Artisan Blog

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Forge! 2013 by The Skool

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

At Artisan Creative, we love to get involved with local events and network, especially when they’re targeted at women in business, so when we were invited to be on a panel of speakers at Forge! 2013, we jumped at the chance to attend.

Held at WeWork in Hollywood, Forge! is a conference aiming to coach budding female entrepreneurs in business, tech, creative and life skills and how they can apply them to their lives. The 2-day event saw demonstrations, pitches and talks from CEOs, Brand Strategists, Product Developers and our very own President, Katty Douraghy.

Katty spoke about the importance of taking care of yourself when you run a business, how you can implement a process into your schedule and what works for her. Whether you run an agency or you work full-time, setting dedicated time aside to work out or do something for yourself can be difficult. Here are some Artisan-approved tips that can work for you:
  • “Finding the passion and something that moves you is vital to success.” What do you enjoy doing? Katty found her passion in Zumba. See what’s local to you and try something new.

  • If you have a hectic schedule and a jam-packed diary, book a meeting with yourself. You'll never be double-booked!

  • If you’re stuck behind a desk all day, try taking a walk or going for a hike and enjoy the outdoors. A great suggestion from Forge! was Walk Beverly Hills. Instead of having a meeting at the office, they propose you take walking meetings instead.

  • Smoothies! Attendees were treated to a great demonstration by Whole Foods. Combining ingredients such as kale, coconut water, bananas and almond milk will not only save you time, but give you the much needed energy to get you through the day.
The Skool is a really great resource for people in the digital industry and for people who want to learn more about digital projects, sales and running their own business. Not only did we have the chance to meet some incredibly talented people and learn a lot, it was great fun, too. Check out their upcoming events and if you have your own tips for staying healthy, we’d love to hear them.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

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