Artisan Blog

Messy Desk? Congratulations!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Messy Desk? Congratulations!

I have a confession to make. Clutter does not bother me. Which is a good thing, considering I share my workspace with 2 teenagers, 2 dogs, a cat and a spouse. Luckily, dogs take naps, teens go to school and my spouse goes to work elsewhere, but they do leave behind enough clutter to drive anyone else crazy.

A recent study we read about in Pacific Standard Magazine discovered that I may not have to clean the house before I finish this post:

“‘Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” a team of researchers led by the University of Minnesota’s Kathleen Vohs writes in the journal Psychological Science. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.’”

The study used the challenge of having to find something innovative to do with ping-pong balls while working in a neat room or a messy room. The messy room subjects and the neat room subjects came up with the same number of ideas, but the messy room folks’ ideas were more innovative.

You might have noticed that we like these kinds of studies: what makes people more creative or helps them get past creative blocks. Of course, we are all different and have our individual preferences. If you need a tidy space before your ideas can flow, plan time to tidy up before you sit down to work on that project so the clutter doesn’t get in the way. But if you’re okay with a little chaos in your workspace, you might come up with better ideas.

The bottom line is know yourself. Your process is yours--own it. And try to be tolerant of colleagues and co-workers who have different preferences. The person in the cubicle next to you might need all those post-it notes on the walls to help her to think outside the cube.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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

Laura's Report from Website Weekend

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Laura's Report from Website Weekend

Tucked away in the center of China Town you will find Kleverdog Coworking, a shared office space for LA’s creative industry. This weekend it was home to Website Weekend LA, who were hosting their very first event – a hackathon dedicated to creating websites for non-profit organizations around LA. Always one to give back to the community, Artisan Creative sponsored the weekend and went to see the volunteers in action.

Speaking with one of the non-profits, Jonathan Skurnik, we talked about the importance of needing a website re-designed to increase coverage for such an important topic. “The Youth and Gender Media Project contains five films shown in communities around America aiming to improve inclusivity and train teachers, parents and students about how schools can be more tolerant towards students who are bullied.” Jonathan needed help with getting the message out there, so Website Weekend volunteers worked closely with him and presented ideas to build him the site that he needs to get that message across.

At Artisan, it’s vital to us that we give back to the community in some way. We’re active within the non-profit space, LA’s creative industry and as individuals; we try to do what we can. So how do you decide whether you want to give back and why is it so important

Skills: Not only do you get to help out with local organizations, it’s also a great place to acquire new skills and build upon existing ones. If you’re a designer, a developer or say, a project manager, there’s no better place to learn from new people and have new experiences when you’re choosing to help out. 

Career Advancement: Impress future employees by showcasing volunteer work. If you’re applying for jobs in a competitive market, there’s no better way to stand out than by having additional work experience. It’s also a great way to change career paths – if you’re struggling to get into a particular industry, try volunteering in order to get some relevant experience beforehand.

Networking: Volunteering is a great place to meet new people from all industries. Take the time to get to know people you’re working with – not only will you make great friends; you’ll also make some great connections.

Rewarding: The impact that volunteering has on your community is a positive and worthwhile cause. Find a cause that utilizes your existing skills and is also fun for you; see how rewarding you find it.

Website Weekend was founded by Natalie MacLees who is involved with multiple UX and tech meet-ups around the city. Thanks to Natalie, non-profit organizations that previously had no online presence can now have a whole team dedicated to building, designing and then teaching how to update and navigate their new site. 

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

5 Tips for Your First Day

Thursday, September 05, 2013

5 Tips for Your First Day

Students of all ages have gone back to school in the last couple of weeks, their backpacks full of new pencils, blank paper, and uncracked textbooks and their stomachs full of butterflies.

Sound familiar?

Your first day on a new job is similar to the first day of school. You will have a new teacher training you on company policies; you will meet new people that will be your companions for what may be the rest of your career; you will make first impressions that may be hard to throw off later and so will your colleagues. Here are some tips for making sure your first day of work is only the first of many great ones:
  1. Get Some Sleep--The night before might be tough, but try to get some extra rest in the week or so before you start your new job. The more sleep you get the week before, the less that last sleepless night with affect your transition.
  2. Eat--Have a good breakfast. You might have a hard time taking a lunch break on your first day so fuel up. And bring a sack lunch just in case all you can find is a few minutes between meetings. There’s no way to predict the schedule.
  3. Take Notes--There is just no way you will remember everything you hear today, especially names.
  4. Ask Questions--It’s true: there is no such thing as a stupid question the first day of a new job. But you can feel stupid walking into a broom closet instead of the restroom.
  5. Help Out--You may not have any responsibilities on your first day other than getting your bearings, but if you find yourself with nothing to do, offer your assistance. You might make a friend and you will definitely make someone’s day.
It takes 90 days or so to really know your way around a new job and feel comfortable. Don’t put pressure on yourself to know how everything works the first day, week or even month. It will happen if you listen actively, participate enthusiastically and take care of yourself. Sounds like good advice for a student, too!

