Artisan Blog

Staying Productive During the Holidays

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, December 10, 2013

If you’re like everyone I know, this is your busiest time of the year. Not only are we all doing our year-end assessments and strategy sessions for 2014, we are spending time outside of work preparing for celebrations, houseguests and gift-giving.

You might feel like you have something filling up every waking moment already, but unless you are functioning at a high level all the time, there is still room for you to get more done quicker and maybe even reduce your stress. After all, there’s almost nothing as relaxing as checking that last item off your to-do list.

We recently read an article on Amex Open Forum by Michael Beck of Skyline Group International about the 4 elements of what he calls “personal energy” and they sound pretty on point. Mr. Beck tells us that to be productive, we must keep all 4 energy reserves topped up:

Physical Energy--You cannot function at your peak without a healthy body. Eat small, nutritious meals often and make sure you are getting enough sleep, whatever amount that is for you.

Emotional Energy--Focus on the positives. Make a list of what went great yesterday or what you are grateful for before you start your day. Practice positive self-talk. Not only will you be able to maintain your equilibrium, but you can have a positive influence on the stressed out people around you.

Mental Energy--Take breaks. We cannot emphasize this enough. High productivity is impossible to maintain over many hours in a row. Take a 15 or 20 minute break every 90 minutes. Walk around the block, read a book, listen to some music, even close your eyes for a catnap. Your next 90 minutes will be just as productive as the last.

Inspirational Energy--Whether you get your best ideas when you draw or run or sing or read, carve out time to do the things that inspire you. You’re not wasting time--you’re saving it by getting your ideas lined up for when you get down to work.

This time of year can be overwhelming, but it’s amazing what we can get done in just a few weeks. What if we were this productive all year round?

We would love to hear your suggestions for staying productive throughout this busy time of year!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Gifting to Your Network: LinkedIn Recommendations

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, December 05, 2013

Wondering what to get your favorite colleague for a holiday gift? How about an amazing LinkedIn Recommendation!

Hard to request and rather intimidating to write, a polished LinkedIn recommendation on your LinkedIn Profile can be a lot more valuable than bath oil beads to a rock star member of your network. Here are some tips on writing something your friend will appreciate for years to come:

Don’t bury the lead--Just as with a great job description, if you don’t start with something compelling, a reader might stop with the headline. What is your friend’s best quality in her professional life? Put it right up front.

Ask for the target--If your friend has asked you for a Recommendation, find out what his next goal is and focus your recommendation on the qualities he brings from his past experience that would make that goal attainable. This is especially important if he is changing careers or industries.

Offer a preview--When I write Recommendations, I always send them to the recipient in an email before posting. Your friend might want you to mention a particular accomplishment. And another set of eyes proofreading for any errors is always a good idea.

Show your connection--Someone looking at your colleague’s Profile can figure out where you worked together, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Include the context of your relationship.
Keep it brief--Hiring Managers don’t have a lot of time. Pithy is best.

If you know that a colleague is planning a job search, looking for a promotion or making a change and you have confidence in his or her abilities, offer to write a Recommendation. Your friend will appreciate your proactive desire to help and not have to sweat about asking you first.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

5 Tips for a Great Office Holiday Party

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The holidays have arrived and office parties are looming on our calendars. Artisan’s annual holiday luncheon is today, as a matter of fact. As much as we want everyone to have a great time at these festive events, we all know someone who has embarrassed themselves by making some unfortunate choices. Instead of sending a wish list to Santa this year, we would like to send you our list of ways to make your holiday office party what it should be--fun and successful.

  • Dress up--A little or a lot, depending on the specific event. Choose a festive accessory and do keep professionalism in mind.
  • Think ahead--Take the time to remind yourself of the names of co-workers’ spouses and children. Ask about activities they or their families like outside of work. Have a brief story ready for when you are asked, “How’s it going?”
  • Ask before you take photos--If you love to post pictures of life events on social media and want to take some here, make sure you have permission first, unless you are the company’s Social Media manager, in which case they’re probably used to you!
  • Keep it positive--The office holiday party is not the place for gossip or badmouthing. Happy holidays is the theme of the day.
  • Say thanks--The person in charge of the party has probably been under a lot of stress about it being perfect. Make sure to thank him or her for a lovely time.
Office parties are an opportunity to get to know the people in your company who may not be in your department, strengthen bonds within your team and make human connections that you don’t have time for during working hours. I know I’m looking forward to getting together with my Artisan colleagues today. Everyone at Artisan hopes that you have as much fun great time at your professional holiday gatherings as your personal ones.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

From Our Table to Yours...

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Imagine: 50 Years of Giving

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Founder Jamie Douraghy gave this short interview for Entrepreneurs Organization about entrepreneurship and giving back and we wanted to share it with you this Thanksgiving week. 

