their lives on a daily basis rather than figuring out, like having a, having sort of an opinion on, on the way the country is run or reporting on some like traumatic event. It’s, it’s so interesting to me to just expose the, or yeah, I guess like expose and discover the lives of people that got a different, like lottery card in, in sort of the, the draw of life, right? Like you ended up in Algeria, I ended up in Singapore, but like we’re the same age. We kind of think in similar ways, but what do you do with your life? And I found that to be really fascinating.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:16:44):

Yeah, sounds like an amazing experience. It really does. Yeah.

Kamil Tyebally (00:16:48):

It, it was fascinating And you know, not too many people I know can say that there’ve been two Algiers, right? Like mm-hmm And I mean I think it’s a bit of a shame <laugh>. It’s, it is such a gorgeous city. My only reference point for it was the Albert Camus book The Stranger. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and I love that book. I think that book really kind of changed my life in a way when I was a teenager. Mm. This whole idea of like exist existentialism was very interesting to me.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:17:20):

Aha, that’s so interesting. Yeah. Yeah. The existentialists are a movement that not everybody knows about. Yeah, I was particularly fond of Sartre when I was a teenager, <laugh> what you mean. But you know, it’s funny because as you describe this book, I’m looking up cuz there’s a bookshelf behind my monitor and I wonder if this is translated in English. I’ll check it out and if I find it I will send it to you. There was one travel book that was given to me by my father many years ago and I had no expectations. There are no pictures, there are illustrations and it’s called ‘l’Usage du Monde.’ So the use of the world was like a user map of the world by a poet and writer called Nicola Bouvier, who’s a Swiss Geneva writer, Geneva born writer. And he went, I think it was in 1956, he drove from Switzerland through to Afghanistan via ex Yugoslavia, Iran, et cetera.


Yeah. But without any funding with a friend of his who was an illustrator and they stopped and lived in various places and earned a living with whatever they were able to do. And the result is fascinating and this strange thing, and this is very much to your point about how people live in different places, is that some things don’t actually change even across 50, 60, 70 years. So the way that he was describing, for example, the smell of the streets in Croatia or ex Yugoslavia, when I describe it to a friend of mine who’s from there, she was like, oh my god, I know exactly what he means about the rotten watermelons or whatever.

Kamil Tyebally (00:18:57):

But it’s, it’s an interesting point because I think so across all these different places, right, like the things that drive us and I mean I suppose especially in the West where a lot of these places feel so distant and the people that live there feel so far away and kind of alien to us at the end of the day, it’s the idea that people really just want to feel seen and heard and understood and the experience love, like these basic things, you know, they’re there but to see it in the way that it’s expressed in different places I think is really quite interesting and it’s what makes us the same no matter how different our lives are. Right. I think to me that’s really, i I love seeing that. I love seeing how similar disparate backgrounds and disparate people are.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:19:52):

Yeah. I side with you there now I’m gonna ask you one more uh, two more questions related to that and then we’ll move on to your events and design experience. So what do you mean? I met my future self in Mexico City? I’m sorry, I’m too curious.

Kamil Tyebally (00:20:08):

Incredible experience actually. So I was maybe like 21 or 22 and I went to Mexico City for 10 days and I was staying at this little inn and type of place where everyone has a communal dining at breakfast. And I see this older gentleman and I thought he was the owner of the motels, I went over and introduced myself and said good morning. And he responded in like a distinctly South Asian accent and it totally threw me off. I thought he was, you know, an older Mexican. Turns out he’s an older Pakistani gentleman called Ikbal <laugh>. And I was just like, what the hell are you doing here? You know, like in this like budget motel in Mexico City and you know, we sat down and had breakfast together and he was a retired political science professor at, at McGill and you know, he was telling me that during the cold months he either goes to Mexico City or to Thailand.


And I was like well that’s kind crazy cuz I grew up in Thailand and I kind of had my suspicions about it to be very honest. An old, there’s a very distinct perspective on older men going to Thailand <laugh>. Yeah. And so I was like, yeah, you know, this might be a little bit dodgy, but he was extremely well spoken, just very, very kind and warm and very gentle and just had a very magnetic personality. And we became sort of fast friends and he would take me on like these six, seven hour walking tours of Mexico City and we would just talk and he told me sort of his life story where he came from, what his ambitions were. He was born in Pakistan and his family were sort of landowners and he was really interested in, in ideas around socialism and profit sharing on the land.


And he wanted to go and study farming and, and his parents were like, absolutely not. Like you’re not gonna go to university and become a farmer. That’s ridiculous. So they sent him off to Canada to become an engineer and he’d always had sort of this, you know, this ambition of returning to Pakistan and becoming a politician. Ended up in Canada first time he’s sort of free and away from his parents. He ends up marrying a Canadian woman and having a child. And I think he sort of resented that because it kind of ruined his chances at becoming a politician. But you know, he’d been through all these like different adventures and he was doing some really interesting things. He also kept on talking about this girlfriend of his that was coming to visit, which I thought was really, I was so curious about who that might be and you know, a few days later she came and she was this French woman with like dye red hair, which I thought was really odd cuz I was also dating a French woman with the exact same dye red hair and okay, I’m getting the future self note there.


