Artisan Blog

Don't Let the Fall Catch You Crying

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Autumnal Equinox has come and gone. Our eggs have fallen over once again and--hard to believe after the recent weather in Los Angeles--it’s actually chilly, at least in the mornings.

Fall is here and with it can come a burst of energy reminiscent of the start of a new school year or a bout of anticipatory seasonal depression. Are you sad when summer comes to an end? Let’s take a look at why you might be feeling a bit low now that autumn has arrived and what you might be able to do about it:

Your Accomplishments

Maybe you didn’t write the Great American Novel or find a cure for cancer this summer, but you definitely accomplished something. Pat yourself on the back for what you did, even if it was more along the lines of refreshing and reviving your creativity for the fall.

Your Plans

You might have to give up swimming for the year, but It’s a new season for some great outdoor activities and now that it’s not so hot, they might be even more enjoyable. Take a hike in the mountains, go to the zoo, play in some autumn leaves and take some pictures. Get inspired.

Your Future

If you are on a job search, you might have gotten stuck in a rut over the summer or lost some momentum--many people do. Let the fresh fall air remind you of new school years of the past and try some new job search ideas. Go to some fall networking events and add some new people to your circle of colleagues. Take a class and meet some new people in your field. Find a new mentor or mentor someone else.

Your Goals

Rather than feeling like the end of the year is approaching and you are behind on your list, fall is a great time of year to revamp your goals. Do you still want the same things? What do you think you can get done by the holidays? Break down some of your long-term goals into smaller pieces and start in on those. You can get there.

Even in beautiful Southern California, it can get cool enough for a cozy sweater and a cup of hot chocolate. I’m going to enjoy this fall. How about you?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative
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Note: There is some controversy about whether an egg can only be balanced on the Spring and Fall Equinoxes. This blog does not take a position on that point. And you're welcome for the ear worm.

5 Tips for Choosing Freelance Clients

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As a freelancer, it is tempting to say “Yes!” to every opportunity that comes along, whether it's a graphic design job or a long-term marketing contract. After all, there are dry spells in every career. You don’t want to take the chance of having created one yourself. There are, however, times, when you should resist temptation and wait for the next project to come along. How can you tell what time it is?

  1. Too rushed--If your client doesn’t have time to give you detailed instructions, is too busy to get together to sign a contract or has a deadline that seems unreasonable, this might be a skip.
  2. Not enough money--Don’t sell your skills short. If a client is not willing to pay your usual rate, you will spend the whole project wishing you had said yes to the next one, the one you don’t have time for.
  3. Unpleasant manner--You don’t have to be friends with your clients, but if your impression is that you are not going to get along at all, trust your gut. Having difficult or even rude people around all the time affects your company culture. In a business world where we are all entrepreneurs, you are the company.
  4. Unappealing project--Being too picky could find you eating beans out of a can, but if you can’t think of one interesting or creative quality you can bring to a project, it might be better to wait for the next one.
  5. Big learning curve--Although we are in favor of learning new skills and keeping your current skills up-to-date, getting your education on the job--especially on a deadline--is a sure route to pulling your hair out.
Taking on a project that really isn’t right for you is definitely worse than having some free time between contracts and probably worse than getting a bit tight on funds. Pay attention to your instincts and you will know when to say “Yes, of course!” and when to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Announcing The Artisan Creative Weekly

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

We are publishing a newsletter

Artisan Creative invites you to subscribe to the Artisan Creative Weekly. We will be publishing links to stories about leadership, creativity, talent, job search, time management, design, marketing and entrepreneurship. Once a month, we will publish a newsletter on a particular theme. 

We are finding inspiration all over the internet and we want to share it all with you. We also welcome your feedback. Let us know what you think of the Artisan Creative Weekly and what you would like to see more (or less) of. 

