Artisan 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.


Mastering the Art of Phone and Video Interviews

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


The ease of technology and virtual offices have made the phone and video interview a necessary step in the overall interview process.Some firms even go as far as requesting video resumes!

For many of us, interviews can be stressful—and undergoing the first interview by phone or video doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, sometimes it can be more challenging due to technology mishaps or the inability to see the other person’s reaction well.

Whether your first interview with a prospective client or employer is in person, over the phone or via Zoom, the same rules apply: do your best so you can advance to the next stage.

With over 20 years of helping candidates prepare for these types of interviews, we wanted to share some best practices with you:

The Phone Interview

  • Confirm time zones in case the interviewer is in another state or country.
  • Research the company, follow on social, and look up your interviewer's Linkedin profile.  You may find some things in common!
  • If you are taking a call at a specific time, ensure that you are in a quiet place.
  • Try not to walk and talk at the same time—you may sound winded, or lose reception going from location to the next.
  • Make sure your device is fully charged or plugged in during the interview
  • You’ll be using your voice and tone to communicate— be sure to speak clearly and succinctly.
  • Be friendly and smile while talking. It lifts and warms your voice, which helps you to connect with the interviewer.
  • Be prepared to ask engaging questions about the company culture and the team.
  • Have your resume close by so you can refer to it.
  • Listen well and avoid talking over the interviewer.
  • Don’t discuss salary or benefits at this stage.
  • This is your first opportunity to connect and shine.

The Video Interview

In addition to the above steps, the following best practices also apply to video interviews:

  • No matter the technology used (Facetime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout or others) adhere to this mantra: Test, and Test again. Test your device’s audio and video connections before the actual interview. Don’t wait until the interview day to download!
  • Practice ahead of time on screen and record yourself if possible. Pay attention to your posture, voice, lighting and background and adjust as needed.
  • Position the camera at eye-level and make eye contact with it! If you only watch the screen itself you’ll look like you’re not making eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Dress and groom as if you were interviewing in person. Dress for the job you want!
  • Check the lighting and move your computer as needed so that your face is illuminated without any shadows.
  • Make sure your head and shoulders appear in the video frame – don’t get too close or move too far away from the camera.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings—especially the background. Select a clean, neutral and distraction-free backdrop like a wall, screen or a panel of curtains.
  • If you live with a roommate let them know you’ll be on camera to avoid an unexpected noise or interruptions.
  • If you are a creative, have your portfolio loaded on your desktop in case screen sharing is needed. Make sure you have a clean, uncluttered desktop and if needed, change your desktop wallpaper to something creative but professional.

The techniques will become more natural over time. You’ll know that you’ve mastered the art of the phone or video interview when you’re invited for the in-person interview!

 

If you need help in your next job search, please connect with the a.team. 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 440th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 




5 Tips for Resignation Best Practices

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Changing jobs every few years is the new norm according to a report published by JobVite which says 34% of all job seekers have reported changing jobs after 1-5 years, and that 74% of employees are open to a new job, despite the fact that they are satisfied with their current one.

Chances are you too could be completing new negotiations, accepting a new job offer, maybe even moving across the country for a new opportunity. Before you can start your new role though, you have to resign your current one. Not as easy a task as it may seem. For some, the resignation meeting can be a daunting process.

Utilizing our 20+ years of experience working with talent through every stage of a job search from resume to interview to offer and acceptance, our a.team has also helped many jobseekers through the resignation process with the following tips:

1. Speak to your manager. Make an appointment for an in-person meeting and have your resgination letter prepared to share. Do not resign via email, text, phone or social media. Thank them for the opportunity and the experience you’ve gained. Even if it wasn’t the ideal role, every role is a learning opportunity. Discuss with your boss how best to tell the team.

2. Give notice and offer a plan for your last two weeks. Share a plan for a smooth transition with your manager. Offer to create project tasks and folders and train others to ensure a smooth transfer of knowledge and responsibilities. If your role is external facing, map out a plan with your manager for informing clients and how to handle their account going forth.

3. Create an opportunity for a co-worker. Your departure will create an opening on the team. Often times, this can be the perfect opportunity for another co-worker to be promoted into your role, take on additional responsibilities and grow in their own career. If such a person exists on your team or in your department, share the recommendation with your boss. This will not only create an opportunity for your co-worker to grow, it will also leave your manager with the peace of mind that someone else can step right in.

4. Remain professional. Stay professional, calm and positive even if your current role wasn't the ideal career move, or if your manager’s response to your resignation news is less than positive. Keep on track with your commitments through the duration of your stay.

 5.Know your motivation for leaving. It’s not always about money.  Whether it was the location, salary, team, boss, responsibilities, lack of challenge or simply that you are ready for something new, there is a reason you found a new position. Identifying your real motivations will enable you to know what to do if you encounter a counter offer. 

It’s not uncommon to cross paths with former co-workers or employers in the future. The ideal scenario is to keep the lines of communication open and professional. You’ll never know when you’ll need a letter of recommendation, or the former employer becomes a client. Respect and professionalism are the best policies.

If you need help in your next job search, please connect with the a.team.  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 439th issue of our weekly a.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.



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