Yeah. So I, you know, over the, the few days, I think what we’d both come to kind of quietly realize was we were different versions of each other in different times. I think he very much saw his youth in me and I very much found comfort in hearing about his life and where he’s ended up and seeing him, you know, genuinely happy. It was very comforting, you know, when you’re in your like early twenties and you don’t really know where your life is going, meeting him felt like a little bit of divine miraculous intervention where it was just like, everything’s gonna be okay. But you know what was really funny about this is I left Mexico City and didn’t have his contact or you know, didn’t have his phone number or anything like that and come back to New York and I hadn’t really told anyone about this and my girlfriend at the time and I, we were sitting on her rooftop one night in the summer and I told her this story and she was like, this is amazing.


Let’s go to Montreal and find him. So we went to Times Square at seven in the morning, got on a bus, went to Montreal and you know, had no idea where he lived, but kind of based on the stories that he was telling you about his routine, we figured, you know, we’d just sort of look for him <laugh>. So we’re sitting in a, in a coffee shop all day, some [inaudible] what he, what he loves to do is he likes to go shopping, he likes to shop every single day. We went to let you know where all the shops are sat there and sure enough he comes walking down the street and he

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:24:45):

Sees me shut up.

Kamil Tyebally (00:24:46):

He has this like incredible smile on his face and he is like, you son of a gun <laugh>. And you know, he gives us his address and he tells us to come up and come over to his house in like an hour, go over. And he lives in this like really cute one bedroom. He has no walls, they’re all wardrobes and all of his wardrobes Oh. Filled with clothes and he only wears things once and he keeps a note of what he wore that outfit with, right. Oh and these are like pretty cool clothes and, and we’re like the same size and I’m looking at them and I’m like, you know, these are really cool. And he was like, you know, take whatever you want. And as we were going through his wardrobe, may who was my girlfriend at the time, she’s like, you know, loud whispery. He’s like, come, come out, come over here. And I go over and she’s found this photo of him from when he was my age and it was basically a photo of me. No way. Yeah, it was incredible. It was really a very special experience.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:25:53):

Man. That is amazing. I am so glad I asked you that question. Yay. Yeah, <laugh>.

Kamil Tyebally (00:26:00):

Hey Bob. Never spoke to him again actually.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:26:03):

<laugh>. Yeah. That’s wonderful. So one last thing that I wanted to poke at from this particular piece that you wrote. I looked at the book project that you developed in Baghdad and I would love for you to tell me about it.

Kamil Tyebally (00:26:19):

Yeah, so I wish I finished that project actually, but it all began with my dad actually. So he had been spending a lot of time in Baghdad and we can sort of unpack that because I think my dad is probably where I get this like,

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:26:36):


Kamil Tyebally (00:26:37):

Adventure, entrepreneurial

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:26:39):

Drive. I should have asked <laugh>. Yeah,

Kamil Tyebally (00:26:41):

He’s like a, I mean he moved to, moved to Burma in the, in the nineties and we would go on like family vacations to like, we went on a family vacation to Kashmir one year shortly after the Battle of Kola. And we like drove across Kashmir in one night. You could hear the missile siles going or anything. Like loved it. And I, I really loved that stuff. Not so much the violence but that like I understand

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:27:06):

<laugh>, thanks for saying it, but yeah, I get it.

Kamil Tyebally (00:27:08):

So after Burma, for some reason he was like, Baghdad, let’s go to Baghdad. And so he is working there and he was emailing me photos that he was taking on his cell phone that really felt like the most raw kind of documentary images of his daily life, right? Like this is the market that I’m at, this is me in a meeting with whoever my customers and here is where a suicide bomber blew himself up outside my window while I was out today. And look at all the glass shards that are embedded all across my room. It was fascinating and you would like send me these emails a couple times a week with captions that were very straightforward. Like market suicide bomber, <laugh>, broken tree from bomb blast, you know, and I was taking these photographs that he was sending me and sort of appropriating them in in different ways. I was printing them on news print cause I felt like that medium, you know, kind of channels the idea that this is really actually news. And it was also very different from what we were hearing about, you know, on the news, right. And I had a thesis class with this guy Paul Moley, who was a photo editor at Time Magazine at the time, and he encouraged me to go to Iraq and actually spend time there with my dad. And I ended up doing that. What year

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:28:34):

Was this?

Kamil Tyebally (00:28:35):

This was 2012. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, show up in Iraq with a four by five camera, which, you know, I, I dunno if you know, it’s like a, it’s a large format glass, got a ground glass, smashed the camera on the first day. So I was left with my <laugh> <laugh>, my little cannon. And yeah, I just sort of documented his life there and documented what was going on there. Um, the different things that I would see experience, it was a fascinating city. Some of the things that stood out to me were like just after I guess war, the city’s completely dysfunctional, right? Like there’s no one to pick up the trash. No one’s really controlling the traffic. Like people were driving on the highway on in all directions. Traffic would be terrible. But beyond that, people move on with their lives, right? Like there’s still operating on a daily basis, which is sort of the aspect that you don’t get from the news, which is like every day there’s just like some different huge traumatic event that’s happened.


People, you know, people are conducting business and going to the markets and and doing things. And it was really interesting. I had a conversation with this gentleman who is saying throughout history this land has been in conflict and we’re just used to it and this is just a part of our lives and it always will be. And I thought that was just really insightful and I never really considered that of that sort of resilience. And, and the ability to take what was happening in their stride and just sort of continue on with their lives was really inspiring and pretty fascinating. I was basically corresponding my experiences with my mentor at the time.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:30:11):


Kamil Tyebally (00:30:12):

The idea was to develop some sort of collection of all this work and those correspondence. It was sort of left incomplete to be honest. <laugh>,

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:30:22):

It’s interesting because I, I didn’t have an enormous amount of time to pour over it, but I read several of the pages that you’ve put up on your website and it did feel very enticing. So if one day you decide to finish it, let me know. I really loved the mix and the way that it was laid out and, and the dialogue that you were engaging in, you know, the asynchronous dialogue that was happening linked to these images, but not quite sometimes. Yeah, it was really compelling.

