Artisan Blog

9 Tech Gadgets to Spruce Up Your Work Desk

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

9 Tech Gadgets to Spruce Up Your Work Desk


The majority of us spend a good chunk of our 8 hour workday sitting at our desk crunching numbers, writing emails, and staring at the screen.  With so much time spent in one spot, why not deck it out with some cool desk gadgets to help spruce up the livelihood of your workspace?

Check out these 9 fun and (mostly) useful tech gadgets to add to your work desk!

Android Humidifier
With the dry winter air just around the corner, you'll want this handy dandy guy around to keep your nose breathing right.  Say Hello to the Android Humidifier and your newest desk buddy!  One fully loaded humidifier works for 10 hours without a mechanical drive, no noise or pollution and low energy consumption.  Bonus plus? Rotate his arms up and it will be like he's cheering you on all day.

Cable Clips
If your desk looks anything like ours, it most likely has a web of wires collecting on the floor waiting for you to untangle when you happen to need one.  Guess what?  There's a very simple solution and extremely affordable fix for that! These adhesive colorful cable clips help keep all your wires organized and ready to use at a moment's notice.  

Desk Cycle
Looking for a way to burn calories and improve your mood while at your desk? You might want to invest in a DeskCycle.  Specifically designed to be used in the work environment with its smooth and quiet operation, this convenient equipment is a great workout alternative for those busy work days where you just can't escape to the gym.

Digital Smart Pen
If you find yourself furiously jotting down every word at meetings or during phone calls, this pen may be the perfect solution.  Livescribe's Echo Smartpen records everything you write and hear, replays your meetings for later review, searches for words within notes, and much more allowing you to actually be present and focused on the meeting at hand.  With Wi-Fi accessibility, this is truly note taking of the 21st Century!

Laser Projection Keyboard
Is there anything wrong with your existing keyboard? Probably not, but how much cooler would your desk look with one of these laser projection virtual keyboards! Compatible with your smart phone, tablet or laptop, this device projects a virtual keyboard onto your flat desk surface through Bluetooth technology allowing for not only more space but a futuristic desk sure to turn a few heads.

Play More Notepad
What this next must-have desk item lacks in tech points, it makes up for in creative inner child glory.  Notepad paper that looks like a sports ball when crumbled up is just pure genius and an awesome way to add some fun into your workspace.  Turn your next brainstorming session into a friendly ball game!

iPhone Handset
Add some retro fun to your desk with this cell phone handset.  Compatible with most phones and tablets, this accessory is both functional, charming and perfect for those who use their cell phone as their main work phone, too. 

Mug Warmer
Keep your cup of coffee or tea warm throughout the day with this small desk size mug warmer.  With a convenient on / off switch, you can enjoy a warm cup of your favorite pick me up any time of the day.  Similarly, run a quick search and you can find a beverage chiller to keep your favorite refreshers cool all day as well.

Office Putty
We can name a handful of things on your desk that are a magnet for dust and small debris.  This cool Cyber Clean Putty squeezes into the most stubborn and small crevices to pull out last week's bagel crumbs and office dog hair to reveal a clean and spotless desk.

Jen Huynh - Recruiter  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

Leadership Lessons from Presidents

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Leadership Lessons from Presidents

Not all of our mentors have to be here in the room, having lunch or networking with us. If we are open to learning, we can find mentors anywhere, even in history. This Presidents’ Week, we thought we would get a little mentoring from some past US Presidents. Turns out they have a lot to teach us about leadership.

Team Building

Abraham Lincoln is well-known for creating a “team of rivals,” making sure that not everyone around him agreed with him. Instead of choosing those he knew shared his views, he chose the very best in their field, whether they agreed with him or not. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in some of those cabinet meetings, but there is no doubt that there was some great brainstorming going on in the Lincoln White House.