Transcript follows.

Jamie Douraghy:

The reason I got involved because I was asked to be the Philanthropy Chair. And of course the big theme of this whole conference was the ability to give back. Imagine the compounded return if people started giving in their 20's and 30's, as opposed to waiting until the later years of their lives to suddenly--the light to go on. Imagine 50 years of giving.

It's about creating something from nothing, creating it from an idea. And I shouldn't say "nothing." Creating something from something. And taking it to the next level. That's what entrepreneurs do.

We knew that each person up on that stage was giving. The fact that they came from whatever they were doing, to take time away, I mean, based on one of the most successful young entrepreneurs right now. I'm sure he has a lot on his plate, but he gave of his time. So every single person on that stage gave. Unconditionally. And that was a huge message to everyone in that room. No matter who you are, where you are, just give.

For me, the central goal for EO Alchemy was to bring people initially from the Western Region together, to celebrate entrepreneurship. We haven't had a conference in the west before--that's had all around the world. Somehow the West Region wasn't able to pull it together up to this point. What I would like to see for EO Alchemy in the future is to have a conference in every single city that we have a chapter in. So we have 15 chapters in the west.  I would love to see 15 Alchemies, year over year. Have it in Hawaii, have it in Boise, Idaho, have it in Phoenix, Arizona. Every year to celebrate entrepreneurism. It's not about the location, it's about the people coming together to celebrate entrepreneurism. So I would really like to see Alchemy in all 15 of our chapters and, hopefully, more chapters as they grow. 

For Jamie and for Artisan Creative, giving back is essential to entrepreneurship. We are thankful for the opportunities we have to give back this year and every year. Just imagine what we could do together in the future!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Time Off from a New Job

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, November 21, 2013

With the short Thanksgiving work week coming up, we have some advice about what to do when you want to take some time off from your a new job. If you have been on the job less than 3 months, you are still getting settled and might not want to ask for any time off, but you might need a little breather--onboarding is stressful. A holiday is a great excuse. Here are our tips for success:

  • Ask, don’t tell--Your manager is still getting used to you, too, and you can make a good or bad impression here. Request your time off, don’t demand it or sound like you expect it.
  • Research--If your team has a big event or critical project deadline coming up, wait until after it is over to ask for time off. Take a longer view of the work calendar when making your plans.
  • Culture--Your new office might be very flexible or keep tightly to a a routine. Keep that in mind when asking for time off. Find out from a colleague what the typical policy is around holidays. Maybe everyone goes home at lunch on Wednesday and you just haven’t heard yet or maybe they have a tradition of working on a particular day.
  • Keep it short--Unless it was already booked when you took the job (and you told the hiring manager then), don’t plan an actual vacation until you have been in your new job at least 3 months. Even if your company doesn’t have an official “probationary” period, it’s a good idea to institute one of your own. And if you want to take a vacation in the first 6 months, make an appointment to discuss it with your manager before you make your reservations.

Artisan Creative will be closed on Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. We are thankful that you are here and hope you have a very happy one!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Being Your Own Mentor

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, November 19, 2013

At Artisan Creative, we are big fans of mentorship. Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy is passionate about mentoring and being mentored. There are times, however, when we find ourselves without a mentor for a situation we are trying to navigate. Can you be your own mentor? 


We went back and took a look at our interview with Jamie to see if any of his advice applies to being your own mentor:
  • Mentors help you learn from their mistakes. Make sure you don’t miss any opportunities to learn from your own.

  • Believe in yourself. Use positive language in your self-talk, just like the positive language you would get from a great mentor. You are capable of more than you think.
Some other ways to mentor yourself:

Consciously seek inspiration--Read, go to cultural events, practice activities that inspire you and bring you joy. Inspire yourself.

Explore career options--Your skills and passions may lead you in a different direction than you think. Let them.

Set goals and hold yourself accountable--Develop a system for checking on your own progress. Software that works as a tickler or scheduled email reminders work for us.

Seek out professional development opportunities--Learn new things and meet new people. You don't always need an introduction. Who knows, you might find a real-life mentor!

There are insights and encouragement that can only get from another person with different experience and a unique point-of-view, but even if you find yourself between mentors, you don’t have to give up all of the advantages a mentor brings to your professional life. Give yourself a present this holiday season--be your own mentor!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

How to Get the Best out of Your Recruiter

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, November 14, 2013

For some job seekers, recruiters are a necessity in their job search. If you’re working full-time, new to a city or generally unsure of how to approach prospective employers, a recruiter can turn what could be a long and daunting process into a pain-free and simple one. But how do you get the best out of your recruiter and how can you make the recruiting process an easy one?

