By L. Carlozo, Applause Magazine
Tyler Watson's journey from truth-seeker to stress-buster reads like a chapter from a Jack Kerouac novel: It began a decade ago in a Connecticut tree house, picked up steam on a Caribbean horse farm, and by 1987, lured Watson to Sea World. There he discovered that his sinewy hands were good for more than feeding hungry sea lions and Beluga whales.
Watson, who founded the Cherry Hill-based firm Corporate Touch in March 1992, now drives from office to office, nixing cramps and untying knotted muscles. The idea for Corporate Touch, which performs on-site massage for stressed-out yuppies as well as Philadelphia Orchestra members, emerged after Watson saw how frazzled his Sea World coworkers became after a long day's work. "I figured Sea World would be a place where I'd find laid-back, like-minded people," recalls Watson, 30, who lives in Philadelphia.
He treated his workmates to massages, and soon found himself more popular than a school of stunt dolphins. "I kept hearing over and over again, 'You should be doing this for a living,'" he says.
With roots in New England and Florida, Watson began his inquiries into the meaning of life shortly after he turned 21. Armed with a stack of self help books and accompanied by his faithful dog, Waldo, he journeyed in 1983 to a tree house in rural Connecticut, where he stayed for three months reading and ruminating. Eventually, he moved on to several farms, where he traded room and board for chores. While working on a Jamaican horse farm in the mid-1980s, Watson began to find answers. "I decided to apply myself to a service-oriented career," he says. He came to the Delaware Valley, graduated from Rutgers University in 1987 with a degree in psychology and philosophy, then worked at Sea World until 1990.
Watson sees the winding course of his own life as a way to help him relate to all sorts of people and situations. "It helped me to empathize with my species."