Kamil Tyebally (00:30:52):

I was also going through a traumatic breakup with the red hair French girl ah, at the time. So a lot of our correspondence were around that. And to be honest, in a lot of time in Baghdad was very boring. You know, we spent a lot of time sitting at home and there’s really nothing to do. So I was in my thoughts a lot and just able to write these sort of long drawn out almost, you know, journalistic entries and send them to, to Bill Han who would then respond and like encourage more and more. I think it was a very kind of cathartic experience. Yeah.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:31:30):

Well planting a seed in case you ever want to finish it. So let’s come back to New York then after all of that. I love the fact that you pestered fake love a year until they gave you a job. I wasn’t aware of the work they were doing. Can you tell me what was special and what you did there?

Kamil Tyebally (00:31:52):

Yeah, so what they were doing was really blurring the lines between marketing brand and art and using technology to power that. They were working with some fascinating brands, Coke, Lexus, who else I, I feel like some of these names are, are slipping Levi’s. They, they’ve done a really interesting project with, but you know wha t it was about it was that it wasn’t driven by technology, it was really projects where technology was a tool in storytelling. And I thought the work was just so different and so fascinating. Very different from anything else that I’d seen as far as in sort of the world of advertising, right? Like you were actually in these spaces and experiencing things. There was a lot of sort of projection mapping and interactive build and at the time that was really new and novel. Not too many other people were doing it.


What they were really great at was taking, you know, what feels or what can feel like very, how do I put this intimidating, right? Like sometimes technology can feel very intimidating and they were sort of masters at creating an emotional connection with the audience, right? Where the technology almost faded into the background and it was more about the overall experience. I was there basically to help them expand their footprint into Asia. It was more of a sales role. But what I realized was some of the briefs that we were getting from regions that, you know, perhaps I had a little bit more familiarity with, I I was contributing to the ideation and helping craft the narratives, which was much more interesting to me than like working in new business, which I was also terrible at. Yeah, that’s really what I was, I was doing there. I left right before it was acquired by the New York Times and went to Refinery 29.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:33:52):

Okay. What year was that when you went to Refinery? Because I just remember a time in my life cuz at the time I was a head of PR in communications for the Bhutan when Refinery was a very big deal. Yeah, it was a really big driver of everything

Kamil Tyebally (00:34:08):

For sure. They were the media platform that was driving conversations that were happening within culture at the time, right? Like things that kind of feel second nature now, right? Like conversations around inclusivity, gender equality, sex, but like not in the cosmo way, right? Diversity, they were sort of the driver of a lot of these conversations and I think you could really argue that they had a lot to do with moving culture forward and obviously that’s very kind of appealing to brands.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:34:42):

Of course

Kamil Tyebally (00:34:43):

They were the fastest growing women’s media platform at the time and I think that was like 2016 or 15.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:34:52):

Yeah. So, but the listeners who are engaging in our conversation but don’t know what 29 rooms were. Can you please explain what it, what it entailed?

Kamil Tyebally (00:35:07):

Yeah, so 29 Rooms is basically a physical manifestation of the Refinery 29 platform, right? So what we do is take over an 80,000 square foot warehouse, build out 29 different experience based rooms, usually around 20 to 20. One of them were collaborations with artists or celebrities that brought the editorial temples to life in a immersive experiential way, right? So you’d have rooms around activism, body positivity, environment inclusivity. And it was really, I think the first time that audiences were walking into a physical space and really seeing themselves reflected in it, right? Like it, they really felt like they were heard and seen and understood in these spaces. The sort of eight, eight or nine of the rooms would be brand collaborations, but refinery would lead the creative on those rooms, right? So they would have to sort of ladder up into kind of the overarching theme of the experience because the audience felt so connected to the space they wanted to talk about it. And at its peak, I think Refinery reached over a billion people on Instagram. I mean, I still see so many images from the rooms in like briefs and all of your Pinterest to the

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:36:41):

Day. That must feel incredible.

Kamil Tyebally (00:36:43):

Yeah, it, it does. I think it, it’s nice to and see some of the legacy of your work live on within thes of the internet as well, you know. But yeah, it was a really special space and you know, one of my, my favorite things to do was over a weekend you’d get probably around like 40, 50,000 people walking through space and you’re super anonymous, right? Like you walk around and you’d get live feedback of your work <laugh> just like dropping on people’s conversations. It was fascinating and the way people interacted within the space as well was really beautiful to watch. I mean, some of the rooms people cried, some of them, you know, people just felt like immense joy being in, people used to propose at 29 rooms come with multiple outfit changes. And it did really spark this a sort of trend in experiential around multi-room experiences. I think at the same time, because of how quote unquote viral it went, a lot of brands saw that and wanted to replicate. And I started noticing a lot of briefs that kind of began with that. Like make me go viral on, on Instagram.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:38:01):

Aye yay. Yeah, the obsession with the gram.

