Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?
Misha: I get a lot of my embroidery design inspiration from the outdoors, microbiology, and astronomy. I do my best and most creative work on my morning and evening walks. Being in nature and surrounding myself with natural beauty helps me get inspiration from a variety of places that I then channel into each collection design-wise and business-wise. There’s nothing like the rush of looking up at the night sky, admiring the stars, and then going to my studio and creating stunning embroideries.
Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?
Misha: All of my challenges—quitting medical school, defeating a chronic illness, pursuing my dreams by tuning out negative people—helped me grow into the strong woman I am today. God only gives us what we can handle and I’m most passionate about the idea of business for a higher purpose. I think my main life purpose is to help older women look as good on the outside as they feel on the inside by creating products and offering services that help them look as good as they feel. My objective is to transform how women look and feel throughout the lifespan, and right now I’m focusing on creating tons of designs that hide post-childbirth figure irregularities. I want to give older women options beyond peplum dresses. I will break into other categories when I’m more established.
Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?
Misha: The most important qualities are (1) listening to your team, (2) bringing out the best in your team, (3) incentivizing your team with great pay and benefits, and (4) building a strong company culture. The Japanese have the healthiest company cultures because they have a top-up leadership scheme. I recommend reading “How to Work the Competition into the Ground” by John Molloy for more complete treatment on leadership and time management. That said, I think that the best way to improve leadership skills is to enroll in a National Outdoor Leadership School course because you learn more from operating in low resource conditions than in high resource conditions.
Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?
Misha: (1) Know yourself well and know how to manage yourself. I recommend reading “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker. Your personality, time management style, aptitudes, and values have to line up with your work in order to feel fulfilled. Make sure you’re climbing the right tree.
(2) There is no such thing as a 4 hour workweek. Google was not built on 4 hour workweeks, it was built on 120 hour workweeks. If you love what you do, staying late at the office every day is so much fun!
(3) Maintain a winning mindset via regular exercise and a healthy diet. I practice karate for an hour every morning, lift weights every evening, take a lot of walks, and follow a kosher paleo diet. I also use Dr. Dan Ariely’s app Fabulous to ensure I am building all the right habits in every category. Taking care of your body helps you take care of your business.
Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?
Misha: “Don’t just aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference.” It’s important to live life intentionally so that you achieve all objectives in your career, your volunteer work, and your personal life. I refer everyone I know to the book “How Will You Measure Your Life?” by Clayton Christensen for this reason.
Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?
Misha: Find a cause outside of your work that you care about and pour yourself into it fully, even if you do small tasks. I get so much joy and satisfaction from my volunteer work at Dermetel, a nonprofit organization I’ve been running on the side since I was 18 years old.
Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?
Misha: I love volunteering, reading, chess, outdoor sports, fine dining, and the opera, but my primary hobby is karate. Karate is responsible for teaching me how to be strategic and for helping me evolve from a girl to a woman. When I signed up, I was a timid, lanky girl with bad posture and no upper body strength. Now, I’m a second-degree black belt who can break wood with my bare hands and lift over 200 pounds!