Artisan Blog

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

14 Collaboration Apps We Love

If your team is still using the email inbox as an organizational tool and yelling over cubicles, it’s time for you to explore some of the brilliantly useful collaboration, chat, and project management apps that are available.

Since the rise of Basecamp in the 2000s, an array of such apps has appeared, with different user interfaces, internal logic, pros, and cons. Some are focused on internal communication, while others have better document-sharing and time-management features. If you’re new to collaboration, chat, and project management apps, we suggest trying a few different ones to see which one proves most effective for your projects and your team.

In celebration of February 14th, Valentine’s Day, here are 14 apps we love because they drive collaboration. Since our Artisan Creative a.team works virtually, we rely on many of the apps below to communicate, collaborate and connect.

Basecamp

It was one of the first project management programs, and it’s still one of the simplest, with to-dos, discussions, and file-sharing capabilities that are easy to master.

Slack

This team chat app is beloved for a reason. It works well for organizing discussions, whether among groups or one-on-one. While it lacks some of the more sophisticated project-management capabilities found elsewhere, it gets things done, and it’s fun.  Slack has made our virtual team communication organized, efficient and easy.

Asana

Asana is gaining popularity for its focus on results. It works well for tracking projects, assignments, time, and contributions from team members.

Trello

Trello’s “boards” provide an engaging and friendly UI. It takes some effort to master, but it’s easy on the eyes, and it’s changed the way some teams tackle their projects.  A recent favorite, we use Trello for everything these days! From communicating about our open jobs to onboarding and training new hires, we love Trello.

Wunderlist

Microsoft acquired this German-designed task-management app and planned to sunset it, much to the chagrin of its unusually devoted user base. Despite protests, it may be absorbed by Microsoft To-Do in 2018, so give it a whirl while you can.

Discord

This voice and text chat platform, designed for gamers, is so robust and functional that it’s drawn a cult following among startups and professionals, too. It lacks strong project-management capabilities but can be used in conjunction with other programs by off-site teams who rely heavily on responsivity.

Airtable

Popular among publishers and heavy spreadsheet users, Airtable’s internal logic takes some getting used to. When you get to know it, it’s a charming and versatile suite of project-management tools with a colorful personality, with particularly strong versioning and backup capabilities.

Calendly

Calendly makes meeting planning easy! Gone are the days of emailing back and forth to schedule time for a conversation or a meeting.   Calendly integrates with our Google calendar to make life, and conversation scheduling easy!

Smartsheet

For seasoned spreadsheet-wranglers, the Smartsheet UI may look familiar. It’s a humble and practical program, comfortable for heavy Excel users, increasingly useful for those who spend time getting to know it.

LiquidPlanner

Sophisticated, expensive, and a bit intimidating, LiquidPlanner works well for larger teams with a lot of moving parts. If you’re ambitious or you’re outgrowing your current programs, give it a look.

Sharepoint

Part of the MS Office Suite, Sharepoint is popular among teams using Windows. It integrates with the chat app Yammer, and allows easy content management and collaboration across organizations.

Teamwork

With project management, chat, and an easy mobile experience under one roof, Teamwork is popular among creative and web development teams. If you enjoy the free trial, you can do an impressive amount of work using Teamwork tools.

Taskworld

This highly visual and goal-oriented project management app is popular among users of Apple products. Founded by billionaire jewelry magnate Fred Mouawad, its eccentric personality has won it a devoted cult following.

Google Drive

What started as the world’s most successful search engine has created an impressive array of products that integrate brilliantly. Between Gmail, Docs, Hangouts, and Calendars, many teams have found that they work best using nothing but Google apps, especially since the vast majority of web users have some familiarity with Google-brand UX.

As creative staffing leaders, we work with some of the most forward-thinking talent and clients in the business, which makes us experts on how professionals and teams choose their tools, manage their work, and collaborate more effectively. Contact Artisan Creative today and share your favorite app.

We hope you've enjoyed the 461st issue of our a.blog!


Staying Creative and Innovative

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Staying Creative and Innovative

"This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete."

― Steven Pressfield

As the holiday season approaches and we look ahead to a new year, it’s important to continue to remain creative and innovative. Often time in nature or away from the screen is exactly what is needed to generate new ideas. Creative professionals can't afford the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. Hobbyists and dabblers can get to work when they have the occasional great idea. For a pro, the challenge isn’t to paint a masterpiece every 20 years, it is to keep working when generating ideas becomes a challenge, insecurity and impostor syndrome set in, and creativity becomes harder to come by.

