The Artisan Creative a.blog explores creativity and culture for job seekers and employers alike. Here you can browse over 500 articles covering resume & interviewing tips, hiring best practices, staffing & recruitment, freelancing, and entrepreneurship as well as tips on productivity, networking, and more.

5 Tips for Active Listening on Zoom

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021|Comments Off on 5 Tips for Active Listening on Zoom

Yes, we are in a Zoom (insert Microsoft teams, Google Meet, etc.) world and distractions are aplenty. Whether you are interviewing or conducting a team meeting, it’s imperative to be present and connect.

Between notifications for email and Slack,  phone calls, LinkedIn posts, tweets, and so on, digital communication is at an all-time high and, this all-time high requires true listening. Today active listening is a skill that too often gets lost in a sea of technological noise.

We can all improve our active listening skills in a few easy steps and in the process build better relationships, resolve conflicts, and understand issues, whether in the workplace or elsewhere. 

Here are 5 tips to help develop our active listening skills while on Zoom: 

  1. Quiet Your Mind. Quieting the mind before a meeting is critical for being present without thinking ahead to say next or trying to problem solve. This is key to active listening!  Before a meeting starts, turn off other notifications, close your eyes, and take three deeps breaths.  Turn on Zoom and you are ready to go.
  2. Maintain eye contact. Have the speaker on speaker view.  If it’s distracting to see yourself, hide your own view. When possible stand while you are conducting your meeting.  You’ll find that your voice may project better and you’ll be more present.
  3. Be empathetic. The soul of active listening is empathy. If the person you’re listening to is sad, happy, fearful, or angry in your conversation, place yourself in their shoes. Repeat back what they just said. Use statements such as “Let me make sure I understand or let me make sure I heard you correctly”. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarity.  
  4. Stay Curious and stay out of judgment.   Ask questions for clarity vs. for problem-solving.  
  5. Look for nonverbal cues. Their cadence, tone of voice, and body language can offer a lot of information. Look for small signs of nervousness, enthusiasm, or anxiety in their mannerisms, gestures, and posture to help determine how they really feel. 

The digital meeting space is here to stay.  Even when we can be together again in person, many companies have shifted to a remote environment. These 5 tips can help develop our active listening skills while on Zoom and create greater connections.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 582nd issue of our weekly a.blog.

3 Questions to Consider When Hiring a Designer

Wednesday, March 10th, 2021|Comments Off on 3 Questions to Consider When Hiring a Designer

In the twenty-five years of recruiting creative and marketing talent at Artisan Creative, one question often asked by potential clients is “how much does it cost to hire a designer”? Our answer is, “it depends”. And it truly does depend. It depends on what your core objectives are, on what problem your designer is going to solve, and what your current team’s capabilities are.

Below are three questions to ask yourself before starting your hiring process.

Conceptual or Executional (or both)?

Are you hiring someone to think, be conceptual, come up with ideas, be iterative, push the creative envelope, and create the big picture vision for your project or brand?

If the design direction for your project is already set, do you have the big picture vision and brand parameters in place and now need someone to execute on that idea and bring it to life?

Seniority level?

Will your designer communicate with or oversee vendors and team members? Will they directly interact with senior leadership in your organization? Do you need them to help establish guidelines, best practices, processes? Are you looking for someone with leadership experience?

Some parameters to keep in mind are whether you need someone who can pitch and present to clients. Do you need someone who is going to follow established guidelines and report to a senior manager?

The salary or hourly rate for each of these functions will vary, so as you plan your project budget consider whether a senior-level talent, mid-level, or junior-level talent is right for your team and needs.

Specialist or Generalist

Do you need someone who can do a little bit of everything, or do you need a designer with a core specialty and focus?

A generalist has a vast knowledge of a variety of programs. From print to digital, to illustrations, motion…  they may be able to do it all. They may favor one over the other, or they may truly love the diversity and broad variety of projects that test their skills.

A specialist has a core focus. Although they can have a wider breadth of knowledge, they have chosen a focus of concentration for their craft. They may have higher education or many years of experience in their chosen field. They may specialize in User Experience design, or Illustration, or Motion design for example.

Depending on your business offerings, you may need a designer who is narrow and deep in their expertise, while others may need someone who has a wider breadth of experience. Who do you need for your business, what’s the best fit right now?

Be sure to add qualifying questions in your interview process to help determine the right fit.

If you don’t have the time or the support to recruit internally, the Artisan Creative team already has these and a depth of other qualifying questions we ask in our interview process for candidate qualification.  Let us know how we can help.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 581st issue of our weekly a.blog.

