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Beyond Your Why

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022|Comments Off on Beyond Your Why

Katty Douraghy, Artisan Creative’s president was recently interviewed by Dr. Gary Sanchez of The Why Institute, on the importance of knowing your why, and how that impacts our work at Artisan Creative, as well as why she wrote her book The Butterfly Years.

If you haven’t yet discovered your Why, check out the assessment on WHY.os Discovery.

The WHY Of Trust: Hope, Life, Grief With Katty Douraghy

 

 

In this episode, we are going to be talking about the why of trust, to create relationships based upon trust. People with this why believe that trust is the most important thing and will work hard to create it. They will become educated as experts in a particular subject and demonstrate that expertise as a way of establishing trust.

They will do things right to demonstrate that they are trustworthy. They want to know that you believe in them and will go the extra mile to demonstrate with their actions, words, and deeds. In communication with someone with this why, you might read words along the lines of, “You can count on me.”

I have been looking forward to this, and we have been talking about doing this for quite a while because you are familiar with the 9 Whys and the Why.os and all of this. You have been doing this for quite a while. Let’s first learn a little bit about you. Tell us about your name.

It is short for Katāyoun, which is a fictitious princess’ name in old Persian folklore.

Where did you grow up? Where were you born? Tell us what you were like in high school, and take us on your journey.

I grew up in Iran until the age of thirteen. We immigrated because of the revolution in Iran. We immigrated first to England and then to the US. My high school years were tough for me. High school years were during the time that the hostages were taken. The last thing I wanted to do was be Iranian. I tried hard to suppress that side of me and my identity and shove it aside.

I can pass for many different cultures. I pretended I was Italian, Mexican, and Indian. You name it, anything but Iranian. It has taken many years to settle into who I am. For many years, I thought I did not belong anywhere. Now I realize that I belong everywhere. I’m a mixture of Eastern, West, and everything in between. That is me in and nutshell.

Were you in England during that time or during the hostage?

We were in England for a short time right after the revolution. By the time we moved to the US, it was around the time when the hostages were taken. High school was not fun.

Where was your high school?

My high school was in Northern California in a town called Cupertino, which everybody knows now because Apple is there. Apple was not there back then. It is the same high school that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak went to, Homestead High School.

Did you know him?

No, they were before me.

Take us into what it was like back then. What was a day in the life of an Iranian girl in high school like? What was it like going to high school? Not having a security blanket allows you to put yourself out there.

High school was tough because I started high school in the middle of ninth grade. High school is not easy at any age, regardless of being a foreigner in the middle of the high school years. Add to that what was happening out in the world. At the time, many people did not know where Iran was, and they only associated Iran with the Diatoula or with hostages. It was a tough time.

The beauty of what was happening during high school was that my cousin also lived with us at the time. She immigrated, and her parents were still overseas. She came and lived with us. For the first three and a half years of high school, I had her. She was my security blanket, and I stuck to her closely. She graduated early and left to go to Texas.

For the last semester in high school, I had to figure out how to navigate waters. As tough as it was, it was good for me not to have that security blanket. It allowed me to put myself out there. My English was good. It was not great but it forced me to become great. I even became an English Literature major in college. Something happened during that last year.

It forced you to trust yourself.

Yes.

Where did you go to college?

I went to college in Santa Cruz, also in Northern California. At the beginning of my high school years, I did not trust anyone else because I did not trust where I was coming from. It took me a while to recognize that, and I was on solid ground as to who I was as a person. By the time I went to college, it was when I had started to learn how to spread my wings.

It was a completely different story. I was out there. I had lots of friends, and I was incredibly social. I came out of this chrysalis. I have used the butterfly chrysalis analogy throughout my life. In high school, I was in this dark place. In college, I came out and was the social butterfly. I was everywhere. It came into my own and found my voice then.

It is interesting to think about somebody with a why of trust, not even in your circumstances but in general, having to go through high school. Nobody trusts themselves in high school, at least most people do not. I know I did not. You do not know where you are going and what you are about. It is challenging anyways but with the why of trust, seeing is the most important relationship with yourself. That can cause a lot of anxiety.

The whole notion of self-trust was not there. I questioned everything. I did everything I said. If whatever I said did not land well on someone, that little voice in my head was like, “You did this wrong.” That is such a difficult thing for a young person to go through. It can set the stage for self-doubt at later ages. I’m fortunate that because of the trust that I was able to gain later on in my college years, it did not end up having a lasting impact.

Off to college in Santa Cruz, you majored in English Literature. What did you do with that?

I did not do anything with it. I did learn how to speak English better, which I certainly needed for living here. This is home for me now. What I did after that was I went to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. I was interested in the fashion space. I ended up working in retail and fashion for several years.

