Artisan Blog

Working with Millennials

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Working with Millennials

The Millennial generation, loosely defined as those born between 1980 and 1999, now comprises the largest group of living adults. They are the first generation to come of age with high-speed internet access as a central part of their lives, which has shaped their culture and collective worldview. This Millennial generation is having a noticeable impact on the world of business, which will only increase as Baby Boomers retire.

Of course, no group as large as Millennials is going to be uniform, and there are some trends in thought and behavior that are unique to this generation of digital natives. The experiences of Millennials position them to offer insight that can ultimately make the workplace more modern, more productive, and more exciting for everyone.

If you are nervous about working with Millennials, relax - they are much more like previous generations than they are different. You can collaborate more effectively with team members if you keep these four principles in mind.

1. Be Flexible - Keep an Open Mind

The lifelong adventures of Millennials on the internet and social media have made them less rooted to fixed locations. They have friends all over the world; their social groups aren't anchored by geography, and their careers won't be, either.

As teleconferencing technologies continue to improve, expect telecommuting and offsite work to grow more popular. If you can, create flexible work schedules for Millennials. They work as hard as any other generation, just not necessarily according to the strict parameters of the traditional 9-to-5.

Likewise, be open to new technological innovations of all sorts, including those that may disrupt your existing workflow. Millennials have spent their whole lives living through massive technological upheaval, and can adapt quickly and effectively to change.

2. Lead With Your Mission

Studies show that Millennials are less interested in perks, social status, or lavish compensation than they are in making a positive difference in the world and living in ways that are congruent with their values.

To hire and retain top Millennial talent, be clear on the values that drive your culture and never waiver from what matters. Be a good corporate citizen and have a zero-tolerance policy toward hypocrisy. Make sure your culture welcomes and supports everyone on the team. Be a good corporate citizen, even if it may seem to make things more difficult in the short run.

If your company is unclear on its core mission, this is a strong call to consider your values, rediscover the reasons your company was founded, and consider what sort of world you want to live in.

3. Be Transparent, Be Human

Social media and other digital breakthroughs are a mixed blessing. In some ways, they have brought us closer together.

Millennials are less covetous of privacy and more comfortable with sharing. They are less inclined to compartmentalize their lives or to hide their "private" selves from their employers and coworkers.

To be an effective manager, you must reciprocate this transparency and trust. It’s okay to be flawed and even rough around the edges, as long as you embrace the unique contours of your personality.

No one is perfect. Everyone is human. In our modern digital landscape, it doesn’t make sense to hide. This creates an opportunity to embrace who we are and to be our best selves.

Get comfortable with informality. Being a serious worker doesn't always require strict conformity and decorum. Encourage your younger team members to nurture a variety of interests and to have robust lives outside of work.

4. Keep the lines of communciation Open

Communicating effectively with millennials will allow them to fully integrate with your company and garner respect for you and your product if they understand the company's vision, mission And values. This generation needs to feel they have a voice that is heard. Taking the time to listen and giving a platform to share ideas will mean that they will talk openly and honestly with your team and management. This input is invaluable as a manager and should provide a meaningful and long-lasting communication style.

As the world rapidly changes, those members of your team with diverse interests and full lives will offer the confidence, creativity, and adaptability you need to stay relevant and successful.

In our decades of experience working with top creative clients and talent, we have learned how businesses can use change to their advantage and thrive in interesting times. Contact Artisan today to learn what we can do for you.

 

We hope you enjoy the 453rd issue of our weekly a.blog.


Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Prep for Freelancers

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, everyone is gearing up to bring the final weeks to a close and prepare for the new year. For many, this includes vacations and paid time off. As a freelancer, your year-end to-dos may be a little different and can be just as rewarding.

Here are a few tips to help you celebrate your success as a creative freelancer during the holiday season.

Pick Up Extra Work

If you want to keep working during the holidays, you may still find work that needs doing. When full-time designers, developers, or other creative professionals are out of town, employers may need someone to pick up quick assignments that otherwise wouldn’t be turned around in time.

If you are ready, willing, and able to work during the holidays, make sure to let your important professional contacts know and update your social profile with your availability.

