Artisan Blog

What Are You Doing for National Volunteer Week?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Are You Doing for National Volunteer Week?

Having spent more hours volunteering than at work last week, I think I have probably done my bit, but it’s still a great time to talk about the benefits of volunteering—not for the organizations for which you volunteer, but for you.

  • Stay Energized—A long job search can really take its toll on your energy and enthusiasm. Spending some of that unwanted free time doing something you feel passionately about can make a huge difference in your motivation about the rest of your time.
  • Keep Skills Up-to-Date—Many organizations have need of highly skilled help and you can give and receive at the same time. Stay current with software updates and new platforms and make sure you refresh your resume with those skills.
  • Network—The people you meet when doing pro bono work can be important additions to your list of connections. Meet a CEO at a fundraising event, work with another volunteer who is employed at one of your target companies, share a laugh with someone who knows someone who is looking for a web or graphic designer and you never know what it may lead to.
  • Get a JobVolunteer opportunities can and do develop into job offers. Become the “known candidate” and when an opening becomes available, you will be the first in the door.
I am a graduate of a career development program which matches skilled job seekers with meaningful volunteer opportunities and I promise you all of the above are absolutely true benefits of volunteering when you are on a job search. And when you’re not, volunteering for an organization that calls to you is the most fun you will ever have working for free. I highly recommend it.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

4 Tips for a Greener Home Office

Thursday, April 18, 2013

4 Tips for a Greener Home Office

There are lots of wonderful things about freelancing and telecommuting:

But the benefits don’t stop with you—freelancing can benefit the planet as well!

As we approach Earth Day 2013, have you thought about how to minimize your carbon footprint as much as possible when working from home?
  1. Choose a location with natural light—You will feel better and more energized as well as use fewer watts.
  2. Print only when necessary—I love having hard copies of research to work from, but printing uses paper, ink and electricity. Open up another window—on your screen and in the room.
  3. Lower your brightness—Do you need your laptop screen at maximum? Before you start a project, consider what you really need. Even when you’re plugged in, you can save energy.
  4. Unplug chargers—If you’re like me, you have a charger in every room. Now that so many small devices use the same plugs, we have enough to put them everywhere. But every minute they are plugged in they are using precious energy. Scatter chargers all over, but only plug them in when you need some juice.
You’re already saving gas by not driving to work, eating locally sourced food you cook yourself and saving money on a smaller work wardrobe. But there is always more we can do to save energy, money and the earth!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Take Charge of Your Luck

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Take Charge of Your Luck

Photo by hussey via stock.xchng

Ever feel like if you didn’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all? Or are you one of those people who always gets the best parking space, always hears their favorite song on Pandora, or manages to snag those rock concert tickets in the 10 minutes they are for sale?

Some things in life truly are luck. We can’t really control when the guy in that perfect parking space is going to leave. But we often relinquish control of things that we can influence and wrongly put them down to luck. Here are some ways to improve your odds of being lucky:

  • Keep learning—When you hear about a freelance gig or job opening that requires experience on the very latest software or platform, you might say to yourself how lucky you are that you know it, but it wouldn’t really be luck.
  • Take chances—Not everything will work out well, but if you are open to the possibilities—a new startup, a chance to partner with an enthusiastic entrepreneur, a volunteer opportunity that could lead somewhere—your luck will improve.
  • Say hello—You never know who you might meet and how you could help each other. But if you don’t start conversations, those lucky encounters will pass you right by.
  • Increase your frequency—We’ve all heard the story of the guy who sent out one resume and got the job. He sure was lucky! I don’t believe in that guy. Send out more applications, approach more people for informational interviews, go to more industry events. Make the luck come to you by being present.
  • Fear not—“Fear is the mindkiller,” as Frank Herbert said many years ago. I think fear is the luck-killer. Approach every day as an opportunity to succeed if you do your very best—at your work, at your relationships, at your planning, at your life.
Luck is an element beyond our control. Take control of what you can and maybe it will sprinkle some of its magic dust on you. Take enough and you won’t need it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Importance of Mentorship with Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Importance of Mentorship with Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy

I sat down with Artisan Creative's Founder Jamie Douraghy recently to talk about mentorship. Jamie has mentors and is a mentor and is committed to mentorship from both sides.