Design Trends for 2021

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021|Comments Off on Design Trends for 2021

Design trends often respond to the current cultural trends.  It’s no surprise that given the upheavals of 2020, 2021’s predictions for design trends while calm and positive, also include a disruptive undertone.  Distance learning, remote offices, and digital communications impact these trends further.  Some notable 2021 trends in graphic and web design include:

Pantone’s color(s) of the year

Each year Pantone selects its color of the year.  This year it has selected two colors that represent, to me, where we’ve been and where we want to go:

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray’ and ‘PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating.  The hopefulness to this duo is echoed in Pantone’s introduction of the colors: “A message of happiness supported by fortitude, the combination of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter – this is essential to the human spirit.”

Environment-first approach

2020 required many to stay indoors, so it’s only natural that desire for the outdoors has influenced packaging and graphic design. A focus on natural patterns with flora and fauna will have an impact on design.  A deeper connection with mother nature will continue in 2021 influencing improved trends in sustainability.  Be ready for softer hues, muted colors, and more organic fabrications will be everywhere from interior design to graphic design.

Playful

3D graphics, Shapes Textures, Patterns, and Illustrations will have a huge impact in 2021.

The continued rise in gaming, as well as AR & VR, also requires the use of 3D graphics and software to be realistic, engaging, and eye-catching.   Especially in the e-learning space, where keeping engagement and elongating the attention-span of kids is needed for hours at a time, the intelligent use of 3D graphics becomes critical.

Look for 3D emoji designs, cartoons, illustrations, textures, and patterns to have a big impact on graphic design and animation. These all evoke emotion, capture attention, bring about fun, optimism, and a playfulness that consumers crave.  Look for animated logos as a continued design trend in 2021.

What’s your Type?

Typography rules have been pushed and we’ll now see bold and disruptive usage in 2021.  Patterns, optical illusions, 3D, as well as Inkstyle drawings and word-only logos, will be popular this year.

We’ll see a fun use of geometric shapes, experimental typefaces, and a plethora of handwriting typefaces fonts that have been distorted, elongated, and condensed, giving recognition that our world has indeed changed.

What new design trends are you seeing in your business?

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 580th issue of our weekly a.blog.

IQ + EQ + AQ = Onboarding Success

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021|Comments Off on IQ + EQ + AQ = Onboarding Success

The first day at any new job is filled with equal doses of excitement and anticipation.

To start a new job in a remote environment where you meet everyone for the first time via a digital device can add an additional dose of nervousness.

To prepare yourself for a successful onboarding into a new company and integration into a new culture, follow the simple steps below.

First-day success falls into three categories: intellectual, emotional, and adaptability quotients. IQ + EQ + AQ = Success

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

This is the intellectual piece of success in any role. It’s the cognitive intelligence that is needed to carry forth the day-to-day requirements of the role. How well we retain the training material, how fast we learn, our verbal skills all come together to take on a rush of new information and experiences. This requires an operational plan for onboarding. The why, how, and what of doing our job.

Some items to take into consideration are:

  • Orientation and training plans.
  • Tools needed to accomplish my job correctly.
  • Team communication preferences and cadence.
  • Logins and access to files and collaboration tools

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

EQ includes a broad range of interpersonal skills needed to make a connection with the team.

This can start even before day one on the job by reviewing the new company’s social media pages and LinkedIn profiles to get a better sense of the team, their interests, and the company culture. Learning about and evaluating a company’s core values are key.

Some items to take into consideration are:

Be Friendly
Respond to a welcome aboard email and connect with your new team, participate in their various communications tools. We use Slack here at Artisan Creative and have a variety of channels for random posts, as well as setting our intentions and sharing our daily gratitude.

Build Connections
Reach out to your departmental team members individually and introduce yourself. While this can feel daunting, especially if you’re an introvert, making an effort at the start will have its benefits in the long run.

Be Curious
Ask questions and learn about each individual’s role and tenure in the company. Find out what they like about working there. Let them know what department you are joining and offer to help if they need anything from your team.

E-Coffee dates
Setup virtual coffee or lunch dates to make more personal connections and learn as much as you can about the company and its people.

At Artisan Creative, we use our annual Vision Board project as an icebreaker exercise where the team presents their personal and professional goals to one another and to our new hires.

Adaptability Quotient (AQ)

The third and equally important piece of the formula is the Adaptability Quotient, especially in today’s unpredictable environment impacted by the pandemic. Although many companies are adjusting to the remote work setting, it’s important to be mindful that many firsts can still occur during this time. Your remote onboarding may be a first for this hiring manager, so it’s important to stay adaptable as needed.