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

Reflections: Being Inspiring

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reflections: Being Inspiring

Image by munibren via stock.xchng

As creatives, we know that inspiration sometimes strikes when we need it and sometimes it stays away. There are days when we can’t write down our ideas as fast as they come to us and days when we sit staring at the screen, the sketchbook, the canvas, wondering if we will ever have another original thought.

Whether it is getting out into nature, listening to music, exercising or practicing a hobby for a while, most of us have techniques we use to refresh our well of creativity. But today’s topic is being inspiring, not being inspired. So let’s turn it around a bit. When a co-worker or a collaborator is in need of some inspiration, try some of these techniques to help them out of a rut:

  • Ask questions--Explaining what the challenge is may help your colleague find a way around it. Take the opportunity to brainstorm about it together.
  • Use positive language--Friends need someone to listen when they need to vent, but the language we use about a creative block can help it to break up or build it into a seemingly impregnable wall. Help your friend make a list of what’s good about the project so far and stop judging herself for not having solved everything yet.
  • Be enthusiastic--Genuine delight is contagious. Be generous with it.
  • Try your strategies on them--Take your struggling friend for a walk outside. Share an inspiring playlist or inspirational quote. Send them a link to an amazing photo or painting. 

Help a friend experiencing a creative block and you can be the difference between a good day and a bad one. Pablo Picasso said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” Be the inspiration; don’t just wait for it to hit.

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

What We Learned from Our Olympians

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What We Learned from Our Olympians

There are still 6 days left of Olympic events and plenty more to watch.  Right now we are watching the US Women's Volleyball Team in their Quarterfinal match against the Dominican Republic and it is very exciting!

However, our very favorite sport, Fencing, has finished all of its events and so the Artisan Blog is going to soon go back to our regular topics: entrepreneurship, freelancing, job search and how to find the perfect talent. We learned a lot about fencing--and about determination--watching the events and we would like to share that with you.

Our Fencing team did not do as well as they wanted, certainly, but they did accomplish a lot, especially against teams which have had successful training programs for decades longer than the US team.

But there were some incredible moments!

The Women's Epee Team won the Bronze Medal!  Go, ladies!

In Men's Individual Epee, Seth Kelsey defeated the #1 seed in his Round of 16 and finished 4th overall, congratulations on a heroic effort, Seth!

We are very proud and happy to have sponsored US Epee Fencer Soren Thompson in this Olympic Games and salute his achievement, his commitment and the inspiration he brings to all of us to work hard, be prepared and do our very best!  

I came across this video asking the US Olympic Fencing Team for the best advice they ever gave or got and their answers apply to anything challenging that any of us might attempt.  Please take a few minutes to learn from these amazing athletes!

  • Set a high bar and believe in yourself
  • Take it one touch at a time
  • Keep your head down and keep working hard
  • Strive for success and have fun
  • Learn to take a loss and find a way to make it into a positive
  • Trust yourself and take responsibility for what you need to do
  • Work on the process
  • Enjoy it or you won't be as creative
  • When you are at a low point, there is always a high point coming

These pieces of advice are good for any endeavor, whether starting a business, learning a skill or fulfilling your role with a company.  

Congratulations to all Olympic Athletes from around the world!  See you in Rio!

And we just won the volleyball!!  Congratulations, Team USA!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

UPDATE: Artisan Interviews Olympian Soren Thompson, Part 3

Thursday, August 02, 2012

UPDATE: Artisan Interviews Olympian Soren Thompson, Part 3


In Part 3 of our pre-Olympic interview with Soren Thompson, we talked to him about preparation for the actual Games.  Soren's competition is over and unfortunately he did not win a Medal this Olympiad, but we congratulate him and his teammates for the incredible effort, their determination and their commitment and hope to see them again in 2016 in Rio!

It has been very exciting to have had a chance to get to know one of these amazing athletes!