Jamie has been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years. He is also intimately involved with the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), where he has served in leadership roles including both Area and Regional Director. He is currently the Chapter President of EO Los Angeles and a Board Member of AIGA LA.

Jamie is passionate about mentorship and we asked him for his insight into these important relationships:

Choosing whom to mentor

Jamie meets people and networks all the time. He looks for some special qualities in his mentees: "Shared values, and a spark in their eye that indicates they are ready for personal growth, and are willing to follow though with what it takes to change." 

What has he learned from being a mentor?

Jamie takes mentorship very seriously. "As mentors, we have a responsibility to share our experiences and life lessons with others to help them avoid some of the mistakes we made along the way."

What about from having a mentor?

"The most important thing I have learned from a mentor is that we have the capacity to do so much more than we initially believe. I have also learned that, through aligning my values and living a life that is proactive vs. one that is reactive, I am able to accelerate that capacity."

Deciding whom you would like to mentor you

A mentor can have a profound effect on your future development. How do you choose a mentor? "I look for a depth of life experience, combined with the same values I use to determine a mentee. This type of relationship changes the direction of lives, so both parties must be in sync for the long run."

Do you ever outgrow needing a mentor?

"There is so much more to learn and there are so many people to learn from. That is why I still take fencing lessons from coaches that are both younger and older than me.

We will never have all the answers, but the quest for these answers is much more interesting when we listen and learn from others."

Thank you, Jamie! 

I have had the privilege of being a mentor to a new colleague for the last couple of months. She has her feet under her now, but she recently asked me, "When do you stop being my friend?" Of course my answer was "Never!" One of the wonderful things about mentorship is that the relationships you build are lifelong connections as well as lifelong learning experiences.

We look forward to talking to Jamie Douraghy further about mentorship in business and in competitive fencing later this year.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Artisan Resolves...

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Artisan Resolves...

Are you making New Year's resolutions for 2013? We thought we would ask the Artisan Team what some of their goals for the new year might be:

Sr. Account Manager & Recruiter Carol Conforti is resolved to "play golf once a month" in 2013. Sounds like fun!

Creative Recruiting Manager Jamie Grossman wants to spend more time "getting more involved in the community." I hope she lets us know what she's doing!

Account Manager Melinda Geniza's resolution: "Make working virtual more dynamic. I want to get out of the house more. Working virtually doesn't mean having to stay home all day. I'd like to make an effort to move my virtual office to co-working sites around town, or coffeehouses that lend themselves to the creative community." Maybe you will see Melinda out and about more this year!  

Marketing & Project Manager Jess Bedford is still in Australia visiting family but she sent me her resolution: "Watch no more than 5 hours of TV a week (so as to have more free time to accomplish some personal goals I've set for myself this year) and do 100 crunches a day."

Talent Manager Maggie Grant: “My resolution is to work on my posture!"

At this midway point in our school holiday, we are hosting a small New Year's eve gathering and the kids are resolved to stay awake till it's midnight even on the West Coast. My resolution is to carve out more time for the hobbies that feed my creativity--knitting and spinning--in 2013. 

Everyone at Artisan Creative wishes you and yours a Happy (and safe) New Year!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

5 Tips for Being a Super Secret Santa

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

5 Tips for Being a Super Secret Santa

It’s that time of year again! In addition to the stress caused by choosing gifts for your family and friends, you’ve also drawn the name of a colleague for the annual office Secret Santa event. What do you get?! 

Luckily, if your company or department honors this covert gift giving tradition, it’s probably a pretty friendly culture already. But if you’re still worried, here are some tips on how to be an effective Secret Santa this year:
  1. Be observant—Although you don’t want to be intrusive, you can get a lot of clues about what your co-workers like from a little observation of their offices or other working space. And if someone else in the office is closer to your recipient, get some advice.
  2. Stay on budget—Secret Santa exchanges usually set a minimum and maximum amount to spend. Even if you get your boss or the CEO, stay within the limits. You don’t want to be the only one who overspent or underspent—both are bad for office politics.
  3. Forget the hierarchy—At holiday time, everyone is on the same level. Buy thoughtfully whether it is for the President or the guy in the mailroom.
  4. No clothes—Just a good rule of thumb. Your idea of someone else’s size or taste could cause hurt feelings unnecessarily.
  5. Don’t regift—Unless there is a traditional novelty gift that gets passed around every year, don’t give what you got last year, even if you never used it. If it’s that bad, give it to a local thrift shop and get something new.
Secret Santa can be fun and ideally is a nice way to give and receive in a large group without breaking the bank. A little thought can go a long way to Secret Santa success, as in everything else!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Elements of Happiness

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Elements of Happiness

What makes us happy at work? Money? Stability? Lack of stress?  Not really, it turns out, but these are elements that we might think of if we were asked. 