Additionally, this is a good opportunity to work on personal passion projects and expand your portfolio with new pieces.

Tend To Your Infrastructure

A successful freelancing career involves much more than client work. It requires managing and marketing, taking care of financial obligations, and making sure you have the infrastructure in place to get work, get paid, and stay connected.

The holiday slowdown provides an opportunity to take care of professional details that aren't often a part of your usual assignments.

For freelancers, paying taxes and doing other paperwork is often a challenge; why not tackle it during the slow days?

You can also take online classes to learn new professional skills, to be more marketable during the new year.

Now that your clients are on a break, this is an ideal time to handle all obligations of running your own business. Organizing your paper files, managing digital declutter or achieving inbox zero can be great projects to get ready for 2018.

Prepare for Down Time

Even in our super-connected, always-on culture, the business world tends to slow down during the holiday season. Starting on the week of Thanksgiving and continuing through the first week of January, offices take on a different rhythm and often focus on staff and family celebrations.

It is always wise to have plenty of money socked away for such dry spells. Lots of personal finance and accounting programs will automatically save a certain amount each month, or you may be able to set up automatic savings through your bank.

With a buffer in your bank account, you can spend your holiday season relaxing, not fretting about money.

Take a Break

If you can find regular work and manage your career, freelancing can give you the freedom to travel, spend time with your loved ones, and set your own schedule. If you are able to and have handled all your obligations, why not take off for a week or two? Time to reflect and unplug is a great opportunity to recharge and get the creative juices flowing.

Set an "away" message, letting everyone know you are taking some much-needed R&R. You can go entirely off the grid or put your hours on "emergency mode," in which you let it be known you are only available for very important matters.

Prepare for Next Year

Set your goals, create a vision board and plan ahead for a successful year ahead.This month leading up to the holidays can be a great opportunity to research companies you want to target.

If you haven't had time to update your resume, website, or online portfolio, block off some time and make sure you are showcasing all your current work in a manner that does it justice.

Give Thanks

The holiday season is an appropriate time to acknowledge the people who have supported your career.

Send a note to your clients, vendors, and colleagues, letting them know you've appreciated the opportunity to work with them and wish them the best in the new year. If you're a designer, you can send a special holiday card, extending your gratitude and ensuring that clients will keep you in mind.

Here at Artisan, we are grateful for another rich and rewarding year of working with top creative talent and clients. We look forward to celebrating continued success in 2018 and developing new ways to support you and your work.

 

Contact us today to learn more. We hope you enjoy the 452nd issue of our weekly a.blog.


The Productive Commute

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Productive Commute

Although remote and at-home work is gaining acceptance, most jobs still require some on-site face-time. That means you'll be spending at least some of your professional life in transit. As housing costs continue to rise and many companies relocate, you may be in for a long commute.

However a commute does not have to be wasted time and can become nourishing and productive. If you can make it a point to stay engaged, cultivate useful and revitalizing habits, you may find yourself looking forward to rush hour!

Here are a few things you can try when you want to get more out of your commute.

1. Conference Calls, Meetings, and Check-ins

If you take public transport to work, this can be the perfect place to be a "fly on the wall" for a call that someone else leads. This can also be great opportunity to check in with key clients, colleagues, or friends, provided you can still have a good reception and your environment isn’t too noisy.

2. Podcasts

Since Apple’s release of the iPod more than fifteen years ago, the growth of podcasting as a medium has exploded. Compared to radio, the barrier for entry is practically nonexistent, which has unleashed a wild variety of shows. Podcasting has been embraced by journalists and has reignited the careers of rebellious comedians who do their best work uncensored. The most popular podcasts now have devoted audiences in the millions.

There are so many podcasts to explore that it's easy to get lost. If you're looking for places to start, you can get creative and cerebral inspiration from TED or Creative Mornings, hear interviews with leading entrepreneurs on The Knowledge Project and The James Altucher Show, or dive into the more narrative-based shows from the Radiotopia network, which will reacquaint you with the mystery and wonder of life.

