Artisan Blog

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


Fun in Freelancing

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Fun in Freelancing

There are lots of positives about being a freelance creative, but one that often gets overlooked is the fun of starting something new in a new place more often than people with permanent jobs. If you can look beyond the anxiety inherent in lots of “first days,” you can appreciate the great things about new starts:

Make connections--Like to make new friends and network? Short-term freelance jobs let you meet new people often and show them what you can do. You can never meet too many people, especially in your field.

Learn something new--Every project has unique challenges. Embrace them and you can keep learning throughout your career.

Explore neighborhoods--When you work in the same place for a long time, you can get comfortable, but you can also get bored. Ask one of your new friends to walk around with you on your lunch breaks for a few days. You never know what you might find.

Discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or park isn’t the only perk to that walk. We came across a study from Stanford University this week that showed that “walking boosts creative inspiration” by as much as 60%. 

So, when you start that new freelance gig, don’t be shy about walking around on breaks or at lunch. Ask your co-workers for the best places in the area to eat or read. Find outdoor spaces you’ve never seen before. You might find yourself an expert on parts of your city no one you know has ever seen, and you might also find it makes you more creative and more successful.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


5 Job Search Tips for Graduates

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

5 Job Search Tips for Graduates

Getting graduation announcements in the mail these days? All of those newly-minted diploma holders are about to enter the workforce in droves and the job search environment is still in a tenuous recovery. Here are some of our tips for landing that first job after graduation:

Think long-term: Your short-term goal is to get a job, but don’t neglect to think about where you want to be next year, five or even ten years from now. You can’t make a solid plan, but you can figure out some routes and take your first steps along one or more of them.

Get in touch: Now is when you should be connecting with friends you made in classes ahead of yours in college or graduate students who have moved out of academia and adding them to your network, not to mention letting anyone you worked with as an intern during school know that you are ready for the job market.

Set up informational interviews: Ask your parents’ friends and colleagues and anyone else you can think of. They really are a way into the hidden job market.

Keep learning: Yes, you just finished school, but your education doesn’t end there. Read the latest books in your field, take a class. Whatever you learn now will make a great interview topic.

Practice interviewing: Most likely, you’ve never taken a course called Job Interviewing 101. Get together with other recent graduate friends and do some mock interviews, critique each other’s stories and get into the zone. Here are some great questions for practice.

If your job search takes longer than you would like, you're not alone. Find a non-profit organization you are passionate about and offer your skills as a volunteer. Volunteering keeps you busy, keeps your skills up-to-date, gives you great networking opportunities, provides you with stories to tell about your summer, and may even lead to a paying job.

Congratulations on a great achievement! Now get out there!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Distractions Can Be a Good Thing

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Distractions Can Be a Good Thing

Are you easily distracted? Distractions can work for us--or against us, depending on what we are trying to accomplish and what kind of distractions they are. Here are some pros and cons of distractions and some ways to use them to your advantage:

Your Smartphone:

Notifications interrupt you all day long--Facebook messages, emails from co-workers, texts from your spouse, requests from your manager.

Pros: The communications you receive during your work day from team members, colleagues and managers may be interruptions that clarify the project you are working on or improve collaboration. They could also offer valuable suggestions. These interruptions could improve productivity, rather than damage it.

Cons: Off-topic notifications can disrupt your work flow for no good reason.

Solution: Consider turning off notifications from social media during working hours and let your friends and family know that you will get back to them when you take a break (you are taking breaks, right?). Set up an emergency code with your spouse and children for things that need to be taken care of immediately and let the rest of the personal communications wait a little while.

Email:

An email might be urgent to the sender but not to you.

Pros: Email is a great timesaver--no need to walk over to your colleague’s office to chat about your project every few minutes, email also keeps a good written record for later evaluation of your process.

Cons: All of our Inboxes are filled with emails we will never read or can read after the workday is over. But if we see them, we will click on them.

Solution: Spend some serious time creating filters for your Inbox so that you will see the emails that you need to see right away, but only see the less important missives when you have time to choose.

Wandering Thoughts:

Can't help them, but you can stop beating yourself up about them.

Pros: Letting your mind wander can lead to creative ideas that might never have occurred to you if you were plugging along, trying to stay on task.

Cons: Letting your mind wander for too long can make you miss your deadline.

Solution: Schedule break times during your workday. Read 10 pages of a novel. Think about what you want to make for dinner. Give yourself time to let your project marinate in the back of your mind instead of the front. You might come up with something truly innovative on that wandering path.

Welcoming distractions is counter-intuitive. Focus is easier to see as a positive. But if you embrace the distractions that work for you, it might improve your work product--and your productivity!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Coming in Second

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Coming in Second

Does coming in second feel like failure? It shouldn’t--but sometimes it does. Psychology Today recently wrote about how people react to getting a Silver Medal in the Olympics and I spent last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with over a hundred teenage performers who ended the weekend as First Runners Up with remarkable nonchalance. There are many people, however, who torment themselves with the “what ifs” and have a hard time with just missing that brass ring.