A recent article in Forbes talked about the elements of our employment that really impact our happiness and the author was surprised.  Are you?

  1. Autonomy--Having control over what you're doing and when you are doing it is a huge boost to happiness at work.  Whether you are most comfortable having a predictable routine and knowing when you are finished for the day or whether you like to have an individual plan for each day and vary the pattern, having a choice is empowering.  And that empowerment affects your productivity and your work product.
  2. Mastery--When you start a new job, it is such a relief when you finally feel like you have your feet under you. It takes about 90 days. Before that time, there is no reason to be concerned about not quite having it all together.  But after that, when you're trained and acclimated, what makes us happy is continuing to learn, to improve our skills, to bring more innovation to our work. If your employer doesn't offer "continuing education" opportunities, seek them out yourself. It will increase your value--and your happiness--to keep learning.
  3. Purpose--We need to feel that we are contributing to something larger than ourselves.  This is where we can all benefit from thinking like an entrepreneur. Even if you work for a large corporation, if you think of yourself as your own business, everything you do is contributing to a bigger goal. You really aren't just a cog in a machine, you are a living, breathing, growing business. If your employer is committed to giving back, even better. Get involved in community service projects and you will have a higher level of commitment to your job as well.
Your job can be stressful, it can be uncertain, it can even pay less than an ideal salary.  But if you have control over your life, can be actively learning and see a purpose in your work, stress feels more like excitement, uncertainty like spontaneity and even money is less important than making a difference.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Photo by michaelaw, Coffee Smile

Artisan Goes to the Paralympics

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Artisan Goes to the Paralympics

We hope you enjoyed our coverage of our sponsored athlete at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Soren Thompson.  Read our wrapup of that coverage here.

Tomorrow, the 2012 London Paralympic Games kick off and we are sponsoring another fencer, Gerard Moreno, who will be competing in Foil and Saber next week (fencing events take place September 4-8).

We will be blogging about Gerard's bouts and results when he has fenced, but Gerard was kind enough to let me interview him for a pregame blog before he left for London.  He had just returned home from Warsaw where he competed in the Wheelchair Fencing World Cup competition, so that's where we started.

How did you do in Warsaw?

The competition in Warsaw was not one of my best in foil, but better in saber.  I came in 18th in foil, coming back from being 8 touches down but could not finish my opponent off. In saber, I came in 11th losing to the Gold Medalist from the last World Cup in Italy.

How long have you been fencing competitively?

I have been fencing in a wheelchair for 20 years. I used to fence before I was injured on my college Epée team for Cal State L.A.

You compete in both Foil and Saber, how does your training differ between them?

Although they are both right-of-way weapons, the training is definitely different. Foil is a tip scoring weapon and the target is a metal lamé. This means a touch is scored only when the tip of the blade is depressed on the metal vest jacket. 

In Saber, the whole blade is live and everything above the waist is target. The distance between the fencers is also greater in saber than in foil, also the timing in the scoring box is shorter in saber than in foil. 

I train with two different coaches at two different clubs. Misha Itkin for foil at Los Angeles International Fencing Center and Daniel Costin at Avant Garde. The strategy and tactics differ for each weapon and each of my coaches are well renowned in their area of expertise.

Do you compete in team events as well as individually and how is team competition different from individual competition?

I do compete in team events and competing on a team is great fun and high energy. The team event is to 45 touches and each of the 3 member team has three 5 touch bouts. The score can change drastically from bout to bout and usually the strongest member of each opposing team closes the bout. It is a fantastic experience to be part of and very satisfying to win on a team level. 