Here are a few tips to use in 2018 to stay productive and do your best creative work whenever you're feeling challenged to generate new ideas.

Commit to a Daily Practice

The only way to consistently have good ideas is to consistently have a lot of bad ideas. That's why it's vital to have a daily creative practice that serves to clear out the psychological clutter.

The writer and investor James Altucher suggests writing ten ideas a day, every day - these ideas can be about anything, and they can be really out there, as long as you force yourself to keep coming up with them. Comedy legend Jerry Seinfeld sets a daily timer and forces himself to write until it runs out - most of this material doesn't make it anywhere near his set, it’s the practice that separates him from the amateurs at open mic nights.

750 Words is one of several web portals that's designed to reward a daily creative practice, regardless of the work quality. If you are an illustrator or designer, take up a similar practice of drawing one new sketch every day. This is the best way to keep your creative muscles limber and strong.

Join a Creative Community

It is important to be an active member of your local community of creative pros. This will give you a chance to share and test ideas, commiserate, and get a positive nudge when you need to keep going.

You can find groups of like-minded creative professionals on Meetup, or attend Creative Mornings talks in your city. If you don't live near a creative metropolis, there are plenty of supportive social networks online, too.

When you identify as part of a creative tribe, you may feel a lot more secure in your work, knowing that others must overcome the same challenges as you and you can ask for help when you need it.

Respect Your Own Process

It may sound like a dream job to conjure up creative inspiration and play with new ideas every day for a living, however, it can be a real challenge if you aren't in touch with your own mental, physical, and emotional rhythms.

To maximize your output, pay attention to your input. Take regular breaks, eat healthy and delicious food, and get plenty of sleep, even when you're on tight deadlines. It's worth making sacrifices to keep yourself in good condition.

To maximize your potential, pay attention to your own signals. Do you start strong in the mornings and taper off in the afternoons, or do you hit your stride in midday? Can you do deep, focused work for hours at a time, or do you prefer 55-minute work intervals staggered with five-minute water breaks?

As much as you can, let your work life move to your own inner rhythms. And mind the "taste gap;" sometimes, when you're disappointed in your own work, it means your taste is improving, and you just have to keep applying yourself to reach new creative heights you never imagined before.

Talk to the Experts

At Artisan, we work with the top creative professionals in the business, and we've seen talent handle challenges and still produce brilliant work on a consistent basis.

When you're inspired to take your career to the next level, contact Artisan Creative, and join some of the most prestigious creative talent around. We hope you enjoy the 455th issue of our weekly a.blog.


14 Books for Creatives

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

14 Books for Creatives

Whether you listen to audio editions on your commute, use a tablet or e-reader, or relax with a cat on your lap and an old-fashioned paper edition, books are still a great source of information and knowledge for creative pros.

A book allows you to take a deeper dive into a subject and emerge with a broader awareness of how its details fit into context. When it's easier and easier to consume bite-sized bits of information, delving into a book gives you an advantage over those with less experience of focus.

And books make excellent gifts. With countless titles to choose from, they're not easy to shop for. Your favorite creative mentor, peer, or friend will be delighted when a thoughtfully chosen book drops into his or her lap.

Whether you're shopping for a designer, a developer, an artist, or a marketing executive, here are fourteen selections that will spark creative inspiration.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

This revolutionary writing guide gave rise to a system of thought and a movement that has helped creative people of all types develop greater respect for themselves and their work. Its most influential exercise is probably "the morning pages," a daily three-page handwritten routine that has galvanized authors, actors, musicians, and everyday people around the world.

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

A favorite among UX designers, this classic takes a thorough and counterintuitive look at the familiar objects around us and wonders how they came to be as they are.

Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

You only get one chance to make the most of the creative career you pursue in this lifetime. This urgent and heartfelt challenge will embolden you to “lose yourself,” fully commit to your process, and leave it all on the field.