This is an interesting story where I could see my why. I can see it now. I was not aware of it back then but where I could see how my why had impacted my career trajectory all these years. When I started in retail, I was a personal shopper. We would get into dressing rooms with people to help consult on the fit, color, shape, and analyze body shapes to be able to make recommendations.

There is nothing more intimate than being with someone who is trusting you to undress and allow you to give them some feedback as to what could be a stronger, better version of themselves. This is through clothing and fashion but when I look back on how my trust manifested itself, that was powerful to be able to do that.

How long did you do that?

Several years.

WHY Of Trust: There is nothing more intimate than being with someone who trusts you for them to undress and allow you to give them feedback.

What happened after that?

My husband, Jamie, recruited me to come and work for his company, which is the staffing and recruiting firm that I own and run. He was like, “You have all this experience. You have managed these larger teams, dollar amounts. Come, I could use your help.” I did, and that was an interesting thing starting to work with your spouse. We had to define roles. That is where trust had to come into play. He trusted me that I could run this business that he had started and founded, and I trusted myself that I was not going to let him down and do things the right way to hopefully grow the business.

For the readers that are not familiar with Jamie, he is Katty’s husband. I have had him on the show before. Jamie has got a fascinating story about how he discovered his why down in Argentina. On his way back, he decided he was going to put you in charge. You became the CEO.

It is all because of the why. I should tell this story to your readers. Jamie went on this trip to Argentina and had an opportunity to discover his why while he was on this trip. He comes back and says, “I figured out my why. I know what I’m going to be doing next. I’m stepping out of the business, and it is all yours.” I was like, “You are doing what?”

It was the beginning of this beautiful relationship. As a couple, understanding our why and being able to communicate through that has been incredibly powerful. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who has discovered their why to encourage their spouse and partner to do the same because it does impact how we communicate and show up for each other. Thanks, Gary.

It is interesting because you have the why of trust, and he has the why of contribute. That is a particularly good match, those two together. You want to make sure that you create a trust for him, and he wants to make sure that he contributes to you. It does not get any better than that. That seems to be the combination that I have seen over time work the best. You two happen to have that. What I do not know is how did you meet Jamie?

We met at a Halloween party. For your reader who knows his story, Jamie is a fencer. He was at this Halloween party in full fencing garb with his mask on his weapon and all dressed in white. I was a Persian cat, which is not imaginative. The party was at a restaurant that had closed down for that evening, and they had all these Halloween decorations everywhere. They had boards and pomegranates. That was part of the decorations. I love pomegranates. I’m a huge fan of it. I was like, “Does anybody want to share a pomegranate with me?” Jamie stepped forth. Even with his pristine white fencing outfit, he cut into this pomegranate. That was it. We met in 1992.

You took over Artisan Creative, and you have been running that for how long because I know now you have some other interests on top of that.

I have been running the business now since 2012. I’m passionate about it. My why shows up there every day. In the recruitment space, if you cannot establish trust between both hiring managers, specifically also with candidates, it takes a lot of trust for someone to leave a job and trust you that what you are presenting to them is a better opportunity for them. I see that come into play daily. Trust shows up in my everyday interactions.

I have been running Artisan for several years. I have a great team. I’m still involved, hands-on, day-to-day but I’m also passionate about a lot of other things. I’m passionate about facilitation, bringing people together, and creating a space so they can have a trusted conversation with each other. I’m active on that side. As you mentioned, a few years ago, I embarked finally on using my English Literature degree on this journey towards hope because of some personal tragedies that had happened in my life. I knew I had to tell the story.

You wrote a book called the Butterfly Years. What is the book about? Who is the book for?

The book is about my journey through grief. I lost my stepmother in January 2011, my father in February 2011, and my mother in April 2011. In 2013, I lost my cousin, Malise, the same cousin who lived with me for years. We went to high school together. I lost her as well as my uncle. That was compounded by the loss of my stepdad several years after that. For a four-year period, it was a pretty dark time.

This journey of grief was overwhelming for me. I was not sure how to navigate it. At the same time, as I was going through grief, life and love were around me. I was in this space of this duality of love and loss, death and life, and all of that. I had a hard time coming to grasp it. Once I did, I thought it was important to share that with other people. That is what I needed to get this story out. Story sharing was cathartic to put it out there. My goal was to be able to help others who were going through what I was going through, what I had gone through, and what I had learned.

The story initially was not intended to be a memoir. It became one. I can only assume that some people up there wanted to have their story told. The journal was intended to be the only thing I was ever going to create. I wanted a self-help manual for other people to navigate this journey. My story needed to come out first, and it did.

