8 Steps to Success (Part 1)
Tina Roth Eisenberg — "While I was running my own design studio and starting these side-projects, I sort of started a list of things that I noticed and that I believe in and that are important to me. I kept asking myself ‘How did I get here and how can I help my kids to get to this point - where you really just can’t wait to get to work, you’re just so excited to do the things you do?’. So I started a list of things I want to teach my children; sort of my mantras, my things I believe in, my rules I believe in; and that list is eight points long at this point.
The first point is: Do what you love. Yes! As I said, I love what I do. I barely distinguish between my personal life and my work life, because I was able to really turn my passions into my business. I think its really hard, and its a blessing if you are able to find that passion, that thing that gets you excited. I early-on found my passion for being creative - my love for topography, my love of design, and I went in that direction, which has helped me. Being a graphic designer has huge advantages to starting your own business afterwards. So I am thinking ‘What can I do to help my children find their passion? What can I do to really help then listen to what makes them happy and maybe foster that?’.
I think that finding what you love is not really easy. You also have to be really honest with yourself, because I have friends that are in very successful careers but they absolutely hate what they do. They dread going to work. Yes, they make a lot of money, but I have some friends that admit ‘I wish I could sort of veer off my current career path but I feel like I am stuck because I have responsibilities.‘ I find that sad because life is too short to not do what you love.
My second rule is: Don’t be a complainer - make things better. It’s a personal rule, in that if I find myself complaining about the same thing over and over - I need to either let it go or do something about it. So if you look at my track record of projects or side-projects I have started that turned into companies - they all started out of that rule. I started a temporary tattoo business because I couldn’t stand my daughters temporary tattoos that she brought home from birthday parties. I started a ‘To-Do’ app because I couldn’t find the one that I wanted. I started a co-working space called Studiomates because I just couldn’t find the work environment I envisioned. And I started a breakfast lecture series because I was tired of big, bloated conferences that are too expensive and not accessible. All of these things have turned into accidental businesses. I really believe that, as James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem says: ‘The best way to complain is to make things’. And that is really a lesson I want to teach my children.
Lesson number three on my eight-point list is Trust your intuition. I really feel that our society has become a little too dependent on numbers. Number are important, I don’t question that, but I do feel that we should be allowed to listen to our gut a little bit more. All the really important decisions in my life, looking back, have been gut decisions. It’s something that I ask my children a lot: ‘What does your guy say?’ I can tell when my daughter is wavering, and it’s interesting to shift her mindset to ‘What is my body telling me?’ and I think that’s something we need to reconnect with.
Point number four is If an opportunity scares you then you need to take it. This is something I learned about ten years ago when I was working as a design director and I was invited to speak at my very first conference ever. I remember getting that email and my heart rate went up, and especially when I saw that John Maeda, the John Maeda was the keynote speaker: my instant reaction was: ‘No can-do. I can’t do this. I’ve never spoken at a conference before. English is not my first language.’ I found all these excuses in my head, and now especially knowing that John Maeda was the keynote speaker? I can’t. Then I remember going to bed that night and sort of being honest with myself again and saying ‘Why am I saying I can’t do this?’ I was just scared, I was totally scared. I thought ‘I am going to make a fool out of myself’, and then I really sort of took the bull by the horns and said ‘You know what? I am going to prove to myself that I can do this.’ I prepared like there was no tomorrow, I completely over-prepared, but I needed that for my own confidence.
I remember coming off that stage after I spoke - it was at the AGA Conference in Seattle, and I was floating. I think thats how people feel after they have run a marathon. I have never run one, but I think that is the closest I will ever get to that feeling. I remember walking towards my husband who was in the audience and he knew how much I prepared, and how nervous I was, and he also knew how much I admired John Maeda. I walked towards him and he keeps being weird and he’s going like this (makes a twirling motion with finger) and I was like ‘Why is he so weird?’. Then I turned around and John Maeda had run after me after I came off the stage and there he was standing there. He looks at me and he goes ‘That was really inspiring, thank you so much.’ and he walked off and thats the only thing I remember from that day: getting John Maeda’s blessing sealed the deal for me. I told myself if ever again I was scared about something, but deep inside I knew it would be a huge learning experience - I need to do it.”