At this time of new beginnings, we have one of our own. Hope you like it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Labor Day or Thinking Day

Wendy Stackhouse - Friday, August 30, 2013

As so many of the people around me are starting a new school year, the importance of having a clean start, with clear goals and benchmarks comes to mind. I, like the students around me, love an empty notebook, new pens and a three-day weekend to take a breath before making a proper beginning.

Most articles we read about time management concentrate on being more productive--getting more done in the shortest possible time. And I’m a big fan of what I call “ninja” multitasking--finding ways to do things faster and more accurately, both to benefit myself (more free time) and my clients (better work), brings me great satisfaction.

I recently came across an article on LinkedIn by Ebay CEO John Donahoe called “To Beat the Chaos, Take a Thinking Day” and it really struck home. Donahoe takes a day of uninterrupted time every three months to focus on what’s important, to “recalibrate and adjust my goals, my priorities, and my calendar.” Sounds like a good idea.

There are inevitably times when we feel constantly behind, every day filled up with urgent projects and deadlines, so full that working hours run into family time. Add volunteer responsibilities, and it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed.

So on the upcoming long weekend, I will be taking a look at my routine (again), deciding what to carve time out for this fall and what to let go. And I will set some new goals for my new year. I never could adjust to not starting over in September anyway.

We would love to hear about your goals for the new school year, whatever they may be. Tell us about them in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Where Are You Going?

Jess Bedford - Thursday, July 25, 2013



When you land a new role, you want to tell everyone what it is and where. After all, it is exciting! It could be your dream job and, these days, if you are on a job search, you might have been looking for quite a while.

Although you will give proper notice at your current job, however, you probably should keep the details about your new job opportunity limited to to yourself and your family until your first day.

Why?

Especially before all of the tiny details are arranged, you don’t really have a deal. If you have received an offer but the paperwork is still processing, you have not truly landed. Let your colleagues know you are leaving, but keep the specifics to yourself for the moment.

Even after all of the logistics have been worked out, you are still not in the chair and your name isn’t yet on the office door. While you are in limbo, resist the urge to make an announcement. Your new company might want to do it first and you don’t know their policy. Better safe than sorry.

Be extra careful about talking on social media about your new job. Careers have been made or broken right here. In one story we wrote about last year, a candidate’s offer was rescinded because they started posting about it too soon. Don’t list your new role on LinkedIn until you have started onboarding.

On your first day of work, you can make your excitement about your future public knowledge. Be thoughtful about thanking your colleagues for their support and write professionally about your new position. It’s easy to gush, but everyone is going to see your news--including your new manager.

And enjoy it! It's not every day you get to start something entirely new!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Hiring? Job searching? Questions for Assessing Cultural Fit on Both Sides of the Table

Jess Bedford - Tuesday, July 09, 2013



You’ve found the perfect candidate, at least on paper, and you are scheduling an in-person interview. You hope they are indeed perfect and your search is over. Or you have been offered an interview at your target company. Your goal is within reach. Or is it the wrong fit? Whether you are hiring a new employee or searching for a new role, how do you tell if there is a true culture fit?

Hiring Managers

A resume only provides limited information. Past experience and education are significant factors in finding a good fit, but company culture may be even more significant, especially if your organization is willing to train new hires who have the right temperament. A candidate who is filled with regret will never be very productive. Here are some good questions to ask in the interview to help you know if the candidate will fit into your company’s culture:
    1. What qualities are most important to you in a good boss?
    2. Do you think it is a good idea to become friends with your co-workers?
    3. What are the best things about your current or previous job?
    4. Do you prefer working independently or on a team? Why?
    5. How would you like to improve your management skills?
    6. What motivates you to go above and beyond expectations at work?
    7. Tell me about a time you felt most fulfilled at work.
Talent

Whenever you are looking to change jobs, you want to know that all of that trouble is worth the effort. Here are a few questions to help candidates evaluate a company’s culture at an interview:
    1. What do you like about working here?
    2. How many hours a week do you work in a typical week?
    3. Does the team hang out together outside of work?
    4. How much time is spent collaborating and how much is spent working alone?
    5. Are employees rewarded for high performance?
    6. How do employees usually get promoted?
Remember that the interview is not the time to ask about salary or benefits, even if those are your most important factors. 