The reason that it took three years for me to write this teeny tiny little book was going back to trust. I needed to make sure that I honored the legacy of my parents. The book is specifically about my mom and my relationship with her but other people and their stories are in there, too. I was not trusting myself that I was telling her story in the right way.

I had several drafts that I crumbled papers, threw it out, rewrote, and cried through the whole thing as I wrote it because it was important to make sure that I was doing this properly. It was honoring and trusting the relationship I had with her, not just in life but in death. I knew her story was going to continue by writing about her, and it had to be done the right way.

What is grief?

Grief is a different thing for different people. My biggest lesson here is that there isn’t one way to grieve, to experience loss. What it was for me was a mixture of emotions. For some reason, I had read about grief and going through grief. I thought it was this linear thing that you went through anger, denial, and this and that. It was not that. It was this big ball of a mess of emotions that went back and forth between sadness and happiness.

Talk about self-judgment, trust, and self-trust. When I had a moment of respite, I would laugh at what was going on. I did it with guilt, and I was not trusting that I was doing this the right way. I kept questioning myself, “Am I honoring properly? Should I be grieving more? If I laugh, is it the wrong thing?” What grief is whatever anyone feels that it is for them. For someone, it has an external expression, and for others, it is an internal journey that they go through. Mine was a mishmash of everything.

What happened to you? What was the turning point? What was the learning point of figuring out how to handle your grief?

It was simultaneous. At the same time that death happened, life was happening around me. I had a hard time recognizing what was going on. Driving from the hospital to my stepdad’s house, this was April 2011. My mom passed away on April 17th, 2011. They were looking out the windows as we were driving. I pushed the button to lower down the window, and looking out the window was beautiful.

I had not seen flowers that vibrant ever. I had not seen grass that green ever. Something had happened to me. It feels like I woke up. While I was distraught, I was also recognizing that something was happening. The sun did come out the next day, which I was not expecting for it to come out. The loss, grief, and learning to live with it happened simultaneously, even though I did not see it at the time.

It took a few years to recognize that but that juxtaposition of love and loss, life and death, was powerful from the first moment. The colors were vibrant. The smells were too much. My taste buds were alive. It was a hard thing to describe. At the time, I was like, “I had never tasted this before because every sense was heightened.” This is my personal belief. I believe that I was living for other people because they could not live anymore. I think everything had come to me. They trusted me with living life for them.

Why do you think you had that revelation? Why do you think that happened to you?

If I could pinpoint what happened, I would have another book in me to be able to share that with others. I do not know what happened. All I can think about is at the moment when I watched death happen when I witnessed my mom take her last breath. For the first time, I realized how precious life was and that this was my opportunity to continue living and live it as I had never lived it before. I took over Artisan that same year, within a few months of the loss happening. The switch was turned on, and I was like, “I’m going to say yes to everything. I’m going to take life by the horns and go for it.” My only explanation is that witnessing death somehow sparked life within me.

What was the turning point that you had from high school to college, from the scared Katty to the outgoing, creative Katty? What was that moment that allowed you to switch?

It was having a belonging and a community that had acceptance. With that acceptance came the realization that I could trust myself and others. A big piece of it is in high school, I did not trust others either, but in college, I could. Everyone was from somewhere else. We were all starting at the same footing. Whereas in high school, I entered the middle of this tumultuous period that was happening in the world. In college, we all started the journey together but having this acceptance and being in the community, accepted and allowed me to trust myself.

You have all the challenges with the family members passing. It seems like you were able to start anew again.

That goes back to the community. As you know, I’m very involved with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, EO. I had several opportunities through my volunteer work with EO to share my story and be part of a community that appreciated hearing it. I have other people come up to me and say, “No one has talked about grief like this before. Thank you.” To be able to have that and realize that we do not talk about death. No one wants to talk but it is the reality for all of us. Can we create a trusted and safe space to be able to talk about death and not feel that we are being judged? Talk about grief and not feel that we need to be rushed to get over it because we are all going to go through it on our own terms and pace.

In a certain way, all the challenges you went through and the death of your family members ended up being positive. However that happened, it was flipped from grief to life.

I read a proverb, which was the beginning of the journey towards hope. It said, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” That was a lifeline that I held onto it. During those darkest days, I would say, “I’m going to come out of this. This is darkness. This is a chrysalis. I’m going to come out of it and be a butterfly. I’m going take wing.” There were many days that I doubted that but that put one step in front of the next, and that is what has got me through.

When you are done with grief, is it over, is it still lingering, is it still pop up every now and then? How does that work?

It pops up all the time. I do not think it is over. There was a time that I thought maybe one would heal from it but I have realized that is not the case. We learned to accept and live with it but it is there. A smell, picture or memory triggers it all the time. At the strangest of times, it comes up. It is a beautiful thing. I do not mind it coming up. I don’t want to ever forget. It is a reminder for me, and that is a good thing.

