Artisan Blog

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

If your team is still using the email inbox as an organizational tool and yelling over cubicles, it’s time for you to explore some of the brilliantly useful collaboration, chat, and project management apps that are available.

Since the rise of Basecamp in the 2000s, an array of such apps has appeared, with different user interfaces, internal logic, pros, and cons. Some are focused on internal communication, while others have better document-sharing and time-management features. If you’re new to collaboration, chat, and project management apps, we suggest trying a few different ones to see which one proves most effective for your projects and your team.

In celebration of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, here are 14 apps we love because they drive collaboration. Since our Artisan Creative a.team works virtually, we rely on many of the apps below to communicate, collaborate and connect.

Basecamp

It was one of the first project management programs, and it’s still one of the simplest, with to-dos, discussions, and file-sharing capabilities that are easy to master.

Slack

This team chat app is beloved for a reason. It works well for organizing discussions, whether among groups or one-on-one. While it lacks some of the more sophisticated project-management capabilities found elsewhere, it gets things done, and it’s fun.  Slack has made our virtual team communication organized, efficient and easy.

Asana

Asana is gaining popularity for its focus on results. It works well for tracking projects, assignments, time, and contributions from team members.

Trello

Trello’s “boards” provide an engaging and friendly UI. It takes some effort to master, but it’s easy on the eyes, and it’s changed the way some teams tackle their projects.  A recent favorite, we use Trello for everything these days! From communicating about our open jobs to onboarding and training new hires, we love Trello.

Wunderlist

Microsoft acquired this German-designed task-management app and planned to sunset it, much to the chagrin of its unusually devoted user base. Despite protests, it may be absorbed by Microsoft To-Do in 2018, so give it a whirl while you can.

Discord

This voice and text chat platform, designed for gamers, is so robust and functional that it’s drawn a cult following among startups and professionals, too. It lacks strong project-management capabilities but can be used in conjunction with other programs by off-site teams who rely heavily on responsivity.

Airtable

Popular among publishers and heavy spreadsheet users, Airtable’s internal logic takes some getting used to. When you get to know it, it’s a charming and versatile suite of project-management tools with a colorful personality, with particularly strong versioning and backup capabilities.

Calendly

Calendly makes meeting planning easy! Gone are the days of emailing back and forth to schedule time for a conversation or a meeting.   Calendly integrates with our Google calendar to make life, and conversation scheduling easy!

Smartsheet

For seasoned spreadsheet-wranglers, the Smartsheet UI may look familiar. It’s a humble and practical program, comfortable for heavy Excel users, increasingly useful for those who spend time getting to know it.

LiquidPlanner

Sophisticated, expensive, and a bit intimidating, LiquidPlanner works well for larger teams with a lot of moving parts. If you’re ambitious or you’re outgrowing your current programs, give it a look.

Sharepoint

Part of the MS Office Suite, Sharepoint is popular among teams using Windows. It integrates with the chat app Yammer, and allows easy content management and collaboration across organizations.

Teamwork

With project management, chat, and an easy mobile experience under one roof, Teamwork is popular among creative and web development teams. If you enjoy the free trial, you can do an impressive amount of work using Teamwork tools.

Taskworld

This highly visual and goal-oriented project management app is popular among users of Apple products. Founded by billionaire jewelry magnate Fred Mouawad, its eccentric personality has won it a devoted cult following.

Google Drive

What started as the world’s most successful search engine has created an impressive array of products that integrate brilliantly. Between Gmail, Docs, Hangouts, and Calendars, many teams have found that they work best using nothing but Google apps, especially since the vast majority of web users have some familiarity with Google-brand UX.

As creative staffing leaders, we work with some of the most forward-thinking talent and clients in the business, which makes us experts on how professionals and teams choose their tools, manage their work, and collaborate more effectively. Contact Artisan Creative today and share your favorite app.

We hope you've enjoyed the 461st issue of our a.blog!


3 Benefits of Working Remotely

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

3 Benefits of Working Remotely

Although some work challenges may seem best tackled by teams coming together in person, with each leap forward in virtual networking technology, colleagues in far-flung locations can come together just as productively in a virtual setting. The continuous rapid pace of improvement in this area, makes it more efficient and more rewarding for creative professionals to do their work remotely.

According to The New York Times, 43% of employed Americans do at least some of their work off-site. Those who have embraced remote work, and the lifestyle that comes with it, have discovered significant benefits.

