Doug McLaughlin is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NOBLEMAN Magazine, an exclusive and ultra-luxury magazine uniquely crafted for the modern gentleman. Doug received us in The NOBLE HOUSE in Newport Beach, the headquarters of the magazine and venue for most of their private events located on the waterfront overlooking the harbor. Doug is a gentleman who balances sophistication and simplicity and who will make you feel comfortable. In our conversation, Doug shares how it all started, his own definition of luxury, the importance of good manners, and more.
Doug McLaughlin: I am originally from California and grew up on the Central Coast in a small town of about 20,000 people called Paso Robles. It is now known as a great wine destination with a lot of great restaurants and a very hip town to be from but growing up there was much different, it was a very small town with a lot of cowboys.
So, as a kid, I loved horses and I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. My parents got me into horseback riding and into roping and I thought it was my due. But then, as soon as my instructor tried to get me into bull riding, my parents pulled me out. I just loved that aspect of riding horses around and having this freedom to ride the riverbeds. It also taught me a sort of responsibility and caring for these huge animals.
That turned into more regular sports like soccer, basketball, tennis, and a lot of swimming. I ended up doing pretty well at both soccer and tennis and got offered a soccer scholarship to move here to go to college in Irvine. That’s what brought me to Orange County.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, I was sort of an entrepreneur but I didn’t even know it at the time. When I was little, I started a newspaper route, also started a small business dog sitting and I was doing things around the neighborhood.
I loved the idea of hustling and trying to come up with something creative to make money.
Also, because I grew up in a big family with no allowance and if you wanted something you had to save up and buy it yourself. I just learned that work ethic very young. When I moved out here and majored in business, I learned more about entrepreneurship in those courses in college and it really stuck with me.
While I was in my senior year, I launched my first business. It was a design and marketing company focusing on luxury marketing, branding, and web design. I ended up growing it to quite a big business. Eventually, I decided to focus on our magazine because it combined everything I thought I was good at and what I loved to do.
I already had the idea of starting a men’s magazine and had the vision of what I wanted to be in the magazine but I needed a great name. Every good name I could come up with was already taken or trademarked. I was feeling a bit frustrated and went to bed one night and saw the magazine in my dreams just like it was sitting there, I picked it up, flipped through it and it said NOBLEMAN on it. I woke up and told my wife I just found the name and immediately got all the legal stuff done.
NOBLEMAN represented exactly what I wanted to have in a magazine, that had a substance that inspires men to be better. I think that was divine and eventually, this has been leading me down the right path. That had never happened to me before.
To me, a nobleman is sort of the modern-day renaissance man. Someone who loves to live life and live life well, who is conscious of how he can give back to society. It is also being a family man and just get the most out of life.
Luxury is something that is very hard to be replaced. That’s something I look at as an experience. With NOBLEMAN Magazine, what we focus on is that luxury is something that will last you a long time. It’s not about chasing fads and trends. If you’re going to spend your money on something that is luxury, spend on something that is going to be a heritage piece that will last for a long time or even passed down to other generations.
There’s a quote from The Godfather that I find really good. “Great men aren’t born great, they grow great.” Nobility back then came from birth. And I think that now a nobleman can be anyone who is striving to improve his life whether it’s being a better husband, a better father, a better businessman. Whatever it is, I think it’s men who know they don’t have life all figured out but who are eager to learn and to grow.
The car is the one I have and I just love it. I am an Aston Martin fan, there is something about that car that just speaks to me from the sound of it to how it feels when you drive, how it’s versatile for date nights to track events, to whatever you want. That car is the new DB11. We did a whole special NOBLEMAN edition of it, so it’s extra special to me.
I love vintage Rolex watches like this one here. [showing his wrist] This is the two-tone submariner. I like it because it’s not a jewelry watch. This is a utility box that was meant as a tool and I love that. I took this watch with me to Italy last year and the fact that it’s so useful, using it from swimming around the Amalfi Coast and swimming in the ocean. It has a great purpose behind it. Also, each watched I collect, I do as a purpose to pass on to one of my sons. So, all three of my sons will get some great fun kind of hand me downs and pieces from their dad. This one is going to my oldest son.
And a place? I love Newport Beach. Being near the ocean, you’re also close to everything you want to be close to. As far as a place to live and to raise kids, Newport Beach is a great place.
They almost could be the same thing. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and that can be good or bad in different ways. When it comes to the magazine, I don’t want anything to go out that isn’t exactly perfect and does represent me. And I’m a bit of a maximizer. I like to take things and get them to their ultimate best place.