How To Be Useful by Megan Hustad

Hustad's book is a wry, comprehensive, no-nonsense primer on networking, career-building, doing your job, and preserving your soul. It's perfect for graduates, those mulling a career change, or anyone who sometimes wonders if he or she missed out on some essential knowledge about how to thrive in the workplace.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

A successful novelist with a cult following among creatives in all fields, Pressfield believes that success means showing up, every day, and maintaining a regular practice, and that the only way to self-actualize as a creative is to start treating yourself as a professional.

The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You're Not by John Vorhaus

Some of the most useful creative inspiration has always come from jokes and humor, from looking at life sideways and shattering expectations. This is a practical and amusing guide to the functions and structure of humor, with exercises that can help you produce smarter and more entertaining work.

Place Your Thoughts Here: Meditation for the Creative Mind by Steven L. Saitzyk

A Buddhist art teacher explores the connections between creativity and meditation in a warm and compassionate book that will fascinate any creative pro with an interest in mindfulness practice.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This landmark study on human behavior, and how it relates to thought, is a must-read for anyone who needs to understand incentive structures and why people sometimes act as they do. Kahneman won the Nobel prize for economics and is a highly regarded psychologist.

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

This book examines what happens when we get so absorbed in our work that we lose track of time, and suggests how we might cultivate such a state of pure creative devotion.

Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done by Jocelyn K. Glei

In an always-on world of perpetual distraction, an influential blogger and editor makes a case for shutting out the noise and decluttering your digital life. You don't have to be a hardcore minimalist to get some empowering and actionable insights from this one.

Quartz: The Objects That Power the Global Economy by Quartz Editors

This coffee table book from the business blog Quartz showcases the innovative genius of product design and makes a beautiful companion to The Design of Everyday Things.

How To Get Ideas by Jack Foster

Foster is a fun, funny, avuncular guide to the art of generating fresh ideas. If you know someone who's struggling to stay creative, this book can reignite the joy of the process.

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan

This irreverent but practical guide to the advertising industry provides a thorough understanding of the creative business and shows how a rebellious attitude can help you do work that gets attention. The classic text has been updated to address new channels and technologies.

The Dip by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a business and marketing guru to millions through his daily blog. This tiny but crucial book examines what happens when we get stuck in a gap between mediocrity and excellence, how to persist, and how to get out.

When you're inspired and driven to take your career to the next level, contact Artisan Creative, and join some of the most prestigious creative talent around.  We hope you enjoy the 454th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Expressing Our Gratitude

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Expressing Our Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
                                                                                                 -William Arthur Ward

At Artisan Creative, we'd like to take a moment and say thank you to all who have touched our lives this past year.

We are grateful for so many things and wanted to share a few with you.

We are:

  • Grateful to celebrate 21 years of Artisan Creative!
  • Grateful for our incredible, hard-working, and dedicated a.team, always bringing their a.game when working with our talent and clients.
  • Grateful for our amazing talent who create, write and bring to market compelling work
  • Grateful for our clients and the opportunity to build relationships, grow their teams and share in their success.
  • Grateful for technology to allow us to be virtual, yet always connected with each other.
  • Grateful for the 7 dogs and 3 cats who add to our work life.
  • Grateful for the two babies who joined the Artisan family this year.
  • Grateful for our friends & families
  • Grateful for the opportunity to write and share insights in 450 issues of our weekly a.blog.

Below are additional gratitudes from our a. team:

Margaret

  • Grateful that our son is living with us now and our family is complete.
  • Grateful for a job that is flexible and still challenging (in a good way) after 23 years.
  • Grateful for a family that is supportive and loving.

Laura

  • Grateful for family, good health, dogs, and friendship.
  • Grateful to have the chance to learn, progress and work in a job I love.
  • Grateful for the opportunities I've had and the chance to see the world.

Jen

  • I'm thankful to be able to celebrate another Thanksgiving with my family.
  • Grateful to have a healthy and happy baby girl join us this year and experience the holidays through her eyes.
  • Thankful for a wonderful support system both at home and at work that made the transition to being a new mom so pleasant.

Cammy

  • Grateful for our first home and the ability to work from the comforts of it everyday.
  • Grateful for my hard-working, supportive, and loving husband, who is adventurous and loves to get his hands dirty

Ana

  • I am grateful for the privilege of spending the last months of my mother's life at her side.
  • I am grateful for the love and support of my family and friends
  • I am grateful for Artisan for the privilege of working from home, where my job is more fun than work, and be part of a supportive, motivated and hardworking team.
  • I am grateful to live where food, shelter, and services are available and plentiful.

