Artisan Blog

Leadership and the Story of Ernest Shackleton

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Leadership and the Story of Ernest Shackleton

“Men Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” – Ernest Shackleton’s ad for crew members

At the turn of the last century, a crew of 27 set sail for Antarctica with illustrious leader and explorer Ernest Shackleton. The First World War was looming and tensions were high. Endurance, their mighty ship set sail to navigate the icy waters. No one would hear from the crew again for almost two years.


Their ship became trapped in ice floes during winter and Shackleton gave the order to wait until summer when the ice would melt. It didn’t. The ice eventually placed so much pressure on the ship it began to slowly sink. With Shackleton at the helm, he gave orders for the crew to take refuge on an ice pack and to setup camp. Despite the harsh conditions, the men began to enjoy their new life on ice. They played games, exchanged stories and became accustomed to their new routine. However, with freezing temperatures and minimal food, the men had to eat penguins, seals and dangerous sea lions they’d caught with their bare hands.

Ploughing through snow at one mile per day, they shifted from ice pack to ice pack in order to survive. They traveled places that had never been crossed; where the world’s most dangerous currents and waves were found. It was one of the most uninhabited places on earth. They sailed in two lifeboats just 22-feet long. In order to find help, Shackleton led a team of 5 across the sea for almost 800 miles in one of these boats. They faced whales, gigantic waves, a leaking boat and soaking wet clothes. But they continued with their goal in mind, to find help. Failure was no option for Shackleton and he had a duty to lead his men to safety.


You may find yourself asking what this has to do with creative, recruitment or careers. It has everything to do with achievements, perseverance and goals and nothing to do with sailing the dangerous seas. We won’t ruin the ending for you but we will share what we took away from this incredible journey.


Artisan Creative’s Founder, Jamie Douraghy shared his thoughts from Shackelton’s story and the value it added to his existing leadership skills:


“Endurance” gave me a new perspective on the importance of the right kind of leadership skills needed to address extreme hardship and to persevere against the odds, especially when others might believe all hope is lost. I learned that unless you focus on the task at hand (no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at the time), you’ll never know the difference it will make until you see it through to the very end.”


Whether you’re choosing to take a leadership role or you’re following your own personal goals in life, take it one step at a time. Had Shackleton took to the boats without careful planning and preparation, he would not have succeeded.

Sometimes we have to take chances, change our course and motivate others. Shackleton spent two years leading and encouraging men who were idle at the best of times, but he also kept spirits high and as he often said, “laughter was in our hearts.”

Laura Pell | Talent Acquisition | Artisan Creative 

Vacation Planning Best Practices

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

We asked our team to share their pre- and post-trip planning process.  Even though the summer holiday season is over, we hope the following tips help you plan for any time away from the office.

 Vacation Planning Best Practices

  1. Be Proactive. Contact clients and key stakeholders a few weeks ahead of time to let them know of your upcoming vacation schedule.  This will give everyone an opportunity to address any project needs and plan accordingly.

  2.  Status updates. If you are mid-project, or have direct reports, make it a point to meet with your team before leaving and within a day upon your return for status updates.

  3. Prioritize & Delegate. Create a step-by-step process of all pending projects.  Prioritize for your team and clearly assign tasks that require a follow-up.  Tools like Basecamp make it easy to keeps track of the communication and makes it easy to get caught up when you get back.

  4. OOO. Set your out of office response with the names and contact info of colleagues who will be supporting you while you are away.  This alleviates frustration and any lag time for urgent needs.

  5.  Inbox planning. Use Rules and Filters to manage your inbox while you are away. Unsubscribe from non-essentials newsletters and notifications or direct them to a specific folder.

  6. Minimize travel day stress. Pack your bags, print out travel itineraries and make sure you're ready a few days prior to travel so your last working day isn't affected by any pre travel stress.

  7. Plan your first day back to work before you leave so your expectations are set beforehand.  Have your to-do list ready to go!

  8. Tidy your desk & desktop.  Coming back to paper or digital clutter is no fun.

  9. Your body and mind need time to recharge. Trust your team to handle urgent issues while you are away.

  10.  Have Fun!

Artisan Creative Team

How Does Technology Impact Your Life?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How Does Technology Impact Your Life?

I’m currently reading and implementing some of Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage Principles. One best practice is to write down your daily gratitudes.

My gratitude for today is Technology. That one thing we are all so reliant on--it does everything from opening up car doors to turning on the lights.

When Artisan started over 25 years ago, it was the world of Xacto knives, spray mount and paste-up and the time of the Macintosh and then Powerbook. A lot has changed. We at Artisan have continued to evolve with technology and with the talent we work with and clients whose digital needs we service daily.