Kamil Tyebally (00:38:05):

Exactly. And you know, the assumption was that like pink walls in a ball pit would make that magic happen. Definitely not the case and definitely not how 29 rooms did it. And that was sort of the impetus for going off and starting the agency was to really focus a little bit more on the strategy around how you’re showing up in a space.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:38:28):

Yeah, I may be wrong or the timeline must be close to it. I remember seeing in the article that you’d sent me from the New York Times about 29 rooms, there was a reference to sleep No More. I remember going to Sleep No More and feeling a little bit overwhelmed. And so this was a less overwhelming, engaging cultural exhibition of sorts, an immersive exhibition of sorts. And I can see how it changed the way that people approach their events. Mm. So tell us about early spring, your company and tell us about engineering serendipity.

Kamil Tyebally (00:39:05):

So I started early spring in the summer of 2019 at my kitchen table. Let’s see,

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:39:13):

Isn’t it Where all great ideas start Kitchen table

Kamil Tyebally (00:39:16):

In, in New York, apparently in California they start in garages. The, the driving force around it was really to figure out or to help brands think strategically around experiential and what experiences they’re bringing to the world. I think on the one hand I find the obsession with Instagram and creating these like fomo inducing moments quite unhealthy. I get the need for them. But I think when we start thinking about experiential as an avenue where you’re able to create this sort of emotional connection first, then the likelihood that your, your guests are gonna wanna talk and share and become evangelists for the brand increases, right? The idea of serendipity is really rooted in creating these moments where people didn’t really think that they needed something and then when they get it, they realize it’s what they wanted the whole time. And oftentimes that’s kind of written off or reduced to luck or good timing. But engineering serendipity suggests that if you do the work, then you can figure out how to give weight to those really special moments, right? Like feel the feeling of serendipity is really quite wonderful, you know? And so we set out to figure out how we can actually sort of engineer that, how to give weight to those moments.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:40:53):

Okay, so let me ask you this, okay, how much do values matter in how you develop your strategies? I felt though the word alignment, excuse me, was important, but alignment to what?

Kamil Tyebally (00:41:10):

So I would maybe take a step back and, and think about it this way, s if you’re thinking about experiential as a marketing channel, it’s completely different to like CB commercial or a print ad or, or a digital ad, right? The expectation that you’re making of your audience is that they go out of their way to step into your brand space and that they’re gonna give you their undivided attention and that ultimately they’re going to amplify the brand, right? Given that I think that you need to create some sort of value exchange that kind of goes beyond just, well I built this for you now take a picture of it and share it or just buy my product, right? I think there has to be some sort of added value that goes beyond that, that transaction. If we think about those drivers that I was talking about earlier, right?


Like people wanna be seen, heard, and understood. If you can figure out how to reflect the audience onto themselves and make them feel some sort of connection within that space, then the effects sort of cascade right now. You’re gonna get your audience when they, when they feel a connection, they’ll wanna talk about it, they’ll wanna share it. And yes, you know, you have to take into account sort of the purpose of the brand values and figure out how to bring those elements to life in ways that make the most sense for, for an experience. Does that answer your question?

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:42:40):

I think it does. So first of all, the way that you phrase this, if you can get the audience to reflect upon themselves, that of course gives them a sense of connection and that’s pretty deep cuz often we’re disconnected with ourselves, right? Yeah. We’re floating around not necessarily noticing what’s going on, but maybe what I’m asking is how important are the values that you’ve built into your company important in the way that you do your job for your clients? Don’t feel, that’s my smoothest question.

Kamil Tyebally (00:43:11):

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think there is a, well, very, very important I think, right? Like the approach or the, the method that we’re using, I think ultimately does get you to a, a more sort of successful event or experience, right? So maybe, maybe the way to answer that question is with an example, and we’ve done a project with Bumble Biz a couple years ago before, well, just before the, the pandemic and the brief, you know, it was pretty open. Bumble Biz is essentially a function of the dating app that revolved around networking and connection, right? And they wanted to activate in Atlanta and they wanted to engage with underrepresented entrepreneurs and they had Serena Williams available as the keynote speaker on a particular day. And that was along in the short of the brief. What we decided to do was really to figure out what the conditions are in the state of Georgia around starting a business around entrepreneurship, specifically around the facility for females, right?


So we do know that African American women form the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the country, but what are the barriers? And it came down to three things. It was finance. So how do you raise money and what do you do with that money once you’ve raised it? It was mentorship. How do you build, maintain, or make use of a, of a mentor? And then the final one was community. So how do we find other people that are trying to build something like I am and harness this collective knowledge base for us all to grow together? What we did was we knew that they wanted the format of a, of a summit or conference of some sort, and we basically engineered all of the programming to, uh, address one of those barriers, right? So all of the speakers, all of the workshops had to address one or all of of those barriers when it came to design.


We wanted to create a space that felt modular so things could move around and you could like simply like wheel something over to form a little breakout group and have a conversation or bring pieces together. And now you’re more in like a, a keynote setting. But when we pitched the project, the one thing that we did was we didn’t include any reference images because the theory was, if they’re serious about this, if they really want to create an impact, then it’s not about how pretty the space is gonna look or what the shareable moment is, it’s about what’s happening at the event. And obviously after the first round they told us to put a mood board together, but I think that really kind of got them interested in us. You know, they were like, these guys are thinking a little differently. And I know that the other agency that we pitched against had just given them pages and pages of mood boards.


