Artisan Blog

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Exchange Your Goals for Some That Fit

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, December 26, 2013

It’s Boxing Day (or the day after Christmas, if you prefer) and traditionally the day for us to take gifts back and exchange them for things that are a better fit.

It’s also the time of year when we look back at what we accomplished--or didn’t--and what we would like to accomplish in the year to come. Did you achieve last year’s goals or would you like to have chosen something different? Now’s your chance!

Setting better goals is not unlike finding better gifts for our loved ones. Asking questions helps a lot:
  • What did you love about this year? A more flexible schedule, better organization, more time with family or more time to build up your skills. Whatever it was, set a goal which will get you more of it.
  • What did you learn this year? Whether it was about yourself, about your abilities, or about your passions, build on that learning and hardwire it in 2014. 
  • What investments paid off this year? Time is your biggest asset: did you spend it well, splurge on something special or squander it? Put more into what worked out and less into what fell flat.
  • Where do you want to be a year from now? You might want to be right here, in a sweet spot, or somewhere entirely different. Set goals that will get you where you want to be.
In both gift giving and goal setting, it’s the thought that counts. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Merry Christmas!

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, December 24, 2013

En Garde! Artisan Founder Jamie Douraghy on Fencing and Entrepreneurship

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, December 19, 2013

Entrepreneurs POV: The inspiration for entrepreneurship can come from a variety of places. For Jamie Douraghy, a Los Angeles entrepreneur and champion fencer, the sport of fencing has given him the tools he needs to excel in business. Here are three ways fencing has helped Jamie become a better entrepreneur.

When I was 17, I joined the fencing club at my English boarding school and was introduced to what would become a never-ending source of motivation, pressure, excitement and strategic mental training. Thirty-seven years later, I’m still physically and mentally sharp thanks to the life lessons I’ve learned from this rewarding sport.

For me, fencing is more than a hobby; it’s a passion that has taught me as much about the tenets of being a successful entrepreneur as any classroom or boardroom experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned from fencing that translate to entrepreneurship:

Negotiation is in the non-verbal details

Fencing, like negotiating, is a game of cat and mouse. Both contestants are sizing each other up, interpreting every movement and waiting for the most opportune time to launch their offense. In fencing, the goal is to defend against your opponent’s attacks, while setting up your own moves to counter using his miscalculated decisions as a chance to strike. Foil fencing is about establishing "right of way" and convincing the referee that you had the final action and scored the touch. Negotiation follows the same logic, in that it's up to you to convince your client that you’re better than the competition. This requires a lot of back and forth (we call it “footwork” in fencing) and relentless determination to get to that final spot at the top of the podium.

This technique helped me tremendously as I learned about the importance of a successful negotiation in business. Instead of holding back and waiting, I choose to go on offense and score a few points early on as part of my plan to win. Fencing taught me how to anticipate my client’s needs, read their non-verbal cues and arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Development starts with discipline

Fencing has also taught me the importance of discipline. If I wanted to continuously improve as an athlete, I had to prepare, train and enter each match with the confidence that I would win. If not, I was defeated before I even put on my gear. The same applies to business. We can all perform at a higher level, no matter the venue; discipline in practice and a perseverance of goals are characteristics everyone needs to excel.

When I decided to start my business, I had to set the goal, make the necessary plans to accomplish the goal and then practice my sales pitch, elevator pitch, PowerPoint pitch, handshake, eye contact and smile. Then I would walk into every meeting with confidence, as I could no longer hide behind my fencing mask. I knew that if I hadn't practiced hard enough in business, deep down I wouldn’t believe in my abilities, and I wasn’t going to convince anyone else of my vision.

Learn to lose with grace

One of the most important lessons fencing taught me is the importance of never dwelling on a loss. As an entrepreneur, I have been dealt major upsets, and my history of fencing has taught me how to handle setbacks with as much grace as I would a victory. I’m confident in my movements, abilities and desire to win, though winning it all doesn't always happen. Sometimes I meet a competitor who simply bests me. One example was at the Veteran World Championships in Bulgaria this year. Earlier in the day, I had eliminated a higher seed. I was motivated and mentally ready for the next opponent. Though I gave him everything I had, he eliminated me. After a year of training and traveling, it was all over in less than 10 minutes. Instead of getting angry and derailing my focus, I accepted the loss, moved on, and during the long flight home, started planning how to qualify for the 2014 team.