The technology-related gratitude I am writing about today comes from a personal experience. Last week I traveled to Greece to attend the Entrepreneurs' Organization’s Global Leadership Conference. We were 1100+ strong and I was excited to reconnect with friends and business owners from across the globe. We stay in touch regularly through social media, but opportunities to meet in person are less regular. With WhatsApp, Facebook and my laptop handy, I set off for Athens excited to make plans in between meetings and lectures.

However, the technology gods at my hotel had a different plan... Unable to connect to a very spotty wifi meant no way of easily finding the people I was looking for, so I set out in person the old fashioned way—hanging around the lobby to see who I would bump into.

How did I ever function without cell phones, IMs and chats? Just fine actually. I just got lost a bit more often and missed a few people in the big crowds. In some ways, it was liberating not having technology to rely on—though I realized it’s not something I would like to be without too often. I like to be connected.

I like how technology enables me to Facetime with my little niece and two nephews who live in Europe. I like how technology allows me to celebrate their birthdays and be a part of their lives, and for a few moments have them transported back into my living room. I like how technology enables our virtual team at Artisan to be cohesive--and connected.

I like how technology allows me to be connected to clients and talent even when I am thousands of miles away. It gives me access to the answers to the silliest of questions. “Who created the sandwich?” was a recent question my friends had pondered… Without technology, we wouldn’t know the answer!

And for these reasons, my gratitude for today is technology.

Have you ever found yourself without the technology you take for granted?

Katty Douraghy, President, Artisan Creative

Tax Tips for Freelancers in 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tax Tips for Freelancers in 2014

More and more of us are freelancing in 2014 and the numbers are expected to go up dramatically in the next few years. Freelancing brings its own tax challenges that some may have not encountered before. We are not tax experts or CPA’s at Artisan Creative, but we do keep track of tax issues for freelancers and there have been some changes this year that might affect you.

If you were already freelancing in 2013, we hope you took our advice last year and:
  • Tracked your mileage
  • Created a dedicated office space
  • Kept receipts for business expenses
  • Saved
  • Made a list of clients who should send you a 1099
What’s different this year?

Home Office Deduction

In 2014, this deduction is simpler--still based on the square footage you use for your home office, now the IRS uses a flat $5 deduction for each square foot up to 300 or $1500. Much easier than figuring out the percentage of your household expenses for the year, but it may be less for you since it is capped.

High Earners

If you earned over $200,000 last year as a freelancer, congratulations! The downside is that you will pay a 3.8% Medicare surtax on your income. But you did well!

Reducing Your Liability

Personal exemptions, allowed contributions to IRA’s, and contributions to health savings accounts were all raised for this tax year.

If you get to the end of the year owing self-employment tax, you should be paying that on a quarterly basis, so be sure to do so if you are having a great year or don’t have many deductions.

And if you get one, Happy Refund!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Competition

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Reflections: Competition

It’s competition season all over: for actors and others in the entertainment industry, for Olympians across the globe, and even close to home as show choirs on the west coast have a contest almost every weekend for the next few months. With so many vying for honors, we have been struck with the different ways we can handle competition as creative entrepreneurs.

Oscar Style

“It’s an honor to be nominated.” But the nominees do a lot of branding and marketing to try to get more votes. The ones who sit back and let the chips fall where they may are more likely to go home emptyhanded unless their work is truly stellar.

On the other hand, they never say their competitors’ work is worse than theirs and they seem to generally get along on a personal level. After all, the actor you mocked could be across the table read from you in a month or two. And you hope he will because that means you’re working.

As creatives, we need to pay attention to personal branding and marketing and keep it positive, too. You never know whom your next client might--or might not--be.

High School Style

Teenagers can be mean, but I’m around literally hundreds of kids in active competition in the performing arts, and they surprise me all the time. They support and encourage each other. What they don’t like is injustice, for themselves or their competitors.

They’ll fight for points, but equally for the deserved points of others. They love to win but they cheer (almost) as loud for other groups. They know that the most important thing in a competition is to do their very best every single time and leave the rest of it to the judges.

We all live in a sometimes unjust world where the rules seem to change while the game is still being played. All we can do is our best work and keep our cool and hope things turn out well more often than not.

Olympic Style

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” The Olympic Creed says it all. My favorite stories from the Olympics are not the Gold Medals, the perfect scores. My favorites are when the athletes stop and help each other. Wait for an injured athlete to catch up. Share water. The struggle is the same for everyone. Some will win, some will lose. Being human and struggling together is what makes competition a worthy endeavor.

As part of a team, and between teams, we can help each other over the finish line. Mentor, network, give advice. You might be the one who needs an arm around your shoulder next time.

Competition is exciting--it stirs the blood, motivates us and offers the potential for tangible rewards. If we rely on the quality of our own work, the energy and commitment we put into it and sometimes even the kindness of others, we can all succeed.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Loving the Freelance Life

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

As it becomes more common--and easier--to choose the freelance lifestyle, more workers are finding out why their freelance colleagues love it as much as they do. They might even be getting a little jealous. Why do we love freelancing?

