Artisan Blog

4 Effective Meeting Formats

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Although many in-person meetings are still held in offices or conference rooms, try leaving the office behind where possible to promote flexible thinking and energized collaboration.  Managers are creating playful and unconventional environments to help their teams think differently.

Some innovative companies have found that fresh and powerful insights can emerge when they challenge conventional notions of how meetings are conducted and bring people together by holding different meeting formats.

Here are four meeting formats that startups and large corporations have used to bring colleagues together in new and refreshing ways. If you want to treat your team to a dash of the unexpected, give one of these meetings a try!

Walking Meetings

With the popularity of standing desks and on-site gyms, it is clear that creative professionals and companies prize fitness and physical activity. Incorporating exercise into routine activities has been proven to increase creativity.

Walking meetings are a part of this trend. Instead of sitting in a conference room or office, many teams have found that moving their muscles, getting their hearts pumping, getting fresh air and experiencing a change of scenery can be more fun and productive. Harvard Business Review has some best practices for walking meetings

Active Meetings

If everyone in your group is up for breaking a sweat, you might try a meeting that entails additional physical activity.

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza shares unusual meeting formats from twelve cutting-edge companies. For example, Genera Games, holds meetings on the basketball court. Such a meeting can drive nimble thinking, allow players to indulge their competitive streaks, and, in the case of Genera, helps put employees in the mindset of the mobile gamers who use their products.

Creative Meetings

At Plum Organics, team members are encouraged to hit the books - coloring books. As they meet and discuss business matters, they engage "right-brained" thought by using paper, colored pencils, and crayons to jog neurons that aren't often in play in such settings.

According to Innovation Director Jen Brush, as featured in Vozza’s piece, an activity such as coloring promotes active listening, an important workplace skill that suffers when employees are "multitasking on something like email."

Brush holds coloring meetings every Thursday and says they have been an important factor in developing new products.

Gamified Meetings

Another example in Vozza's article is Darrell Ghert, a VP at the Inqusium division of Cvent. In the past, the quality of Ghert's meetings suffered from chronic lateness - some team members consistently showed up ten minutes behind schedule. This problem was a stubborn fixture of the office culture, not something he could fix by making threats.

Rather than getting frustrated, Ghert came up with a fun idea to help team members modify their behavior. Anyone who is late to one of his meetings is now required to sing. "We’ve heard the national anthem, happy birthday, and nursery rhymes," he says. However, these performances have become more rare, as almost everyone now shows up on time.

This sort of gamification is a step beyond the traditional rewards and demerits of the workplace - it is a system that improves processes while also itself serving as an example of creative thinking and problem-solving.

At Artisan Creative, we are deeply engaged with the changing culture of the workplace and want to help our world-class creative talent and clients do their best work, take advantage of new opportunities, and mine crucial insights that can change the world. Contact us today to learn more.

We are celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 438th issue of our weekly a.blog.

4 Tips for Better Brainstorming

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 


While generating fresh ideas requires limber and liberated thought, there is more to consider than the standard group brainstorming techniques.

The most productive and galvanizing idea generating sessions are guided by qualified facilitators applying best practices under the right conditions. According to one study, brainstorming sessions that meet these guidelines can generate more than four times the number of useful ideas than those that don't.

While there's no substitute for a group brainstorming session led by a trained professional, if you know and apply the following best practices, you will likely get more out of your brainstorming session, making it a more satisfying experience for your group and a more fruitful pursuit for an organization.

Establish Ground Rules

Make sure all participants understand what a brainstorming session involves, and don’t get caught up in problem solving. Add ground rules that best reflect your group and culture and set expectations ahead of time.

Set the Setting

Make sure all participants have the opportunity to plan ahead for the session and think about the key questions and issues in advance. Allow space for solo thinking ahead of time to enable members to contribute freely, avoid groupthink and generate a larger number of ideas.

The session itself should take place in a quiet and comfortable place, free of the normal workday distractions. Some organizations rent off-site rooms (such as those available in co-working spaces). A change of scenery may help shake up established assumptions and patterns of thought.