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” --Abraham Lincoln

Taking Risks

I’m sure there are Presidents who didn’t take many risks, but funny, I can’t remember which. Whether in bold initiatives, controversial foreign policy or changing the direction of the country, real leaders are memorable for what they try to do, what they are passionate about, what they make others want to join them in trying to accomplish. Playing it safe is not on their list of qualities.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …” 
--Theodore Roosevelt

Being Present

With important and sometimes lifechanging decisions to be made at any moment, Presidents have needed to be able to focus on what is going on right now, deal with it, and move on to the next thing. Leaders are fully present, listening, processing and making choices. Right now, I feel lucky that the choices I have to make are not life or death.

“Come now, let us reason together.” --Lyndon Johnson

Never Giving Up

Throughout history, some people have run around saying “It can’t be done! It will be the end of the world! Too much too fast! We’re not ready!” Great leaders don’t pay attention to naysayers or the fearful. Change is inevitable, though often uncomfortable. Some will always need to be gentled into it, but leaders are right up front, ready and willing--and persistent.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 
--John F. Kennedy

Leadership is difficult and sometimes unpleasant. But when the risks are worthy, when decisions are made with intelligence and expert advice, when the moment is right and we are determined, we can be leaders that everyone will remember.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” --John Quincy Adams

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Savant

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Savant

Whether you’re a hiring manager, a recruiter or simply tasked with hiring new talent, there are various conclusions that we draw in order to determine if someone should be hired for a particular position. Do they have the relevant qualifications? Are they the right cultural fit? Can they lead a team or take direction from a higher authority? It’s important to understand different personality types so that management styles can be tailored in order to get the best out of the person or if you simply just want to hire more people exactly like them.

Artisan recently read some research published by discussing the personality traits of people most likely to succeed in the creative industry and it got us thinking about how their conclusions relate to our candidates, our clients and ourselves. It’s become somewhat fashionable in 2013 to discuss the pros and cons of introverts vs. extroverts, but by looking past the basics, we can begin to understand different personalities and how to utilize this information to our advantage.

Savant is French for “knowing,” which explains why The Savant personality type is a sought-after person within the creative industry. They tend to be incredibly skilled, yet really home in on just a few specialized subjects. Savants are fantastically creative and brilliant, but may struggle with basic math and feel out of place in social situations. By nature, they’re introverted and creatures of habit, often spending hours working independently on a project.

How Do I Identify and Work with The Savant?
  • Establish rapport--Put them at ease. Make them feel comfortable whether in a job interview or a work environment. 
  • Lead the conversation--Ask direct questions about their skills and achievements rather than questions about themselves.
  • Test them--If they’re a developer or a writer, put them to the test and see them flourish.
  • Give praise--The Savant type can grow bored when not pushed or excited about their work but when they do find something they love, they are often their own worst critic. Be sure to show support for their efforts.
Next time you’re hiring new talent or going through an interview process yourself, take some time to understand and recognize personality types. Look out for telltale traits and tailor the surroundings to fit. If you’re a Savant type yourself, focus on your best talents and see just how far you can push your creative potential.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

6 Tips for Better Employee Engagement

Thursday, October 17, 2013

6 Tips for Better Employee Engagement

I once had a boss who was the most enthusiastic person you’ll ever meet. She was always high energy, always excited, always fully present and working hard. During an important and urgent project she could be heard asking everyone, “Isn’t this fun!?

All the time.

Her enthusiasm was definitely infectious and did inspire her team--mostly volunteers--to heights of creativity that none of us could have imagined. We built the Roman Colosseum out of cardboard boxes!

Of course there were times, however, when you really wanted to answer, “Not so much.” We got tired and sometimes what she wanted us to do seemed truly impossible.

She was trying to keep us engaged and most of the time it worked. Here are some of our tips for keeping your team engaged even when they are approaching their burnout point:
  1. Stay in the trenches--All the verbal encouragement in the world falls on deaf ears if you go back in your office and close the door. Leaders are willing to do everything their team is doing and more. Participate.
  2. Listen to suggestions--That fantastic team you have assembled is a font of great ideas. Be flexible and let them make some of the decisions about the project. They will be more invested in its success than if they are just following directions.
  3. Don’t hear whining--You’ll hear it or hear about it, but making a big deal about it won’t help. Block it out. It will pass, especially if you empower your team to implement their own ideas.
  4. Keep calm and carry on--As the team leader, your attitude affects everyone else’s. Make sure you have a good one while you power through the project to completion.
  5. Plan rewards--Your team will cheer those cupcakes or lattes, especially if their energy has passed its peak. Let them have a little party and they will continue on with goodwill.
  6. Say "Thank You!"--Even if your project is in your team's job descriptions, they will appreciate feeling appreciated. Gratitude is always in order.
Any team--or leader--can hit the wall, but you don’t have to fall apart when it happens. Be aware of the dynamics of your team, pay attention to nonverbal cues and the next time you say, “Isn’t this fun?” they just might say, “Yeah!”

