As digital communications technology becomes ever more efficient, more projects are being done by remote workers and even entire remote teams. This means that digital meetings are becoming the norm. On-site teams are also making the most of the convenience of digital meeting technology.
In some respects, digital meetings are easier to run than their in-person equivalents. However, to be effective, remote meetings require some special planning and organizational considerations that should be kept in mind.
Know Your Goals
Always plan your digital meetings around a clear objective. Each meeting has its own purpose. It could be brainstorming, accomplishing a specific goal, or simply a routine check-in to make sure your remote team is in sync and communicating clearly. When you know what you want to get from a remote meeting, it’s easy to follow up and determine afterward whether or not it was successful and adjust your approach accordingly. Plus, this will help you avoid the dreaded “meeting that could have been an email.”
Know Your Agenda
Take responsibility for structuring your digital meeting in advance. Determine who is going to lead each specific discussion, create a document outlining everything that needs to be discussed, and share your agenda with anyone who plans to attend. This will make it easy for everyone to organize their thoughts and prepare for expectations before the camera light blinks on.
Know Your Software
There is an array of tools and platforms available for running digital meetings. When you choose one, it will likely become the go-to for your team. Make sure your selection has all the necessary features, is compatible with any other relevant software or hardware, and is easy for everyone to use and to explain to any outsiders who join particular meetings. If some relevant parties are not able to attend, you may want to make sure your software has recording capabilities, so you can send them the video to review later.
Know Your Schedule(s)
In the digital age, with many remote teams, clients, and stakeholders are scattered across different time zones and continents, inquire in advance to make sure that everyone can attend and has a quiet, distraction-free area to log on. If some attendees can only use audio, make sure they have any visual presentations beforehand to avoid confusion. Additionally, respecting everyone’s time with – a “hard stop” and some consideration will ensure that the meeting doesn’t cause unnecessary stress for remote team members and clients who may have other obligations you aren’t aware of.
At Artisan Creative, our years of success operating as an entirely remote team gives us an edge in navigating the new world of digital work. Contact Artisan to prepare for digital creative success, today and tomorrow.
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When attempting to move up in creative careers, especially when switching fields, job seekers are haunted by one perennial frustration: it can be hard to get experience when you don’t already have experience.
Hiring managers and creative recruiters gravitate toward candidates who already have proven track records and know how to navigate the responsibilities that come with new opportunities. If you’re angling for a job or a career in an area in which your prior work history is not applicable or sufficient there are steps you can take to compensate for a lack of relevant professional experience. Career coach Martin McGovern suggests three moves that can open new opportunities that you may not be able to get with your CV alone.
“Let’s say you want to be a copywriter at a food publication,” says McGovern. “Don’t wait for them to hire you before you start writing about food. Create your own food blog and get to work. I have a close friend who was able to break into the highest reaches of the culinary world through strategic use of Instagram, blogging, email marketing, and outreach. Give yourself permission to do the work and others will be clamoring to work with you.”
Developing a side hustle in your field of choice is a great way to choose yourself, explore your passions, and show potential future employers and colleagues what you can do. If you properly manage your schedule, you can usually pursue some freelance work without sacrificing your day job.
“Recently, I had a student who really wanted to work in sportstech as a web developer,” McGovern says. “So he started a sportstech meetup. Instantly, 35 people joined the group. He was able to leverage this to reach out to CEOs from his favorite companies and ask them to speak at the first event. After the event, they came up to him and asked if he was looking for an internship, which allowed him to completely circumvent the whole job search process.”
Meetup groups are an excellent way to engage with your professional community, broaden your own horizons, and unearth the sorts of opportunities that may not readily present themselves through Google searches. Spending time with successful peers can also help you become fluent in the language of your chosen industry, which can be an enormous help in tailoring your resume and maximizing your social media presence.
You can look for interesting communities in your area on Meetup.com, or attend a lecture from Creative Mornings. If you can’t find the right group, start your own. You may be surprised at how many like minds you find.
“Most cities have professional organizations for your line of work and they are always in need of help,” McGovern says. “Sign up, go to their events, volunteer, and join the board! This will show you are ambitious, forward thinking, part of the community, and knowledgeable in your desired field.”
Local creative communities tend to be particularly well served by professional organizations. For designers, there’s AIGA. Marketing professionals have the AMA with many other local alternatives. For those on the creative side of the technology world, exciting organizations such as World IA Day can always use volunteer help, providing ample opportunities in return to tap into your skills and make life-changing professional connections.
Whatever your current level of experience, you can always find creative ways to improve yourself and build a career you love. At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals make the most of their many opportunities. Contact Artisan today to get started.