From there, you and Jamie have started to work with couples in the EO organization. What is your focus on your couple’s work?

I spend quite a bit of time on communication on triggers. My secret sauce or power is to create a safe environment for people to have conversations. Trust as the dominant force is there. If I can create a space where people can trust that they will be safe and share whatever they want to share without judgment, I have done my job. That is what Jamie and I spend our time with.

Jamie speaks about the why, the communication between couples, and how important that is. A lot of what we do is also experience sharing because knowing what our whys are has been a huge transformation in our relationship. Back in the day, before we knew what we know now, Jamie would get a little annoyed with me, and he thought I would be dwelling on things.

“I dwell on possibilities,” on my walls is my favorite quote for me. He had a hard time recognizing why. It took me a while to get over things, the spoken word with someone, not necessarily with him but with someone or someone who did not do what they said they were going to do or me staying up until 2:00 in the morning because I had told someone I was going to do something for them. He couldn’t understand why I was taking as much time or not getting over it as quickly as he was.

When we went through our why discovery and recognized that creating relationships based on trust is what is my driving force, and then he understood. Since then, he has never once asked me, “Why are you still dwelling on this? Why are you working until 2:00 in the morning?” He knows that it is coming from a place where I have to do it.

I can imagine that you have taught him to create a safe space because he does that as well, at least, maybe not within his marriage because sometimes that can be harder for other people that know Jamie. That is what people say about him.

He does it naturally and because his why is to contribute. He does it from that point of view. He is creating a safe space because he is contributing to the greater good so people can have conversations with each other. Our end goal ends up being the same. How we go about it is different.

Do you work in larger groups? Is it five couples? What size groups do you work with, and what do you do with them? What do you call the workshops that you and Jamie do?

The couple sizes differ at anywhere from ten couples to larger. We have done it for about eight couples. Probably it is the smallest group that we have done it. We are not couples counselors. It is not a one-to-one thing with couples. What we do is give them the tools so they can communicate and talk about things that maybe they do not naturally talk about.

We are facilitating conversations and asking questions from a curiosity standpoint, so they can feel comfortable to be able to answer that with each other. Jamie does the discovering their whys with them, creating a space so they can have a conversation around that. We utilize some of the tools. I talk about triggers and how couples get triggered. Getting triggered is not a bad thing. It is how we behave after we are triggered. That is the bad thing.

A trigger could be a positive thing. It is part of some learning that I have had with Marshall Goldsmith about triggers and a variety of other things about listening. We talk a lot about listening and laugh about it too because we experience sharing. I’m not sharing anything with anyone that I have not gone through myself. There is a lot of humor in that.

Let’s talk about triggers because that is an interesting thing for me. I was a dentist for so long, and people would get triggered by the dentist. They would walk into the dental office, and they would get triggered by a smell, a look or whatever. Do you overcome a trigger? Do you roll with it? What is your advice for people dealing with triggers? It’s because we all are.

We all get triggered all the time. The first thing would be, and this is what I learned from Marshall Goldsmith’s teachings is, a trigger is a trigger. It is a stimulus. How we behave towards it is on us. If we decide and choose to change our behavior, what are the steps we can take? An example of that is my mom passed away from lung cancer. She smoked until the very end. The last week, when she was in the hospital, was the only time she did not smoke.

Every time I would walk into her house and smell the cigarette smoke, I would get triggered. In the beginning, I would get into an argument with her, “Why are you smoking? It is not good for you. Don’t you know you are sick?” She knows she is sick. I realized one day that her time was limited. If every interaction with her is going to be a negative interaction, that is the last thing I want.

I was still triggered by the cigarette smoke but what I learned to do was to change my behavior. I would walk into the house. I would smell the cigarette smoke. I would wait a few minutes outside the door before I went into her bedroom. I would wait until she was done with the cigarette and then walk in. She was not going to change smoking. The trigger was going to be the trigger but the only thing I could control was my behavior.

That is the only thing all of us can have any say in how we react to things, not the external stimulus. The external stimulus is going to be there. My brother is also a smoker. He and she would sit around together and have the best conversations because they were having a smoke together. That same stimulus, as negative as it was for me, was not a negative stimulus for him. Anything else was positive because they would sit around, have a chat, a cup of tea, and a cigarette together.

My perception of a trigger is probably inaccurate. What I have heard when people say, “I’m triggered,” gives me freedom and reign to blow up or react any way I want to react because I have been triggered. It is like my free pass to do whatever the heck I want to do because I have been triggered. The way you said it was different. Your trigger is a stimulus that causes a reaction but you can choose what that reaction is.