The best team competition I have been part of was at the Paralympic Games in Sydney against Kuwait to get into the finals in saber. I was the anchor for the team (last bout) and we were down by 7 touches going into the bout 40 to 33. We both scored 4 on each other and the score was 44 to 37. I was in the zone and the crowd was going nuts as the whole venue was watching the bout to see who would enter the finals. I came from behind to score 8 consecutive touches for the team and we won the match. The crowd and my team went crazy, it was one of my best experiences fencing.

That sounds so exciting!  You won a Silver Medal at Nationals this year.  Can you tell us about it?

It was difficult for me as my mother had just passed away a few months before. I was not in my best form and lost in both foil and saber by a few touches. It was the first time I had lost to another class B fencer in many years. This is a sport that is unforgiving as far as training. The fencers that won the Gold very talented and were on their game.

A Silver Medal is an incredible accomplishment, especially at a stressful time in your personal life. What do you do to get into the right frame of mind for big competitions?

I try and get into a meditative state with music, my breathing, concentration and focus. This is paramount to getting into the zone. Being unemotional is critical in keeping sole focus on each touch. There are so many distractions that can take away your concentration and disrupt your thinking that you cannot afford to lose that state of mind. It’s called being in the zone and it is very difficult to achieve. 

How much does international travel affect your preparations and performance?

International travelling is very hard in general, but to compete at your best is extremely difficult. I try and hydrate as much as possible and get enough sleep and good nutrition. I try and acclimate to the new time zone immediately by falling into the proper sleep and waking times. Usually for Europe there is a 9 hour difference, so getting sleep on the plane helps. Jet lag does affect my performance, but I try and minimize the effect by being in good condition and mentally strong.

What was the World Cup competition in Warsaw like?  Was it very different from competing in the US?

The competition was at a very high level, since this was the last World Cup before the Paralympics. There were over 18 different countries there and over 100 wheelchair fencers from all over the world. This competition is also a factor in determining seeding for the pool rounds at the Paralympics. 

Warsaw is one of my favorite World Cups. The venue and hotel are in the same location and the competition is well run. 10 years ago I won my first Bronze medal in Warsaw in saber and maybe that is why I have a special place in my heart for this competition. Competitions in the US are not attended by other countries and the level of competition is not as great.

Have you changed anything about your training or preparation for the Paralympics in particular?

I am very much looking forward to London and have stepped up my training and conditioning. I am fencing 4 times a week and cross training with my hand cycle and free weights. I am on a healthy diet and sleep schedule and am preparing mentally for the games. It’s hard not to get caught up in the hype, but I try and look at it as inspiration for being on the podium. It is my dream to be a Paralympic medalist, preferably Gold. I keep this vision in my mind and simulate the feeling. I firmly believe that the mind creates and manifests thoughts, ideas and goals and the subconscious never stops trying to get there once you have decided the destination.

Since this is your 3rd Paralympic Games, how is this one different?

This Paralympics may be my last and I am looking forward to going out with my best effort. I am relaxed this time around because I know what to expect. I try and not let the pressure affect me because that does not help my cause. I am ranked high in the US, but in the world ranking I am 13th in both saber and foil. This does not mean anything because I feel I can compete and have competed at the same level as the very best, in some cases beating the best in the world in pool rounds. 

I have the ability and talent to be the champion and, in a combat sport, anything is possible. My mind is set and my body is in top condition. Execution, strategy and tactics will be the critical elements in my success.

What is it like to be a world-class athlete?

I have loved every moment of fencing--the good and the bad. One would not appreciate the one without the other. I have had a great career and am looking for the grand finale to be spectacular. There is a large sacrifice that is made to compete at this level in dedication, time and money. My experiences have been incredible and the friends and relationships I have made have been priceless. 

I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to be where I am and am humbled when I look back at my wonderful life as a fencer. One of my favorite sayings is “It’s the journey not the destination."

Thank you so much, Gerard, for talking to me about your experiences!  

I love that Gerard gets so much satisfaction from competing with a team and that visualization is such an important part of his process.  This quote definitely resonates with me and I hope with all creatives: "the mind creates and manifests thoughts, ideas and goals and the subconscious never stops trying to get there once you have decided the destination."