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With communication technology steadily improving and facilitating easier exchanges of information across points around the globe, the world is getting flatter, and the workplace is becoming more location-independent. Remote work is on the rise, and will likely become even more popular as time goes on.
Managers should be ready to facilitate success for remote workers and teams. If you aren’t currently managing a remote team, there’s an increasingly good chance you will in the future. You may find that, in some cases, remote teams can work better together and achieve even greater success than traditional, on-site workplaces.
At Artisan Creative, our team has worked remotely for many years, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Here are some of the ideas that we use to help remote teams, including our own, stay on track to success.
Treat Team Members Similarly, Whether On-site or Off-site
Managing off-site workers is not a unique discipline unto itself. The core principles that govern effective management of on-site teams apply just as well when some or all of your team is working remotely, although you may need some minor adjustments. Likewise, remote team members should be treated no differently from those in the office. Everyone should know they are working together toward common goals.
The most significant difference in effectively managing remote teams is that, when you don’t have the same ability to constantly observe what is going on, a more proactive approach to management may better serve your needs as well as those of your team. According to the Harvard Business Review, “managers must put in extra effort to cultivate a positive team dynamic and ensure remote workers feel connected to other colleagues.” When you’re not present physically, you may need to be more deliberately present in other, equally important respects.
Set Crystal Clear Expectations
When managing remote teams, make sure all requirements and expectations are made obvious and apparent, starting with onboarding and continuing in earnest every day thereafter. When colleagues don’t occupy the same physical space, it can be easier for misunderstandings to arise and for nuance to be lost. You can prevent this when you emphasize clear communication at every step, making sure every important message is received and understood. The right project management software is crucial for ongoing communication and collaboration.
Just because remote teams don’t share office space doesn’t mean they can’t have fun together and bond as a group. As a manager, you can support team cohesion by encouraging virtual friendship. This can range from group brainstorming to team building activities, all of which can be enhanced through certain features of collaboration apps and other such software solutions.
Meet In Person When Possible
If you can, arrange for your team to get together in person, preferably at predictable intervals, whether to strategize and get creative as a group, work on important projects, or simply get to know each other better. This will add some depth to your virtual interactions, make your teamwork feel more cohesive, and let remote team members know they are important and appreciated.
Managing remote teams is an increasingly important business skill, one of many we can help you develop as we work together to build the workplace of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more about 21st Century teamwork and discover our secret recipes for digital business success.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 536th issue of our a.blog.
A job title is a noun. In terms of your professional life, it is what you are. If you want to unlock more opportunities, level up in your creative career, and maybe even feel better about yourself, we suggest thinking in verbs and focusing less on what you are and more on what you do.
When you’re reworking your creative resume or embarking on a new creative job search, it may benefit you to place less emphasis on the job titles you’ve held and more on the responsibilities you upheld. Go beyond the title and get to the real story.
Let’s Be Clear
Silicon Valley startup culture – with all its innovations, disruptions, and eccentricities – has been a big influence on the culture of work for over a decade. As part of its subversion of old corporate power structures, it created enormous fiscal wealth, along with a wealth of strange and often blatantly inflated new job titles, as many Senior Road Warrior Marketing Interns and Wizards of Lightbulb Moments might attest.
Specificity kills ambiguity. Even if you’ve had some odd job titles in the past, you can strengthen your resume by emphasizing your day-to-day activities, larger objectives, and concrete contributions. Show your solid skills and concentrated work ethic. Eliminate jargon and explain your work in the most literal terms you can think of.
If you’re having trouble with this, work with an experienced creative recruiter to rephrase your resume and highlight real accomplishments that hiring managers will understand.
When you write about your responsibilities, show that you took them seriously by connecting to the results you generated.
If you were in charge of a campaign or a project, be sure to mention its goals and how you achieved them. Especially if you delivered it in three days ahead of time or 25% below the requested budget, or with results that exceeded expectations by a factor of four. (Specific numbers and metrics, if applicable, are always good.)
Share Your Journey
Since our early days, humans have made sense of reality through storytelling and the metaphor of travel. Your resume should suggest a narrative arc, a journey from there, to here, to the next opportunity you’re angling for.
You can use classic story structures to show how you overcame adversity, built on your past experiences and achievements, and evolved. This will make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to picture you in a new position that represents a logical progression.
When your terminology is clear and purposeful, your career can be grand and glorious, and you can conjure many more lightbulb moments into watershed moments.
At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals surpass their own expectations. Contact us today to learn more.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 535th issue of our a.blog.