Some items to take into consideration are:

Positivity
Go with the flow and stay positive as both you and your remote team learn to master ever-changing communication skills.

Agility
Make course corrections and changes as needed. Demonstrating agility of thought and action is one of Artisan Creative’s core values, and it’s one we’ve relied on heavily during the eleven years we’ve been working remotely. It’s been even more important in today’s work environment where colleagues have had to juggle additional responsibilities including homeschooling.

Be open-minded
You may have learned processes or utilized tools in a different manner in your previous role. An open mind rapidly embraces new methodologies that may differ from your previous processes. If you see a better way, do share it once you’ve truly understood how your new company integrates with these tools.

Listening skills
Get to know everyone’s communication styles and activate your listening skills. It’s easy to misconstrue via text or slack, so when possible hop on zoom or a quick call for clarity.

Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to speak up if don’t know something. Every new role has a learning curve and it’s better to get clarity upfront.

We hope these tips create success for you in your new role. On day one, show up 15 minutes early, double-check your zoom and computer settings, fix your backdrop, grab a coffee and be ready to learn, connect with your team, and grow with your new company.

This article was originally published on Medium.com

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 579th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Virtual Team Building Exercises

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021|Comments Off on Virtual Team Building Exercises

It seems we will continue to navigate work-from-home life for some time to come.  However, being solo does not mean being in a silo.  There are many opportunities to connect virtually, boost team morale, and spark cohesion by implementing virtual team-building exercises to bring teams together and grow the culture. 

In a remote work environment, communication is the glue that holds the team together by preventing misunderstanding in both task execution and personal relationships. Prioritizing communication with remote teams will not only increase engagement but also foster a sense of support. At Artisan, we have a video-first approach where possible, then resort to slack or calls.  We prefer to see one another and our candidates when possible via video when communicating.

We also incorporate icebreakers into our Monday morning calls. Below is a list of virtual team-building exercises and tips that will spark the sense of community your team may be longing for as we continue maneuvering through these difficult times. 

Start the Zoom Meeting Off Right

Generate excitement and engagement at the start of every video meeting by implementing icebreakers to promote connection and team-building.

For a quick icebreaker, have each team member share a lesson learned for the week or share a “high” and a “low’ from the previous week.  Depending on the team’s dynamic, this can be as casual or as deep as each person would like.   

Another great icebreaker is to is pose a critical thinking question or a riddle to the team. This does not necessarily have to be related to work and can be more playful and thought-provoking. This will not only prompt your team to get their wheels turning immediately, but it will also provide insight into how your team thinks.  We’ve used the 3000 Questions to inspire fun and create meaningful conversations.

Dedicate More Time to Lengthy Team Building Activities

If your company culture calls for more in-depth team-building exercises, many virtual games and activities encourage teamwork and create an immersive experience!

Outback virtual team building has several professionally organized team-building experiences that range from 1 to 3 hours and can be adjusted for any size team! You can even choose between a self-hosted or virtually-hosted format. 

For a more simple activity, create a virtual coffee break or happy hour to celebrate with your team! You can plan several virtual games and activities for everyone to spark conversation and storytelling. If you want to go above and beyond, send your team members a package with drinks and snacks!

Additionally, there are many platforms for team game nights and trivia nights. For example, The Offsite Co. has options from virtual escape rooms to scavenger hunts, and Avital Tours offers cooking classes and culinary experiences.

Utilize Team Building Software 

The transition to remote work started before the pandemic with the emergence of several highly efficient cloud-based software can further increase engagement and build better communication daily.  

Klaxtoon or Mentimeter are two platforms that facilitate remote meetings by enabling each team member to participate with their own device. The software then visually depicts the collected input with easy-to-digest, playful graphics that can be shared with the whole team. 

Both have many features that make them highly engaging platforms, such as filtering ideas by color, creating surveys, and collecting feedback once the meeting has ended. 

Other team-building software such as Range or communication and collaboration apps such as Slack or Trello allow for seamless check-ins with all team members. They facilitate the creation of personal relationships by allowing team members to connect and to communicate successes and challenges. These same tools can also be used for onboarding a new hire remotely.  Additional tips can be found here.

The current global pandemic has created an opportunity for us to adapt the way we work, and more significantly, the way we communicate. We must work together to bring our teams a sense of cohesion and connection when communication only happens digitally.   

As we continue to learn and adjust, it is important to encourage team unity through team-building exercises that make your team feel connected, facilitating engagement and productivity.   What best practices do you use for remote team-building?

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 578th issue of our weekly a.blog.

START SMART

Tuesday, January 12th, 2021|Comments Off on START SMART

Happy 2021!  Your vision board is done. You have selected your word of the year.