Driving is a trigger for me. I have paid attention to this. The environment clearly makes a difference. If I’m hot, late, traffic, it puts me in a bad mood. I’m triggered negatively. If I’m not late, if the AC is on, and I’m not hot, temperature and punctuality are triggers for me because of the trust thing. If I was late and it was not the right way either, I did not do what I said I was going to do. That is where it shows up for me. If I’m not late and have all the time in the world, you could put me in traffic, and I’m not triggered at all. I’m listening to music or an audiobook. All is good. I’m enjoying the extra time that I have but the traffic is the stimulus.

Last question for you, Katty. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given or what is the best piece of advice you have ever given to somebody?

Trust yourself because it took me many years to get there and realize that it is similar to triggers. All the tools are within me. I just had to trust myself to be able to rely on those tools. I have sharpened those tools over the years.

The Art of Listening in the Digital Age

Sunday, March 6th, 2022|Comments Off on The Art of Listening in the Digital Age

From an early age we are taught how to present and to speak better—whether it be debate classes in high school, or Toastmasters sessions as adults, there is a big emphasis in our professional world to be better communicators.

However, the art of communication indeed requires both the sending and receiving of information, and when was the last time we learned how to listen better?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, communication is defined as a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.

The importance of listening skills in our post pandemic, remote, digital world is even more important as teams are dispersed across different time zones.

Artisan Creative has been remote for 11 years— and as a remote team we continually work on becoming better communicators with one another, as well as with our clients and candidates.

In fact, Clear and Open Communication as well as Building Trusted Relationships are two of our core values. And, for us embodying listening best practices in  all forms of communication is paramount to embracing our core values.

Last month, the Artisan Creative team read the book “You Are Not Listening: What you are missing and Why it matters” by Kate Murphy. Her studies reinforce and support our efforts as a team to continue to learn, grow and improve together.  Several of our team members are members of Toastmasters to seek new ways to communicate better as well as utilize improved listening techniques and communication skills in our internal and external processes.

The author explores quite a few fascinating studies on listening. Specifically, that 55% of communication is non-verbal.  55%!  And that 38% of that nonverbal communication is communicated in our tone of voice.

What are we missing in that 55% when we can’t see or hear the recipient? What are we missing without seeing people and noticing expressions, body language and gestures? What happens when we don’t hear intonations and tone?

Digital communication has incredible benefits, there is no disputing how it has allowed for immediate connection, the ability to have remote teams, and to expand productivity and immediacy of action.

What is the potential impact of non-verbal digital communication (Slack, WhatsApp, email and social media) on culture, morale and connection?

It’s important to set parameters to determine the type of conversations we need to have and which conversations are okay via Slack; which require a phone call, and when is it best to hop on Zoom.   On our team, we avoid long-winded texts/slacks to explain something—we set up a video call, pick up the phone, send a voice memo, or better still, record a Loom video as needed.

How are you incorporating more connection and listening in your digital communication? Please comment below.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 601st a.blog.

Executing on our SMART Goals

Thursday, January 6th, 2022|Comments Off on Executing on our SMART Goals

Happy 2022! You have your goals in place, have your word of the year and your vision board is done! Now what?

We are reposting this blog to make sure you can execute the plans you’ve made for the year. 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, 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

No matter how 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’s 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.

Let’s crush these goals!!

Celebrating our 600th a.blog with you.

Visual Roadmap for 2022

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021|Comments Off on Visual Roadmap for 2022

Every year has its ups and downs, and 2021 was no exception. What did we learn from it? How did we grow? What will we stop doing or do more of? Who do we want to be in this new year? These are just a few questions to reflect upon, personally and professionally.

Each year our Artisan Creative team works on creating a vision board. We present these to one another at our January team meeting. 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 one another creates accountability (one of our core values) and enables the team to learn more about each other’s ambitions, dreams, and commitments. Some set 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 as well as 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 2022!  We hope you’ve enjoyed the 599th issue of our weekly a.blog.  

Planning a Remote Holiday Party

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021|Comments Off on Planning a Remote Holiday Party

Every holiday season, our Senior Account Manager, has hosted a festive luncheon for our team during the holidays. She has done so for 24 years in a row, except for 2020!  This year we had hoped to come together again person, however opted for another virtual gathering instead.

And, while we couldn’t be in person, we laughed, exchanged gifts, and ate together (via zoom). Our team from across the U.S. was able to join in, and a few of our pets made unexpected zoom appearances too.

Although it was different, it was great fun and we connected from the heart, evaluated 2021, and put plans in place for 2022.  Additionally,

  • We reviewed our Vision Boards with one another and shared our personal and professional accomplishments for the year, and reviewed our goals for the new year.
  • Secret Santa gift exchange took place via Elfster complete with oohs and aahs and zoom screenshots to capture the festivities.
  • We pre-ordered and prepared lunch and eat together.
  • We shared our gratitude and wrapped up our gathering.