Ask the Right Questions

To be useful, brainstorming must be more than a group of people talking. To borrow from Proust, the right questions, games, and structure can inspire participants to ideate "like good poets whom the tyranny of rhyme forces into the discovery of their finest lines."

This excellent piece offers a menu of structured brainstorming exercises that may help generate more productive thinking and discussion. The most important factor for success is to build the session around a powerful central question. According to the research of Flow author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the brightest thinking is prompted by the strongest questions. Create a central question or theme that best describes the issue you are brainstorming around.

Write First, Talk Second

In a piece for Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield recommends that much of the mental action take place before the group convenes. All participants submit their ideas in advance, which can then be made anonymous and put to a group vote. This mitigates the influence of more dominant and vocal personalities, empowering everyone to contribute more and establishing a "meritocracy of ideas."

At the least, the session should be set up and run in such a way that constructive criticism is encouraged and the loudest voices don't dominate the exchange. This requires rigorous adherence to time limits and other rules, and a pervasive atmosphere of mutual respect. This can be a delicate balance to establish and maintain.

Each organization is different. Its particular decision-making criteria will factor into whether or not actionable ideas emerge from brainstorming. Thus, leading a productive brainstorming session can take some trial and error, but the investment will pay off in greater satisfaction, innovation, and organizational cohesion.

 

Artisan Creative's a.team is here to help you build your dream team. Contact us today for assistance with your hiring needs.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 436th issue of our weekly a.blog.


The Art of Negotiation

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


No matter where you are in your career or in the professional world, negotiation is one of the most crucial skills you can hone. Being a savvy negotiator isn't just about asking for a raise or a higher salary - it is necessary for achieving your goals across all aspects of business and life.

Negotiation is addressed in thousands of business books and seminars. As creative recruiters, we use and observe these skills every day, and we have seen some consistent patterns that separate effective negotiators from the rest.

The CEO and entrepreneur MaryEllen Tribby boils down these commonalities into seven key principles. Here, we've further distilled her wisdom - which is consistent with the timeless laws of negotiating - and put it in a broader context.

Remember these seven core ideas, and you too, can get what you want from highly charged negotiations.

1. Visualize Your Desired Outcome

If you have a clear and concrete idea of what you want to get out of a negotiation, you can channel all of your efforts and energies toward that end. Before you take your seat, know what you want, and consider in vivid detail what it will look, sound, and feel like to get it.

2. Do Generous Research

The more you are focused on the other party, the more leverage you will have. Before you converse, find out everything you can about your negotiation partner. Understand what the other person wants to hear, and you can explain your own needs in a way that will resonate powerfully.

3. Listen Closely, and Listen A Lot

High-powered negotiations will put your active listening skills to the test. Rather than "waiting to talk," stay focused on what the other party is communicating. Ask follow-up questions until everything is crystal clear. This will let them know you are listening and that you value their time and thoughts and foster an atmosphere of mutual respect.

4. Don't Sell Yourself Short (Or Too High)

Take full objective stock of your own abilities, experience, and everything you bring to the table. You've done your homework and you deserve a fair deal, and you respect your own limitations and understand how you are perceived.

5. Stay Positive and Optimistic

If you believe you can and will get what you want, you are more likely to get it - or something better! Most people have a built-in negativity bias - to correct for this, stay upbeat and keep your eyes on the prize. Your infectious attitude may make the other party feel more generous.

6. Business, Never Personal

Keep your ego and emotions safely out of the negotiation, and think of it from the perspective of an outside observer who just wants you to get the best possible deal. Getting less than you want out of a negotiation is simply an opportunity to rethink your approach and be more deliberate and effective in the future.

7. Stay Humble

The best negotiation is one in which both parties get what they want. Resist the urge to gloat, to take advantage, or to take more than you need. You must live with your reputation, and those who remember you as an effective and fair negotiator will be powerful allies in the future.

Building your negotiation skills is a lifelong pursuit. Artisan Creative is here to help you get more in all areas of your professional life. Contact us today to learn more.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 434th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Generating Sticky Ideas

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Some think of creative inspiration as that elusive moment of epihany when the lightning bolt of clarity suddenly strikes. If you're a creative professional or entrepreneur, you know that you can't rely on such breakthroughs to happen simply when you need them to.

