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Tina Roth Eisenberg: Building Businesses Through Caring

How can one woman not only manage five huge projects/businesses, but do so in a way that empowers other creative professionals to grow their craft and earn more revenue? Today, I talk to Tina Roth Eisenberg, who runs temporary tattoo company Tattly (with 14 employees), a monthly meetup series (in 100+ countries) CreativeMornings, a to-do list app called TeuxDeux, a collaborative workspace called StudioMates, and the popular design blog Swiss-Miss.com.

Click ‘play’ above to listen to the podcast, or subscribe on iTunes, or download the MP3.

In this episode, we discuss:

Tina Roth Eisenberg & Dan Blank

Tina Roth Eisenberg & Dan Blank

  • That trust is at the heart of battling overwhelm
  • Having clear goals ensures every action has meaning
  • The value of giving yourself permission
  • Enthusiasm as the foundation for collaborations
  • Mitigating risk in creative projects
  • Mixing money and creative endeavors
  • How to “flip” challenges into opportunities
  • How she developed her audience slowly, through small acts of generosity
  • The necessity to connect personal values to professional work

To hear the full conversation, click the ‘play’ button above, or subscribe on iTunes, or download the MP3.

This podcast is part of the research for a book I am writing called Dabblers vs. Doers, which is about working through RISK as you develop your craft and build a meaningful body of work.

Here are some key insights that Tina shared with me…

HOW TRUST IS AT THE HEART OF BATTLING OVERWHELM

“It all comes down to analyzing what overwhelms you; breaking it down into smaller chunks. That is where the list-making thing in me comes in. When I want to tackle something, and it is entirely too big and overwhelming, I literally break it down into everything that needs to be done.”

“This gives me a false feeling that I have things under control when I put them on my to-do list. When people look at my to-do lists, they kind of laugh, because there’s way too much on it. I feel like I am in control, because at least everything is listed out.”

“How do I cope with overwhelm? A lot has to do with letting go. There is a reason why you are overwhelmed, and you just have to get to the core of what it is, and find a way to calm yourself down.”

“For example, with me in the beginning, I was a complete control freak and I didn’t really want people to do the thing, because I felt I could do it better. Eventually, I thought I’m either going to break, and I’m not going to grow these things the way I should, because I can’t do everything myself, or, I start trusting people, and start delegating.”

“That’s been a long process, and it was really hard for me. What I have learned is that the minute you start trusting people, the minute you tell someone, ‘I believe you can do this,’ — trust is the biggest compliment of all — they will make this thing so much better. When things become a bigger labor of love, of not just one person, it actually turns into something bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.”

FOCUS ON CLEAR GOALS HELPS ENSURE EVERY ACTION HAS MEANING

“For whatever it is you want to accomplish, you need to break it down into [a few] main goals. Cross-check everything you do with that. Everything you do has to funnel back to [your goals.] Because we often do things that don’t actually help the end goals – being busy for busy-sake. It’s all about setting priorities. ”

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION

When Tina had each of her kids, she felt a sense of professional focus, and each birth led her to take even more creative risk in her career.

“When I became pregnant with my daughter, I went through this incredible taking-inventory stage of my life. I became very reflective. I realized that we all have these dreams we want to accomplish. I always wanted to have my own design studio. I really feel that moment in my life when I become a parent – I think it was this wake up call for me — I’m a grown up now. To some extent, I was in denial. I was waiting for someone to tell me it was the moment to start my own business.”

“I realized — I need to stop not living the life I actually want to live — I really need to address my dreams. So I started my design studio when I had my daughter.”

“The same thing happened when I got pregnant with my son — I took inventory again. I realized — so I started my design studio, I have more clients than I can handle, and they were very prestigious clients. But I wasn’t happy. I realized, I wasn’t made for the service industry. I can’t disappoint – the feeling of giving my best and having the person still being disappointed – it really crushes my soul.”

“I realized that these small side projects light me up — they make me incredibly happy. With my blog making some income through advertising, I could take the risk to not have clients and see what happens. To help grow the side projects. The luxury of giving yourself time to create something else, or to see what it is you want to be doing. I realized that the secret sauce to having a creative life is having passive income.”

THE ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT: ENTHUSIASM

I asked Tina how she negotiated such big moves with her spouse:

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have a husband who is as supportive as he is. We have separate bank accounts — we divide up who pays for what — that makes both of us happy. So when I said I wanted to take a one-year client sabbatical, I laid it out for him that I could still cover what I covered so far.”

“He just knew I had to do this. there is this thing with me — when I get so excited about an idea — you can’t stop me man, I’m like a machine.

ON MITIGATING RISK IN CREATIVE PROJECTS

“It’s funny, I never think about the risk. I really don’t. For me, overarching it is the fun that can be had, the things I can learn. Maybe I should think more about the risk! When I started any of these things, I never thought about the risk. But I think it has to do with the way I started them – they never started as a business — they always started as a labor of love. If you don’t focus on the money part, you never think about risk. When you do things as a side project, there’s no pressure from the outside world, and you experiment more and learn so much faster. You are so much more willing to reshift and refocus.”

ON MIXING MONEY AND CREATIVE PROJECTS

“When you take the money out and pour the heart in, it changes everything in the perception to people around you. These projects felt very loved. People feel that and appreciate it. That makes it so much more attractive.”

TAKE YOUR CHALLENGES AND FLIP THEM

“[The expression] ‘flip it’ is one of our big terms. It is something that is really dear to my heart: take something that is a seeming bad news, and turn it on its head. When some bad news come in, my team says, “Let’s flip it – let’s make it good.” It’s become my personal sport.”

HOW SHE BUILT HER BLOG AND FOLLOWING THROUGH GENEROSITY

Her blog Swiss-Miss.com is about to be ten years old; she explains how it allowed her to build an audience and relationships:

“I built it on helping people get off the ground — that’s my currency. There is nothing that makes me happier than someone saying to me, ‘Hey, I was able to quit my job because of you featuring me [on your blog.]’ It’s been years of doing this for other people.”

“When I launched Tattly, I didn’t realize how much karma I built up over the years, because we got orders the minute I launched it.”

ON CONNECTING PERSONAL VALUES TO YOUR WORK

When I saw how Tattly described their mission on the About page, it really struck me: how values seemed to come first. Tina describes connecting her professional work to her personal values:

“It’s starting to crystalize that this is becoming my mission: bringing a bit of a human touch to how businesses can be run. I think you as an entrepreneur need to know what your values are, and be able to articulate them. You need to be the same person at home as you are at work, and be true to what you believe in.”

“Oftentimes when I talk to friends who are more classically trained business people, they oftentimes shake their head at me, and say things like, ‘Tina, come on!’ they don’t get it, how I run my companies. To them, it’s all the spreadsheet, it’s all the bottom line.”

ON THE VALUE OF COLLABORATORS

Tina lives and works in Brooklyn, which has become a hotbed for wonderfully creative people. I asked her about those who don’t live in Brooklyn, and who may feel isolated in their communities — how can they find creative collaborators? Her response:

“That is what the internet is for! It will help you find your like-minded folks. You really are who you surround yourself with. There are so many things I never would have started without StudioMates. The most important thing you can do is find people who share your values or are excited about the same things, and who you can collaborate with. There are so many ways — Meetup.com — start a meetup in your city, see if anyone comes. Even if it is just a group of two people in the beginning, then you find a third. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be the people who will help you make your ideas better, who support you, who are your sounding board. ”


Thank you to Tina for making the time to meet with me and share her wisdom. You can find her in the following places:

For more interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff on my book Dabblers vs. Doers, click here.

Thank you!
-Dan