3. Audiobooks

Reading books remains one of the most reliable ways to become a stronger thinker and speaker. If you drive, you can find more wisdom, heroism, romance, humor, and insight in audiobooks than you could possibly absorb in one lifetime.

The personal growth coach Duff McDuffee provides a plan for "reading" quite a lot in the 1.5-2 hours a day many of us spend commuting. In the brilliant So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, the author Gabriel Zaid suggests a strategy for choosing the right books to cultivate a rich awareness of the world.

4. Meditation

A commute may be the most unlikely place to get in touch with your innerself and the true nature of reality. However, now that meditation is in vogue among leaders in tech, media, and the creative industry, more and more people are practicing some form of mental relaxation on the go, including in traffic.

In your commute, you're likely to face frustrations, distractions, and emotional highs and lows. This makes it the perfect place to practice mindfulness.

You will need to stay focused on the journey, so you can't close your eyes and go into a trance. Today’s cutting-edge meditation instructors Vincent and Emily Horn have devised a practice called "There Is Driving," a simple "noting" practice you can use to train your attention as part of your everyday activities.

5. Train Your Brain

The human mind is designed to be stimulated, in youth and throughout life. If you spend less time "zoning out" and more time engaged in challenging your mental reflexes, you will do wonders for your creativity, productivity, and mental health, now and into older age.

You can use your commute to learn a new language, or work through riddles and puzzles.

If you typically drive give mass transit a try if its available in your city - you may be amazed at how much a train or bus ride can shift your perspective and what great ideas arise when you come in closer contact with your community. If you can't take the train, vary your route to work - take side streets instead of freeways, or allow some extra time to take the scenic route. Another option is to walk or ride a bike to work when possible and get some exercise in the meantime too!

See if you can devise your own ways to make sure your commute is productive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that a creative life is one of the most rewarding ones you can pursue. Contact us today to leverage our resources and experiences and get more from your career and your life.  We hope you enjoy the 449th issue of our weekly a.blog.


5 Tips to Make Your Job Search Less Scary

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

5 Tips to Make Your Job Search Less Scary

Although there are many skills you can develop to make your job search easier, it can still be something of a numbers game. Even highly skilled and in-demand professionals sometimes need to practice patience for longer than they expect. When rejection comes, as it inevitably will at some point, it's easy to take it personally.

Job hunting can be, in a word, scary!

Experts such as Artisan Creative's a.team can help your search by sharing insight about a company and the nuances of a specific role and what the hiring manager is looking for.

Fortunately, there are few steps you can take to lessen the fear of encountering that job hunt terror, and maybe even find some excitement and optimism in this challenge most of us face at least a few times in our lives. Here are a few of our favorite ways to make your job hunt less scary.

1. Know What You Want

To find opportunities you can get excited about, you must first understand, in detail, what you are looking for. Talk to one of the professionals at Artisan Creative, ask friends who have jobs they enjoy, and do some serious introspection.

Do you love agency life, or would you rather work for an in-house team? What sorts of projects do you love to tackle? Is your ideal environment clean-cut and corporate, or do you work better with a dog curled up at your feet now and then?

2. Structure Your Search

Some websites will let you apply for dozens of opportunities, and indicating your interest in a role is only a small part of your job search. You should also follow up, tweak and perfect your resume and portfolio and do the right research.

In The Muse, Richard Moy describes a job-hunting process broken down by days of the week, designed to keep him time with his family and allow plenty of breathing room. Experiment with a structure like this, making sure to respect your personal priorities. You'll probably have more success in your search if you are practicing self-care and living the best life you can.

3. Manage Your Emotions

Sometimes the lack of rewarding work can feel like an existential threat. You may worry about what might happen if your job search takes too long. When you're in the throes of a stressful search, it can be easy to take professional rejection as a personal attack. You may get overly excited about one opportunity, only to be disappointed when it doesn't come through. It can get harder to maintain self-esteem and personal well being.

Paradoxically, when you get emotionally caught up in the highs and lows of the job hunt, you may find it harder to present yourself as the calm and competent professional you know you can be. Then it gets even scarier!

