Artisan Blog

Leadership Lessons from Presidents

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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

Loving the Freelance Life

Wendy Stackhouse - 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

The Active Voice

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

To those of us who pay a great deal of attention to grammar, the passive voice is at least correct. It doesn’t make our antennae go up. In fact, it probably makes our antennae go down, but not necessarily in the right way. It makes us stop paying attention.

The same can be said for hiring managers. Or rather--hiring managers might say the same.

The first sentence above is in the passive voice and the second in the active voice. Do they sound different to you?

In a job interview situation, you want to sound like a great prospect--maybe even the perfect candidate. Many people have trouble speaking of themselves and their accomplishments in the active voice. After all, you don’t want to start every sentence with “I” or sound like you are bragging. But you will never land that great new job if you cannot talk about your accomplishments as yours (or your team’s). Here are some examples of passive voice and a more active voice alternative:

Over 1000 PR packages were produced and delivered in a three day period.
Okay, but what did you do? What was your contribution? Glad to hear it. So what?

My team of 5 produced and delivered over 1000 PR packages in less than 72 hours.
Sounds like you managed a team to a challenging goal! Congratulations!

A new website was designed and launched ahead of schedule and under budget.
That’s nice. What were you responsible for on that project?

Designed and launched new company website 2 weeks ahead of schedule and 10% below budgeted cost.
I like that one--active voice and numbers. Great resume bullet point!

Facebook engagement went up 35%.

My goal was to increase engagement 20%. I posted original content daily, which increased engagement on Facebook by 35% in 3 months.
Exceeded expectations. Great work!

Most of us are more comfortable using passive voice in our interactions. We eschew talking about our own accomplishments and skills in an active way. However, a job interview is not the place for self-effacing language. If you are the right candidate--and a great fit for the role--make sure the hiring manager knows it and knows you know it, too. Tell them what you did and why.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Office Etiquette in Flu Season

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flu season is upon us and probably someone in your office has already gone to ground this year. We hope they didn’t bring their germs to work. Many people do try to work through colds and flu, even though they probably shouldn’t. Here are some tips for keeping yourself--and your co-workers--from passing around a nasty bug:

  • Wipe down--If your office does not provide them, keep a box of sanitizing wipes at your desk. Use them to wipe off your phone and other hard surfaces frequently. Cold and flu germs can live on hard surfaces for up to three days.
  • Wash your hands often, not just after using the restroom. 
  • Be proactive--You are most contagious before you are symptomatic. If someone in your family is sick but you are feeling fine, be aware of your potential for being a carrier and do everything you can to prevent the spread of virus.
  • Use your elbow, not your hand. Most adults were taught to cover their mouths with their hand when sneezing or coughing but your elbow does a better job of trapping germy droplets. And you’re not going to use your elbow to say hello.
  • Decline the handshake--Although it can be awkward, declining to shake hands at all can make a big difference. Encourage your whole office to take a break from handshaking so no one gets offended.
  • Stay home--It’s likely you can get some of your work done if you are feeling well enough, but the lost productivity from extending your illness and giving it to your colleagues is much greater than that of your taking a couple of days off to rest and recuperate. Do everyone a favor. Take advantage of technology and keep your germs to yourself.
In cold and flu season, I am especially grateful to be a remote worker, not only for myself but for my co-workers who don’t have to be exposed to all the germs the kids can pick up at school. Sometimes Skype is really a godsend.

Do you have any special tricks you use to stay healthy at work? We would love to hear them.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Job Jenny and Why You Should Be Rethinking Your Resume

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In the first of a two-part blog, we speak with career expert Job Jenny and why we need to rethink our approach to resume writing and personal branding.

I was recently introduced to Job Jenny and her “ridiculously awesome resume service” by a candidate-turned-friend of mine who had used her services. It got me thinking about our approach to resume writing and personal branding. Resumes are essentially a marketing tool, right? So why is it that so many job seekers pay little attention to keywords, layouts and job search strategies? As recruiters we see all types; from carefully constructed portfolios to formulaic textbook resumes. I took some time to speak with Job Jenny to discuss resume writing and how job seekers should be marketing themselves to recruiters and potential employers.

At this point you may find yourself asking “Who is Job Jenny?” and wondering why she knows so much about resume writing and job seeking. Job Jenny worked for several years in marketing and communications at corporate level before moving into recruitment and starting her own agency. Job Jenny came into being in 2010 offering job seekers a support service which includes: resume writing, personal branding, LinkedIn makeovers and one-on-one consulting, job seeking and transitional strategies along with interview skills and e-books. She does it all!

If you’re faced with the daunting task of searching for a new job or if you’re applying online to multiple companies and getting nowhere, perhaps you need to rethink your resume. Are you having difficulty transitioning into a new career path? Are you wondering why you’re receiving little to no response when applying online? Take a look at these tips to get you started on the right foot:
  • Try to avoid approaching your resume as a list or a biography detailing every single responsibility and duty, but instead look at it as a marketing document that is a reflection of your personal brand.
  • Familiarize yourself with Applicant Tracking Systems if you are submitting your resume online. Does your resume contain industry-relevant keywords specific to the job you are applying for? Additionally, if your resume is over styled it could get in the way of the ATS and may not be received at all.
  • Pay attention to the job you are applying for. If you’re applying for an Account Manager position when you have a Project Management background, pay attention to the common deliverables of the job and detail your skill-set for the recruiter to see and make a connection. Do not expect them to deduce your experience from your resume without you making a connection.
  • Be consistent and focused with clear goals in mind – how do you want your resume to be conveyed? Be consistent with formatting and don’t forget: spellcheck!
  • If you’re looking at divergent roles, have a resume specifically tailored for each industry to showcase your work that’s most relevant to the decision maker. The easier you make it for HR to make a quick connection between what they need and what you do, the better the response
Your resume is your first (and often only) opportunity to sell yourself to recruiters and potential employers so investing time and effort into your personal brand is crucial. Your resume is a marketing document and a reflection on you (and often your recruiter.) Make it work! 

In the second part of our blog we’ll discuss LinkedIn strategies, social media branding and interview tips so stay tuned and if you have your own tips to share or would like to know more about resume writing, get in touch.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

Artist or Artisan

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, January 07, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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

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