Artisan Creative wishes you all the best in your Paralympic competition, Gerard, for both the journey and the destination--Gold!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Artisan Interviews Olympian Soren Thompson: Part 2

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Artisan Interviews Olympian Soren Thompson: Part 2


The U.S. Fencing Team recently defeated the heavily favored French National Team at the World Championships. The win was the first for the U.S team ever an.d the French team have won this competition every year since 2003. The U.S. team beat the teams from Kazakhstan, Switzerland and Hungary before defeating the French team in Kiev in April.

Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee removes one event from the games each Olympiad and this time Épée fencers will not compete as teams, only as individuals, so this team will not all get to go the Games in London. Ben Bratton, the youngest and latest member to join the team, as we discussed last week, will not get to compete in this Olympiad.

I talked to Soren about competition, the World Championships and how they feel about their whole team not getting to go to London together.

What is it like to have to compete at such a high level in an unfamiliar environment?
There are many challenges to competing around the world. Sometimes we compete in standing venues for the World Cup and those are familiar places. Other times we have to adjust to entirely new environments. Transportation to and from the competition and getting food can be especially hard. We also often have to compete while suffering from jet lag. These are just parts of the sport and experience helps us deal with difficult situations.

Is it important to all be in the same frame of mind going into a match?

Fencing is a highly individual sport—there is only ever one of our team against one of the other team. We have to take responsibility for ourselves and for our own preparation. What we expect from each other is respect for our preparation, a high level of commitment and professionalism. We prepare together by discussing our strategies for each upcoming match and reconvening after a match to discuss what just happened. Win or lose, we always have this closing discussion in order to “put away” the last match so that we can prepare for the next one.

You had to know you were underdogs going into the World Championships. How did that affect your strategies?
Actually, we were the favorites to win the first two bouts, but we don’t consider the rankings going into a match. We consider only who is on our team and who is on the opposing team. We think about how to maximize our strengths and how to minimize those of our opponents, individually and collectively. This approach never changes, no matter the opponents or their ranking.

What is the biggest difference between your team and the French team?
The French training system is the best in the world. The team lives and trains together all the time and has a great deal of funding as well as a dedicated, state-of-the-art facility. Our team is spread out across the U.S. and has to get into a team mindset specifically for each match and our system relies on personal commitment and investment. We are capable of competing with anyone in the world on any given day, but their level of funding and professionalism helps them perform well over an entire season.

To what do you attribute your win most?
Our experience, our preparation and our trust in each other.

How will your World Championship affect the Olympics?

I don’t think it will impact the Olympics very much. We will only have individual competition and in a sense the World Championship was our Olympic Team event. Individual preparation and focus will take precedence of anything that happened in those team matches.

I love Soren’s answer to the penultimate question: experience, preparation and trust are essential to success on any team, in sport, in business, in design, in a family.

If you missed Part 1, you can learn more about how this team came together to win as a team in an individual sport.

 In part 3, we will talk to Soren about his plans for the Olympics and the future.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

3 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Job Hopper

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

3 Ways to Avoid Looking Like a Job Hopper


In today’s tough economic times, many candidates have been employed by companies that eventually closed their doors, were bought out or underwent massive layoffs. Instead of the average two to five year-spans of employment recruiters are used to seeing, resumes of today often list recent work histories as periods of less than a year at multiple companies. You want to list that great experience on your resume, but a long list of roles with a short duration may leave potential employers questioning your loyalty.

How can you demonstrate your commitment to a company, without having to explain your streak of bad luck? Here are some ways to tweak your resume format to accommodate short-term full time jobs or a series of freelance positions as you search for a long-term position:

  1. Change your resume format—Instead of listing all of your work experience chronologically, use themes to bring your information together in a way that shows you at your best. Relevant Experience lets you leave out jobs that don’t apply to the current role. Contract Experience lets you list all of your freelance projects in one section, even if they are not long-term roles individually. Reverse Chronological Order is not the only way to construct a resume. Here are some others.

  2. Leave it out—You don’t have to list every job you’ve had for every company. Instead just include your general responsibilities, companies and brands in separate lists. Then, be prepared to discuss specific accomplishments or projects from your time with each company.

  3. Volunteer—If you’ve been out of work for a while, offer your skills to a non-profit as a volunteer. Those experiences can go on your resume and LinkedIn profile, just as any paid work would. If you have long gaps in your work history these volunteer opportunities can provide recent stories to tell in an interview – where showing passion for a cause or a project can be a great way to sell yourself.
Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


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