Although the job hunt can be an emotionally intense experience, it can also be an excellent teacher. When you face challenges, you can learn to broaden your perspective and practice emotional control. Learn a simple mindfulness practice to manage your stress levels.

4. Keep It Confidential

If you are starting a new job search while employed,  you can start by reaching out privately to recruiters, former colleagues, or anyone else who may be able to help, without drawing too much attention to yourself online. Your search will seem less scary if you have others helping you out.

5. Ask For Help When You Need It

To paraphrase the Rolling Stones' anthem, you can't always get what you want, but you can usually get what you need. When you're scared or in need of help, guidance, or just sympathy, don't be afraid to ask for it.

If you need specific help, try reaching out to your professional tribe through social media, or send a thoughtful email to a mentor you trust. Make sure you have a partner or close friend who will help talk you through your anxieties about job-hunting.

You can also talk to the experts at Artisan. We have years of experience helping creative professionals find great opportunity and turn fear into fortune.  Contact us today to learn more.  We hope you enjoy the 448th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Nurturing Your Team's Culture

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Nurturing Your Team's Culture

 

A few weeks ago, I traveled to San Francisco for SHIFT: The Culture Conference, where I saw entrepreneurial legend Arianna Huffington speak. With wisdom, empathy, and sharp comic timing, Huffington shared her ten rules for creating a healthy company culture.

You can watch the whole conference here (Huffington's segment begins near the 35-minute mark). Just in case you're strapped for time, we've summarized her ten principles below.

1. Make Sure Everyone Gets Enough Sleep

Huffington's recent work on corporate culture and self-improvement has focused heavily on the necessity of getting a full eight hours' sleep. While she concedes that a few rare individuals can function on less, you are almost definitely among the vast majority who need plenty of sleep to perform at your best.

This principle extends to working with your body's needs and rhythms, rather than against them. Instead of pounding coffee, take a deep breath, get some real rest, or walk outside. If you treat your body and mind well, you will feel good, and do better at work.

2. Let Go of the Growth-Above-All Mindset

A truly successful company will have a vision, mission, purpose, and values outside of growth for growth's sake. Even from a purely practical standpoint, making your work meaningful is a better way to retain good employees, keep your team together, and meet your important objectives.

If your only purpose as a company is perpetual growth, examine your priorities and reflect on why you got started and what sort of world you want to be a part of.

3. No Brilliant Jerks Allowed

Huffington decries the "cult of top performers" and warns against lionizing aggressive, antisocial personalities at the expense of team cohesion and harmony. If your company is too beholden to employees who behave like arrogant celebrities, consider that they may do more harm than good.

4. Learn to Build Teams

On a similar note, Huffington suggests thinking of your team as a networked unit, rather than a collection of individuals. While humans need eight hours of sleep and plenty of down time, your company should in some sense, be "always on," so your team can consistently communicate in one voice, reflect one vision, and share the same methods and objectives

5. Treat Culture as Your Immune System

Anyone with an active lifestyle will be exposed to germs, and any company that's taking on serious challenges will face threats and encounter toxicity. If your culture is healthy and strong, you will be able to survive these attacks, and improve through exposure to the elements. With a strong immune system, you won't need to be quarantined or use too much disinfectant.

6. Empower Women

In the wake of ongoing debates around gender gaps in hiring and compensation, along with recent controversies around issues such as harassment, the culture of business is now becoming more friendly to women. This is a long overdue awakening, and make sure your company is ahead of the curve in this regard.

Allow for a generous maternity leave and areas for nursing mothers. Companies that put a priority on empowering women to thrive and succeed will have an ethical and practical advantage.

7. Meet the Growing Demand for Purpose

The Millennial Generation will soon make up the majority of America's workforce, and numerous studies have found that Millennials demand not just money, not just flexibility, they also require a strong sense of purpose in their work.

This goes back to Rule #2; as Millennials assume power, the world's culture is changing around them. This creates an opportunity for your own culture to aspire to a greater sense of meaning.

8. Model Culture Changes at the Top

Your employees will model their actions less on what you demand or expect than on the behaviors and values you manifest in your own behavior. If you want to change your culture, set the example. Once your actions are consistent with your values, your team will know that these are values worth following.