If you’ve spent any slice of time searching for a job, you’ve probably experienced this. At some point in a typical job interview, often right at the top, your interviewer will say, “tell me about yourself.”
Technically, this isn’t a question, it’s a prompt. It puts you on the spot. It can be intimidating!
However, with the right preparation – along with dashes of confidence, enthusiasm, and self-awareness – “tell me about yourself” can be your opportunity to shine.
In preparation for this inevitable inquiry, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
Tell Your Story
Intrigue your interviewer, engage their interest, and make them want to learn more about you – make use of your storytelling skills. Go on a journey, from the moment you realized your professional passion, through the experiences that honed your skills, to the conversation at hand and the opportunity currently in front of you. Explain how you’ve grown and evolved, and share anecdotes that support your big idea (e.g., “I’m curious,” “I’m an enthusiastic collaborator,” or “I’m a shameless data geek.”). Some classic storytelling structures used by great writers can serve as outlines for your own tale of inspiration, perseverance, and success.
Show Some Personality
Refer to your hobbies and the unique life experiences you’ve had. If it seems appropriate, you can even sprinkle in a bit of self-effacing humor. With the human element in play, the “tell me about yourself” portion of your interview can help you stand out and determine whether you’ll be a match for this team and its culture.
Specificity Kills Ambiguity
When you can, talk about your experience in terms of quantifiable accomplishments. “I had a job in digital marketing” makes less of an impression than “I led a Facebook ad campaign that grew my company’s email list by 300% in Q1 of 2019.” Similarly, when you talk about your personal qualities, use pictures, sounds, and feelings – this will give you an edge over competing candidates who lean on vague generalities, superlatives, and played-out jargon.
Cut to the Chase
You should avoid rambling and be able to comfortably wrap up your answer within 60-90 seconds. For practice, write out your answer, read it aloud, and cut anything that’s awkward or inessential. To get things moving quickly, hook your interviewer with your very first sentence.
Make It Relevant
“Always relate your answer directly to the job in question,” says Coach Tracy of The Career Launcher. “Tie your answer directly to the mission of the role and the challenges that typically are dealt with by job holders, and try to differentiate yourself with evidence of your skills for the job.”
Your interviewers want to be convinced that you’re right, as they need to know you’re the perfect match for this particular job. Whenever you tell your story, include variations each time to align with the details of the job description, the specific needs of the company, and how your skills and experience apply to the opportunity you’re applying for.
Spin the Table
Career coach Liz Ryan introduces “spinning the table,” a sophisticated method for transitioning out of your own story and into the substance of the interview, specifically your interviewer’s pain points, which you can then address. Answer your interviewer’s question, then ask them a question in turn. “You aren’t asking questions just for fun,” says Ryan. “You want to find out what the job is really about… You want to find out where the pain is because once you’ve got the hiring manager talking about their pain, the conversation can go to a completely different place.”
At Artisan Creative, we place creative, marketing and digital talent with the companies and opportunities that will give them a chance to do their best work and live their best lives. Contact us today and let our a.team find your dream team.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 534th issue of the a.blog.
According to design thought leader John Maeda, Customer Experience, or CX, “is a term that roughly encompasses marketing, product, support, design, and HR (employee experience).” The CX perspective sees every touchpoint in terms of an overall customer journey. CX best practices encourage businesses to differentiate in terms of product, the overall value created for a customer and to communicate through an open, continuous feedback loop enabled by real-time research and social media interaction.
CX is a broad field with an open, evolving landscape. Here are some key areas of CX knowledge for creative business leaders and potential opportunities for creative job seekers considering CX or CX-adjacent creative careers.
As a design discipline, CX is similar to, yet distinct from, UX, or User Experience design. Per the Interaction Design Foundation, “CX design and user experience (UX) design are sometimes used interchangeably because both are concerned with the overall experience of using a product or service… CX design tends to adopt a broader view than UX, and has a slightly more commercial focus.” Designers focused on CX may work closely with those in UX, may have similar skills, or may shift back and forth from one field to another. These days, CX design is becoming a distinct and powerful discipline with its own tools, values, and vocabulary.
CX strategy is the overall game plan for pursuing optimal customer experience in ways that are appropriate for the objectives and values of a business. It aligns CX prerogatives with larger business plans, determines how investments of time and money will be allocated for CX, maps and connects all relevant touchpoints, and creates harmony between internal resources and customer expectations. For those who love to discover how many different puzzle pieces fit together to form a bigger picture that fosters customer loyalty and delight, CX strategy provides an exciting overhead view.