Recruiters have to be prepared for the unexpected. Jobs can go on hold, candidates can change their minds, budgets can be cut and the market can be competitive. Working with a recruiter should work both ways. As a candidate, you should be up-front and forthcoming with information. After all, you’re trusting a recruiter to represent you to a future employer. It’s up to you to get the job; the recruiter just paves the way.
  • If you’re a freelancer, update your recruiter with your availability. Did you just get booked for several months meaning you’ll be off the market? Email your recruiter and let them know. That way they will know to get in touch when your contract is drawing to an end.
  • Realize that you may not be the perfect fit for that dream job you saw advertised. On paper, you think you have the exact qualifications and experience for a position, but aside from skill-set, there’s also cultural fit which, at times, can be equally important. You could be the wrong fit for a multitude of reasons: design aesthetic, years of experience, background, education, location. It’s nothing personal.
  • A recruiter’s day is a hectic one usually filled with multiple calls, meetings and a mountain of emails. If you don’t hear back from a recruiter right away it usually means that you aren’t the right fit for the particular job they need to fill that day. If you don’t hear back after a few days, follow-up with an email.
  • Be proactive. Send a bi-weekly email to check in with your recruiter and see if they have any new positions. Check their job postings regularly and if you see something you like, get in touch. If you know of a company hiring and think you could be a good fit, ask your recruiter about it. They may be a client or have an existing relationship.
  • Be honest and up-front about your experience and situation. The clearer you are about your experience and what you can and can’t do, the easier and quicker your job search will be. 
  • Refer people to your recruiter. Not only will your recruiter appreciate the gesture, it will forge a stronger relationship between you.
  • Engaging your recruiter doesn’t always have to be work-related. Connect with your recruiter on LinkedIn and Twitter. Invite them to industry networking events and make a connection outside of the office.

Working with a recruiter can be a great experience. Friendships and long-lasting business relationships can be built, so it’s important to choose a recruitment agency that puts candidates first. Have your own experiences or comments? Tweet me at @LauraPell_ or email at

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

Revise Your Resume Now

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How long has it been since you read your own resume? A month? Three months? Since you got your current job? Unless you have revised your resume since the end of the summer, you have waited long enough. 

Why revise your resume if you’re not looking for a new job? Here are some of our reasons for spending time tweaking your resume even if you are happy where you are working:

  • Memory is tricky--Right now you have a great handle on the numbers for that big project you just completed. Those numbers will not stay at the front of your mind when you get immersed in the next one. Add bullet points with quantifiable data to your resume before the details get away from you.
  • Resumes are not just for job search--If you want to take on a volunteer opportunity that uses your professional skills, join a professional organization or do some networking (which you should do often), a current resume is a quick summary of your experience for anyone who is interested. 
  • The longer you wait, the longer it takes--Someday you will need or want to have a great--and current--resume. If you keep it up to date every quarter, it won’t take you long to bring it right up to today, but if you have to work back two or three years, it will take many more hours to make it work.
  • You never know--No one likes to think about it, but many layoffs are at short notice. I have a friend who found out on a recent Friday that it was her last day of work. If your resume is always current, you have one less thing to worry about if an unanticipated period of unemployment comes along.

My career coach told us to spend 5 hours on our resumes every quarter and at the time it sounded like a lot. But I know that it will be much harder to remember my accomplishments of this year when next year has begun. Think about spending an hour or two this week on your resume--you’ll be glad you did!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Bilbo Baggins, Entrepreneur

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, November 07, 2013

We recently came across an article about how starting a business is like The Hunger Games. We hope that is not the experience most people have. That book is pretty brutal.

At Artisan Creative, we think a lot about entrepreneurship and we think starting a business is more like The Hobbit. At least when it works. Further in and further up...

You start out on an adventure, on your own at first (don’t forget your pocket handkerchief), but soon forming a team with a single, clear mission. You don’t know each other very well and it takes a while to assess everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. You run into obstacles (trolls) pretty early on and could easily decide to give up and go home right there (the kettle is on the hob). It turns out that having a mentor is incredibly important (Gandalf).

As you progress, your team breaks off into smaller groups with specific tasks to achieve, each of which can make its own discoveries--maybe not a magic ring, but creativity breeds innovation and innovation can be magical indeed. You will need to be clever and brave and take risks.

You will have to do battle with the entrepreneur’s worst enemy: fear of failure (that fire-breathing dragon). Surround yourself with talent who will support and encourage you, as well as have the skills to swoop in and solve problems.

Leadership can come from the most unlikely sources and you never know who will be the hero of your journey, but keep your wits about you and the rewards could last the rest of your life.

Starting a business isn’t quite an Unexpected Journey, but the path you will take is unpredictable. Put the right people on your team, practice active listening with them and your mentors, take the surprising opportunities that come along and you, too, might go There and Back Again and maybe even come home with a little chest of gold.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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