You feel full of energy and enthusiasm and are ready to tackle every project and every goal.

What about 2 months from now? How will you keep on track?  How about six months from now–will 50% of your goals be accomplished by then?  Let’s make certain they can be.

The key to setting goals and accomplishing them is to set SMART goals.  And, just as important for your goals to be SMART, is to START smart.

The traditional Smart goals as introduced by Peter Drucker are:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Deepak Chopra has his version which I love.

  • Stretch for more than you can reach
  • Make everything measurable
  • Agreement with yourself and those around you
  • Record your progress
  • Time limits for acting and getting results

However we define SMART goals, they won’t magically come to fruition without foresight, preparation, and follow-through. To set SMART goals we have to START Smart.   And, to start smart we must be or have:

S: Set strength-based goals. Rely on our strengths

T: Tenacious. Show tenacity.

A: Alignment. Be aligned with our core values

R: Reflect.  Take time to reflect and give yourself the time and space to discover WHY you want to pursue the specific goals you’ve set.

T: Team.  Gather a team around you to help you accomplish your goals.

Let’s delve into it further:

S: Strength-based means to rely on your own strengths, talents, skills, and behaviors that naturally come to you and help you accomplish what you set your mind to do.  For example, I am a naturally positive person and that positivity propels me to have a can-do attitude, view every obstacle as a growth challenge, and know I can think beyond the box to find a solution.

T: Tenacity

Every goal requires a tenacious, unwavering belief in its accomplishment.  It requires hard work, planning, and commitment.  Otherwise, it’s not a goal, it a wish.

A: Alignment with your core values

Goals have to be true to our core.  They have to align with what is most important to us and to the values we adhere to.  Otherwise, we will have inner conflict and a harder path towards achievement.

R: Reflective.  We have to give ourselves the time and space to discover WHY we want to pursue a specific goal. The goal has to be significant to us and to those around us.  When other stakeholders are involved, there is more on the line and a bigger motivation for accomplishment.

T: Team

Goals are not accomplished in a vacuum.  We all need a support system or an accountability partner to keep us on track and focused.  Sharing our goals with others creates a commitment, a stronger sense of responsibility to self and to others.

As you plan out your 2021, how will you break your goals into SMART ones and take the time to START smart?

Vision (Board) 2021

Sunday, December 27th, 2020|Comments Off on Vision (Board) 2021

Our new decade started with the most unprecedented year, and certainly one that has brought about challenges, opportunities, and many lessons along the way.  This is a special time of the year to reflect on the previous year and to plan for the upcoming one.

What did we learn in 2020? What do we want to do more of? What will we stop doing? Who do we want to be in this new year? These are just a few questions to reflect upon.

Here at Artisan Creative, each year we work on our vision boards and present them to one another at our first team meeting in January. The boards are a collection of our short and long-term goals and include both personal and professional aspirations. Most of our team members create physical boards, although a few opt for a digital version using TrelloCanvaPinterest, Jamboard, or PicMonkey.

Presenting to the team creates accountability (one of our core values) and enables us to learn more about each other’s ambitions, dreams, and commitments. Many start by setting a theme for the year, and then include specific action words and inspirational quotes. All have in common a shared use of imagery that inspires, tells a story, and conveys a message to create a powerful visualization tool.

In addition to sharing our vision and goals at the start of the new year, we review our boards mid-year in our June meeting and share a recap at our year-end meeting. This helps keep us on track during the course of the year, which can have many twists and turns. This activity is one of our strongest team-building exercises, as it stays “evergreen”.

Here are five tips to create your vision board and get started on achieving your goals!

  1. Choose a theme
  2. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values and positivity and inspiration for yourself and others.
  3. Imagine the integrated life/work you want to have.
  4. Create your board.
  5. Live your best life.

You can either divide your board into sections for business and personal or mix the elements together throughout. The important point is to create an integrated board where your personal and professional aspirations are represented.

Hang the board where you can re-visit it daily—read the inspirational messages out loud— and often! Mine is right in front of my desk, so I get to see it every time I look up from my computer.

Another key element is sharing the board with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.

If you choose to go the digital route, change your desktop to the vision board artwork so you can see it every day for inspiration and setting priorities.

Tools needed:

  • A large poster board to give you plenty of space to visualize your year, yet small enough to hang on your wall. We use the 22 x 28 size available from Staples.
  • A good pair of scissors and a strong glue stick so the pictures stay on all year long.
  • Variety of magazines to look through and find those inspiring words and pictures.
  • (Optional) Markers/stickers to write on or embellish your board.
  • Patience and Creativity.
  • Time to reflect.
    Cut images and words throughout the month. Select aside a day to create the actual vision board. For some, it’s easier to start with a theme and for others, the pictures and words shape the theme of the board. There is no right or wrong method, harness your creativity any way that works best for you.