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Leadership: They Will Do What You Do

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leadership: They Will Do What You Do

Any parent knows: children learn from what we do much more than from what we say. The same can certainly be said for members of a team under your leadership. You can tell them how you would like them to collaborate, what you want from them in terms of respect for others, or the best way to manage their time, but if you are not modeling the behavior, all that will fall on deaf ears.

Your team is not trying to be difficult or get in the way of your vision, they are listening to the nonverbal instructions you are giving them. So it’s up to you to give them the right ones:
  • Ask for feedback--If you are willing to listen to the insights of your team, they will be willing to listen to yours. If you have hired the right people, they will have valuable information and suggestions to streamline a process or improve a product.
  • Mentor--Develop the talent on your team. Teach them what you know and let them grow. Encourage them to mentor newer team members as well. Developing individual relationships on a team can lead to greater success with brainstorming projects.
  • Be specific--Especially if you have very particular expectations, be clear about what they are and how they could be exceeded. Generalities often result in average outcomes.
  • Be human--There will be times when someone on your team has work/life balance issues for a while or an emergency. Sometimes that person will be you. 
You don’t have to be perfect to be a good leader--you just have to be paying attention. Just like all those people following are.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Dog Days of Summer

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

If you are a dog person, you know the benefits of having a furry companion at home. Dog owners recover more quickly from being sick, suffer less frequently from depression and loneliness, and have a built-in conversation starter. But there are also some benefits to bringing your dog to work or encouraging your employees to do so:

  • Attract and retain quality candidates—A “dog friendly office” is an appealing perk to a job seeker and a tough perk to walk away from once hired.
  • Improved Morale—Dogs don’t just make their owners smile, they increase levels of the brain chemicals that make us happy and calm. Plus they are pretty entertaining!
  • Increased Productivity—Letting dogs come to work will keep your employees at their desks until a project is finished, since they don’t have to be home to walk or feed their pet. Dog owners also miss fewer days of work due to illness.
  • Team Building—Dogs don’t just help you get dates, they also help you build connections with co-workers.
Freelancers are accustomed to having their dogs with them while they work. Full time employees would love to have the same opportunity to bring a little bit of home with them to the office. Have you ever worked for a dog-friendly company? We would love to hear about it! And have a terrific Take Your Dog to Work Day on Friday, June 21st!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

7 Interview Questions Every Employer Should Ask

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Whether you’re a veteran interviewer or hiring your first employee, you’ll probably agree that the interview is the most important part of the recruitment process. Therefore it’s critical to ask the right questions. While our version of the Proust Questionnaire offers a few out of the box questions (designed in some cases to stump potential employees or just see how creative they can be), here are a few of the more typical questions every interviewer should be asking:

  1. Tell me about yourself. – This type of open-ended question is a great way to start your interview and put your candidate at ease. It should be easy to talk about yourself! It also gives you an opportunity to witness both confidence and communication skills first hand.

  2. Describe a time when something went wrong at work and how you dealt with it. - This question is ideal for learning about how your potential hire will handle the pressures of life and conflict in your office. Answers here also demonstrate problem solving skills and culture fit.

  3. How would your boss describe you? – This is a great way to ask the “strengths” and “weaknesses” question without actually asking it. It also provides some insight into how your working relationship with the potential talent might be. Does the answer describe a person that would fit well within your organization?

  4. What role do you usually play in a team? - The answer to this question should compliment the answer previously – is the way your coworkers see you the way you actually perform in your company? This question also provides insight on personality and autonomy.