There are many tactics, tools, and techniques for implementing CX strategy on the ground, where the rubber meets the road. Every consumer touchpoint provides an opportunity for comfort-building maneuvers such as email personalization, experimental growth hacks, and the classic elements of great customer service, all of which involve many moving parts that have their places in the greater scheme of Customer Experience and business success.
Culture and Leadership
Great CX must always begin at the top. Mutually rewarding end-to-end customer journeys should resonate with strong, well-defined, harmonious corporate values and missions. To make all this work, great CX requires committed and enthusiastic understanding and leadership in incorporating customer feedback, building from a place of empathy, and envisioning business endeavors in terms of a journey and a process. CX and company culture are interdependent, and they’re everyone’s job, especially those in trusted positions of leadership.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 523rd issue of our a.blog.
Whatever you do for a living, you’ll be spending a good amount of time on it. Thus, it’s important to choose jobs, gigs, and careers that are aligned with your values, your strengths, your goals, as well as with your sense of adventure and fun.
When you’re job hunting or looking for a new creative career, simply picking an opportunity with the largest salary attached may not lead to as much happiness as you might be expecting. Take some time to look at the whole picture, including job perks that will make your job and the workplace you’ll be spending 8+ hours a day in uniquely welcoming and rewarding. And, if you run a business and you’re hiring talent, consider offering enticing and unusual job perks to help attract the right team that can take your entity to the next level.
Here are a few job perks to consider, from the common to the quirky, to the cool.
Flextime: The ritual of working regular shifts Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 5:00, is based on an old industrial model of workplace efficiency that is not necessarily applicable or useful for all modern businesses. Flextime gives workers and their managers the opportunity to collaborate and create slightly offbeat schedules that may better accommodate the circumstances and needs of everyone involved.
Remote Work: As the capabilities of workplace technology improve exponentially, entirely remote teams will become more and more common. It’s how we’ve been working at Artisan Creative since 2009, and for us (and a lot of our clients), it’s working quite well.
Unlimited Vacations: American workers are notorious for their relative lack of long vacations, but things may be changing. Some top companies are no longer doling out small allotments of PTO and sick time and are switching to something more like an honor system, granting their employees full freedom to vacation as they will and trusting them to do so responsibly.
Fitness & Health Perks: Many employers are becoming more focused on the overall health and wellness of their talent, providing yoga sessions, bikes and other perks that help them feel good and develop good habits, inside and outside of work.
Nap Rooms: Naptime may have felt like punishment in kindergarten. Now as a hardworking adult, you could probably use some R&R on the clock. More companies are providing small sanctuaries for meditation, contemplation, or simply catching a few Zs.
Life Coaching: At Artisan, we believe creating the right career is about aligning all aspects of life to orient yourself toward your true values. So we’re entirely in favor of getting a gentle push from a qualified life coach, especially when it’s part of your job.
Ax-Throwing Lessons: Then again, some people need more aggressive catharsis than others. If you want to release some tension and be prepared to kill your own food if necessary, there are job perks out there for you, as well.
We hope you enjoy the 522nd issue of our a.blog.
Whether you are a freelancer who has to pitch a project to a client, or a seasoned team member who is presenting a new concept to internal and external stakeholders, or you’re interviewing for a new job, it’s important to be able to convey your message in a memorable way that connects with your audience.
Will Greenblatt, the founder of the Outloudnow School, says “speaking is a physical act” and we need to “warm-up before we speak”. Reading your speech out loud several times before your actual presentation can be very helpful.
The first step in any presentation is to make certain you are warmed-up. Just as you need to stretch your muscles and be ready before you go for a run, your face muscles and voice need to be warmed up as well. Articulation exercises are a good way to warm up by working your way through a few tongue twisters.
Additionally, he points out that we need to be aware of our “ speech settings” and adjust as needed depending on the message, and point we are trying to communicate. Our speech settings are our volume, pace, pitch, clarity, inflection and physical expressiveness. Your voice is a powerful tool. As you practice, try adjusting your settings to see the difference.
Your breathing technique is also key to effective message delivery. Before giving a pitch or going in for an interview, nervousness can lead to shortness of breath, so it becomes important to do deep breathing exercises beforehand.
The Institute of Public Speaking suggests deep diaphragmatic breathing as a technique to get more air into your lungs as well as calm you down if your nerves are acting up.
Posture plays an important role in your breathing as well as in the delivery of your message. Ideally, you want to stand or sit straight, make eye contact, keep your hands open down by your side and smile! It impacts your mindset and will make you more approachable once you’re finished speaking.