This year continues to be filled with new learnings and wonderful, unexpected surprises. This party was no exception.

After all, our core value of creating trusted relationships means connecting and creating memories, and what better way to connect than to celebrate one another!

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

We hope you’ve enjoyed 598th a.blog.

 

Gratitude 2021

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021|Comments Off on Gratitude 2021

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

Here is the 2021  gratitude list  from the Artisan Creative a.team:

  • Grateful for overall Good health – health is wealth!
  • Grateful for the love of family.
  • Grateful for being happily employed and working with a fabulous group of people.
  • Grateful for creativity and hobbies.
  • Grateful for my husband and child.
  • Grateful for the space to learn, grow and heal.
  • Grateful to wake up each morning surrounded by the beauty of mountains and desert.
  • Grateful for Artisan Creative.
  • Grateful for my family and all the births that we have had this year.
  • Grateful that we have all been safe and healthy this year.
  • Grateful for Artisan Creative this year for giving me a start in recruiting and the opportunity to join such an amazing organization.
  • Grateful for the people in my life.
  • Grateful for growth and just being able to constantly grow more from where I previously was.
  • Grateful for being more active because I know it will benefit my mental and physical health.
  • Grateful for my cats, who have been my constant WFH companions for the past 11 years.
  • Grateful for the opportunity to work with a dynamic team that brings their best daily.
  • Grateful for being able to work from home where my pets surround me!
  • Grateful I finally finished and published the book I’ve been writing for three years.
  • Grateful for the good health of our parents as they are in their late 80s.
  • Grateful for my morning walks that start at 6 am.
  • Grateful to start traveling again and seeing friends and family who are in faraway places.

We are grateful for our clients and candidates and wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Practicing Listening

Wednesday, November 10th, 2021|Comments Off on Practicing Listening

In this age of Video interviews, Zoom team meetings, and online collaboration, one key aspect of clear communication is listening.

Having a good conversation requires mastering the art of speaking and listening. As adults, we have plenty of chances to perfect our speaking skills. We can enroll in Toastmasters groups, debate classes, drama classes, and speech lessons.

What about perfecting our listening skills? When do we practice this skill that is as important as talking when we are having a conversation? Are we listening to understand, or listening to fix? Are we listening to connect, or listening to correct?

Oscar Trimboli, in his award-winning podcast, Deep Listening, says only 2% of leaders have ever received any training on how to listen, even though they spend 64% to 83% of their day listening!

So let’s start practicing some techniques to become better listeners.  Listed below are three things we can start doing right away:

Being Present

Listening with our entire body—not just our ears.

Keeping our minds quiet and focused.

Making eye contact and giving the speaker our complete attention.

Pausing

When asking a question, we can sit back and allow the speaker to collect their thoughts. Let’s get comfortable with being uncomfortable in silence. And if you are the one answering, when you’re finished, let there be silence. You don’t need to jump in with more if your answer was complete and well-prepared.

In an interview, this allows a candidate to fill that silence and give a hiring manager more insight into their personality, skills, and accomplishments.

The time to gather our thoughts and answer a question is after it’s posed if you were listening properly—not while the question was being asked. We often start planning our reply, even before the question has completely finished. When this happens, we have in fact stopped listening and moved into the reply, problem-solving, or rebuttal mode.

Too often, we make assumptions about the question, mishear the question or interpret the person’s reasoning and intentions for asking a question.

Repeat & Rephrase

Before responding, make sure we understand what has been said.

We can do this by repeating the speaker’s key points and restating them in our own words. This will give the person an opportunity to clarify or add more information. This way, we can be certain we understand the other person’s point.

Before offering a rebuttal, ask a thoughtful, open-ended question to clear up any lingering misconceptions. This can open a productive conversation and lead to an impactful conversation.

To get a better idea of your own listening type, take Trimboli’s quiz to discover your listening type.

https://www.oscartrimboli.com/listeningquiz/

What is your listener type?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 596th a.blog.

Returning to the Office…or Not?

Friday, October 15th, 2021|Comments Off on Returning to the Office…or Not?

It’s the question of the moment, shall we go back to the office or stay remote? We hear this question from clients and candidates alike. Each has a great point of view for either scenario.

The reality is that today, more and more candidates are opting to stay remote. However, as the new year approaches, we will see a return to the office. However, this office may be a different office environment than the one you left 18 months ago.

Here are three tips to keep in mind:

Access to Open Spaces

Take strides in re-configuring the office environment to allocate enough space and distance between co-workers. Where possible, take advantage of open-air environments and create outside seating with access to power outlets. Converted parking lots, rooftops, and balconies will provide additional space and create a more open collaborative environment.