That's why many of the tried and true books in the creative industry focus on proven, repeatable formulas for generating effective ideas at any time, even when you're not feeling like Leonardo Da Vinci.

One such book is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath. Drawing from backgrounds in science, marketing, and folklore, the Heath brothers set out to find patterns among "sticky ideas," concepts that catch on, spread, and "stick" in the collective memory of an audience. Released in 2007, this book has become an essential read in the advertising/marketing trades and beyond; its ideas have proven remarkably prescient in fields from pop culture to politics to online memes.

The Heaths boil down the essence of a sticky idea to six core principles, which they describe in their "SUCCESs" model. You can use this formula to generate your own ideas and to test them for "stickiness," no matter what sort of creative work you're doing.

Ask yourself if your idea meets the following descriptions, as the most "stickiest" of ideas tend to be:

1. Simple

To win the minds and hearts of an audience, get right to the point. "The man who chases two rabbits catches neither," says one Confucian proverb, and if you make a complicated argument with several different key points, your audience is unlikely to remember any of them. Your ideas must be simple, useful, and profound. Practice cutting away all that essential fat on your ideas, until they're lean, strong, and unforgettable.

2. Unexpected

The most memorable ideas disrupt norms or break predictable patterns. You can use counterintuitive and surprising ideas to roust people out of their trances, making them laugh, think, or take action.

Consider the iconic tagline from the rental company Avis: “We’re number two, so we try harder.” In this campaign, the company grabs attention by confessing a weakness - it has a long way to go to catch up with Hertz, the industry leader - and inverts it into a strength. Audiences expect companies to puff themselves up; they don’t expect them to admit to weakness, or to explain how it actually makes them stronger. With its sincerity, self-deprecation, and use of the unexpected, this Avis campaign ‘stuck’ for 50 years.

3. Concrete

A concrete idea is specific, vivid, and visceral. It has mass, weight, and impact. In a world accustomed to the lofty abstractions of academic and corporate jargon, a concrete idea will stand out. Practice communicating your ideas in pictures, sounds, and feelings, and take advantage of the human mind's natural affinity for information that appeals to the senses.

4. Credible

You may not be a doctor (or even play one on television), however you should be able to support your ideas with a sense of trusted authority. Celebrity endorsements and personal stories work because when trusted public figures are willing to stake their reputations on something, those who trust and admire them will approach it with confidence. If you can't get the Surgeon General to endorse your product, you can show it in action, present case studies, or cite striking statistics and details to enhance your credibility.

5. Emotional

An appeal to a person's pride, fear, anger, or compassion is usually more effective than trying to convince them with logic. To quote Jonathan Swift, "you cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into." Even the most rational and sophisticated people can only override their core emotions with great difficulty.

6. Stories

Timeless storytelling structures such as "the hero's journey" are still used by Hollywood screenwriters because they work. They can hook an audience's attention and appeal to shared and deeply held values. They work just as well for advertisers and creative professionals. Storytelling can even help build a better portfolio - instead of piecing together a collection of projects, embrace an internal structure and communicate a story of how you've evolved and what you've learned from your experience.

Creativity is a science and an art, and it can be learned. Contact Artisan Creative, and we'll provide resources to put you on the creative fast track and provide access to opportunities to improve your work and build your career.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoyed the 430th issue of our weekly a.blog. You can find more articles here.


4 Tips for Navigating Group Interviews

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The typical job interview is one-on-one, usually a conversation between you and a hiring manager or potential supervisor. But this isn’t the only type of job interview you’ll encounter. If you’re seeking a job in a creative field, it's highly likely that you'll experience some version of the group interview.

Group interviews fall into two main categories: interviews with one candidate and a panel of interviewers, and interviews with multiple candidates. Beyond that, there is an infinite variety of possible dynamics.

Potential employers may hold group interviews for a number of reasons. A panel interview can save a companys time and give human resources, management, and prospective team members a chance to get to know you simultaneously. This can be a clue that efficiency and collaboration are a part of the company culture.