If you are nervous about speaking in groups or in front of a crowd, practice in front of a mirror and record yourself. Watch your body language, posture, and movements, then make adjustments in your delivery. Ideally, you will invest time in your own self-development and attend public speaking courses like Toastmasters or take online classes.
At Artisan Creative, we look forward to connecting with you and sharing additional tips on interviewing and preparing for your job search.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 521st issue of our a.blog.
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
This week is National Pet Week! There are many ways in which you can celebrate and assist our animal friends, companions, and colleagues.
Consider a Pet-friendly Workplace
Over the years, many American corporate environments have become more casual. This has led to more companies, including some of the hottest companies around, to create pet-friendly work environments and extend Take Your Dog to Work Week into a year-round culture of animal inspiration. Pet-friendly offices can be a good incentive for recruiting, as well as providing moments of levity and stress relief when work gets intense.
In most corporate or creative businesses, this trend mainly applies to dogs, although “retail cats” remain fixtures in bookstores and bodegas across the land, and can coax in new business through their online popularity.
If you want to make your workplace pet-friendly, take into account these considerations:
- Will the animals be comfortable and safe? If they need to run around or use the bathroom, will they be able to do so easily enough?
- What do the humans think? If your team is full of animal lovers, they may be enthusiastic. If some of them have allergies, or don’t want dogs around, a pet-friendly workplace may not be right for you at this time.
- Do pets fit in with your brand and your company culture?
- Will their presence make your team more productive and happy? Will their need for companionship be more of a distraction or an inspiration?
- What are the applicable rules and logistical concerns that apply to your workplace?
- Should you offer other animal-related perks, such as pet insurance?
Other Ways to Help Animals
Whether or not you can accommodate pets in your offices, there are many ways to support animals this week and throughout the year.
Top San Francisco animal charities and top Los Angeles animal charities are always in need of donations (money and items) and volunteer power. These include shelters, rescue groups, and organizations that promote animal welfare. You can use Charity Navigator to determine which animal charities in Los Angeles or San Francisco you most want to support with your money or your time.We love and support NKLA which is working hard to make Los Angeles a no kill city.
You might consider organizing a team volunteer outing to help such an organization. Giving aid to more vulnerable creatures can open our hearts, teach us a lot about ourselves, and help teams come together to better understand each other
At Artisan Creative, our mission is to help build the workplaces, teams, and careers of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today to explore more.
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Trust….what does the word mean to you and how does it influence your business and personal life?
All relationships, whether interacting with a partner, co-worker, vendor, or family member rely on trust and will grow because of it, or falter due to a lack of it. As leaders, it’s important to earn and to give trust. Many people work hard to make sure they can be trusted, reliable and someone others can count on. For some, trust is given freely and blindly, until it’s broken. If that happens, they suddenly do an about face and stop trusting. For others, they start from a place of distrust and work their way to trust over time.
In his book, The Speed of Trust Steven Covey says that trust is a function of two things: character and competence.
Character is one’s integrity, intent, and motives. Competence is one’s skills, knowledge, track record, and results.
Both are needed to create and maintain trusted relationships. Covey attributes 4 core principles to building trust – both with ourselves (self- trust) as well as with others. The first two principles have to do with character and the latter two with competence.
Do we say and do what we said we were going to do? Do we stick to our core values? Do we have integrity with ourselves? Are our morals and ethics aligned with our core?
What are our motives? Do we work towards a win-win outcome with ourselves, with our employees and vendors, with our family and friends?
Do we know how to do what we said we were going to do? Do we have the qualities needed to inspire confidence? Are our skills, attitude, and knowledge aligned so we can grow and establish trust as leaders in our company, family and community?
This is all about getting things done – our performance and track record. If we don’t deliver on our promises, or never do what we say we are going to do, we lose trust.
The next time a situation arises where you get a distrusting feeling about someone or a situation, ask yourself whether it’s a matter of their character or competence?
If it’s a matter of competence, you can ask for data, for certifications, ROI, KPI, you can run assessments. From an on-going leadership and training perspective, it’s important to ask if someone has been given the proper training and onboarding to do their job well. Also, it’s good to make certain our expectations are clear, so they can do what is asked and expected.
If it’s a matter of character, you can check references, and conduct background checks. Julio Olalla of the Newfield Network speaks about the importance of not to assuming all breaches of trust are betrayals—be able to distinguish between sincerity, competence, and reliability.
The first step in building trusted relationships is to lead by example, be authentic, vulnerable and learn to trust. At Artisan Creative, building trusted relationships is one of our central core values. We look forward to connecting with you to build a new relationship.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 519th issue of the a.blog.