So as we kind of started developing this, we also wanted to avoid a situation in which people were showing up just to see Serena Williams. We didn’t want like her to get swarmed by a bunch of fans. We wanted people to show up and actually extract value out of all of the programming that we were developing. And what we did was through the app, created a pretty intentionally tedious application and you could tell by like the number of people that darted it and then they’re like, screw this, I’m not, you know, I don’t wanna see seren million, that’s making me laugh so much. Yeah, yeah, of course. It was great. So like all these dropoffs and then some really great applications, we went through all of them and selected 150 people. So, you know, you’ve got all the bits and pieces together now, right? Like you’ve got your audience that you know is really leaned in and they’re definitely going to get something out of this.


You’ve got all of your speakers and workshops that are gonna address the, the barriers that the audience has. And then we’ve designed the space to really give way to conversation and community and, and dialogue. So come event day, super exciting, the energy was incredible. You could really feel the spirit, like people were genuinely excited to have been selected and to be in this space. So there was a, there was an incredible moment that happened on, on the day where a speaker was talking, and mind you, this, this audience is 85%, 90% women. Speaker is giving a presentation and this guy puts his hand up and he’s like, I have a question. And he stands up and he says, you know, as a, as a black man, as a young black man, I struggle to ask for help because I feel like I need to project this image of bravado, you know, appear to have my shit together and it’s really hard for me to, to ask for help.


And you know, this was in front of like 150 people and this guy has just stood up and he’s like, been incredibly vulnerable and it kind of sucked the air outta the room. Like people were, were kind of stunned that somebody would stand up and just put themselves out there like that. Even the speaker didn’t really know how to respond. And this other guy stands up and he goes, Hey man, I I totally hear you. Like I feel exactly the same way. Let’s connect after this. I’m gonna give you my phone number and anytime you need to talk to anyone, just call me. And it was such a special moment. And there’s like, there’s no Instagram of it or anything like that, but each of those people in the room felt a very strong, their heartstrings were tugged on hard. I mean,

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:49:20):

I mean this is, it’s, it’s an incredibly moving testimonial that you created collectively with Bumble, with the speakers, with everyone involved, a space that felt safe enough for someone to express themselves, essentially that’s, that’s what you did.

Kamil Tyebally (00:49:38):

And at the end of the day, we’re slinging app downloads, you know, and it could have just been a party with a bunch of QR codes and a DJ and a celebrity, but, but it just captured the purpose of Bumble biz and created that, that extra value, you know, that that thing that the people in the room are gonna remember and like connections were made in that room that probably to this day have been maintained mm-hmm. <affirmative> and have benefited each of those people. So, you know, yeah. That was that moment of serendipity and all of the work that went into thinking about how to build that event was kind of the engineering portion of it.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:50:28):

What I find fascinating about people who work the way that you do in what you’ve just described, that connection between purpose, having a strong intention for the audience, empathy, putting yourself in the shoes of the people, whether it’s the speakers, Serena Williams, your audience, you were taking all of them into account. You were working on that pain point. I find that virality on Instagram is the, the flashy, meaningless cousin of the <laugh> of humanity’s oldest form of communication, which is word of mouth because the true, yeah. The true power of events of this kind is what people are gonna tell their friends. Yep. I have a friend who you would probably really like to talk to <laugh>, who’s a communications coach and who has a doctorate from Harvard in, in marketing. And her doctorate paper was on on word of mouth and she, I interviewed her on the podcast a couple of times and it’s fascinating.


She was saying that despite the fact that you may have the impression that people will talk more about things they disliked, it’s actually the opposite because what we love becomes a defining factor in our identity. We suddenly are someone who does X, right? Yeah. And it’s probably done more for Bumble Biz than the brand can possibly ever account for because the word of mouth is, uh, it’s not a metric that they can probably track. Yeah. But it’s, it sounds exciting to me cuz it’s the kind of stuff that I like to be part of as a consultant as much as a visitor, a human being, <laugh>.

Kamil Tyebally (00:52:18):

Yeah. I mean it’s, yeah, it comes down to human to human connection, right? There’s no better testimonial for a brand or a product mm-hmm. <affirmative> than somebody telling you that they love it,

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:52:35):

Right? Yeah. That’s so cool. Yeah. So it’s almost early spring and you launched what, almost four years ago. Yeah. And of course you then were hit with the pandemic. Do you have any plans for this early spring? It’s just that that poster is right behind your head, so it just keeps calling back to, to the name of the company.

Kamil Tyebally (00:52:56):

Yeah, I mean, you know, if you’re gonna start an experiential agency, I think six months before Global Pandemic is like amazing timing, right?

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:53:06):

<laugh>, hey, you still here?