Sometimes, it means that things can take longer. On the other hand, my wife is very quick to get things done, she achieves a lot of her goals quickly while I don’t want to put anything out until it’s absolutely perfect. So that can be a pro and a con.
A lot of people, but I really admire my wife a lot. We are partners with NOBLEMAN Magazine, we are partners in life obviously and raising our kids together. I wouldn’t recommend that all couples work or start a business together because some people need that separation of work. But for us, it really works.
We love that friendship we have together and this sense of adventure. I really admire her vision and how she helps and supports me with the magazine and pushes me in ways that I don’t even see.
I can’t think of a specific example but I received a lot of important advice from my dad. He was not an entrepreneur and actually worked in education and oversaw a lot of schools. But as a kid, I saw the way he treated and interacted with people. I just had a lot of respect for him. He was very respectful, had an answer to everything. I just thought there was no end to what he knew. He just knew how to fix anything and had an answer for everything.
What my dad taught us is that you can really do anything. If you take your education, hard work, and have a vision for what you want to do, you can achieve anything.
Paul Newman had a really great style and I love how he carried himself, and later in life, how he gave back in a big way. I think that’s really incredible.
We did an article once on what are the attributes of a gentleman, and how chivalry is not dead. Good manners go for being respectful and a bit sort of an old world. I like the idea of a gentleman who still opens a door for his date, who has a firm handshake, and who is respectful to everyone.
Having good manners goes across all aspects of life. It is not something you turn on and off, it’s how you present yourself at all times. Even when I’m tired or frustrated, and I am doing something with my kids, I have to remember at all times that this is how to always carry yourself.
We love getting the kids to the beach, getting out on the water, getting on the boat. That’s usually where you’re going to find me. I’m a bit of a hobbyist. So, I love everything from golf or tennis with buddies, to mountain biking or going surfing. I always find something to do because sitting around on the beach is not very fun for me. I’d rather wake up early, go surf and play golf. I get too bored sitting around.
It would be incredible to play with Tiger and see him smash the ball. I’d also take my two oldest boys who are old enough to play. My middle son loves Tiger, so I think that would be the ultimate experience.
We often get asked how my wife Lydia and I met. What most people don’t know is we met volunteering for an organization called Young Life when we were both in High School here in Newport Beach.
Having three kids, you learn a lot of lessons! You learn so much how It is not about you anymore, how selfless you have to be, how much time and energy that takes but also how rewarding it is and how investing it is to see them grow up.
Part of starting my own business was to have that balance of time I get to spend with the family. Throughout their young years, I decided instead of working in an office, I wanted to work from home and be around them. I could do work and phone calls and then go right to hanging out with the kids or take them on a quick bike ride.
Sometimes, a lot of men are so focused on work and success that they forget or miss out on some of those awesome years. When your kids are young and just all they want is their dad and play the rustle. So I think that is important to maximize those years and as a father, I’d recommend that to everyone.
I want my kids to do whatever it is that they want to do. They see how much fun I have doing what I do. To me, it doesn’t feel like work. Every day, I get to work with incredible and really talented people, meet really cool people that have great stories. We get to test cars, go on trips and do different things so that every day is different.
At the end of the day, I think we get to create something that’s really impactful and I think our kids see how much fun we’re having. Yes, I hope they will want to jump in. All three kids are different. Some really love writing, some are really creative and artistic. So I could see great roles for them with the magazine. My middle son would kill it in sales. He’s very good at negotiating already. He’s only nine but he would be the most incredible kind of sales guy ever. He would not say no until you sign that deal. [laughs]
The magazine is one touchpoint of our brand and the other is the incredible events that we do all throughout the year. Those have been quite affected by the pandemic but as things start to open up, we’re going to see that people are ready to come back to these exclusive experiences that they don’t do on a normal day-to-day basis. I think that’s a big part of it. It’s really not just having a magazine that you read and put away, but creating a community where people can connect and interact and attend events.
Then the next things we are going to be doing are luxury travel experiences throughout the world, where we put together some really exclusive trips with some amazing people. That’s something I’m really looking forward to. Once in a lifetime experiences that will be available to our exclusive clientele.
I had a great interview with actor Justin Hartley last week from the show “This is us”. He was very impressive the entire shoot. He was a total gentleman, has very good manners, and has a really cool story full of really interesting hobbies.
If you liked our article with Doug McLaughlin, we recommend: A moment with Shane Baum, Founder of Leisure Society [/mepr-show]
This young man in the picture is pretty handsome…