If being outside is not possible, invest in air purifiers and filters, and lots of plants to create an open-air feel for those who have returned to the office.

Embrace Technology

With the possibility of a hybrid workforce, companies are revamping their technology and collaboration tools to provide seamless communication between those back in the office and their colleagues who remain remote.

Examples include better microphones and cameras in conference rooms, and larger screens will enable team members to better see and hear one another and reduce physical separation.

Additionally, touchless/paperless technology will continue to reduce contamination. Collaboration tools such as Google Jamboard, Mentimeter, or Miro will further foster cross-collaboration between colleagues in the office and those who are at home.

Stay Adaptable 

The pandemic is not yet over, even though great strides have been made. There is no predictability as to what may or may not happen in the coming months, and staying adaptable and agile is essential and have contingent backup plans. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 595th a.blog.

How to Hold Productive Virtual Meetings

Thursday, September 30th, 2021|Comments Off on How to Hold Productive Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings continue to be the primary method of communicating with co-workers as some team members return to the office while others continue to work remotely. 

In order to have the best experience for all involved and stay connected during virtual meetings, we are sharing some best practices.

In this article, we will be discussing the following ways in which you can hold productive virtual meetings: 

  • Befriend Technology
  • Mindset: Be Present Mentally and Physically
  • Send an agenda
  • Start & End strong

Befriend Technology/ Turn off Notifications

Fewer distractions and more interaction lead to more productive virtual meetings, especially if some team members are together and others are on video. For members who are remote, ask participants to conduct the meetings in a designated and quiet space (if possible) use a mic, and utilize noise-canceling headphones or apps.  

Apps such as Krisp, help with noise cancellation and provide clear sound in virtual meetings. Krisp is powered by AI and works to removes background noise (i.e. dog’s barking, neighbor’s lawn moving) so that speech is much clearer.  It can remove unwanted noise and echoes on both ends of the virtual meeting and is compatible with most virtual meeting programs, such as Zoom and Google. 

For those gathered together in a conference room, either be seated in a way so the attendees on the video conference can see and hear you properly, or log in to the meeting with your own device.  You’ll have to mute yourself while not speaking so there is no interference, however, this allows the video participants to see your facial expressions and hear you properly.

Mindset: Be Present Mentally and Physically  

Virtual meetings offer a false assumption that we can multi-task.  Checking out an email, or responding to another Slack message may seem harmless to do, however, that small distraction can have an adverse effect on team connection and engagement as well as the possibility to miss out on vital information.  The best practices focus on being present, both mentally as well as physically.  

When getting ready for a virtual meeting, it’s best to turn off all notifications, reminders, and email and Slack notices.  Be present, turn your video on, look at the camera when speaking, and watch the speaker on speaker view.  Turning off your self-view on Zoom also helps with eye fatigue.

Virtual meetings will be more productive when we can see each other and when all attendees have their video on allows for connection and interaction.

Additionally, seeing others on camera leads to more fruitful communication and allows for both verbal and non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions! So, when we can see who we are speaking to, we can better understand what they want to communicate. 

There are instances when having a camera on is not possible.  If someone has a personal issue with having their camera on during a portion of the meeting, it’s best to communicate this in advance and bring it to the attention of the meeting leader. Especially since work-from-home presents challenges on occasion.

Send an Agenda

Some of the world’s most productive systems, and the people that run those systems, have a simple solution to ensuring efficiency: creating a checklist. 

Now, I know what you may be thinking, “A checklist? That’s it?” But, seriously, creating a list of action items that must be completed within a certain period, ensures that those things are done, or at the very least, started. 

So, if you want to increase productivity in virtual meetings, create a checklist of items that need to be covered and send that agenda to everyone attending the meeting. For starters, having an agenda will ensure that all of the important talking points are covered and in an order that makes the most sense for everyone attending the meeting. 

Second, sending an agenda before the meeting helps attendees prepare any necessary information. Not only will everyone be ready to speak on topics that pertain to their work, but a more fruitful discussion can take place. 

Each attendee can listen and contribute because they will be more prepared to do so giving everyone a greater chance of solving problems and ideating. 

Start & End Strong

It’s important to have a strong start to the meeting to engage and connect people with one another.  Icebreakers can create team connection and engagement daily.  When it comes to virtual meetings, people feel disconnected from the team because of the physical distance and icebreakers can help bridge the gap to start your virtual meetings. 

For example, have everyone say a high point and a low point of their week. These answers can be work-related or personal, depending on your company and team culture. 