Group interviews with multiple candidates can be effective for jobs that require collabration, teamwork or steady interaction with diverse team members or clients. These can give you a chance to demonstrate how you function in interpersonal situations.

With a bit of preparation, you can approach any group interview with confidence and ease. In case you find yourself in a group interview scenario, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

Be Attuned to Group Dynamics

Find out who you'll be interviewing with ahead of time so you can familiarize yourself with their names, positions and backgrounds. If you’ve prepared for your interview well in advance, you’ll have an easier time “reading the room,” as comedians and other live performers call it.

Whether you're addressing a panel of interviewers or being interviewed as part of a slate of candidates, social graces will pay off.  Make eye contact with all of the interviewers naturally and use their names now and then during the interview to establish rapport. Do what you can to make sure everyone in the room feels included in the conversation - if anyone seems quiet or shy, provide an opportunity for that person to jump in. Pay attention to how people relate to each other.

If you're addressing a panel of interviewers, be open to all of their ideas and look for the areas their interests intersect. Think of group interviews as your opportunity to demonstrate that you are at ease working in groups, eager to help bring out the best in everyone, and able to turn strangers into collaborators.

Be Confident and Respectful

Speak up when you have something to say, but be careful not to talk over others. Use your active listening skills to make sure you hear and understand everyone else in the room and keep the conversation on track. Make sure you ask some well-thought out questions toward the end of the interview to demonstrate your interest in the role and company. Strike a balance of assertiveness and humility, and show that you thrive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and positive interaction.

Take the Lead

If you're in a group interview with other candidates and you don't have a naturally dominant personality, don't worry. A good leader is not someone who views others as competition in a zero-sum game, but someone who empowers everyone in a group to do their best. If you are asked to work together in a group project, look for opportunities to set up your teammates for success, and let them take their share of the credit.

Follow Up

As with any interview, when it's over, thank everyone involved and let them know that you appreciate the opportunity and their time — this includes the administrative assistant who helped you. Reach out to each member of the panel with a personalized thank you email or note. If you connected with another candidate you interviewed alongside in a group, consider exchanging information and staying in touch. You never know when you might be able to help each other. It’s a small world out there!

To find the best job opportunities and for guidance on how to handle even the toughest interviews, contact Artisan Creative today.

 

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoyed the 429th issue of our weekly a.blog.  You can find more articles here.

 

Creating New Habits For Success

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 426th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

Sometimes, there's simply no substitute for hard work. Behavioral change that is meaningful is hard to do, and transition only gains traction when the right goals and structure are in place. If goals include developing healthy or productive new habits for success, then the mantra "work smarter, not harder" must resonate.

Willpower is a perishable resource, as it's not the most efficient or sustainable means of establishing a new habit. Set yourself up for success with the following concrete, time-tested strategies:

1. Use SMART Goals

Make sure your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Let’s say you’re considering a career change. How can you make this a SMART goal?

Get specific. If your local newspaper ran a story about you hitting your goal, what would it say? Make it measurable. What quantifiable benchmarks do you plan to hit? Is your goal achievable? Are you comfortable rearranging your life and allocating your resources to make this career change happen? How relevant will your new role be in 3-5 years? Does this new career make use of your existing talents and experience, and will the day-to-day realities of it make you happy? How much time will it take to make this transition?

After answering these tough questions and achieving clarity on what you’re doing, you now have a workable plan of action.

2. Make a Timeline

Making your goals time-bound is arguably the most important step toward staying accountable. It takes advantage of our habitual inclination to organize our work on a schedule.

Depending on what you want to accomplish, you may want to make a five-year plan, or decide how on you want to spend the next month. When pursuing any goal, remember that deadlines are lifelines, and that you can prime yourself to get things done by making specific time commitments and planning to deliver on time every time.

For more long-term goals, set short-term benchmarks to make sure you are on track, and check in with yourself every so often to see how you are doing. If you want to become a full-time creative freelancer in two years, plan to have a strong online portfolio in a month, take on your first client in 90 days, and so on. If you miss a smaller goal, you will have plenty of time to determine what went wrong and get yourself back on track.

