Tina Roth Eisenberg is a graphic designer/entrepreneur based in New York City. She is best known for founding the Swiss Miss design blog. After moving from her native Switzerland in the late 90s, Tina found herself working at design firm Thinkmap. Ten years ago, on the birth of her first child, she founded her own Studio and has since gone on to launch CreativeMornings, workspace FRIENDS and Tattly. Tina is enthusiastic to the core.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
At the age of 16, after a phase of wanting to be an architect, I was pretty adamant on being a graphic designer.
Who would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with?
My kids, lots of food and wifi.
What single book had the greatest impact on you?
Give or Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant. This book put everything into perspective in terms of how I give myself to other people. People have criticized me for giving away too much for free but I truly believe when you are generous with people, it pays off in other ways. I also admire Adam Grant so much and hope to get him to come and speak at one of our CreativeMornings.
When do you go to bed and when do you get up?
About three months ago I started a new regime whereby I go to bed at the same time as my kids, or maybe just a little bit after them, and I get up around 4:30am. I've always been a morning person and I never have time in the day to just sit at the computer by myself. This gives me time to sit still in the quiet, plow through my inbox and have my coffee. It’s a peaceful start to the day.
Can you briefly explain your career path to date?
I was born and raised in Switzerland where the whole school system is a bit different. You basically go to what we call college until you're 20-years old, and then you go on and study. I studied business and languages until I was 20 and was desperate to move to New York to study at Parsons School of Design but my parents weren’t happy about it. So I moved to Geneva and then Munich to study Communications Design. By this stage I was 26-years old and still eager to move to New York so my parents finally agreed.
Within the first day of arriving in New York I had an interview set up and the guy told me I’d never leave New York, was going to marry a tall Jewish man and that I had the job! That was my first job as a graphic designer and I worked there until the towers fell in 2001.
I struggled for the next year but was determined not to leave New York City. Eventually I got a job in 2002 at what at the time was called PlumbDesign (now Thinkmap). It was one of the most respected agencies and that was when my career started taking off. I was the design director. Then I got pregnant.
On the day my daughter was born I founded my own company and that was 10 years ago. My first client was MoMA who hired me to design their digital experience. It was extremely exciting and I saw it as a message from the universe telling me to go, go, go!
Alongside running my own design studio I started all these other side projects at the same time. I developed a co-working space called FRIENDS, a design-led temporary tattoo brand called Tattly and a to-do app called TeuxDeux. In 2008 I started Creative Mornings in New York out of a desire to bring the creative community together. It’s now a global volunteer-led organization.
Eventually I was able to run my companies without any clients. I was very lucky that the side projects I took on really started flourishing. They actually turned into companies and now I have altogether 25 employees across three entities. It's very cool.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your industry?
Many times I have stood in my own way but most recently, I struggled to believe I would be business savvy enough to grow CreativeMornings. I didn't think I would have the business smarts to do it. Thanks to a bit of coaching, eventually I started to gain confidence and trusted myself more and more.
What motivates you?
Being part of a community that has common purpose.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
I wish I’d known that I need to very carefully and intentionally surround myself with people that empower me and lift me up.
It is something that I will teach my children. You need to be very, very intentional because the people you surround yourself with, they're going to change you and shape your dreams. Your dreams are what you become.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having kept my kids alive for over 10 years.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
Enthusiasm. When I need to, I can get people excited. My enthusiasm can swoop you over. I will roll you over with this big truck of enthusiasm and you're like, "Of course I've got to follow her. She seems so excited about this." That's one of my secret weapons.
What is your life motto?
It's basically my personal rule and all of the things I have started come out of this rule. If I keep complaining about something repeatedly, I have two options. Either do something about it or let it go. That has served me well.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Trust your gut.
What's your favorite TED talk?
Elizabeth Gilbert: Your Elusive Creative Genius
Who do you most admire in business? Why?
Seth Godin. He gives me the impression that he's very successful yet he hasn't made his life overly complicated. I sometimes feel like my life has gotten very cluttered and complicated.
What do you believe is the secret to success?
Showing up and putting your heart in it. Really, really caring about doing a good job. Relentlessly trying to be better at what you're doing.
Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
My community. Colleagues, friends and acquaintances that I’ve built around me.
Are there work ethics, cultures and attitudes that you most admire in business?
I love working with people who get things done. I don’t want to hold people’s hands. I want to empower them to run with it, execute on it and make it happen. All my companies are still very small and the people I work with need to be proactive and be able to jump in and help wherever necessary.
I admire it when people just really care that we're all in this together and if you drop the ball, I drop the ball. CreativeMornings is unbelievable in this sense. We are such a small team right now but we are a solid unit that looks out for each other. There are no questions asked. There's no, "I'm too important right now." You know that if somebody says, “I need help” it means they need help. I've been in environments where that didn't happen.
I believe life is too short not have fun at work. I sometimes drive my employees a little crazy with my love for fun. I can derail serious meetings because I go and get a crazy hat. We have an entire box that's filled with dress up outfits and the next thing you know I'm sitting here dressed up as bacon and there's a life sized banana across from me.
Not dropping any balls.
As told to Caroline Hugall at Tina’s workspace in Brooklyn New York, on Wednesday 25th May 2016