Stephanie

  • Grateful to work for a creative company and to work with team members that love people.

Regina

  • I'm grateful for such an incredible and supportive team to work for. I wake up knowing I GET to work with them and never feel like I HAVE to. It's rare to find such integrity and motivation in one's work life.
  • I'm grateful that I get to spend all my time with my dog Chewie. I never truly knew what a "man's best friend" actually felt like until I got to spend every waking moment with him.
  • I'm grateful that I found a balance in my life to take care of the sick ones in my family. So, so grateful for that.

Kimberley

  • I'm grateful for my wonderful spouse/teacher, family, and friends who are like family.
  • I'm grateful for the first responders and the outpouring of help to those who lost everything in the California North Bay fires.
  • I'm grateful to be back at Artisan working with such a dynamic team of creative, kind and devoted professionals!
  • I'm grateful to be able to make a difference in candidates' and clients' lives by bringing the right people together at the right time.

Jamie

  • To have facilitated Why Stack workshops with dynamic learners from around the world.
  • To have celebrated our parent’s 83rd and 85th birthdays together as a family.
  • To always be working with people who share similar values founded on trust and respect.

Katty

  • Grateful to celebrate 23 years of marriage.
  • Grateful for my amazing a.team. The most dedicated, intelligent and fun group I have had the pleasure to work with.
  • Grateful for health, family and friends
  • Grateful for the opportunity to travel and see the world.


How to Achieve a Winning Mindset

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to Achieve a Winning Mindset

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

- Michael Jordan

It's easy enough to feel positive and optimistic when things are going well. However, to prevent burnout, turn setbacks into opportunities, and build a strong and reliable business, career, or life, we must develop a resilient winner's mindset. This is crucial for those who are in the job-hunting or interview process.

Whether you're currently up or down or experiencing success or setbacks in getting to the next level of interviews, when you internalize these core principles, you can be like Mike, a person who learns from mistakes, profits from adversity, and grows stronger and wiser over time.

Respect the Body-Mind Connection

Taking better care of our body can dramatically increase the strength, endurance, and potential of our minds. The stress of the job hunt can take a physical toll, which makes body health awareness and appropriate self-care all the more vital.

Along with increasing our strength, longevity, and life satisfaction, regular exercise can improve our brain chemistry. When we overcome inertia and achieve our fitness goals, it inspires us to meet our commitments and handle our responsibilities in other areas of life.

Our bodies turn food into energy. When we consume a healthy and balanced diet, our bodies convert it to a much-needed energy that helps us stay centered, steady, and optimistic through difficult times.

Get Good Information

Just as we must be mindful of what we eat, we must pay attention to our diet of information and intellectual stimulation.

Diversions and light entertainment are fine as long as they are balanced with useful and well-informed content. We should make time for educational and technical material that keeps us up to date, inspirational stories of those who have achieved important breakthroughs, and difficult work that broadens our minds, and challenges our assumptions. .

We don't exist in a vacuum - cultivating the right environment is tremendously important to thrive and succeed. If you replace negative input with enriching and positive media, you will find that your thoughts follow suit and so will your perspective.

You don't need to spend all of your time just reading the classics - practice critical thinking about what you read and watch. Ask yourself, "what is the frame of reference here? Why does it exist, what assumptions are baked into it, and what can I learn from this that will help me build a winning mindset?"

You will gradually find yourself focusing more on work that reflects your values, and getting more optimistic as a result. And you will certainly be sharper in interviews, in meetings, and on the job.

Keep Things In Perspective

We cannot be defined by our mistakes and setbacks - as long as we stay in the game, we will ultimately benefit from challenging experiences and the learning opportunities they give us.

Likewise, we cannot let winning go to our heads. Every small victory should be celebrated, as it gives us the courage to reach higher goals. As we celebrate victories, we must remind ourselves that there is more work to be done. We cannot adequately prepare for the future if we rest on past achievements.

Stay proud in defeat and humble in victory. In this way, we can avoid the fate of the "one-hit wonder” and always play the long game, in the job hunt as in life.

A simple, daily mindfulness practice can be a tremendous help in maintaining the equanimity we need to stay agile and not let our good or bad experiences define us too strictly.