There are countless apps and software programs designed to help you stick to a defined timetable. Remember the Milk, Basecamp, and Google Calendar are some of the simplest and most popular. Experiment with a few tools until you find one that works for you.

3. Have an Accountability Partner

Everything in life is more meaningful when we share it with others, and reaching your goals is easier when you aren’t going it alone. Find someone with similar objectives, starting at a similar level, and make a plan to connect regularly, motivate each other, keep each other on track, offer honest feedback, and celebrate your victories.

If you want to make rapid progress in growing your business or career, reach out to Artisan Creative today. We have a broad network of creative talent and top-shelf clients, and the experience to help you navigate the modern workplace and understand the principles that govern it.


Tips for Developing Your Design Portfolio

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 425th issue of our weekly a.blog.

When seeking to fill a creative role, hiring managers often request a portfolio that shows the body of work a designer has successfully compiled over the years. However, if you are beginning your creative career or looking to break into a new vertical within creative, you may have to think of news ways to add relevant samples to your portfolio.

It may seem like a Catch-22: the only way to gain experience is to already have it.

Here are several options to develop your design portfolio further, gain more experience or try a new vertical:

Ask Friends & Family

Look within your network. Ask your friends and family for referrals to other small businesses and colleagues. Who do they know who can benefit from your creative expertise and may not have the resources to go to a design firm or agency?

Explore Personal Projects

Have you ever wanted to re-brand a favorite product? Have you ever said, I would love to work for that brand? How would you tackle an assignment if you were to land a project with a favorite company? Here’s your opportunity to take creative license and give your favorite brand a new look! (Note: Make sure you are clear in your portfolio that this was a personal project or add a special section for exploratory work to your portfolio.) 

Consider Non-Profit work

Accepting pro bono work for a non-profit or for a cause you are passionate about is a good way to build experience in a new vertical. Many nonprofits and community organizations need the skills and savvy of creative professionals to get their message out, although they may not have the budget to do so. This creates ample opportunities to take on exciting and challenging projects that look great on your resume, in your portfolio and give you an opportunity to strengthen your community.

This also enables you to try out different ideas, discover what type of work you enjoy, and hone your unique voice and vision. Because of the unique marketing challenges they face, nonprofit organizations provide creative professionals the opportunity to develop some truly remarkable and memorable projects.

As a creative professional, you have the power to change the way people think. If you want to harness that power for good, pro bono work for a non-profit may give you the opportunity to do just that.

As a job seeker, you have heard many times about the importance of a personal brand or a meaningful story that ties together your work. By taking on pro bono or passion project opportunities, you can explore the issues that matter to you.

How to Get Started

Opportunities for pro bono creative work are everywhere, look around and ask. Contact organizations you admire and, if they are receptive, pitch your ideas to them directly. Or, you can go through the Taproot Foundation, which helps creatives and nonprofits find each other. (It's like Artisan Creative, for the nonprofit world.)

And, of course, we are here to help you define your goals, build your skills, gain clarity on your mission, and seek out all sorts of professional opportunities. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Remote Work Best Practices

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 424th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 

More and more employers, employees, and freelancers are thinking outside the cube.

According to a recent Gallup survey covered in The New York Times, as many as 43% of employed Americans spend at least some of their professional time working at home or off-site, representing a four-point increase from 2012 and indicating a growing trend toward remote work.

This trend may seem liberating, however, with freedom comes responsibility. Remote work pumps different muscles of accountability and discipline.

If you're new to remote work or plan to work remotely in the future, these best practices can help maintain or improve your productivity.

1. Get to know the team

When starting a new remote freelance assignment or a new full time remote job, you'll want to learn everything you can about the company, its team, and its culture. 

Since you will not be seeing everyone in person on a daily basis, it may take longer to get to know the team or manage issues as they arise. Miscommunication may affect your work and your relationships if you aren’t familiar and intuitive enough to mitigate them. 

However, if you understand the people you work with and share their values and mission, you will have an easier time hashing out difficulties through email or video meetings.  

2. Keep the Paths of Communication Open

When you are communicating as a remote worker, err on the side of generosity.