  • Entrepreneurship--Freelancing is the simplest way to run your own business. It’s just you, but you are the boss. Enjoy it.
  • Flexibility--To be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined about getting everything done well and on time, but when and how you tackle your work is up to you.
  • Giving back--My personal favorite thing about freelancing is being able to make time to volunteer for my favorite organizations, even during typical working hours--when they need me most because so many other volunteers have to be at the office.
  • Control--Most jobs require you to accomplish a variety of tasks, some of which you love and some of which you most definitely do not. Ideally, freelancing allows you to choose projects you are passionate about and pass on the ones you are not.
  • Diversity--As a freelance writer, I get to vary the topics I am writing about from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. It’s never boring!
  • Building Relationships--Freelancers meet new people frequently by necessity. The perfect networking opportunity is a freelance gig at a new company. Not only can you bond with the people you work with, you can demonstrate your skills and get referrals for more freelance work in the future.
Sure, there moments when I wish I had someone just tell me what to do and let me do it, check everything off a list, shut off the lights and go home. Only moments, though. Then I look around and remember how grateful I am to have a life that works for me, my family, my soul.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Freelancing in 2014

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Freelancing in 2014

Whether you are already enjoying the benefits of freelancing or still thinking about taking the plunge, 2014 is a terrific year to break free of office life and go it on your own.


Think about when you learned the most on your last job. Probably in the first three to six months. If you’re a fan of lifelong learning, freelancing puts you in a position to learn new things on every project, with every client.


Although successful freelancing takes a lot of self-discipline, it also reaps rewards in self-actualization when you can spend your time in blocks that make sense for your lifestyle and your temperament. Nightowl? Fine. Love volunteering? Carve out the hours you need.

Ride the Wave

Entrepreneurship is on the rise and you could be part of a generational shift in the best way. Rather than changing jobs every few years, you can have a chance to try out different companies, find a niche for yourself, make important network connections and be a part of the 21st century economy. Forbes is reporting that one of every three workers today is working freelance and that will be one of every two by 2020.


Working offsite reduces your carbon footprint, from the gas in your car to the power needed to heat and cool that giant office building you’re not working in. You also have more control of your food (lunch local) and the indoor environment where you are working.


Whatever your political persuasion, you now have access to health insurance that freelancers have never had before. Letting go of employer-based insurance is no longer the risky and expensive prospect it was until recently.

I’m excited to be starting a new year of freelancing with many once-in-a-lifetime experiences ahead. How about you? Tell us what you have planned in the Comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Exchange Your Goals for Some That Fit

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Exchange Your Goals for Some That Fit

It’s Boxing Day (or the day after Christmas, if you prefer) and traditionally the day for us to take gifts back and exchange them for things that are a better fit.

It’s also the time of year when we look back at what we accomplished--or didn’t--and what we would like to accomplish in the year to come. Did you achieve last year’s goals or would you like to have chosen something different? Now’s your chance!

Setting better goals is not unlike finding better gifts for our loved ones. Asking questions helps a lot:
  • What did you love about this year? A more flexible schedule, better organization, more time with family or more time to build up your skills. Whatever it was, set a goal which will get you more of it.
  • What did you learn this year? Whether it was about yourself, about your abilities, or about your passions, build on that learning and hardwire it in 2014. 
  • What investments paid off this year? Time is your biggest asset: did you spend it well, splurge on something special or squander it? Put more into what worked out and less into what fell flat.
  • Where do you want to be a year from now? You might want to be right here, in a sweet spot, or somewhere entirely different. Set goals that will get you where you want to be.
In both gift giving and goal setting, it’s the thought that counts. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

En Garde! Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy on Fencing and Entrepreneurship

Thursday, December 19, 2013

En Garde! Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy on Fencing and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs POV: The inspiration for entrepreneurship can come from a variety of places. For Jamie Douraghy, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and champion fencer, the sport of fencing has given him the tools he needs to excel in business. Here are three ways fencing has helped Jamie become a better entrepreneur.

When I was 17, I joined the fencing club at my English boarding school and was introduced to what would become a never-ending source of motivation, pressure, excitement and strategic mental training. Thirty-seven years later, I’m still physically and mentally sharp thanks to the life lessons I’ve learned from this rewarding sport.

For me, fencing is more than a hobby; it’s a passion that has taught me as much about the tenets of being a successful entrepreneur as any classroom or boardroom experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned from fencing that translate to entrepreneurship:

Negotiation is in the non-verbal details

Fencing, like negotiating, is a game of cat and mouse. Both contestants are sizing each other up, interpreting every movement and waiting for the most opportune time to launch their offense. In fencing, the goal is to defend against your opponent’s attacks, while setting up your own moves to counter using his miscalculated decisions as a chance to strike. Foil fencing is about establishing "right of way" and convincing the referee that you had the final action and scored the touch. Negotiation follows the same logic, in that it's up to you to convince your client that you’re better than the competition. This requires a lot of back and forth (we call it “footwork” in fencing) and relentless determination to get to that final spot at the top of the podium.