Move Beyond Zero-Sum Thinking

Many of our games and rituals are based on the notion that, for us to win, someone else has to lose. This represents a "zero-sum" or scarcity-based mentality, wherein we are competing for limited resources. In reality, things rarely work this way. We can usually get what we want without hurting others.

Our most pressing challenges and greatest opportunities lie in increasing the overall wealth and resources available to human society. We can disrupt old structures and cultivate new ideas from the assumption that everyone can benefit from our work, including those we may see as competition. We have our differences, and our best thinking springs from a willingness to better provide for all of humanity.

When we do our best work with the intention to do what’s right, everyone ultimately benefits. When we transcend zero-sum thinking and adopt an abundance mindset, we open a wealth of opportunity for ourselves, our communities, and the world at large.

Be Grateful To Everyone

To psychologically ground ourselves and maintain a balanced perspective, nothing is more important than a regular practice of gratitude.

This is easier said than done, particularly when many factors seem arrayed against us, in a job search or other endeavors. But no matter where we are personally or professionally, we must take stock of the many advantages and privileges we have.

If your job search has been challenging, try a simple “loving-kindness” practice. Be grateful to yourself, and slowly extend that outward to your loved ones, to strangers, and to the entire world. Just by giving it a try, you will open your mind to abundance and generosity, which will help you cope with any problems that come your way.

The more grateful you are, the more “luck” you are likely to have, as others perceive you as a source of goodwill, strength, and comfort in their own tough journeys.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals at all levels of expertise build rewarding careers by sharing job search best practices and interview tips. Contact us today to learn more.

 

We hope you enjoy the 450th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 


The Productive Commute

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The Productive Commute

Although remote and at-home work is gaining acceptance, most jobs still require some on-site face-time. That means you'll be spending at least some of your professional life in transit. As housing costs continue to rise and many companies relocate, you may be in for a long commute.

However a commute does not have to be wasted time and can become nourishing and productive. If you can make it a point to stay engaged, cultivate useful and revitalizing habits, you may find yourself looking forward to rush hour!

Here are a few things you can try when you want to get more out of your commute.

1. Conference Calls, Meetings, and Check-ins

If you take public transport to work, this can be the perfect place to be a "fly on the wall" for a call that someone else leads. This can also be great opportunity to check in with key clients, colleagues, or friends, provided you can still have a good reception and your environment isn’t too noisy.

2. Podcasts

Since Apple’s release of the iPod more than fifteen years ago, the growth of podcasting as a medium has exploded. Compared to radio, the barrier for entry is practically nonexistent, which has unleashed a wild variety of shows. Podcasting has been embraced by journalists and has reignited the careers of rebellious comedians who do their best work uncensored. The most popular podcasts now have devoted audiences in the millions.

There are so many podcasts to explore that it's easy to get lost. If you're looking for places to start, you can get creative and cerebral inspiration from TED or Creative Mornings, hear interviews with leading entrepreneurs on The Knowledge Project and The James Altucher Show, or dive into the more narrative-based shows from the Radiotopia network, which will reacquaint you with the mystery and wonder of life.

3. Audiobooks

Reading books remains one of the most reliable ways to become a stronger thinker and speaker. If you drive, you can find more wisdom, heroism, romance, humor, and insight in audiobooks than you could possibly absorb in one lifetime.

The personal growth coach Duff McDuffee provides a plan for "reading" quite a lot in the 1.5-2 hours a day many of us spend commuting. In the brilliant So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance, the author Gabriel Zaid suggests a strategy for choosing the right books to cultivate a rich awareness of the world.

4. Meditation

A commute may be the most unlikely place to get in touch with your innerself and the true nature of reality. However, now that meditation is in vogue among leaders in tech, media, and the creative industry, more and more people are practicing some form of mental relaxation on the go, including in traffic.

In your commute, you're likely to face frustrations, distractions, and emotional highs and lows. This makes it the perfect place to practice mindfulness.

You will need to stay focused on the journey, so you can't close your eyes and go into a trance. Today’s cutting-edge meditation instructors Vincent and Emily Horn have devised a practice called "There Is Driving," a simple "noting" practice you can use to train your attention as part of your everyday activities.

5. Train Your Brain

The human mind is designed to be stimulated, in youth and throughout life. If you spend less time "zoning out" and more time engaged in challenging your mental reflexes, you will do wonders for your creativity, productivity, and mental health, now and into older age.