Kamil Tyebally (00:53:09):

I’m still here. If there was a silver lining that came out of it, it’s that the way that we were approaching our experiential projects could be applied to different needs, right? So during the pandemic we’d gotten to more brand design into some video work, into some product work. But you know, for me, my kind of, my love is of experiential. I just, I love a physical space where people are coming together and the focus is really on, on returning. On returning to that, I will say that some of the experiences that we had through the pandemic, especially around like media, buying around content, have really helped us think more holistically about experiential. So, you know, while experiential is sort of the core of what we’re doing, content and media where I think a lot of agencies think about them secondary to the experience, we really try and come up with concepts that blend media content and experiential together. The ideas are really created sort of hidden and love, right? With, with those aspects. And honestly I think here, especially creative and media don’t really gel very well. I’ve seen some projects in, especially in Asia where budgets are a lot smaller and people are have to really smart with how they’re spending their money. In many cases media is sort of the, the linchpin of the creative, right? Like how are you using the channel to really


Either seed or, or build or make it an intrinsic part of the experience? Yeah. So going into the early spring, which I feel like it has been all winter, it’s kinda crazy. Our focus is really on going back to building out physical experiences.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:55:17):

That’s exciting. I feel like I’m so comfortable behind a Zoom screen cuz I’ve been working from Zoom since 2017 that I can easily, and I’m sure that I’m not the only person feel comfortable when removed because I’ve done so much in terms of events and experiences. And I can also get a little bit of fatigue, especially as an, as an enthusiastic introvert. I may be very passionate about my job, but then I need to retract and come back to my cocoon. But I, I want to say that everything that you’re describing makes me excited about what can happen next, right? For events, for brands that are going to be taking a leaf from your book or working with your company or companies that think like yours and putting intention and purpose and empathy at the heart of their event strategy. And if they do that, then it will become experiential, right?


It will become something that will be word of mouth worthy and perhaps even give them the Instagram moments they’re hoping for. It’s something that I hope we see a lot more in, in the world, because at the end of the day, I think we all want, as you just said, we all want to connect, right? We all want to feel seen and heard and understood and, and if, if marketers and events designers choose to actually put that first as a mission, then we’ve got a lot of good things that will be coming our way. Now I am going to switch this around <laugh>, and as you know, the podcast is at the crossroads between business and mindfulness. It’s a vantage point that I feel is very specific. I always like to ask my guests what works for them. What keeps you grounded and at peace when things are complicated in the world?

Kamil Tyebally (00:57:16):

That’s a great question. I think I am very sensitive to like the chaos of the world, right? You know, I feel it in a very visceral way for me. You know, I’ve lived here for 15 years and like been through all the different phases of like living in New York from partying and like going out a lot and doing all that sort of stuff. In the past couple years I’ve felt like I’ve retreated a little bit. I live in a neighborhood called Red Hook in Brooklyn, which is a very

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:57:53):

A year, I forgot, but yes, I remember. Yeah.

Kamil Tyebally (00:57:55):

Mm. It’s a, you know, it’s like a little village.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:57:58):

It’s like a fishing village.

Kamil Tyebally (00:58:00):

It’s like a fishing village. Yeah. It’s a little removed. There’s no trains that come here. It’s sort of bifurcated from the rest of Brooklyn by, by the B Q E. And it really has that sort of neighborhood community feel. You, you need to know people in the neighborhood to really survive here, <laugh>. I think that sort of quieting has really been instrumental for me, a lot of my daily routine and sort of maintaining that, that consistency has been very helpful. I have a lot of trouble focusing.

Anne Muhlethaler  (00:58:38):


Kamil Tyebally (00:58:39):

And this has really helped me do that. I have a wonderful dog, <laugh>, so, you know, the time that I get to spend walking her in the morning and going through that part of my routine is super helpful. I try and meditate. So before I start my day, I’ll just take a minute, like breathe and kind of place myself and, and then it’s therapy. So I see a therapist every week, which is incredible. I think it’s really about being more selective with where I’m using my energy and where my energy is going. I have a few great friends that, that form like a, a really a very important support system, right? Like being this far away from family. I think that’s been kind of very crucial. And yeah, that’s kind of what helps me stay grounded. I’ve also sort of consciously tried to temper my, my sort of emotionality, right?


Because I think, and maybe a lot of founders will feel this, but the, the lows are very low, in the highs are very high. And going from high to a low especially is extremely challenging. In sort of Q4 2022, q3, q4, I had some personal things in my life and the business was moving really slowly. And you know, by December I was just in a complete slump around the holidays, it’s very quiet, everyone’s gone. And I made sort of a very conscious decision to say, all right, I’m gonna give myself this month to sit in this and really sulk and not shower if I don’t want to. And just sort of be a, like a useless human. But by January 2nd I’m coming out of this and I’m getting back on the horse and I’m going. And I think creating that framework in my mind and having that mission was really important, right?


Like there was an end in sight, but I was giving myself permission to do this. And yeah, my birthday’s on December 31st. I always get a haircut, got a haircut, had my beer trimmed, had a shower. And January 2nd, nine in the morning I was at my desk and I’m like, that’s it, I’m doing this. And it feels good. I do try to, like I said, you know, temper the, the excitement. I love being cautiously optimistic, you know, and these are the things that I’ve had to make a concerted effort to be able to do, right? Like in the beginning I would get so excited or just like would feel so let down if something didn’t work out. And now I just try and move through it, you know, I do try and celebrate wins. I try and assess losses, but I think it’s just been a lot of reflection and, and just taking the time to tap in and, and be aware of what you’re feeling instead of pushing it away and ignoring it and talking about it.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:02:05):

I am in awe of how you approached that and I think that was an extremely good tactic that I’m going to try to remember for myself. It’s a really good point. If you just give yourself the time, sometimes you just need to just feel your feelings. Yeah. Right. It’s not just about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off and trying again. Sometimes you just need to just feel what’s happening and just let it through before you can move forward. There’s a lot to be said about Yeah. About energy in that sense. Yeah.