If you can, schedule regular check-ins to discuss how things are going and address any potential issues before they turn into active problems. It's key to be open, honest, and thorough in all your communications.  Setting up virtual zoom meetings or participating in your company's slack channels can be a good way to stay connected.

Since most of your communication will be digital, take care to avoid digital miscommunication. Learn to convey your professional diligence and interpersonal skills through digital channels, and respond to any questions or concerns as quickly and thoughtfully as you can.

3. Find the Right Environment

For some people, working from home is a dream come true. They roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and "commute" to their desks, twenty seconds away.

Others may work better in "third places" that are neither homes nor offices. These workers may find their ideal environments in coworking spaces or coffee shops. It is no coincidence that, as remote work has increased, new spaces and industries have appeared to accommodate those who still need to separate their work from the rest of their lives.

Wherever you decide to work, make sure the atmosphere is ideal for your productivity. If you are energized by the bustling ambiance, try working from a coffee shop. If you need quiet and isolation, find a peaceful place to work and set boundaries to protect it.

This requires some trial and error, so before you commit to full-time remote work, understand your own patterns, preferences, and boundaries. Any assignment is easier when you’re tackling it within your designated sweet spot.

4. Know Thyself

The right external environment is as essential as the right mindset. The relative freedom of remote work can empower you to play to your strengths.

The new world of work provides more freedom than ever before. Making the most of it requires wisdom, experimentation, and sensitivity to your own body and mind.

That's where Artisan Creative can help. We work with a wide variety of talent with different styles and work preferences. We can help you play to your strengths and uncover opportunities where your skills and efforts will be the most appreciated. Contact us today to learn more.

The Art of Marketing Your Skills

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 422nd issue of our weekly a.blog.

Our work landscape is changing rapidly and we have to be prepared to change with it. Whether you're looking for new freelance opportunities or a full-time job, it’s important to think like an entrepreneur.

Even if you've never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur, one who often has to be the top salesperson, the marketing expert, as well as the billing and collections agent, you can create more opportunities and open yourself up for greater success if you think of yourself as an entrepreneurial brand. That means it’s your responsibility to market yourself and flex your creative muscles in new ways to bring fresh clarity to your priorities, values, and goals.

As you become more comfortable with marketing yourself, here are some core principles to keep in mind drawn from the work of respected marketing authorities and tested in the crucible of international business.

Own Your Own Niche

Being the first one in your category is the first law of Al Reis and Jack Trout’s 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

Inventing your own category gives tremendous advantage and allows you to make the rules that your competition must follow. If you can't be the first in a broad category, claim a subcategory, and be the best to market in your own distinct niche.

For example, your focus may be web design. Although you may not be the first web designer in your city, you may still have an opportunity to focus on a specific clientele base or have an expertise in a vertical. To build your reputation in a specific niche, attend industry and networking events, study hard, learn a lot and become a subject matter expert.

Think Like a Storyteller

Even if you're not trained as a storyteller or fiction writer, you've probably loved enough films, novels, and anecdotes to intuitively appreciate the power of a good yarn.

When you describe your career trajectory, victories won, and challenges overcome, try thinking in terms of the "mono-myth" of "The Hero's Journey." Fiction writers, filmmakers, and marketers have used this structure to guide them down many different paths.

Share your story, your inspiration, your process—tell the story of why you stand out in your field and how you differentiate.

Start looking for the "Hero's Journey" structure, and you'll see it everywhere. It has shaped careers, lives, and civilizations. How can you harness the power of story telling to tell your own tale?

Be Candid

A candid approach highlights your sincerity and shows you have nothing to hide. A sense of humor or a quirky personality will resonate better with potential clients and employers with a similar sensibility. If you are clear as to who your target audience is, then it’s easier to be yourself.

Some brands have had tremendous success by poking fun at their own shortcomings. Avis struggled for years to overtake Hertz, to no avail. Finally, it increased its profile and drew a lot of new customers when it embraced the slogan, "We're #2, so we try harder."

Be your best self, and be proud of it. This gives you the freedom to be comfortable and honest.

Continue Learning

When defining your unique combination of skills, keep one eye on how relevant you expect them to be in five years. In the digital world, bubbles form and burst often. Job titles may change, so build continuously on your core competencies and adapt.