You can use your commute to learn a new language, or work through riddles and puzzles.

If you typically drive give mass transit a try if its available in your city - you may be amazed at how much a train or bus ride can shift your perspective and what great ideas arise when you come in closer contact with your community. If you can't take the train, vary your route to work - take side streets instead of freeways, or allow some extra time to take the scenic route. Another option is to walk or ride a bike to work when possible and get some exercise in the meantime too!

See if you can devise your own ways to make sure your commute is productive.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that a creative life is one of the most rewarding ones you can pursue. Contact us today to leverage our resources and experiences and get more from your career and your life.  We hope you enjoy the 449th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Practicing Mindfulness At Work

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Practicing Mindfulness At Work

 

Over the centuries, mindfulness practice has spread from ancient Buddhist traditions, into today’s easy to access TED Talks, and flowing to corporate boardrooms from New York to Los Angeles. Although it has become increasingly popular in the corporate world, mindfulness isn't just another fad or productivity hack - it prescribes a fresh way of looking at the world, noticing what is going on behind our assumptions and narratives, and feeling what it means to truly be in the moment.

Several cutting-edge companies have set aside meditation rooms, or provide midday breaks for quiet contemplation. Even if you don't work at one of these companies, you can apply the principles of mindfulness to be more present with your work, your life, and people around you.

Here are a few steps for integrating mindfulness into your day.

1. Sit Quietly

It doesn't matter if you do this for thirty minutes or three. If you don't have a quiet space in your workplace, you can sit at your desk or take a quick walk around the block. Just claim a small slice of time, whatever you can manage, in which you can expect to be relatively undisturbed.

When you have found your spot, sit still, with your hands in your lap or at your sides and close your eyes.

2. Focus on Your Breath

After you've taken a few moments to calm yourself, gradually bring attention to your breath. Ride each breath as it travels through your nose and fills your lungs. Rest your awareness on the pause between the in-breath and out-breath. Then slowly release. Give your full attention to the process of breathing.

As soon as you notice a thought, acknowledge it - say to yourself, "thinking" - and return your attention to the breath. Do this as many times as necessary until the session is over.

When you accept your thoughts and then let them go on their way, you reclaim some of the power and energy you might otherwise invest in worrying over them. Bring all that focus back to the present moment and the experience you are having, here and now.

3. Apply Mindfulness on the Go

There's a reason that sitting is called "practice." You're practicing an approach to everything else in your life. When you practice in this way, you prepare yourself for the harder work of staying present, focusing your attention, and maintaining equanimity in even the most taxing professional situations.

When you are in a meeting, give your full attention to the presentation and presenter. When you are working on a project, just do that. When you notice sights or sounds in the room, or distractions competing for your attention, acknowledge them, accept them, and let them go, releasing any thoughts you may have about them. Return your attention to the task at hand.

4. Keep Learning and Practicing

Mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, and you may not see major results after one or two sessions. If you make mindfulness practice a part of your daily routine, it will gradually shift your attitude toward your work and yourself.

In the book Mindfulness on the Go, Jan Chozen Bays distills centuries of contemplative wisdom into simple exercises you can try anywhere. (A companion set of flashcards is available, too.) Meditate.io is an online community built around sharing meditation practice with professionals in creative and technical professions, with guided exercises for mindfully attending meetings, taking breaks, and checking email.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that when you find meaning in your work, you find meaning in your life, and vice versa.  Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 444th issue of our weekly a.blog.

 


Continued Education for Creatives

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Continued Education for Creatives

 

As a creative professional, your education never ends. The ever-evolving skills and technologies are one of the exciting facets of the creative and marketing career path.

Opportunities for ongoing learning, enrichment, and personal growth are now more plentiful than at any other time in history. With access to more information than can be absorbed in a lifetime, the challenge is to structure your learning and find the best opportunities for your own advancement.  We've organized some of the content into categories to help with the selection process:

Virtual and Free

There are numerous free courses and lectures available online. Khan Academy, Coursera, and other established sites devoted to virtual learning offer college-level instruction on almost any topic, including plenty of technical and creative subjects that can aid in career advancement.

If you prefer a less structured approach, you can absorb hundreds of hours of TED Talks, alternatives to TED talks, podcasts, and audiobooks, investing only your time and the cost of an internet connection. There are also free, creatively oriented sites and discussion forums that offer a sense of community and require only your time investment.