9. As Much As You Can, Work Out Problems Face-To-Face

Huffington celebrates transparency. She encourages creating a culture where people feel safe airing their grievances and finding solutions together in a spirit of cooperation, rather than going behind each other's backs.

Although certain issues must be hashed out behind the scenes, aspire to make honesty, openness, and transparency among your core values.

10. Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

As a board member, Huffington has witnessed several companies in the throes of serious crisis marshal their resources to correct mistakes and reemerge better,and stronger than before.

The most fearsome struggles and challenges can often create the greatest opportunities for insight, perseverance, and excellence. Aspire not to avoid difficulties; aspire to transcend them.

Attending events like this is one of the ways Artisan Creative stays engaged with the world of ideas and continually improves its own culture. When you work with us, we will motivate you to do the same, and give you all the tools you need to be your best and continuously improve. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you enjoy the 447th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 



Unplug

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Unplug

 

The cultural impact of the iPhone and its cousins can hardly be overstated - even Star Trek didn't have this sort of technology. We've been carrying around email, apps, cameras, games, social media, home security and our entire photo album now for more than ten years.

While smart phone technology has provided us with access, engagement, and entertainment, not all of its effects have been unilaterally positive. Many of us are concerned that we spend too much time on our phones, distracting ourselves from in-person relationships, focus, and the joys of our physical surroundings.

If you want to reclaim some of your attention from your smartphone habit, it may be easier than you thought. You may not need an aggressive digital detox or a meditation retreat. Although smartphone usage can take on some of the hallmarks of addictive behavior, most of us simply need to be more mindful of how we use this technology, and whether or not we're using it to our best advantage.

Here are a few steps you can take to make your smartphone less of a bothersome distraction and more of the revolutionary tool it was meant to be.

Quantify Your Usage

The rise of "big data" has made it easier than ever to get concrete information about our lives and behaviors. Crunching the numbers and quantifying our smartphone usage can show us, beyond dispute, how it impacts our time, and give us actionable insights about how well it serves us.

Just as Mint has helped people gain control of their spending by breaking it down with charts and graphs, apps such as Moment (for iOS) and QualityTime (for Android) track and illustrate how we're using our phones, minute by minute. With this detached perspective, we can begin to regain control.

Make Your Phone Your Friend

If you spend some time with your phone's control panel and rework some of your settings, you may find small changes dramatically improve the way your phone harmonizes with your life.

Start by turning off unneeded notifications, those little pings and vibrations that pull your attention away from the world outside. Delete apps you don't use - decluttering your interface helps declutter your mind. You can even put your phone in "airplane mode" when you need to get some work done or you need peace and freedom.

Take Regular Breaks

To make sure you're not using your phone too much, make sure you spend plenty of time without it. Create a buffer between sleep and digital absorption. When you turn off the lights, shut it down. (If you're using it as an alarm clock, buy an old-fashioned one to use instead.) Stop checking your email as soon as you wake up - substitute an early-morning meditation practice, or make coffee and read a book for an hour before you engage with your phone.

If you're afraid to fully power down, the gorgeous app Forest will reward you for disengaging and turning your attention elsewhere for awhile.

Now that you've freed up some time, try adopting simple practices of mindfulness - at home, at work, or anywhere else - to train your attention, be present, and relish the simple joys of being alive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe a healthy, balanced lifestyle is essential to building a happy and fruitful creative career. Contact us today to find out how you can align your work with your values and take your career to the next level.

We hope you enjoy the 447th issue of our a.blog.

 



Creating Impactful Resumes

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Creating Impactful Resumes

 

In our 20+ years of working with some of the best creative talent in the business, we have seen hundreds of examples of resumes that get attention, get read, and get interviews. While every job-seeker should have a resume that highlights his or her uniqueness, we have observed some consistent patterns in effective resumes that we suggest all candidates keep in mind.

Here are five big ideas to help guide you as you write, revise, and refine your resume.

1. Goal

Your resume should be designed with a specific purpose in mind, usually landing an interview. Make sure that everything about it - every word, every stylistic decision, everything - is optimized for helping you achieve your goal.

