2020 Vision (Board)

Monday, December 30th, 2019|

This is a special time of the year to reflect on the abundance of the previous year and to plan for the upcoming new year. In this very special case, we have a new decade to celebrate with the perfect 2020 Vision.

What would you like to see, do and be in this new year/decade?

Here at Artisan Creative, each year our a.team members work on their New Year’s goals and create a vision board or dream board. Most create physical boards, although a few opt for a digital version using Trello, Canva, Pinterest or PicMonkey.

We present our boards 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.

Presenting to the team creates accountability (one of our a.team core values) and enables the group to learn more about each other’s ambitions, dreams, and commitments. Some set a theme for the year, some have specific action words—others use 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”.

You can do a variation this year and create a vision board for the decade with a focus on long term goals.  An alternative is to create a gratitude board where you can continually be reminded of all things you are grateful for.

However you choose to proceed, here are some tips to create your vision board and get started on achieving your goals!

  1. Select words and images that inspire and are true to your core values.
  2. Create positivity and inspiration for yourself and others.
  3. Imagine the integrated life/work you want to live.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Share with others. Having an accountability partner will help you get closer to achieving your goals.
  7. 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 2020!  We hope you’ve enjoyed the 550th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Digital Detox

Thursday, December 12th, 2019|

Like most things, screen time is best in mindful moderation.  As the holidays approach, we have a good opportunity to unwind and take a digital break.

As digital technology proliferates through every aspect of our lives, we are becoming more cognizant of its potentially less-savory effects. Taken to an extreme, the use of such technology can hamper our productivity, sociability, and mental health. Indeed, some of the most wealthy and well-connected people are beginning to ensure their children spend less time looking at screens.

It is possible to take advantage of the profound benefits that digital connectivity has brought to our life and work while mitigating the harm it can do when overused. Here are a few ways to do this.

Become More Aware of How You Use Your Screen Time

If you think you may not be using digital technology as wisely or productively as you could be, start by keeping track of how you actually spend your screen time.

There are numerous apps designed to help you measure or limit your screen time. Try one, and get a more accurate idea of your use and how your time is being spent. You can also follow these few tips to keep yourself from common indulgences that are likely to be counterproductive or to make you unhappy.

  • Turn off unnecessary notifications and get updates at certain times (rather than all the time). This will eliminate some of the digital distractions that can prevent you from doing deep, focused work.
  • No scrolling in the morning. Start your day with exercise, mindfulness practice, or a productive morning routine instead.
  • Read a book, practice meditation, and engage in other activities that might be more enjoyable and less stress-inducing than looking at social media or the internet.

Try a Digital Detox

If you think digital technology is really cramping your style, it may be time for a digital detox.

Take a mandatory day of rest, or even a week, and see what it’s like to go without electronic devices, apps, and the internet altogether. Let everyone know you’ll be off the grid for a while, and spend your time resting, working with your hands, or bonding with friends and family.

You may find that those notifications weren’t nearly as important as they may have seemed and that you didn’t miss anything you couldn’t just as easily handle later.

Don’t Overdo It

Unplugging is becoming a fad in its own right, with some of the excesses that entail. You can moderate your screen time without doing anything too extreme.

You don’t need to subscribe to highly demanding regimens of dopamine fasting or do anything else that could compromise your career, your relationships, or your happiness.

Again, the key here is awareness and moderation. Take stock of how you spend your time. Regulate your digital intake as much as you can. Make sure you have all the time you need for the pleasures and challenges of “real life,” and you should be able to keep your digital technology working for you, rather than against you.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals, businesses, and teams make the most of all aspects of their lives and careers. Contact Artisan today to start the conversation.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 549th issue of the a.blog.

Creating Your Personal Brand

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019|

As a creative professional, how do you open better opportunities and do more of the work you love? How do you differentiate? In the context of personal branding, this means presenting yourself in a way that sets you apart from others in your field. Your personal brand should be easy to explain in an elevator pitch, yet complex enough to generate a range of ideas and evolve over time.

You can get some unusual personal branding insights from a classic Harvard Business Review interview with Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the richest person in the fashion world, and one of the world’s leading authorities on building “star brands.”