Soren Thompson is being sponsored by Artisan Creative for the London Olympic Games which begin in July. We finished our interview by discussing Soren’s plans forthe Olympics in London.

You still have a couple of months before the Olympics. What are you doing now to prepare?
Right now, I am in the midst of daily training for the Olympics. I manage and control my own training with the help of a variety of trainers. I am also focused on rehabbing an injury. I have two competitions before London, The American Zonal Championships in Cancun, Mexico and the last World Cup event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Both of those events count toward Olympic seeding. The entire month of July will be spent getting ready for London.

As an Olympic veteran, does this Olympics feel different from previous competitions?
I think I have a better sense of what I need and what I want to do than in previous year. During my other Olympic cycles, I was much more focused on the team event because the Games had a team component. Since I will only be competing individually this year, I can really draw on my experience to do exactly what I feel I need until the Games.

What can we expect to see as you compete?
I plan on being as prepared as possible for this Olympics, so presumably my very best fencing will be on display in all my matches. I plan on bringing great physical and mental preparation to my competition.

Well, I don’t know about you, but my DVR is going to be set for all of Soren’s matches in London and I’m sure you join me in wishing him all the best in this exciting competition. It’s been fascinating to get an inside look at what it takes to be an Olympian and to learn that the same elements of success apply in his work and our own.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

P.S.  Did you miss the first part of our interview with Soren?  Don't forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2?


Liveblog: Men's Epee at the 2012 Olympic Games

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Liveblog: Men's Epee at the 2012 Olympic Games

Good morning! 

The Round of 32 began at about 1:00am PST with American fencers facing opponents from China and Germany. Soren Thompson was seeded No. 11 and his teammate Seth Kelsey was seeded No. 17 before the round began.  

Seth Kelsey drew Chinese fencer Li Guojie knowing that if he won the match, he would face World Champion Nikolai Novosjolov of Estonia in the Round of 16.  Novosjolov did not have to compete in the Round of 32.

Soren Thompson drew German Joerg Fiedler who was seeded No. 22, but had been No. 2 in the world in 2011 and 2010.  The German's 2012 competition has been "lackluster" according to NBC which led to his being seeded so low at the Olympic Games.  

Remember the Olympic Creed? 

"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 essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." 

Our favorite Olympian Soren Thompson fought well, struggled and unfortunately was defeated by his German opponent.  We hope you join us in congratulating him on taking part, on making his very best effort and on being a great example of an Olympian.  We also hope to see him again in 2016 in Rio!

Seth Kelsey will be our focus for the rest of today.  Seth defeated his opponent from China and moved on to No. 1 seed Nikolai Novosjolov.  Needless to say, Seth was an underdog in this Round of 16 match.  

Seth defeated Novosjolov 15-11 in the Round of 16 and moved on to the Quarter-Finals!

When I woke up this morning, Seth's Quarter-Final match was on TV live, which I did not expect.  It was a replay, but because they are covering Mariel Zagunis (2008 Gold Medalist, Women's Sabre), it was a great time to replay Seth's match, especially since he was not really expected to advance against the World Champion. 

I think Seth is going to get a lot more coverage today, too!

Why?  Because he won his Quarter-Final match against Silvio Fernandez of Venezuela 15-9 and moves on to the Semi-Finals, 1 win away from an Olympic medal.  I will have some biographical information on Seth for my update at 9am.

We hope you will come back at 9:30 PST for our liveblog of the rest of the Men's Epee competition!

This is so exciting!

07:54 PST Mariel Zagunis advances to the Women's Sabre Semi-Final in a fantastic match!  She is definitely having a great day!

08:15 PST Dagmara Wozniak defeated in her Quarter-final Sabre match, but she came back strong at the end, it was very close. Great match Dagmara!

09:16 PST Almost time for the Men's Epee Semi's!

09:30 PST Seth Kelsey vs. Limardo Gascon of Venezuela Seth scored a hit!

09:34 PST Tied 2-2

09:37 PST This takes a lot longer than Sabre!

09:38 PST Straight to the 3rd period due to noncombativity!

09:39 PST Limardo goes ahead by 1

09:40 PST Tied 3-3

09:40 PST Tied 4-4  Yikes!

09:41 PST Kelsey drawn in by Limardo, VZ by 1, one minute to go!

09:24 PST Tied 5-5

09:43 PST Going to sudden death!

09:44 PST Limardo Gascon goes to the Gold Medal Round, Kelsey will hope for a Bronze.