It happens in job searches and at work, where we can be a hiring manager’s second choice or be second in line for that promotion. Coming in second can feel like failure--so close and yet so far.

What many of us do when we come close to winning is imagine what would have happened if we had done something differently. Psychology Today calls it “counterfactual thinking.” The “what if” scenarios imagined by Third Place winners are generally positive, but those of the Second Place finishers are more negative, even though they were clearly almost at the very top of their field.

Counterfactual thinking can be helpful after a near miss since it helps us come up with alternative behaviors or better choices we might make next time out. Perhaps it was one of your interview questions or answers that made the difference, or something about your presentation which was was less than stellar.

The trick is to make sure you also think about what definitely worked in your favor. Don’t forget to praise yourself for that story you told exactly the way you wanted to, the research you did about the company that surprised the hiring manager, and the relationships you started building with the people you met. It is all too easy to focus on the mistakes you think you may have made, rather than the things you did well.

The high school students I was with last weekend know that they did as amazing a performance as they could possibly have done and their First Runner Up was not because they didn’t do their very best work, so they can be proud regardless of their placement. They have no regrets. There is no shame in coming in second. Making the choice to see it as a top-tier finish will set you up well for your next opportunity to shine.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

(Of course, the photo is from a competition where they were Grand Champions!)


Spring Cleaning Your LinkedIn Profile

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Spring Cleaning Your LinkedIn Profile

Spring is here even in colder climates and it’s time to clean out your LinkedIn Profile as well as your closet. You should be revising your resume every quarter, listing new accomplishments and adding job responsibilities, volunteer experience and of course proofreading again. Your LinkedIn Profile could probably also use a fresh eye.

Summary

Make sure your summary reflects what you are passionate about now, not what you were doing last year. If your focus has changed, it’s time to rewrite.

Files

LinkedIn lets us add files, photos and videos so if you have some more current writing samples or other work product, post it now.

Experience

Freelancers have probably worked for new clients in the last few months. Make sure you add those clients to your experience on LinkedIn and your resume.

Skills

Added anything to your skillset this winter? Add it to your list. When you add skills to your list, your connections can give you new endorsements. And if you haven’t learned anything new lately, go do that!

Connections

Take a few minutes to send invitations to the people you’ve met over the winter. They will be happy to have some fresh faces in their connections, too.

Landing a new job isn’t the only time to revise your LinkedIn Profile, and it is easy to let it get stale. Open the windows and shake out the dust!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Feeling Lucky? Pass it on!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Feeling Lucky? Pass it on!

There are probably people in your network who are on a job search and you are probably helping them. You have endorsed them on LinkedIn or even written them a recommendation, if you have worked with them in their field. You have introduced them to the people you know at their target companies. When they land, you will be part of why they were successful.


Those people are lucky to have you and they know it.

There are probably also people in your network who are in a field you have no connection with, who are friends rather than work colleagues, who are targeting companies you’ve never heard of. What can you do improve their luck, too?

Be uplifting - Your friend’s self-talk is most likely critical and second guessing. The best thing you can do is not add to it, even if you think he could do better. Find out what he feels is working and encourage more of that.

Do what you can - Even if you know nothing about and no one in your friend’s field, you can proofread her resume or cover letter, help research target companies, and brainstorm strategies for her search.

Network together - Networking events are never a waste of time and they are much more fun with a friend. If you go to his, he’ll go to yours. And follow up if you meet anyone interesting.

Raise awareness - When you hear your friend being negative, point it out. We often don’t realize that we are talking ourselves down and only remembering the bad moments.

Practice - The secret to great job interviews is good preparation and you don’t need to be in your friend’s industry to help her refine her answers to common interview questions.

Luck can play a role in landing a new job, but you have to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset and always ready to bring your A game. We can all help each other with that.

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


Artist or Artisan

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Artist or Artisan

Are you an artist or an artisan? Many people are very emotional about how their work is referred to and there are aspects of both for the talent we place at Artisan Creative. As a craftsperson as well as a creative myself, I have thought about it from both points of view.

An “artisan” is traditionally known as someone who uses creativity to make something useful. Ideally those creations are also beautiful, show innovative design and function exceptionally well. Are they making art?

An “artist,” on the other hand, creates for pure aesthetics, pure emotions, to make us feel, rather than use. Is art useful?

At their very best, both artists and artisans achieve the goals of the other. When we use a well-designed tool--whether it be a website, a piece of furniture or a skein of yarn--we recognize the beauty in it. We feel its rightness. We enjoy its aesthetic. We create through it for ourselves and others.

When we observe and interact with art, it inspires us to create, to innovate, to help others to feel. We also interact with each other differently, creating relationships based on our shared responses.

To me, artist and artisan are the same, when talent is used to its best potential. We use art to change ourselves and our relationships. We are inspired by using what artisans produce. There is beauty and purity in all good design.

Do you consider yourself an artist or an artisan? How do you define your work?

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.

Experience

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.

Flexibility

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.

Environmentalism

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.

Healthcare

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



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