Become a Star Brand

According to Arnault, a star brand has four key characteristics. “A star brand is timeless, modern, fast-growing, and highly profitable,” he says. “It is very hard to balance all four characteristics at once – after all, fast growth is often at odds with high profitability – but that is what makes them stars. If you have a star brand, then basically you can be sure you have mastered a paradox.”

To work toward becoming a creative rockstar, you should cultivate your own unique sensibility independent of passing trends. At the same time, you should pay attention to your media diet and attune yourself to the zeitgeist. And, you must have the courage to ask for what you’re worth. A creative staffing firm such as Artisan Creative can help you get a fair price for your work.

Be Your Own Biggest Fan

“A lot of companies talk about quality, if you want your brand to be timeless, you have to be a fanatic about it,” says Arnault. As a creative professional, this means pouring your passion into every piece of work you do. It also means presenting that work in a way that showcases your personal brand in the most flattering and exciting possible light.

Make sure you invest time and attention to detail when building your creative portfolio so it best communicates who you are and what you’re capable of. Attend networking events to build a professional support system and get comfortable with promoting yourself.

Be Bold and Take Risks

When working with the world’s most famous designers, Arnault’s biggest management priority is to give them the freedom to be themselves. “If you think and act like a typical manager around creative people – with rules, policies, data on customer preferences, and so forth – you will quickly kill their talent. Our whole business is based on giving our artists and designers complete freedom to invent without limits.”

As the manager of your own personal brand, this means giving yourself some space to pursue unusual ideas and try new things. You can orchestrate the right environment to loosen your creative muscles, or do fun and experimental work on your own time – work you really love – to freshen your perspective. Also, give yourself permission to occasionally pitch a risky idea. It may unlock some hidden potential in a project.

First, build rigorous self-discipline. Then give yourself the freedom to be yourself and shoot for greatness.

Seek Inspiration From Unlikely Sources

While he doesn’t make demands, Arnault does encourage designers to broaden their horizons. “Not long ago, I said to one of our designers, ‘Why don’t you take a trip to Japan and see what the teenage girls are wearing on the streets at night?’ These girls are very leading edge in fashion; they create trends years before they hit the mainstream, like with those very high shoes, and it makes very good sense to watch them. I did not say to the designer, ‘Go and see what kinds of shoes they are wearing and copy them,’ although I was hoping he would notice their shoes. I just suggested, ‘Go look.'”

To grow and refine your personal brand, capture ideas and inspiration from as many different places as you can. Go to museums, art galleries, symphonies, and public gardens, and take note of anything that strikes you. Explore the hidden history of your profession and how it’s done differently in other times and places. Keep an open mind, and you’ll have the flexibility to do unique, courageous work that is unmistakably yours.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals get more from their lives and careers. Contact Artisan today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed issue # 546 of the a.blog.

Overcoming Procrastination

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019|

Procrastination is one of the greatest enemies of creativity. There’s an inherent paradox in procrastination – when we habitually procrastinate, we can often use more of our energy than it would take to simply do the work. And yet, even some of the most successful creatives struggle with procrastination.

In order to thrive in the digital age, creative professionals, as well as entrepreneurs and managers, must be able to work independently. Fortunately, we can all cultivate our inner self-motivated self-starters when we learn tools and techniques for conquering procrastination. When we learn to “get in the flow,” we can overcome our own procrastinator tendencies and bring our best, most inspired thinking to the fore.

Supplement Your Will Power

“If you imagine that motivation is like the fuel that gets you to your outcome, some fuels are very good, but others are lower quality,” says sports psychologist Ian Taylor. The sheer force of will can sometimes get you to the finish line, but in order to score consistent wins and improve your habits, you may need higher-octane support.

Visualize Positive Outcomes

When it comes to transcending these counterproductive tendencies, a winning mindset is key. In practice, this can take the form of imagining, in detail, the way your experience will change when you’ve completed the tasks in front of you. If the stress and guilt of procrastination only makes things worse, try giving yourself some positive motivation, and use your imaginative abilities to make your sense of impending reward as clear and vivid as you can.

Reduce Friction

To make things easier on yourself, eliminate any obvious impediments and distractions to doing your work. You can set aside less pressing obligations to deal with later. You can shut off phone notifications, or even try a full digital detox. You can find new collaboration tools or project management software that plays to your strengths. When you start by creating the right environment to encourage your most inspired deep work, you can beat procrastination before it starts.