For a happy onboarding and a long relationship, the people on both sides of the interview desk need to be comfortable that the company’s culture and the candidate’s temperament will go well together.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Desperation

Jess Bedford - Thursday, June 20, 2013



Someone asked me recently, “Why did you apply for this particular job?” I was glad that my answer wasn’t “Because I really need one!” 

But what do you do if that is indeed the answer deep down? And how do you keep that desperation from affecting your job search process? Here are some tips for keeping that desperation at bay:

  • Talk to positive people—All of us have in our networks some people who are encouraging and others who are ready to commiserate with us. Both have value, but when you are trying to get into a healthy mental space, spend more time with those who help you feel more confident rather than those who are ready to join you in the Slough of Despond.
  • Change your language—Talking to people about your job search is great, but think about how you can solve problems for a company rather than how much you need a job. Using more positive language will feed more positive feelings to your network and to yourself.
  • Choose wisely—Applying for a million jobs sounds like it ought to land you just one, but would it be the right one, anyway? Focus your search on jobs that look like they will make you happy and fulfilled, that suit your life and your passions. You will go into any interview excited about the prospect of a better future.
  • Work with a recruiter—Not only can a recruiter steer you to roles which are truly suitable, they can coach you for interviews, help you tweak your resume to work better for you, and give you inside information that can make the difference when trying to land that perfect job.
Of course, there is a difference between being desperate and just looking like you are. Be sure to avoid these behaviors that could make you appear desperate even when you are not:
  • Too Many—Don’t apply for ten jobs at your target company, even though you really want to work there. Apply for the right job, get an interview and let the hiring manager realize that you are as good are better for another opening if you’re not right for that one.
  • Too MuchFollow through and follow up are both important, but if you contact the hiring manager too many times or via too many channels—or worse, at inappropriate times—you don’t look eager, you look over-eager. And maybe annoying before you even get a chance to show that you’re not.
  • Too Cute—Preparing for your interview by practicing answers to likely questions is key, but planning out clever ways of saying “I’m perfect for this job!” can make you seem less genuine and more panicky. Instead, plan to tell stories that show your interviewer that you are perfect by example and let her draw her own conclusions.
During any job search, there are periods of frustration and anxiety. Don’t beat yourself up about those feelings. Be proactive in your behavior and those times will pass quickly and your search will benefit from your positivity.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Try Something New This Summer

Jess Bedford - Tuesday, June 11, 2013



If you are finding yourself with some extra free time this summer, it could be a great opportunity to bring some of your skills up to date or learn something new. We found some fun User Experience events coming up in the Los Angeles area you might want to try:

On Thursday, June 13 you can learn about Microinteractions with Dan Saffer at IxDA Los Angeles. “The difference between a good product and a great one are its details: the microinteractions that make up the small moments inside and around features…Bring The Data Forward, Don't Start From Zero, Use What is Often Overlooked, and Long Loops.”

Silicon Beach Fest June 19-22, will feature ”great innovators sparking collaborations … community support and knowledge sharing.” It only happens every two years so don’t miss the opportunity to meet Lane Halley, Chris Chandler and Jaime Levy in Santa Monica over this four-day event.

A 2-part Workshop on Lean User Testing: How to Write, Implement & Analyze Tests to Improve Your Product will be offered by General Assembly LA on two consecutive Monday nights, July 15 and July 22 from 6-9pm led by Los Angeles based Information Architect Jessica DuVerneay, also in Santa Monica. Earlybird pricing is only available until July 8th.

Artisan Creative will be sponsoring a workshop with Greg Nudelman on Agile Mobile Design on Saturday, July 20. Greg will be talking about how to create best-of-class customer experiences in the native iOS and Android mobile and tablet environments and mobile web. The workshop will be primarily activity-based, focusing on hands-on applications of user-centered design approaches like storyboarding, paper prototypes and practical application of mobile design patterns.

