Who would have known I’d learn something from Tim Gunn?

I’m sure you know who Tim Gunn is. He’s one of Project Runway’s mentors and co-hosts beside Heidi Klum, and was one of the faculty of the Parsons School of Design from 1982 to 2007, chairing its fashion design department at some point. He later joined Liz Claiborne as Chief Creative Officer.


Surprisingly, I came about his book, Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work. The book for some reason cost only a mere Php 95.00, so I thought what the hell. Why not?

Boyfriend and I were veering towards fashion anyway, so thought it may be good to get another fashion man’s perspective.


Imagine my surprise when I found the book to be actually less about fashion, and more about social graces!

I was of course expecting to find out which fabrics can be paired with which accessories, or some ditsy fashion to-do lists most fashion authors spew out. Hence, I was quite surprised of the book’s contents where Tim speaks most about his less-prestigious upbringing, his journey of hard work to get where he is, and how he conducts his life on a day to day basis!

Since my impression of him at Project Runway was as a well-dressed snot who seemed a bit too much of a know-it-all (he is a mentor after all), I was quite surprised to find out that he’s super down-to-earth (or so he says), and how he believes NICENESS is one of the keys to success!

A lot of people credit hard work, intelligence, talent, or a lucky break for their success. Not a lot of people acknowledge that being nice is also a factor. In fact, people insist that as you climb up the pecking order, one has to stifle our niceness so as not to be seen as weak, or being taken advantage of.

However, Gunn — and I 1000% agree with him on this — sees it the other way.

I believe that treating other people well is a lost art,” he shares as he cites other fashion bigwigs coming off as complete asses. “I am a stickler for good manners… In the workplace, at the dinner table, and walking down the street–we are confronted with choices on how to treat people nearly every waking moment. Over time these choices define who we are and whether we have a lot of friends and allies or none.”  

His point is simple yet hits the bulls-eye: Sure, you can be an ass if you want as you compete up the ladder. But at the end of the day, you will need help, and it’s better to make friends than to make enemies. If you’re being an ass, people WILL drag you down and pray you will fail.

So what for?

Niceness doesn’t cost a dime, and it’s really good manners to say, “Please,” “I’m sorry,” and “Thank you.”

The upside of being nice are tremendous. For example, I’ve been given a few breaks, a few freebies when getting my coffee, and some extra wonderful service just because I remembered my manners.

Likewise, on the few times I’m being a bitch, I found myself waiting longer than I should and getting more irritated by the minute. Sure, you can be awful to the waiter but he may spit on your food. Or you can risk being a bitch with the check-in counter and they will charge you with every extra pound of baggage you can have.

Yes, people whom you don’t look at and treat awfully can make your life hell in their own little way. To which I scoff, “What for?”

Tim Gunn summarizes this well: “I will always be there in the wings saying, ‘You need to be good to people. You need to take your work seriously. You need to have integrity. You need to work with what you’ve got.” 

As we become richer and busier, we become ruder and ruder.

When I was making tons of money in Hong Kong, I found myself being extra bitchy just because I knew I out earned most people. Whereas people saved up for a Chanel bag, I could buy one every month and still have enough to pay for my expenses!

In fact, one of the key reasons I came back was that as I was making more money,

I found myself losing my soul more. I became unhappier and more frustrated.

It was hard to keep a relationship with me.

Now that I’m back and on the other side, I see what Tim Gunn means, and I respect him more for echoing sentiments that should be shouted at the top of every building.

Tell me how you treat other people you don’t need, and let me tell you how you are.

When people are nice to you but treat servers like crap, beware. You might be next.

So I’m glad I’ve read his book.

If you have Php 100, please, do yourself a favor and grab yourself a copy. There’s tons of tidbits worth even more than Php 1,000, and am sure that if you take his advice to heed, you will indeed find yourself go far.

Have a great weekend!

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