Having each person speak ensures that each member of the team is heard, and it increases engagement. In turn, attendees will be more willing to speak during virtual meetings because they are more engaged and “warmed-up” to participate. 

As you wrap up your meeting, it’s equally important to end on a strong note.  Ask each person for their takeaway value from the meeting, asking for next step commitments is another way to end on a high note.

Conclusion 

Virtual meetings have become central to remote work and it’s important to maximize our time together online.

From getting into the right mindset and creating an agenda for your meeting, to increasing engagement with technology or icebreakers, there are many ways to make your virtual meetings more productive! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 594th a.blog.

How to Market Your Freelancing Business 

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021|Comments Off on How to Market Your Freelancing Business 

When working as a freelancer, you are your business, your product, and your marketing team all in one. 

Having control of all of these aspects of your business is extremely exciting and motivating because it puts you in control of your success. 

Like any successful business, you need a solid marketing strategy that will help you gain visibility in your industry and draw in more clients!

In this article, we will be discussing the following ways in which you can increase your marketing for yourself and your business while freelancing: 

  • Become a Guest on a Podcast
  • Be a Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  • Write a Book, E-book, or Article 
  • Utilize SEO Strategy 
  • Network, Network, Network! 

Become a Guest on a Podcast

Podcasts have increased in popularity in recent years, with the number of listeners in the United States expected to grow by about 10% in 2021 to about 117.8 million listeners

With podcasts emerging from every industry and point-of-view, the medium has a dedicated base of listeners that are exploring different topics. 

There are several benefits to marketing your freelance business by becoming a guest on a podcast. With a podcast, the listeners are there to learn and will, therefore, are a captive and engaged audience.

Additionally, podcasts are a more personal medium. By sharing your ideas on a podcast, rather than approaching marketing with a sales mindset, you come across as more authentic. When you connect with an audience, you can develop greater loyalty! 

Next, one of the most important marketing principles is communicating directly to your target audience or market. Podcasts allow you to do that!

Each podcast has data outlining the type of people who listen to the podcast, such as demographic stratification and personal or professional interest. 

 Or, you can even start a podcast yourself! 

Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

A subject matter expert or SME is someone who is an authority in their industry or vertical because of their extensive knowledge. 

While one can be an SME in almost any field, it usually relates to knowledge in a technical or educational field. For example, if you are a freelance marketing consultant, you can become an SME in the field of marketing. 

Marketing is essentially persuasion. In other words, you want to persuade your audience to use your services as a freelancer. 

Across the disciplines of both psychology and communication, we know that one of the best ways to persuade someone is by having authority. People are more likely to trust you if you are educated on a topic. 

Therefore, becoming an SME will have a positive influence on your brand. Not many people can tout that they are experts in their field. Having this classification will encourage others to work with you.   

Write a Book, E-book, or Article 

Writing a book or article relating to your industry or work will help establish your authority in the field. Having published work means you are recognized as an expert in your industry!  The self-publishing industry has created affordable means of getting a book to market.  However if long-form content is not your expertise, try writing articles for the Medium, of Business Journal Trust or publish on Linkedin.

Additionally, writing a book or article can help establish greater recognition and top-of-mind awareness with your audience. People are more likely to choose someone whose name they recognize, and the expertise they seek.

Utilize SEO Strategy 

When marketing yourself as a freelancer in today’s highly saturated climate, it is crucial to have a  focus on search engine optimization (SEO). The goal of SEO is to increase a website’s ranking on Google search results. 

Why is this important? Because people will see your website first and be more likely to click on it when searching for the service you offer. The best part is that SEO is free. You need to learn the Google algorithm and how to work with it. 

For example, if you use the right density of industry keywords, your website will better fulfill the search queries of users, and therefore, be ranked higher. 

Or, if your website is user-friendly, well designed, and quick loading, users will stay on it longer, signaling to Google that it is a quality website. Google, in turn, will rank it higher in search results. 

Network, Network, Network! 

As a freelancer, you are your brand! Therefore, one of the best ways to get your name out there is to network. Networking can mean a lot of things, from adding other professionals in your industry on LinkedIn and social media platforms to directly contacting potential clients. 

By connecting with other freelancers in similar industries, you can find a community of like-minded people who will support you. You can learn from each other about new trends and share clients, especially if you have different expertise. 

There are also a number of portfolio-sharing websites specifically for freelancers so that you can share your work with others and give clients an overview of your past work.

The wider you grow your network, the more work opportunities will present themselves. Working with recruitment agencies such as Artisan Creative allows for your network to expand.

Conclusion 

Working as a freelancer has many benefits, from the flexibility of working when and where you want to work to having control over what work you do daily. So, if you are a freelancer looking to gain exposure, implement some of the marketing tips we presented above!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 593rd a.blog.

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