Virtual, for a Fee

Some online classes charge a fee for their content by offering added value, exclusivity, personal attention, or access to a members-only networking community or content.

Many reputable institutions of higher learning now offer online classes, and many paid online programs are well worth the price. In order to devote themselves fully to their work, some creators of educational content charge membership fees or offer added perks to followers who donate via sites such as Patreon, which can give you the opportunity to foster a more meaningful relationship with a teacher, mentor, or community.

When you seek a paid continuing education course, seek reviews or communicate with others who have taken these programs to make sure it's the right investment for you.

Free and In-Person

In most major cities, creative professionals have easy access to a wide variety of free lectures, networking events, and other opportunities to expand their skillsets and meet potential friends and collaborators.

If you're looking for free events, Meetup.com is the best place to start - it includes groups based on thousands of topics, including many related to design, technology, and other creative fields. Creative Mornings hosts a series of talks in cities around the world, offering top-quality content for free. If you want to attend, register and grab your tickets within the first few minutes they are available, otherwise, they will sell-out very quickly.

In-Person, for a Fee 

If time allows, one of the most reliable ways to master a new discipline or set of skills is to set aside a few months and take an immersive class or "bootcamp." Many bootcamps have sprung up to teach technical skills such as coding and have gained credibility and following.

General Assembly is one example of a private learning institution for those in creative and technical fields. While it is only one of dozens of its kind, it has established a worldwide presence. It offers immersive courses in web development, user experience design, and other fields that offer opportunities for a new or enhanced career. If you're not ready to take that much of a leap, these schools also offer cost-effective classes that you can take in an evening or on a weekend.

At Artisan Creative, continued education is an important aspect of our business.  Contact us today to learn more.

In our 20+ years of connecting creative talent with top clients, we have gained knowledge and built strong networks.

We nurture creative talent at every stage of their careers.  Contact us today to discover how we can help. We hope you enjoy the 443rd issue of our weekly a.blog.


4 Effective Meeting Formats

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Although many in-person meetings are still held in offices or conference rooms, try leaving the office behind where possible to promote flexible thinking and energized collaboration.  Managers are creating playful and unconventional environments to help their teams think differently.

Some innovative companies have found that fresh and powerful insights can emerge when they challenge conventional notions of how meetings are conducted and bring people together by holding different meeting formats.

Here are four meeting formats that startups and large corporations have used to bring colleagues together in new and refreshing ways. If you want to treat your team to a dash of the unexpected, give one of these meetings a try!

Walking Meetings

With the popularity of standing desks and on-site gyms, it is clear that creative professionals and companies prize fitness and physical activity. Incorporating exercise into routine activities has been proven to increase creativity.

Walking meetings are a part of this trend. Instead of sitting in a conference room or office, many teams have found that moving their muscles, getting their hearts pumping, getting fresh air and experiencing a change of scenery can be more fun and productive. Harvard Business Review has some best practices for walking meetings

Active Meetings

If everyone in your group is up for breaking a sweat, you might try a meeting that entails additional physical activity.

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza shares unusual meeting formats from twelve cutting-edge companies. For example, Genera Games, holds meetings on the basketball court. Such a meeting can drive nimble thinking, allow players to indulge their competitive streaks, and, in the case of Genera, helps put employees in the mindset of the mobile gamers who use their products.

Creative Meetings

At Plum Organics, team members are encouraged to hit the books - coloring books. As they meet and discuss business matters, they engage "right-brained" thought by using paper, colored pencils, and crayons to jog neurons that aren't often in play in such settings.

According to Innovation Director Jen Brush, as featured in Vozza’s piece, an activity such as coloring promotes active listening, an important workplace skill that suffers when employees are "multitasking on something like email."

Brush holds coloring meetings every Thursday and says they have been an important factor in developing new products.

Gamified Meetings

Another example in Vozza's article is Darrell Ghert, a VP at the Inqusium division of Cvent. In the past, the quality of Ghert's meetings suffered from chronic lateness - some team members consistently showed up ten minutes behind schedule. This problem was a stubborn fixture of the office culture, not something he could fix by making threats.