  5. Where do you see yourself in five years? – The perfect question for uncovering candidate motivations, answers help determine whether your company and the opportunity presented are a good fit for the interviewee. Will they still be with your team in five years or will they quickly outgrow your department or company?

  6. Tell me about a favorite project you worked on and why it’s your favorite.Resumes offer a list of responsibilities and accomplishments. Answers to this question should reveal the story behind the bullet points, the passion for the project and the genuine interest for the work. If any of these are missing, perhaps the interviewee is in the wrong business.

  7. Do you have any questions for me? - This is the perfect way to “end” an interview as you turn the tables, engaging the talent to then interview you. Not only does it demonstrate your company’s appreciation for open dialogue, but also lets you know whether the potential job seeker is definitely interested. If they answer “no” – then they are probably not the best fit.
Is there a question you like to ask during interviews? Why do you ask it? Share with us in the comments below.

Jessica Bedford, Account Manager

Managing Time Wasting Managers

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Managing Time Wasting Managers

You’re humming along, checking things off your to-do list, confident that you will accomplish all of your goals for the day and then—screech! Your productive day comes to a halt.

Your manager has interrupted you. And your flow.

Hopefully, your manager has an important idea to discuss, practical suggestion to make or new solution to recommend. By stopping to review them together, you could ultimately make your day even more productive.

However, some managers just don’t know when to leave you alone to finish your work. They often find a few different ways of stopping you in your tracks. The key is knowing how your manager could try to derail you and, more importantly, how to manage the situation so you can maintain your workflow, productivity and a successful relationship.

  • Email—Some managers have to send an email about everything that crosses their minds. Although you cannot ignore their missives forever, you can wait until a designated time (either after your current project or when you’re ready for a break) to respond to several of these comments together. 
  • At the door—Other managers will check in on you too often. Greet her with a smile, tell her how it’s going. Ask her if you can have a little while to finish and you will come to her office, and then be sure to stop by later.
  • Offering encouragement—We all like some cheering on at times, but when it is just an interruption, encouragement can be, well, discouraging. “Isn’t this fun?!” can definitely get on your nerves after a while. Answer with enthusiasm and put your manager at his ease. After all, he’s really just trying to make sure you’re okay.
  • Stop doing that and do this—Managers who are always in emergency mode can make it hard to complete a project - since their priorities seem to change every few minutes. Talk to her about how long the current task will take and when you can start the next one. Stay calm and breathe. Maintain your cool and don’t join in the panic.
Everyone does these things occasionally. And sometimes we do need to be interrupted for important reasons. But if your manager exhibits one of these behaviors often, it is a good idea to have a plan in place so that you can still achieve what you set out to achieve during your workday.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

4 Tips for Developing Great Managers

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

4 Tips for Developing Great Managers

Photo by svilen001 via stock.xchng

A company’s most valuable—and most expensive—asset is its talent. Finding, hiring, and training that talent are all important and no organization could exist without those things. But when you have that creative talent on board and working, you want to keep them happy, keep them growing and keep increasing their value. Here are some ways to develop your managers as well as your talent:

  1. Offer Rewards--We hope you are rewarding your talent for productivity gains and reaching sales quotas, but consider rewarding your managers for their talent management successes. A great boss will keep your talent productive and creative and if your managers are making an effort to be outstanding leaders, make sure they know you know it.
  2. Create Mentors--In marketing, you are always analyzing what is working and dropping what is not. You can do the same with your managers. Develop evaluation tools and pair up your talented leaders with less experienced managers to make sure that what is working internally infuses your culture.
  3. Provide Training--As many as 40% of managers are defined by their employees as “bad” or worse bosses. Those employees are thinking about finding a new role. But turnover is not inevitable. Even experienced managers can benefit from some training in talent management. 
  4. Consider the Consequences--If you think you need to consolidate your team, be sure you have carefully thought about the unintended consequences of piling one more job on that overworked assistant, giving that account manager 3 more clients or crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Cost is only one consideration in successful talent management. Make sure you know what the benefit will be. Your amazing team could be one straw away from falling apart.
Turnover can be painfully expensive and affects your entire culture. Effective talent management can help your company avoid it.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


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