Continued education is key in many industries and the creative and marketing industry is no different. Be sure to continue your learning and sharpen the tools of your trade.  Sites such as Lynda.com or General Assembly are great resources.

Continuously iterate on your own marketing message. Use methodologies such as A/B testing to refine your ideas, build on what others respond do, and discard what isn’t working.

Represent Yourself

As you blend your range of skills and experience into a coherent, memorable storyline, make sure the story reflects who you really are. Heed the advice of marketing guru Seth Godin, to "under promise and over deliver."

If you make promises you can't keep, you will find yourself in positions you aren't qualified for, or assignments you aren’t excited about.

A well-branded portfolio will continue to support your story and be a representation of your skills. The story of your creative thinking, along with a display of your most current work, your involvement in a project, and your collaboration with other team members will speak volumes. If you are unable to create a website for yourself, there are wonderful options in the marketplace such as Dribbble or  Behance.

When using social media to market your skills, make sure it’s well branded with a cohesive message woven through all channels. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Instagram—create a unique branding voice that represents you.

Bring your own unique story to life and share it. If you need additional help marketing your skills contact Artisan Creative for representation. We work with hundreds of clients in different verticals who are looking to hire new talent. Your next assignment could be waiting!

 


Tips for Active Listening

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we have learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 419th issue of our weekly a.blog. 

 

MIA: When in conversation, do you listen, or do you just wait to talk?

VINCENT: I wait to talk. But I'm trying to listen.

 -Pulp Fiction, 1994  

Active listening requires that we set aside our own egos and imperatives as we listen to another person speak,  in order to be fully engaged with what that person is communicating, both verbally and nonverbally.

When done in good faith, active listening gives rise to an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. At work, it can help mitigate conflicts and facilitate better teamwork and higher morale.

When listening actively, use these five principles until they become second nature. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you’re doing it correctly. Simply open yourself up to the conversation before you.

1. Notice body language and sub-communication

Communication is about much more than what is said out loud.

In order to really listen, you must get beyond the stated facts and pick up on the tone and emotions behind them. The same speech can have two entirely different meanings depending on whether it is delivered with self-assurance, with a knowing smirk, or with lots of filler words ("like," "um"), crossed arms, and erratic eye contact.

To actively listen, stay open, withhold judgment, and take in the sum of the spoken and unspoken communication.

2. Repeat, rephrase and ask questions

Before you respond, make sure you understand what has been said.

You can do this by repeating the speaker's key points, and restating them in your own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, before you respond, you can be fairly sure you fully comprehend the other person's point.

Before you offer a rebuttal, ask thoughtful, open-ended questions to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead into fruitful areas of discussion neither one of you anticipated.

3. If you get lost, start over

Have you ever been having a conversation and suddenly realized the other person had been talking for a long time and you stopped paying attention some time ago? It's okay to admit it.

Just be honest. Say, "I think I lost you back there somewhere. I was with you up to a point. Would you mind clarifying this one area?" Make sure you are getting all the information you need to hear and understand the speaker in context.

If you are indeed listening in good faith, pay attention to what is being said, keep up with the content as it’s shared, and quiet your own inner voice.

4. Don't rehearse or think ahead - stay in the moment

When you're ready to listen, take a deep breath, and take a moment to let go of your own thoughts, opinions, ideas and perspective. Be fully present with the other person's experience. Perceive their feelings and get to know the human behind the voice.

If you begin formulating a response while you are pretending to listen, you are bound to miss important subtext and implications. You risk sounding dismissive or defensive. People can tell when you aren't listening. Don't interrupt. Wait your turn. Listen to others the way you would have them listen to you.

5. Care

The best way to connect, listen and learn is via genuine curiosity about other people's experiences and to have empathy.

Empathy is a learned skill that requires constant honing. Practice active listening, and you may find that other people's experiences resonate with you far more than you ever expected. You may discover a spirit of cooperation within yourself that you may have been too nervous, defensive, or distracted to appreciate before. 

At Artisan Creative, active listening is the key to creating trusted relationships with our talent and clients.



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