The Artisan Creative a.team has been working remotely since 2009 and we'd like to share some of those benefits with you:

More Productivity

To work remotely is to relinquish stressful and time-consuming rush-hour commutes and eliminate workplace distractions. Remote workers can create routines, schedules, and environments that are best suited to their own preferences and patterns, which often result in getting more done, in less time, with less hassle than would be required to complete the same tasks in an office.

To work well without constant oversight requires some discipline and responsibility, and for those who excel at it, remote work can be an enormous boon to their careers, improve their results, and stimulate a new work ethic.

More Freedom

For those with the discipline and independence to live a remote work based lifestyle, traditional borders and living restrictions have disappeared.

By being adept at working off-site, building their networks, and collaborating well virtually, professionals no longer need to relocate to prohibitively expensive cities to advance their careers. Some even choose to become "digital nomads" and travel as they work, seeing the world while pursuing creative careers on their laptops and mobile devices.

Even if the corporate headquarters is across town, having the liberty to work from home, a co-working space, or a coffee shop can open new lifestyle options for those who wish to spend more time with their friends and families or simply have the space to create.

More Ease

Off-site work used to be much more of a challenge and a commitment for all parties involved. Now, with so many effective options, much of the past friction has been eliminated.

As mentioned earlier, the technology that drives document-sharing, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and location-independent digital collaboration has advanced tremendously, and it gets better every day.

There may come a time in the not-so-distant future when the majority of teams do most of their work and collaboration remotely. Already, the increase of remote work is popular with the rising Millennial Generation and represents a wider range of lifestyle choices in a highly networked global society.

Contact Artisan Creative to prepare for the future of work and learn how to thrive in a changing creative economy.

We hope you've enjoyed the 460th issue of our weekly a.blog.


14 Books for Creatives

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

14 Books for Creatives

Whether you listen to audio editions on your commute, use a tablet or e-reader, or relax with a cat on your lap and an old-fashioned paper edition, books are still a great source of information and knowledge for creative pros.

A book allows you to take a deeper dive into a subject and emerge with a broader awareness of how its details fit into context. When it's easier and easier to consume bite-sized bits of information, delving into a book gives you an advantage over those with less experience of focus.

And books make excellent gifts. With countless titles to choose from, they're not easy to shop for. Your favorite creative mentor, peer, or friend will be delighted when a thoughtfully chosen book drops into his or her lap.

Whether you're shopping for a designer, a developer, an artist, or a marketing executive, here are fourteen selections that will spark creative inspiration.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

This revolutionary writing guide gave rise to a system of thought and a movement that has helped creative people of all types develop greater respect for themselves and their work. Its most influential exercise is probably "the morning pages," a daily three-page handwritten routine that has galvanized authors, actors, musicians, and everyday people around the world.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

A favorite among UX designers, this classic takes a thorough and counterintuitive look at the familiar objects around us and wonders how they came to be as they are.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

You only get one chance to make the most of the creative career you pursue in this lifetime. This urgent and heartfelt challenge will embolden you to “lose yourself,” fully commit to your process, and leave it all on the field.

How To Be Useful by Megan Hustad

Hustad's book is a wry, comprehensive, no-nonsense primer on networking, career-building, doing your job, and preserving your soul. It's perfect for graduates, those mulling a career change, or anyone who sometimes wonders if he or she missed out on some essential knowledge about how to thrive in the workplace.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

A successful novelist with a cult following among creatives in all fields, Pressfield believes that success means showing up, every day, and maintaining a regular practice, and that the only way to self-actualize as a creative is to start treating yourself as a professional.

The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not by John Vorhaus

Some of the most useful creative inspiration has always come from jokes and humor, from looking at life sideways and shattering expectations. This is a practical and amusing guide to the functions and structure of humor, with exercises that can help you produce smarter and more entertaining work.

Place Your Thoughts Here: Meditation for the Creative Mind by Steven L. Saitzyk

A Buddhist art teacher explores the connections between creativity and meditation in a warm and compassionate book that will fascinate any creative pro with an interest in mindfulness practice.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This landmark study on human behavior, and how it relates to thought, is a must-read for anyone who needs to understand incentive structures and why people sometimes act as they do. Kahneman won the Nobel prize for economics and is a highly regarded psychologist.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This book examines what happens when we get so absorbed in our work that we lose track of time, and suggests how we might cultivate such a state of pure creative devotion.

Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done by Jocelyn K. Glei

In an always-on world of perpetual distraction, an influential blogger and editor makes a case for shutting out the noise and decluttering your digital life. You don't have to be a hardcore minimalist to get some empowering and actionable insights from this one.

Quartz: The Objects That Power the Global Economy by Quartz Editors

This coffee table book from the business blog Quartz showcases the innovative genius of product design and makes a beautiful companion to The Design of Everyday Things.

How To Get Ideas by Jack Foster

Foster is a fun, funny, avuncular guide to the art of generating fresh ideas. If you know someone who's struggling to stay creative, this book can reignite the joy of the process.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan

This irreverent but practical guide to the advertising industry provides a thorough understanding of the creative business and shows how a rebellious attitude can help you do work that gets attention. The classic text has been updated to address new channels and technologies.

The Dip by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a business and marketing guru to millions through his daily blog. This tiny but crucial book examines what happens when we get stuck in a gap between mediocrity and excellence, how to persist, and how to get out.

When you're inspired and driven to take your career to the next level, contact Artisan Creative, and join some of the most prestigious creative talent around.  We hope you enjoy the 454th issue of our weekly a.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.


Expressing Our Gratitude

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Expressing Our Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
                                                                                                 -William Arthur Ward

At Artisan Creative, we'd like to take a moment and say thank you to all who have touched our lives this past year.

We are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 21 years of Artisan Creative!
  • Grateful for our incredible, hard-working, and dedicated a.team, always bringing their a.game when working with our talent and clients.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who create, write and bring to market compelling work
  • Grateful for our clients and the opportunity to build relationships, grow their teams and share in their success.
  • Grateful for technology to allow us to be virtual, yet always connected with each other.
  • Grateful for the 7 dogs and 3 cats who add to our work life.
  • Grateful for the two babies who joined the Artisan family this year.
  • Grateful for our friends & families
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write and share insights in 450 issues of our weekly a.blog.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Margaret

  • Grateful that our son is living with us now and our family is complete.
  • Grateful for a job that is flexible and still challenging (in a good way) after 23 years.
  • Grateful for a family that is supportive and loving.

Laura

  • Grateful for family, good health, dogs, and friendship.
  • Grateful to have the chance to learn, progress and work in a job I love.
  • Grateful for the opportunities I've had and the chance to see the world.

Jen

  • I'm thankful to be able to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.
  • Grateful to have a healthy and happy baby girl join us this year and experience the holidays through her eyes.
  • Thankful for a wonderful support system both at home and at work that made the transition to being a new mom so pleasant.

Cammy

  • Grateful for our first home and the ability to work from the comforts of it everyday.
  • Grateful for my hard-working, supportive, and loving husband, who is adventurous and loves to get his hands dirty

Ana

  • I am grateful for the privilege of spending the last months of my mother's life at her side.
  • I am grateful for the love and support of my family and friends
  • I am grateful for Artisan for the privilege of working from home, where my job is more fun than work, and be part of a supportive, motivated and hardworking team.
  • I am grateful to live where food, shelter, and services are available and plentiful.

Stephanie

  • Grateful to work for a creative company and to work with team members that love people.

Regina

  • I'm grateful for such an incredible and supportive team to work for. I wake up knowing I GET to work with them and never feel like I HAVE to. It's rare to find such integrity and motivation in one's work life.
  • I'm grateful that I get to spend all my time with my dog Chewie. I never truly knew what a "man's best friend" actually felt like until I got to spend every waking moment with him.
  • I'm grateful that I found a balance in my life to take care of the sick ones in my family. So, so grateful for that.

Kimberley

  • I'm grateful for my wonderful spouse/teacher, family, and friends who are like family.
  • I'm grateful for the first responders and the outpouring of help to those who lost everything in the California North Bay fires.
  • I'm grateful to be back at Artisan working with such a dynamic team of creative, kind and devoted professionals!
  • I'm grateful to be able to make a difference in candidates' and clients' lives by bringing the right people together at the right time.

Jamie

  • To have facilitated Why Stack workshops with dynamic learners from around the world.
  • To have celebrated our parent’s 83rd and 85th birthdays together as a family.
  • To always be working with people who share similar values founded on trust and respect.

Katty

  • Grateful to celebrate 23 years of marriage.
  • Grateful for my amazing a.team. The most dedicated, intelligent and fun group I have had the pleasure to work with.
  • Grateful for health, family and friends
  • Grateful for the opportunity to travel and see the world.


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.


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.

 



Search

Recent Posts


Tags


Archive