I’ve been a competitive fencer for more than three decades, won two 40+ U.S. National Championships and represented the U.S. 50+ team three times at the World Veteran Fencing Championships. I also coach fencing to youth, teenage and veteran fencers. Fencing is an extremely challenging sport, and I owe a lot of my accomplishments to pursuing an interest that stimulates both my body and mind.

Can I say that all of my professional success is due solely to the lessons I learned while fencing? Of course not, but the sport did equip me with the skills I needed to achieve success in all avenues of my life. That’s one of the greatest lessons of all, learning without realizing I was ever being taught.

What do you do in your personal life which makes you a better entrepreneur or think more like one? We would love to know!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Entrepreneurs Organization kindly allowed us to reprint this article published in Upstart Business Journal.

Gift Ideas for the Creatives on Your List

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santa is not the only one making a list and checking it twice--we at Artisan have been finding some great gift ideas for the creatives in our lives all over. Wonderful design and clever ideas come together to make some really cool gifts this year:

You never know when or where your friend might get a brilliant idea, but if they jot it down in one of these Moleskine Evernote Notebooks, those ideas will never be forgotten. Take a photo with the Evernote Camera and their wireframe idea, doodle or blog topic will be saved in their online notebook as well as on paper. They come as journals or sketchbooks. 

Designers think in color and drink a lot of coffee to keep to their deadlines. You can combine the two with these Pantone Coffee Mugs or if they don't drink coffee but do love color and you have a pretty big budget, how about a full set of Pantone Color Swatch Books?

If your coffee-drinking friend is a copywriter, they might appreciate these mugs when they are proofreading. Sure to make them go "Arrgghh!"

And to keep all that coffee warm while they are working at their computer, how about a USB coffee warmer?

Don't know why I love them, but tea towels are some of my favorite gifts. These tea towels designed by former Art Director, Writer and Creative Director Emily McDowell are perfect for your creative foodie friends:



We were really inspired by this list of 100 Gifts for Freelancers at Design Blender and here are a couple of our favorites:

Solar Phone Charger--even works stuck to an airplane window! 

The 13th Edition of The Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines--Freelancers are always nervous about how much they should charge for their work and how to handle difficulties with clients. This should help in 2014.

Make their year with a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Only 8 days to Christmas! We would love to hear what your favorite gifts for the creatives on your list are this year!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Perfection

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Are you a perfectionist? There are certainly areas of my life where I would like to be perfect, but I’m comfortable knowing that I cannot achieve it in everything all the time. The quest for perfection can be motivating or it can stop us from ever feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Not everything requires perfection all the time and taking a moment to establish whether what you are working on needs that level of attention or whether the cost of trying is just too high can make the difference between a good day and a miserable one.

Ask yourself:
  • Is perfection possible? Be realistic about what can be done. You might have to rely on others for work product or be required to follow suggestions with which you don’t agree. Assess the situation pragmatically.
  • Is perfection desirable? If you are an artist in any medium, perfection is not really your goal, making art is. In my artistic life, I take the imperfections in stride. After all, if I needed perfect every time, I could make a recording and just play it, but that is nothing like the excitement of live performance.
  • Is perfection worth the cost? Sure you might achieve perfection, if only you didn’t have to sleep or eat, but that is a high price to pay, especially at the holidays when you want to spend time with friends and family. And while you might achieve technical perfection, you might lose on creativity if you don’t keep your energy reserves full.
  • Is efficient and functional more important than perfect? We’ve seen it in the Affordable Care Act website situation--what is needed is a site that works and works well. And quickly. Perfect could get in the way of what is truly needful under some circumstances.
  • Can I let go of perfection? If you are a perfectionist, you may have the most trouble with this one. Being able to walk away--even temporarily--when something has reached a good stopping place is a discipline worth fostering.
I’m grateful not to be a perfectionist. Except, of course, in music...and grammar...and spelling. Let me know if I missed anything!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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!


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