What is your goal-setting process?

Happy 2021!  We hope you’ve enjoyed the 576th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Happy Holidays from Artisan Creative

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020|Comments Off on Happy Holidays from Artisan Creative

At Artisan Creative we gathered virtually with our team to celebrate the holidays.

As we count down the most unusual year of all, we know we have many reasons to be grateful in 2020.

Our team, our talent, and our clients are amongst those reasons.

As we begin plans to celebrate our 25th year in business, we wanted to take a moment and thank you for your trust over the years.

We wish you a happy and safe holiday.

How to Plan a Remote Holiday Gathering

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020|Comments Off on How to Plan a Remote Holiday Gathering

For the past 24 years, Margaret Jung, our Senior Account Manager, has hosted a festive luncheon for our team during the holidays. Some years we had as many as 30 people gather, and some years we’ve had as few as 8. We come together to share our gratitude for one another, review our vision boards for the year, discuss goals we’ve accomplished, and cheer in the new year. Even though we have been a remote company for 10 years, we have always celebrated the holidays in person at Margaret’s home. Except for this year.

This is a year like no other, so our 25th-holiday party was like no other. Although it was different, it was great fun and we connected from the heart. After all, living our core value of creating trusted relationships means connecting, and what better way to connect than to celebrate one another! And, while we couldn’t be in person, we still laughed, exchanged gifts, and ate together (via zoom). This year, the silver lining was that our out-of-town teammates were able to be “in-town” and fully participate.

Here is how we planned ours.

  • Secret Santa gifts were organized via Elfster. We preselected budgets and set up our wish list.
  • Each team member selected a song to be played at the event and shared why it was memorable.  They selected a song from any period of their life as long as it either:
    • Brought joy
    • Energized
    • Was reflective

Music is such an uplifting and powerful connector and allowed us the opportunity to learn more about each other at a deeper level.

  • Secret Santa gift exchange took place, complete with oohs and aahs and zoom screenshots to capture the festivities.
  • Lunch was pre-ordered ahead of time so we could eat together.
  • Every year, each team member creates a vision board in January. We revisit them mid-year and then again at our December holiday party.  So at our zoom gathering, every person reviewed their vision board and shared their aspirations and the lessons learned from this year.
  • We shared our gratitude and wrapped up our gathering.

This year has been full of new learnings and wonderful, unexpected surprises. This party was no exception and it was the most fun two hours I’ve spent with my team in a long while. This team rocks!

If you are planning your first virtual party, I hope the above information is helpful.

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season and a lively virtual gathering.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 575th issue of our a.blog.

Gratitude 2020

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020|Comments Off on Gratitude 2020

Each Thanksgiving holiday season, we gather and share our collective gratitude and celebrate our clients and talent whom we work with all year.

This year, at a time that requires deeper reflection, has brought about ample opportunities to count our blessings.   To create this list, we gathered together (via zoom), focused on our enthusiasm and communication core values to share what is important to us now and what we are grateful for.

Here are the collected gratitudes from members of our Artisan Creative a.team:

  1. Gratitude for working with the finest talent and clients
  2. Gratitude for 25 years of being Artisan Creative
  3. Gratitude for the opportunity to impact careers and change lives
  4. Gratitude for the awareness of the good fortune and the ability to shift our work to the online world and remain connected
  5. Gratitude for the weekly family zoom gathering with our siblings, their families, and our parents (now in their late 80s). We have done this every Sunday for 1 hour without a miss since late March 2020
  6. Gratitude for time to reflect on what matters most in life and work.
  7. Gratitude for early morning walks & weekend hikes
  8. Gratitude for our a.team of amazing co-workers
  9. Gratitude for 11 years of being a remote company
  10. Gratitude for working
  11. Gratitude for good food
  12. Gratitude for our pets who keep us company all-day
  13. Gratitude for the beauty of nature and America’s great outdoors
  14. Gratitude for the love and support of family and friends
  15. Grateful for new hobbies
  16. Grateful for my donkeys
  17. Grateful for staying connected with friends globally
  18. Grateful for personal growth
  19. Grateful for my vibrant health
  20. Grateful for watching the Santa Monica beach sunset (almost) every evening

This would not be possible without the courage and selflessness of frontline workers and those who support our communities from behind the scenes. We share our deepest gratitude to those who work hard, so we can be safe.

We enter this season in optimistic spirits, and we could never thank you all enough!

We wish you and yours a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

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