Tina Roth Eisenberg / Swissmiss

"We should always be willing to sprinkle a little nonsense into the work we do.”

DO Takeaways

  1. Believe in your labours of love.
  2. Business should be fun.
  3. Trust breeds magic.

The Talk

Year: 2013 California
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In one of the stand out talks from 2013’s DO Lectures USA, Tina Roth Eisenberg, known globally as her internet pseudonym ‘Swissmiss’, describes herself as “the queen of accidental businesses.” Why? Because despite following her lifelong dream to run her own design studio, it was actually her side projects – her greatest labours of love – that have effectively defined her career.

“I believe in labours of love. Labours of love always pay off.”

Originally born in the Swiss countryside to two entrepreneurial parents, Tina studied graphic design in Europe before moving to New York for an internship. Although it was only supposed to be a temporary move, the big apple quickly became her new home and the proposed three-month stay became forever.

Although surround by the kinetic vibrancy of the city she loved, Tina quotes becoming a parent as her ‘biggest career catalyst’; nothing put life into perspective quite as much as the imminent responsibility of raising a child. Pregnancy made Tina reflective, of her decisions, her career and her dreams. She had always wanted to run her own design company but was yet to take the plunge.

“For some reason, I was always waiting for that perfect moment. You know, the angelic chorus that comes down and the pink bow that says ‘you should start your design agency now’. I realised that wasn’t going to happen.”

On the day her daughter was born, Tina opened her agency. She spent the next three years with more clients than she could handle, until the arrival of her second child made her stop again to reconsider her options. Tina was living her dream, she had everything she had always wanted, but becoming a mother for the second time made her realise that what was actually making her happy were her side projects.

Her design blog, Swissmiss, had grown organically in popularity to the point where it was earning Tina a passive income, which meant she could declare a client sabbatical without worrying about paying the bills. An authentic collection of her favourite bookmarks, the blog is a reflection of her greatest passions.

Studiomates, a co-working space, gave her a working environment that was sociable, supportive and energetic. A small community of smart creative people, Tina refers to her studio as her ‘happy place’ and ‘mini-DO Lectures’.

TeuxDeux, the to-do app that Tina founded, allowed her inner control freak to keep her life organised in an aesthetic that pleased her Swiss roots. Creative Mornings, a lecture series that began in New York and it now in 59 cities across the globe, kept her motivation and inspiration levels high. And Tattly, a temporary tattoo shop, reminded her to have fun.

All of these sidelines became Tina’s ‘accidental businesses’. But what is clear is that regardless of the intent behind their inception, the success of each start up is no coincidence. The common denominator throughout is Tina, her purely uncanny entrepreneurial ability to spot a problem and create something that solves it and the core values that she applies to her life as a whole and refuses to be swayed from.

Create. Play. Trust. Respect.

“I feel like the business world is in need of a gentle resolution. A lot of people put on a different hat when they go to work and there’s a lack of human spirit, a lack of using and leading with your heart.”

Tina is a great believer opening yourself up to really care and invest yourself fully into what you’re building; it’s something that’s clear more than anything throughout the talk. When it comes to running her businesses, she takes the exact same approach as she would to being a parent. She nurtures her staff and her collaborators; she trusts and respects them, believes in them and encourages them to flourish.

“I care about being a good boss. You need to give your employees an environment where they feel completely safe and trusted so that they can let loose.”

For Tina, having fun is as important to business as profit is. As a team, if you can’t laugh, you can’t grow. A happy office is a creative office and under a boss as innately creative as Tina, that freedom of artistic expression is imperative. At Tattly, they have a confetti drawer, a prop box, meetings with monkeys, dogs with hats and a growth chart that maps the heights of all the staff, rather than the profit.

“We should always be willing to sprinkle a little nonsense into the work we do.”

If nothing else, Tina’s talk translates the importance of not only investing ourselves in side projects but also trusting in them. After all, what we choose to in our spare time is not about paying the bills; it’s about passion and heart. It’s the purest part of our lives.

“All of these are labours of love that were never intended as businesses. I’ve done them from the heart. Money came afterwards, accidentally. They’re not making me rich, but I live a very rich life.”

If you’re trying to figure out how to make your labours of love your career, Tina’s talk is the one for you.