Summer can be the perfect time to make sure your skills are right on the cutting edge. Visit the Artisan website for even more training resources. And if you know of an event you think we should hear about, please get in touch with us via email. We are constantly Tweeting local events in LA and San Francisco for Creative, Marketing and Tech professionals and we want to hear about yours! 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Maximizing LinkedIn: Adding Files and Videos

Jess Bedford - Tuesday, June 04, 2013



LinkedIn has developed into an essential social media platform for anyone in business and especially anyone who is now or will ever be on a job search. Nowhere is it easier to connect with colleagues, share business goals and perfect your personal branding.

Earlier in its life, LinkedIn was pretty simple. It offered a place to put the information on your resume and a way to build a professional network. However, LinkedIn’s features have grown and just recently in a very interesting way: the ability to add files and videos to your profile.

We have talked about the importance of having an online portfolio in previous posts, but the ease of having some work samples available at one central location, easy to find and easy to click on, cannot be overemphasized.

What files you will add to your LinkedIn profile depends on how you are marketing yourself and for what skills. 

What could you add?
  • Blog posts and other writing samples—I was very proud of my recent post about the themes from “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” so I added it to my LinkedIn Profile as a writing sample. 
  • Images—Photographers and Graphic Designers, a few pieces which show your versatility here could attract more attention to a more extensive portfolio.
  • Videos—If you are producing video content for your clients or yourself, choose an example that shows your work well and add it to your Profile. If you are a performer, add a video of yourself in a concert or theatrical setting, or a clip from a film or television episode. Video is much more compelling than just your headshot and clicks from LinkedIn are valuable.
While you are tweaking your Profile, remember to:
  • Add new roles or responsibilities at your current job.
  • List any recent volunteer opportunities.
  • Check the keywords in your Summary to be sure that you will be found in searches that will interest you.
  • Make sure the listings on your Profile are in the order you wish. LinkedIn now lets you reorder items on your Profile by preference rather than just by date. Put more relevant listings higher up.
It’s a good idea to edit your LinkedIn profile every quarter, if only to add a new accomplishment or responsibility. Don’t let your Profile get stale; make it work for you.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Response vs. Reaction

Jess Bedford - Thursday, May 30, 2013



No one is perfect. We all have good days and bad days (at home and at work). There are days when our emotional intelligence is at its peak and days when it is at a low ebb. 

Unfortunately, sometimes those low days are also days when we are less productive or under a lot of stress from our bosses, colleagues or selves. It’s how we react or respond to that stress that determines whether we rise above the bad day or become a victim to it.

Reaction

Defensive reactions are innate, not learned. “Fight or flight” is hardwired into the human brain, and for good reason. Making a quick decision on whether to stand your ground or run away could mean life or death. The impulse, however, to choose without thinking, to allow our hardwiring to control our behavior, is still there. It is our job now to recognize it for what it is—an atavism—and make choices based on the actual situation at hand.

For example, your manager asks you when you are going to finish an important project, which you have had to put on the back burner because of other high priority tasks taking precedence. Your instincts may very well tell you to get upset and defend yourself. After all, that same manager gave you all that work and was panicking just yesterday about something else. But that may not be your best move.

Response

A response is more considered and different from a reaction in that it actually offers a possible solution to a problem or criticism that has been presented, rather than a defense. Instead of answering with why a situation is occurring, it answers how it can be remedied or solicits a request for more information so a solution can be found.

As much as we would like to react first and respond later, taking the time to respond is always worthy. Responding gives you a chance to re-evaluate a situation, perhaps break an urgent project down into more manageable pieces or set priorities more successfully. It also makes a better impression on managers and colleagues, as well as clients.

We can’t expect that every day we will be good at stopping and responding to situations. But the old rules are good rules here. Take a deep breath—or three. Count to ten. Ask to visit your manager’s office in a few minutes so you can give him a proper update. You have many more options than fight or flight.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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