Kamil Tyebally (01:02:34):

Mm-hmm. I mean, you know, trashy TV is great for that. Just sort of the mindless emotions. I’m trying to think. It was actually something quite interesting that I read the other day around media and emotions and it was around how our minds are wired to think that when we rest we need to be productive and problem solve, which is great for survival, but it’s not great for your wellness. So I think just coming to terms with that and knowing that it’s okay to not be in that state where you’re like, oh my God, wasting my time doing this when I should be doing that, I think is is important. Right? Like you do need to be able to draw that boundary. Like I try to be very regimented about what time I’m working until I’m never gonna work past like 7.30-8pm I absolutely have to. Like, that’s it. I’m like done. I’m going and hanging out with the dog and like cooking and watching TV and vegging out. I’m like, I’m cool with that.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:03:39):

Yeah. But I think that y you are right. Having a dog also is giving you limits, right? It’s mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I’ve had a dog since September. It’s my first ever <laugh>. Really? I’m a new dog mom and he’s a teenager. It’s complicated right now <laugh>. Yeah. But it’s honestly, even though it does complicate my life and it did trash my schedule for <laugh>, Q4 was complicated for that reason. But I have a much better quality of life, much, much better because indeed at the end of the day after we talk, I’m gonna have to take him out <laugh>. Yeah. I will be out for a minimum of half an hour and then I’ll be less likely to just come and sit back at my desk. And I know what you’re saying. And yeah, that’s actually a really wonderful reconnection to ourselves because at the end of the day, when you are with the dog, even if you may be in your own head for a bit, it doesn’t last for half an hour walk. Right? Yeah. End up disconnecting from any of the worries and the stress or the concerns of work and yeah. And I think that’s where we open up ourselves to new possibilities when we let that brain rest.

Kamil Tyebally (01:04:47):

As you said, you really can’t underestimate how the bodily functions of your dog can really moderate your life and modulate your life, right?

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:04:57):

Yes, totally. <laugh>. It’s really funny. On that note, I’m going to move us rapidly through our closing questions cuz I wanna be mindful of your time. We’re a little bit over, but before we do, is there anything else that you’d like to add? Anything that we haven’t touched on?

Kamil Tyebally (01:05:13):

Oh, I don’t think so. I feel like we’ve covered a lot of, lot of ground.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:05:17):

Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, I think so too. Yeah. Awesome. So I’m very curious about this now. Yeah. What does connection mean to you?

Kamil Tyebally (01:05:28):

What does connection mean to me? I think, I think vulnerability. I think the ability to feel comfortable enough to reveal yourself is what makes for a connection.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:05:43):

Thank you. What song best represents you?

Kamil Tyebally (01:05:48):

What song? Yeah. This is also a very difficult, very, very difficult What song? Well, I think maybe there’s a Gill Scott Heron song called New York is Killing Me that I really love. In fact, my website as you know as New York is killing Me, my Instagram is New York is Killing Me. I view that as not an pessimistic thing. I think about like how it’s sort of a reminder that the city feels like it’s very, it’s very tough and it’s like constantly trying to bring you down and you can view it that way, but by mere sort of fact that I’m still here feels like the positive spin on it. Yeah. Probably New York is Killing Me.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:06:35):

 That’s awesome. Thank you. What’s the sweetest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Kamil Tyebally (01:06:40):

The sweetest thing? Hmm. Just wanted to point out that it’s not that I’m not prepared. I looked at all your questions. They’re just very difficult to come up with the sweetest thing so well the sweetest thing. So just, just got out of a relationship. But the person that I was with, you know, I’m born on Year’s Eve, which is kind of the worst birthday <laugh>.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:07:06):

I have a friend who’s also born on you years Eve. I feel your pain

Kamil Tyebally (01:07:09):

<laugh>. Yeah. It’s not ideal. But a couple years ago she like really went out of the way and like it was just so thoughtful and well engineered really. But my sort of second love is of flight and planes and flying and all that sort of stuff. And she like planned this entire birthday week around that idea. So like, you know, there was like different drops, <laugh>, there’s like a book and then there was like a drone and then there was, we’re at a heli pad and we’re going for a flight around the city and then a dinner after that that was kind of centered around travel that I’d done. It was just so well orchestrated and thoughtful. Yeah.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:07:54):

What is the secret superpower that you have?

Kamil Tyebally (01:07:57):

I think my gut, I think like instinct. And that’s not to say my instinct is always correct, it’s to say that I trust it. Like I have like a very strong trust in what my gut tells me to do. And I mean, my instinct has put me into some pretty silly situations, but I always sort of trust myself to, to be able to figure things out. And knowing that I think has been quite a superpower because you can very easily just give up and not sort of put your hands up and be like the, the power of knowing that it’s gonna be okay is, is definitely somewhat of a superpower.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:08:44):

Yeah. And as you say this, you’re making me reflect on the fact that our gut is called our second brain. So it may not have the rational thinking Yeah. To help us understand why it’s telling us to go in a certain direction. However, it’s got that visceral connection to the world around us. Yeah. Right. Yeah. It’s awesome. Essentially you’re trusting yourself. Lucky you.

Kamil Tyebally (01:09:09):

I think it’s easy to be afraid of that, right? Like

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:09:12):

Well, yeah, cuz it doesn’t have words, so Yeah. But I mean, the fact that you said earlier that you felt very connected to the world around you and you feel even chaos very strongly, I guess that you have that sort of sensitivity, that attunement mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it, it makes sense. This would feel like a superpower to an external person, I’m saying. So where is somewhere that you visited that may, maybe you’ve answered this question with Mexico, but where is somewhere you visited that you felt has a real impact on who you are today?