09:45 PST Fantastic effort from Seth Kelsey who kept it tied up until sudden death!

Back in 15 minutes for the other Semifinal match!

10:01 PST Piasecki of Norway vs. Jung of Korea, Piasecki ahead by 1

10:03 PST Tied 2-2, simultaneous hits score for both in Epee

10:04 PST Another double hit, Tied 3-3

10:05 PST Tied 4-4

10:06 PST Another double hit 5-5

First period time is up.

10:08 PST Piasecki up 7-6

10:09 PST Piasecki up 8-6

10:10 PST Jung scores, Piasecki by 1

10:10 PST Tied 8-8

10:11 PST Jung takes the lead, 9-8

10:11 PST Piasecki ahead 10-9

10:13 PST Tied 10-10, they conspired to waste a few seconds to get a break for water, that was funny!

10:15 PST 12-11 Piasecki, getting close to 15!

10:16 PST 14-11 Piasecki, one hit from a medal!

10:17 PST Jung scores a hit 14-12

10:17 PST Jung again, 14-13

10:18 PST PIASECKI WINS! He will fence Limardo Gascon of Venezuela!

Seth Kelsey will fence Jung for the Bronze!

Back later with the Medal Rounds!

Hi, again!  No Norwegian and no Venezuelan have ever medaled in Epee so whatever the result, it will be a historic event!

They are starting with the Bronze Medal match in just a moment, between American Seth Kelsey and Jinsun Jung of Korea.

11:11 PST Double score, 1-1

11:12 PST Epee was a dueling weapon.  Another double score, 2-2

11:13 PST Jung ahead, 3-2

11:14 PST Jung ahead 4-3

11:15 PST In Epee, the whole body is a target.  Time called.

11:16 PST Jung, 5-3

11:17 PST Double hit, 6-4

11:18 PST Kelsey coming back 6-5

11:19 PST Back to Jung 2 up, 7-5

11:20 PST Kelsey got a hit, Jung 7-6

11:21 PST Jung, 8-7 on a double hit

Break at 8-7, Jung.  This is exciting!  In that last point, I swear Kelsey would have been decapitated in a real old time fight!

Final period starting now.

11:24 PST 9-8 on a double hit

11:25 PST Get in there, Seth! Love his yellow shoes! Another double hit, 10-9.  Those are fine till you get close to 15.

11:27 PST Kelsey tied it up!  11-11

11:27 PST 22 seconds left.  Nailbiting time!  1 Priority Minute, priority to Kelsey!

11:28 PST Double hit!  No points!

11:29 PST Another double! 

11:30 PST Jung defeats Kelsey. Well, he was definitely the underdog, but I wish we were competing as a tam. The US Team are currently World Champions in Epee.  Congratulations to Jung and Korea on the Bronze!

A lot of upsets today, Mariel Zunigas also lost the Bronze Medal Round in Sabre.  But we are back to cover the Men's Epee Final between Norway and Venezuela!

12:03 PST The Norwegian is 6'5", the Venezuelan is 5'9"

12:04 PST Piasecki takes the first point

12:04 PST Tied at 1-1

12:05 PST Piasecki, 2-1

12:06 PST 2-2

12:06 PST Limardo-Gascon takes the lead 3-2

12:07 PST Double hit, everyone gets a point

12:08 PST Break, end of period.

12:09 PST Still 4-3 at the start of the 2nd period.  Limardo-Gascon gets a hit!  5-3

12:10 PST A historic win for either country.  Who will it be? Limardo up 6-3

12:11 PST Limardo with another point, 7-3

12:12 PST Five unanswered hits by Limardo, 8-3

12:12 PST Both score on a double

12:13 PST Piasecki had better get in there.  Nope, 10-4 Venezuela

12:14 PST 11--4, then a double, 12-6, I missed one somewhere.

12:14 PST There has never been a South American individual fencing medal, nor a Norwegian and they are both going to medal whatever happens.

Break at the end of the 2nd period.

12:16 PST 13-6, Venezuela

12:16 PST Another hit for Limardo, one hit from a Gold Medal.

12:17 PST Piasecki finally gets another hit

12:17 PST And another for Piasecki

12:17 PST Piasecki again, catching up

12:17 PST And another, 14-10, sheesh!

12:18 PST Limardo wins Gold for Venezuela!  Congratulations!

We hope you have enjoyed our live coverage of the Men's Epee Competition from the London 2012 Olympic Games!  See you again for the Paralympics with Fencer Gerardo Moreno!


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