Rather than getting frustrated, Ghert came up with a fun idea to help team members modify their behavior. Anyone who is late to one of his meetings is now required to sing. "We’ve heard the national anthem, happy birthday, and nursery rhymes," he says. However, these performances have become more rare, as almost everyone now shows up on time.

This sort of gamification is a step beyond the traditional rewards and demerits of the workplace - it is a system that improves processes while also itself serving as an example of creative thinking and problem-solving.

At Artisan Creative, we are deeply engaged with the changing culture of the workplace and want to help our world-class creative talent and clients do their best work, take advantage of new opportunities, and mine crucial insights that can change the world. Contact us today to learn more.

We are celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 438th issue of our weekly a.blog.


Generating Sticky Ideas

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Some think of creative inspiration as that elusive moment of epihany when the lightning bolt of clarity suddenly strikes. If you're a creative professional or entrepreneur, you know that you can't rely on such breakthroughs to happen simply when you need them to.

That's why many of the tried and true books in the creative industry focus on proven, repeatable formulas for generating effective ideas at any time, even when you're not feeling like Leonardo Da Vinci.

One such book is Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath. Drawing from backgrounds in science, marketing, and folklore, the Heath brothers set out to find patterns among "sticky ideas," concepts that catch on, spread, and "stick" in the collective memory of an audience. Released in 2007, this book has become an essential read in the advertising/marketing trades and beyond; its ideas have proven remarkably prescient in fields from pop culture to politics to online memes.

The Heaths boil down the essence of a sticky idea to six core principles, which they describe in their "SUCCESs" model. You can use this formula to generate your own ideas and to test them for "stickiness," no matter what sort of creative work you're doing.

Ask yourself if your idea meets the following descriptions, as the most "stickiest" of ideas tend to be:

1. Simple

To win the minds and hearts of an audience, get right to the point. "The man who chases two rabbits catches neither," says one Confucian proverb, and if you make a complicated argument with several different key points, your audience is unlikely to remember any of them. Your ideas must be simple, useful, and profound. Practice cutting away all that essential fat on your ideas, until they're lean, strong, and unforgettable.

2. Unexpected

The most memorable ideas disrupt norms or break predictable patterns. You can use counterintuitive and surprising ideas to roust people out of their trances, making them laugh, think, or take action.

Consider the iconic tagline from the rental company Avis: “We’re number two, so we try harder.” In this campaign, the company grabs attention by confessing a weakness - it has a long way to go to catch up with Hertz, the industry leader - and inverts it into a strength. Audiences expect companies to puff themselves up; they don’t expect them to admit to weakness, or to explain how it actually makes them stronger. With its sincerity, self-deprecation, and use of the unexpected, this Avis campaign ‘stuck’ for 50 years.

3. Concrete

A concrete idea is specific, vivid, and visceral. It has mass, weight, and impact. In a world accustomed to the lofty abstractions of academic and corporate jargon, a concrete idea will stand out. Practice communicating your ideas in pictures, sounds, and feelings, and take advantage of the human mind's natural affinity for information that appeals to the senses.

4. Credible

You may not be a doctor (or even play one on television), however you should be able to support your ideas with a sense of trusted authority. Celebrity endorsements and personal stories work because when trusted public figures are willing to stake their reputations on something, those who trust and admire them will approach it with confidence. If you can't get the Surgeon General to endorse your product, you can show it in action, present case studies, or cite striking statistics and details to enhance your credibility.

5. Emotional

An appeal to a person's pride, fear, anger, or compassion is usually more effective than trying to convince them with logic. To quote Jonathan Swift, "you cannot reason someone out of something he or she was not reasoned into." Even the most rational and sophisticated people can only override their core emotions with great difficulty.

6. Stories

Timeless storytelling structures such as "the hero's journey" are still used by Hollywood screenwriters because they work. They can hook an audience's attention and appeal to shared and deeply held values. They work just as well for advertisers and creative professionals. Storytelling can even help build a better portfolio - instead of piecing together a collection of projects, embrace an internal structure and communicate a story of how you've evolved and what you've learned from your experience.

Creativity is a science and an art, and it can be learned. Contact Artisan Creative, and we'll provide resources to put you on the creative fast track and provide access to opportunities to improve your work and build your career.

Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years, we've learned a thing or two that we'd like to share with you. We hope you enjoyed the 430th issue of our weekly a.blog. You can find more articles here.




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