Kamil Tyebally (01:09:45):

This I, yeah. So this is a, a very clear answer for me. And, and it was a trip that I went on with my family to Amritsar in, in India. So Amritsar is where the golden temple is. And, uh, a holy city for Sikhs, which I’m not, but we had gone to Amritsar and there’s a park in Amritsar. We were with the tour guide and sort of just walking around show showing outside the sites. And we went to this park and he began to tell us the history of the park. And during sort of the British rule in India, I’m gonna sort of abridge the story, but there was a period of, there was like a period of emergency and Punjab, which was the state and sort of gatherings had been made illegal and people had gathered for a religious festival in, in the park. And these troops had sort of come in and blocked off the only entrance of a, of a walled park and basically opened fire without warning on the entire crowd.


And you could see the, the bullet holes. And there was a well where a lot of people jumped into to escape. And you could see how like the bullet holes are quite high on the walls. People tried to climb up and it sort of the, my mom, my mom is Indian, she’s from India, my dad is Indian. And I, I’d never really come to terms with sort of the history being Indian and what that history was, you know, for me, like it almost had like a very stereotypical perception. Like we work in tech and we’re good at math, we’re very ambitious and like throughout my childhood had been traveling to India and like go on these massive train journeys and the, the British built the train lines and the British taught us English and all this great colonial architecture that I love. And that story just like really struck a chord.


And I began to learn a lot more about my own history and it really did sort of change the way that I looked at the world. I was no longer living in this kind of bubble. And I think you were gonna ask me what my favorite book was and there’s a book called An Era of Darkness that I read. And it was just quite a revelation I think, especially because as a kid, like I was never really proud of my heritage. Like kids would make fun of being, of me being Indian. And so I, I always felt like I kind of disassociated with or like didn’t really wanna be that. And yeah, that, that trip really sort of changed my perspective and really allowed me to sort of embrace and like lean into, into that and, and honestly just like engendered a lot of pride in that sort of history and that legacy. Yeah.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:12:42):

Thanks so much for sharing that. That’s really beautiful.

Kamil Tyebally (01:12:45):

Yeah. Mm-hmm. I mean, yeah, I also feel it very strongly with my Singaporean identity, right? Like I think Singaporeans are such a small country, but they’ve got such a distinct kind of

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:12:59):

Yeah. The Swiss of Asia is what I heard them called.

Kamil Tyebally (01:13:02):

Mm-hmm <laugh>. There’s something very unique and distinct about being Singaporean. The older I get, the more kind of feel it and the more interest I am in, in the sort of exploring that and embracing it. I think it’s kind of kinda cool. Mm. Yeah, it’s different.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:13:19):

It’s, the funny thing is every time someone mentions Singapore, I think about food. Cause I had such fabulous food in Singapore. I mean, oh my god, Singapore. But let’s not do this because it’s, it’s almost half 7:00 PM for me and I’m getting pish. I’m going to cut two. My last and favorite question, what brings you happiness?

Kamil Tyebally (01:13:38):

What brings me happiness? I think this, like what brings me happiness sort of changes over the, it obviously changes over the years, right? I mean now for me it is a lot about connection and this answer could change in like a month, right? But I think what really brings me happiness now is when I’m learning things about myself, sort of discovering facets or like unpacking things that are kind of, that reveals something or that allow me to, that give me sort of the, the ability to change and to identify, right? Those moments are just make me really happy. I think that the feeling of like growth and improvement development, right? And it’s not to say like I’m not a huge fan of like personal development books and all that sort of stuff, but I think especially through more intentional conversations and that sort of allowing the vulnerability, I think just like shaping and forming the person that I sort of aspire to be, each kind of step along that way for me is something that I think brings a lot of happiness.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:14:58):

Thank you so much, Camil. I appreciate this answer and all of the other answers for you saying yes to this interview and for the time that we spent together today. So if anyone wants to hear more about your projects, be it the book projects, the photography, or hopefully early spring, why can they find you?

Kamil Tyebally (01:15:17):

I’m in Red Hook. You have to come and find me <laugh>. I have a little blue. No, my website is early spring.nyc. It’s probably the easiest. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, easiest way, shoot me the email. Kamil@earlyspring.nyc. Yeah, I’m, I’m pretty accessible to be honest.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:15:34):

Awesome. Yeah, I hope that you have a wonderful rest of the day and weekend as it’s coming up and hopefully we’ll connect again soon.

Kamil Tyebally (01:15:43):

Thank you, Anne. This was wonderful. I I think it’s such a nice way to kick off the weekend as well. It’s just like, have a good long sit down conversation, so thank you.

Anne Muhlethaler  (01:15:54):

You’re welcome. So friends and listeners, thanks again for joining me today. If you’d like to hear more, you can subscribe to the show on the platform of your choice. If you’d like to connect, you can get in touch with me @annvi on Twitter AnneMuhlethaler on LinkedIn or on Instagram @_out_the_clouds, where I also share daily musings about mindfulness. You can also find all of the episodes of the podcast and much more on my website AnnevMuhlethaler.com If you don’t know how to spell it, it’s also gonna be in the show notes. If you would like to get regular news directly delivered to your inbox, I invite you to sign up to my monthly newsletter. So that’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening to Out of the Clouds. I hope that you will join me again next time and until then be well be safe and take care.