Artisan Blog

Does a Huddle Help?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Does a Huddle Help?


Several years ago when we took our company virtual, we were initially concerned with losing that face to face connection. For a small company back in 2009, IM, dial in conference calls, and Skype were the tools we had access to. Knowing the importance of keeping our personal connections dynamic, we tried a lot of different communication tools over the years, and settled on Zoom, and we still use IM for the quick inquiries. So while the distances between our team members was a lot farther than the offices we used to occupy, the concept of daily short huddles and 3x a week more in depth huddles, remained intact.

The above image was taken at a sports event using teenage volunteers. One can easily differentiate between those that are paying attention, vs. those that had other things, (such as lunch) on their minds. Even in face to face huddles, distractions are commonplace.

Earlier this week, while waiting for my turn to go through the airport body scanner at 5:00 am, I looked over to my right and saw a TSA group doing their morning huddle. I’m sure they’ve done hundreds of these on a regular basis, yet you could sense that each one knew this huddle was important. Somehow I didn't think I should photograph this group.

What I took away from observing these two huddles:

    Huddles create connection
    All teams use them in some form
    They allow the leader to set the tone
    Huddles create a quick forum to review the plan for the day/event/competition
    Huddles block out noise and help bring focus inward to what the leader/coach is saying

During your huddles:

    Create a pulse check, are they present or not
    Ask what each person will do next to bring the team closer to goal
    Have an accountability check-in
    Just a few minutes is all that’s needed

Post event huddles

    Allow the team to redirect and recalibrate
    Ask what worked and what didn't for that day
    Set the expectations for the next one

How do you huddle with your teams? What tools do you use? Can you share a success with huddles you’ve participated in?


Jamie Douraghy - Founder at Artisan Creative

5 Online Courses to Make You More Marketable to Employers

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Online Courses to Make You More Marketable to Employers


At Artisan we’re big fans of self-improvement and learning new skills which is why we’ve put together a list of our favorite online resources to expand your knowledge and make you more marketable to future employers.

Online courses are a perfect way to hone existing skills and build new ones if you don’t have the time or the money to do in-person workshops and lessons. The important thing to remember with online courses and discussing these with potential employers is that you must demonstrate how you used your newly-acquired skills e.g. “after learning X I then went on to create YZ.” Show that you can learn something on your own initiative and then apply it to something else. 

There aren’t many jobs we can think of in our industry that don’t require exposure to Excel at some point. While some may work in Excel day in and day out, if you don’t use it too often you can become rusty. “But I don’t use Excel!” we hear you scream. At some point, you probably will and nothing will win your employer over more than having someone on their team who can navigate their way around. Excel Is Fun is a comprehensive YouTube channel with over 2000 tutorials and clips led by Mike “excelisfun” Girvin, a business instructor. There’s also Reddit’s creation, Excel Exposure and Chandoo with extensive tutorials and advice.

Web Design
Udemy’s Introduction to Design course aims to teach you design principles and take you further than just using Photoshop. It’s free and includes over 12 lectures to bring you up to speed on design basics. If you want to take it one step further try Alison’s Applying Design Principles which is a more in-depth look at design including production and colors.

Learning languages doesn’t have to be about classrooms and textbooks when you have companies like Duolingo and Memrise. They both make language learning fun and entertaining by working with the theory that if you repeatedly learn, repeat and memorize a word, it will eventually stick. If you’ve just started working with a new client who is based in Europe, try impressing them on your next status call with your new-found vocabulary.

If you work in design, Photoshop should be second nature to you but perhaps you’re moving into a more creative role or you need to start file checking or updating documents. For just $19 you can take a 30+ hour course on Photoshop. This course aims to teach you the basics and beyond. If you’re looking for free courses, Adobe also offers a 13 hour introduction on how to quickly master Photoshop which we’re particularly fond of.

There are a huge amount of online courses for programming, it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’re looking to move into a pure development role, it’s best to look at intensive courses where you can be hands-on but if you’re wanting to expand your understanding and come to terms with the more technical side, an introductory course can be helpful. Code School is an interactive way to learn front end development. They teach you by doing, so you’re not just watching online tutorials but you’re putting what you learn into practice via lesson plans and coding challenges. They cover HTML, CSS, Responsive Design and much more. We also recommend Team Treehouse, too. With a beautiful interface and easy-to-understand modules, learning programming languages has never been easier.

Have you tried online courses before? Which of these courses is the most useful to you?


Laura Pell - Artisan Creative


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 


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