Reward Yourself

You can always look forward to the relief of completing your work and the satisfaction of achieving your goals. Research indicates that immediate short-term rewards can be more powerful motivators. If you need some help staying on track, try taking periodic breaks, or find imaginative ways to make your process more pleasant as you go.

Keep It Positive

To stay motivated, focus on the benefits of following through on your work, the rewards of a job well done, the interest and passion that motivated you to undertake this work in the first place. Override your brain’s negativity bias, and you’ll find that procrastination is nothing to fear, just another challenge you can overcome with mindful behavior and an empowered mindset.

At Artisan Creative, we love to see our talent and clients get more from their projects, lives, and careers. Contact Artisan today to start the conversation!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 544th a.blog.

Become Your Own Influencer

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019|

Social media influencers are changing the way we think about marketing. You don’t need fancy vacations or five-course meals to make use of the concepts behind influencer marketing. As a creative professional, the success of influencers can inspire you to build your personal brand, increase your network and reach, and find better professional opportunities.

Know Your Niche

As a creative professional, the more specifically you define yourself, the more you will stand out. This means honing a concrete elevator pitch and choosing a niche within your industry. “An easy way to select your niche is to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses,” says digital marketing consultant Shane Barker. “Choose a niche that allows you to showcase your strengths and hone your skills further. Deciding on a particular niche will help you streamline your audience and tailor your content to suit their preferences.”

Develop a Content Strategy

Once you’re clear on who you are, you can create content that reflects your skills and values and establishes your presence and authority in your industry and community. Your content strategy can encompass your design portfolio, your social media activity, blogging, video, or anything else that gets your message out and makes others aware of what you do. To become more influential, treat yourself like a small media company, and be thoughtful and deliberate about what sort of content you put out and how it aligns with your brand.

Choose Your Channels

There are many digital channels available, with more emerging all the time. Rather than trying to use them all, it’s better to choose a few you enjoy the most and are best for transmitting your work. If you’re a visual designer, you’ll want to use video or image-based channels to showcase your aesthetic sensibilities. If you’re a copywriter, you can publish articles on LinkedIn or use Twitter to test your concepts, slogans, and taglines. Newer channels can present unusual opportunities for those on the cutting edge.

Keep It Consistent

Your choice of channels is less important than your commitment to show up and stick with them. To build influence, you should be willing to put out a steady stream of content, provide value for your audience, and pursue continuous growth and improvement. With social media, being “always-on” can be a challenge; automation software can help, allowing you to create lots of posts in one sitting and parcel them out over time.

Engage and Grow

If you persist, iterate, and keep putting your best self forward, don’t be surprised to see your influence grow over time. As your work touches people’s lives and new opportunities present themselves, be sure to engage with those who support you. The ability to develop a worldwide professional network and work out your ideas with a supportive audience in real-time is perhaps the most rewarding perk of being an influencer, even if it’s just in your small corner of the world.

At Artisan Creative, we help creative professionals find new ways to enrich their portfolios, networks, and careers. Contact Artisan today to learn more.

The Art of Self-Promotion

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019|

Whether you’re looking for the perfect job, starting your own business, or building your career as a creative freelancer, your success depends on more than doing great work. Others must know you’re doing great work, which can only happen if you share your skills, accomplishments, and passions in a visible way. This means you need to promote yourself.

Many creatives are shy about self-promotion, as it feels hard to do so even when you know you’re worth promoting. Experiment with these ideas and you’ll develop habits that amplify your work, increase your presence in your community, and put you on track to seize opportunities, careers, and the life you want.

Learn the Basics of Marketing and Branding

As you build the groundwork for your promotional initiatives, you can use the same principles and strategies that guide the marketing and branding efforts of the world’s largest corporations. The basics are freely available in our brief guides to defining your personal brand and marketing yourself like a business – you just need to apply them. To start, make sure your creative portfolio represents you as well as possible. Then, test your efforts in the real world by attending networking events. If you’ve built up some resistance to self-promotion, now is the time to take some risks and raise your comfort level.

Make a Brag Document

To promote yourself effectively, you should be keenly aware of your body of work, what you love, where you excel, and your larger career trajectory. Of course, when you’re immersed in creative work, it can be easy to lose track of how much you’ve accomplished. To keep track of where you’ve been and find clues about where to go next, maintain a “brag document,” an inventory of what you’ve done and a key to analyzing how it all fits together. Julia Evans explains the purpose and substance of a brag document and provides an easy-to-use template so you can create your own. This can help you prepare to get recognized, negotiate, back up your claims, and angle for promotions and new opportunities.