This technique helped me tremendously as I learned about the importance of a successful negotiation in business. Instead of holding back and waiting, I choose to go on offense and score a few points early on as part of my plan to win. Fencing taught me how to anticipate my client’s needs, read their non-verbal cues and arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Development starts with discipline

Fencing has also taught me the importance of discipline. If I wanted to continuously improve as an athlete, I had to prepare, train and enter each match with the confidence that I would win. If not, I was defeated before I even put on my gear. The same applies to business. We can all perform at a higher level, no matter the venue; discipline in practice and a perseverance of goals are characteristics everyone needs to excel.

When I decided to start my business, I had to set the goal, make the necessary plans to accomplish the goal and then practice my sales pitch, elevator pitch, PowerPoint pitch, handshake, eye contact and smile. Then I would walk into every meeting with confidence, as I could no longer hide behind my fencing mask. I knew that if I hadn't practiced hard enough in business, deep down I wouldn’t believe in my abilities, and I wasn’t going to convince anyone else of my vision.

Learn to lose with grace

One of the most important lessons fencing taught me is the importance of never dwelling on a loss. As an entrepreneur, I have been dealt major upsets, and my history of fencing has taught me how to handle setbacks with as much grace as I would a victory. I’m confident in my movements, abilities and desire to win, though winning it all doesn't always happen. Sometimes I meet a competitor who simply bests me. One example was at the Veteran World Championships in Bulgaria this year. Earlier in the day, I had eliminated a higher seed. I was motivated and mentally ready for the next opponent. Though I gave him everything I had, he eliminated me. After a year of training and traveling, it was all over in less than 10 minutes. Instead of getting angry and derailing my focus, I accepted the loss, moved on, and during the long flight home, started planning how to qualify for the 2014 team.

I’ve been a competitive fencer for more than three decades, won two 40+ U.S. National Championships and represented the U.S. 50+ team three times at the World Veteran Fencing Championships. I also coach fencing to youth, teenage and veteran fencers. Fencing is an extremely challenging sport, and I owe a lot of my accomplishments to pursuing an interest that stimulates both my body and mind.

Can I say that all of my professional success is due solely to the lessons I learned while fencing? Of course not, but the sport did equip me with the skills I needed to achieve success in all avenues of my life. That’s one of the greatest lessons of all, learning without realizing I was ever being taught.

What do you do in your personal life which makes you a better entrepreneur or think more like one? We would love to know!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Entrepreneurs Organization kindly allowed us to reprint this article published in Upstart Business Journal.

Imagine: 50 Years of Giving

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Imagine: 50 Years of Giving

Our Founder Jamie Douraghy gave this short interview for Entrepreneurs Organization about entrepreneurship and giving back and we wanted to share it with you this Thanksgiving week. 

Transcript follows.

Jamie Douraghy:

The reason I got involved because I was asked to be the Philanthropy Chair. And of course the big theme of this whole conference was the ability to give back. Imagine the compounded return if people started giving in their 20's and 30's, as opposed to waiting until the later years of their lives to suddenly--the light to go on. Imagine 50 years of giving.

It's about creating something from nothing, creating it from an idea. And I shouldn't say "nothing." Creating something from something. And taking it to the next level. That's what entrepreneurs do.

We knew that each person up on that stage was giving. The fact that they came from whatever they were doing, to take time away, I mean, based on one of the most successful young entrepreneurs right now. I'm sure he has a lot on his plate, but he gave of his time. So every single person on that stage gave. Unconditionally. And that was a huge message to everyone in that room. No matter who you are, where you are, just give.

For me, the central goal for EO Alchemy was to bring people initially from the Western Region together, to celebrate entrepreneurship. We haven't had a conference in the west before--that's had all around the world. Somehow the West Region wasn't able to pull it together up to this point. What I would like to see for EO Alchemy in the future is to have a conference in every single city that we have a chapter in. So we have 15 chapters in the west.  I would love to see 15 Alchemies, year over year. Have it in Hawaii, have it in Boise, Idaho, have it in Phoenix, Arizona. Every year to celebrate entrepreneurism. It's not about the location, it's about the people coming together to celebrate entrepreneurism. So I would really like to see Alchemy in all 15 of our chapters and, hopefully, more chapters as they grow. 

For Jamie and for Artisan Creative, giving back is essential to entrepreneurship. We are thankful for the opportunities we have to give back this year and every year. Just imagine what we could do together in the future!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


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