Rather than having one resume you send out many times, try using several, slightly different resumes, tailored to different opportunities, potential employers, or specializations. This will give you the opportunity to experiment with "A/B testing," or compare the results of minor tweaks.

For instance, rather than including an "Objective" that remains consistent, try summarizing your career or experience in a way that pertains directly to this opportunity. See which ones get better results and refine from there.

If nothing else, refresh your resume regularly - this gives you a chance to clarify or change your goal over time.

2. Style

Unless you are a designer and your aesthetic sensibility is a crucial part of your package, make your fonts, typefaces, and other formatting decisions are legible and user-friendly. Your resume should showcase your skills and experience, not itself.

If your resume is in Microsoft Word format, use standard typefaces such as Arial and Calibri, stick with one typeface throughout, and keep the size consistent at around 10- or 12-point. Unless you're applying for an acting or modeling gig, you don't need to include a photo - your work should make your first impression, at least until you have a chance to introduce yourself in person.

When in doubt, make your resume as clear, clean, and simple as you can.

3. Structure

Use bold headers and bulleted lists for easy "F-scanning," and list your work experience sequentially, starting with the most recent.

Clearly label the name of the company, your job title, and the interval of time in which you worked there (including the month and the year, for extra transparency). There's no need to go back further than ten years unless you have some very important or impressive experience outside of that range.

If needed, you can include a "Skills" section listing software programs in which you are an expert-level user or important

Challenge yourself to keep your resume to one or two pages in length. This will make it more appealing for hiring managers and will ensure that you highlight only your best and most important skills and experience.

4. Content

List your responsibilities, using active verbs (e.g. "handled" or "resolved," rather than "responsible for"). Focus less on rote daily duties and more on challenges you overcame, goals you accomplished, and ways in which you helped your team succeed. This will help create a picture in the hiring manager's mind of what you can do in this new opportunity.

While you should avoid empty jargon, you should be mindful of important industry terms that an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or other databases might scan for, and include those. If you are posting your resume on the web, it should be search-engine optimized, using keywords that are popular with hiring managers in your line of work.

5. Details

Again, designers are exempt from strict conservatism in style. Add a logo, splashes of color, or other touches that show off your signature aesthetic. Just don't go overboard with it.

If you worked for an agency, include some of the clients you worked for and note the different sorts of projects you worked on. This can be more tangible for hiring managers outside the agency world. Make sure your URL or a link to your portfolio site is included in the resume.

Like everything else about job hunting, crafting the ideal resume is a process of trial and error - try different things, see what gets results, and learn from your experience. However, you can fast-track your career if you team up with experts who have knowledge, connections, and resources. To find out more about how to showcase yourself and discover new worlds of opportunity, contact Artisan Creative today.

We hope you enjoy the 446th issue of our weekly a.blog.




How to Improve Your Presentation Skills

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

How to Improve Your Presentation Skills

Great presentations communicate information that audiences can retain and act on. As a presenter, it is crucial that you capture your audience's attention for as long as it takes so your message can resonate.  Many people have to present at some point in their career--whether its for a client pitch, an internal presentation, a job interview or a presentation to your team, it's critital to be engaging, be articulate and memorable.

As you plan your presentation, there are several key steps you can take to make sure that it’s engaging and "sticky" throughout. If you use slides, they should be stylish, eye-catching, and appropriate for your presentation's content and tone. (If you are not an experienced presentation designer, collaborate with one - contact Artisan if you need help in this area.) Here are more tips that professionals use to make their presentations engaging, entertaining, and effective.

Plan Your Presentation in Ten-Minute Chunks

In her essential book 100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People, Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D., claims that the maximum amount of time a presenter can assume their audience will stay engaged is about seven to ten minutes. And, that's if they're interested in the speaker and the subject matter.

"A typical presentation is longer than seven to ten minutes," Weinschenk writes. "Presentations are often an hour long. This means you have to find ways to make changes at least every seven minutes in order to get people to pay attention. It's easy, as the presenter, to forget that your audience's attention may be waning. As the presenter, you are having a very different experience than your audience: You have adrenaline flowing because you are on stage, you are in the throes of a performance, and you are physically moving. The members of your audience, on the other hand, are sitting in chairs, and their minds are easily wandering."

In order to work with this tendency, plan "mini-breaks" into the structure of your presentation, at 7-to-10-minute intervals. These could be pauses for Q&A, stretch breaks, interactive activities, games, or transitions, such as stories or noticeable shifts in tone. If you plan for natural ebbs in attention, work with the nature of your audience's minds, rather than against it.

Be Unusual

People are naturally bored by the expected and routine. Our brains are designed to tune out familiar signals so we can focus on what’s new, relevant, exciting, important, and even potentially dangerous.

When your audience sits down for your presentation, they do so with certain expectations. To get and hold their attention, try to confound those expectations in whatever way is appropriate for the setting and material.

This could mean experimenting with your format and structure, explaining your material in a novel way, using personal stories, displaying vulnerability, or working in jokes and humor. (If you don't think you're a comedian, you should know that being funny is a skill you can learn and practice. Books such as The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not by Jon Vorhaus and Step-By-Step to Stand-Up Comedy by Greg Dean can change your professional life, even if you don’t plan to take your act to the Catskills.)

Read the Room

One of the most important skills of a stand-up comedian is the ability to "read the room," or call out situations that are happening in their surroundings. This disarms potential distractions by making them a part of the show, rather than a competing stimulus.

For example, if the room is hot and everyone is hungry, it won't help to pretend these things aren't true. Instead, make a joke out of them, or relate them to your material somehow. Anything that is already on your audience's minds is a source of material. Being explicit about it breaks the tension, goes against expectations, and may even get a laugh.

Keep It Simple

Even if your topic is very complex or abstract, your presentation must be simple. If you overload your audience with information, they won't retain any of it. They will pay more attention when they are confident they will be able to digest the material.

In your slides, use short, simple sentences and lists with numbers or bullet points. Communicate in pictures, sounds, and feelings. If there is too much material to effectively cover, provide a URL for those interested to do more research and get the longer version of the story. (If you use a special "tracking URL," this can also be useful for digital marketing purposes.)

Being a compelling presenter isn't just for politicians, rock stars and TED Talkers - it's an important skill for every creative professional. Fortunately, almost anyone can learn it. If you want to also improve your public speaking skills, you can contact Toastmasters for classes near you.

Contact us to learn more, and find out how enhancing your presentation skills and getting the right people's attention can supercharge your career.  We hope you enjoy the 445th issue of our weekly  a.blog.

 


Practicing Mindfulness At Work

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness At Work

 

Over the centuries, mindfulness practice has spread from ancient Buddhist traditions, into today’s easy to access TED Talks, and flowing to corporate boardrooms from New York to Los Angeles. Although it has become increasingly popular in the corporate world, mindfulness isn't just another fad or productivity hack - it prescribes a fresh way of looking at the world, noticing what is going on behind our assumptions and narratives, and feeling what it means to truly be in the moment.

Several cutting-edge companies have set aside meditation rooms, or provide midday breaks for quiet contemplation. Even if you don't work at one of these companies, you can apply the principles of mindfulness to be more present with your work, your life, and people around you.

Here are a few steps for integrating mindfulness into your day.

1. Sit Quietly

It doesn't matter if you do this for thirty minutes or three. If you don't have a quiet space in your workplace, you can sit at your desk or take a quick walk around the block. Just claim a small slice of time, whatever you can manage, in which you can expect to be relatively undisturbed.

When you have found your spot, sit still, with your hands in your lap or at your sides and close your eyes.

2. Focus on Your Breath

After you've taken a few moments to calm yourself, gradually bring attention to your breath. Ride each breath as it travels through your nose and fills your lungs. Rest your awareness on the pause between the in-breath and out-breath. Then slowly release. Give your full attention to the process of breathing.

As soon as you notice a thought, acknowledge it - say to yourself, "thinking" - and return your attention to the breath. Do this as many times as necessary until the session is over.

When you accept your thoughts and then let them go on their way, you reclaim some of the power and energy you might otherwise invest in worrying over them. Bring all that focus back to the present moment and the experience you are having, here and now.

3. Apply Mindfulness on the Go

There's a reason that sitting is called "practice." You're practicing an approach to everything else in your life. When you practice in this way, you prepare yourself for the harder work of staying present, focusing your attention, and maintaining equanimity in even the most taxing professional situations.

When you are in a meeting, give your full attention to the presentation and presenter. When you are working on a project, just do that. When you notice sights or sounds in the room, or distractions competing for your attention, acknowledge them, accept them, and let them go, releasing any thoughts you may have about them. Return your attention to the task at hand.

4. Keep Learning and Practicing

Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, and you may not see major results after one or two sessions. If you make mindfulness practice a part of your daily routine, it will gradually shift your attitude toward your work and yourself.

In the book Mindfulness on the Go, Jan Chozen Bays distills centuries of contemplative wisdom into simple exercises you can try anywhere. (A companion set of flashcards is available, too.) Meditate.io is an online community built around sharing meditation practice with professionals in creative and technical professions, with guided exercises for mindfully attending meetings, taking breaks, and checking email.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that when you find meaning in your work, you find meaning in your life, and vice versa.  Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 444th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 


Continued Education for Creatives

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Continued Education for Creatives

 

As a creative professional, your education never ends. The ever-evolving skills and technologies are one of the exciting facets of the creative and marketing career path.

Opportunities for ongoing learning, enrichment, and personal growth are now more plentiful than at any other time in history. With access to more information than can be absorbed in a lifetime, the challenge is to structure your learning and find the best opportunities for your own advancement.  We've organized some of the content into categories to help with the selection process:

Virtual and Free

There are numerous free courses and lectures available online. Khan Academy, Coursera, and other established sites devoted to virtual learning offer college-level instruction on almost any topic, including plenty of technical and creative subjects that can aid in career advancement.

If you prefer a less structured approach, you can absorb hundreds of hours of TED Talks, alternatives to TED talks, podcasts, and audiobooks, investing only your time and the cost of an internet connection. There are also free, creatively oriented sites and discussion forums that offer a sense of community and require only your time investment.

Virtual, for a Fee

Some online classes charge a fee for their content by offering added value, exclusivity, personal attention, or access to a members-only networking community or content.

Many reputable institutions of higher learning now offer online classes, and many paid online programs are well worth the price. In order to devote themselves fully to their work, some creators of educational content charge membership fees or offer added perks to followers who donate via sites such as Patreon, which can give you the opportunity to foster a more meaningful relationship with a teacher, mentor, or community.

When you seek a paid continuing education course, seek reviews or communicate with others who have taken these programs to make sure it's the right investment for you.

Free and In-Person

In most major cities, creative professionals have easy access to a wide variety of free lectures, networking events, and other opportunities to expand their skillsets and meet potential friends and collaborators.

If you're looking for free events, Meetup.com is the best place to start - it includes groups based on thousands of topics, including many related to design, technology, and other creative fields. Creative Mornings hosts a series of talks in cities around the world, offering top-quality content for free. If you want to attend, register and grab your tickets within the first few minutes they are available, otherwise, they will sell-out very quickly.

In-Person, for a Fee 

If time allows, one of the most reliable ways to master a new discipline or set of skills is to set aside a few months and take an immersive class or "bootcamp." Many bootcamps have sprung up to teach technical skills such as coding and have gained credibility and following.

General Assembly is one example of a private learning institution for those in creative and technical fields. While it is only one of dozens of its kind, it has established a worldwide presence. It offers immersive courses in web development, user experience design, and other fields that offer opportunities for a new or enhanced career. If you're not ready to take that much of a leap, these schools also offer cost-effective classes that you can take in an evening or on a weekend.

At Artisan Creative, continued education is an important aspect of our business.  Contact us today to learn more.

In our 20+ years of connecting creative talent with top clients, we have gained knowledge and built strong networks.

We nurture creative talent at every stage of their careers.  Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 443rd issue of our weekly a.blog.



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