Defend Your Ideas

One of the most useful tools of self-promotion is also an essential skill in giving effective presentations: the power to defend your ideas. To do this, you should understand your own work better than anyone else. You should be prepared to explain your decisions and to field questions, comments, objections, and criticisms in a way that preserves the integrity of your work while allowing healthy space for improvement. This is easier said than done, and Mike Monterio can help. As the author Design Is a Job and You’re My Favorite Client, he’s one of the go-to sources of insight on how to get tough and give your ideas the robust defense they deserve. In this fierce and funny keynote presentation, while geared toward graphic designers, can help anyone dramatically improve their mindset around explaining themselves and their work, which is a key to effective self-promotion.

Beware the Negativity Bias

According to the science of evolutionary psychology, our brains have evolved to help us merely survive; if we’re going to thrive, we have to do it ourselves, with intent. Historically, negative information was more important to our survival than positive information – a tiger chasing you deserves more attention than a sweet-smelling daffodil beside the trail – so we’re wired to prioritize the negative over the positive. In the modern world, our natural negativity bias can hold us back if we fixate on risks and weaknesses and don’t focus enough attention on the rewards we want and the strengths that can help us achieve them. To cultivate a winning mindset, it’s important to bolster ourselves with positive information. This means choosing our relationships carefully, being mindful of our self-talk, and learning the basics of positive psychology. After all, our strongest self-promotion comes from within.

At Artisan Creative, we love to showcase your talents and promote your skills to our clients. When you’re ready to take your business or your career to the next level, let’s get in touch!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 540th issue of the a.blog.

Emphasize Responsibilities vs. Job Titles

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019|

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.

The most extreme (lampooned well on HBO) are now running their course, leaving a lot of these Chief Thought Providers and Digital Overlords struggling to explain what it was they actually did.

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.

Quantify Accomplishments

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.

Perfecting Your Pitch

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019|

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.

Creating Trusted Relationships

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019|

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.

Integrity

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?

Intent

What are our motives? Do we work towards a win-win outcome with ourselves, with our employees and vendors, with our family and friends?

Capability

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?

Results

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.

Marketing Your Business

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019|

We’re all entrepreneurs now. Whether you’re a creative professional or cultivating a side hustle, your path to consistent and satisfying success is to think of yourself as a business. This means that to get the clients and projects you want, you must master the basics of marketing on a budget.

When you understand the most important principles of marketing, and you’re willing to put in the reasonable amount of effort required, you’ll bring in new business, and you’ll have time to focus on the work you really love.

As you grow your freelancing career, here are a few big marketing ideas to keep in mind.

Build Your Brand

Having a strong personal and professional brand means more than having a concise elevator pitch, although that’s an essential part of it. You must know who you are, what you can do, what values you represent, and how to communicate your identity. When you put your mind and heart into developing your brand, it will pay massive dividends with the people and projects that come into your life.

Work Your Network

As a creative freelancer, some of the most effective marketing you can do is still old-fashioned word-of-mouth. When you provide value to others, attend networking events to engage with your community, and seek out the peers, collaborators, and mentors you wish to cultivate, new resources and opportunities will present themselves in ways you never anticipated.

Prioritize Product-Market Fit

Author Carolyn Tate describes the “four Ps of marketing” – product, pricing, placement, and promotion – and how they’re always interrelated. In the new age of growth hacker marketing, running a business is a constant process of iteration, and great products are built through feedback loops and ongoing processes of community interaction. Remain curious and sensitive to the changing needs of your clients. Let your marketing efforts and your work feed into a constant refinement of improving each other.

Track Your Progress

To better allocate your resources and understand how your marketing is paying off, keep track of your progress and results over time. If you’re not naturally comfortable with numbers, charts, and analytics, you can use one of the many free tools that are available.

Share Your Success

Whether you present your work in an online portfolio, create content to showcase your ideas, or engage with your clients and community through social media, don’t be shy about sharing your best self with the world. It will inspire others, build your own confidence, and bring lots of new opportunities to your doorstep.

Turn Pro

When you start thinking of yourself as a serious professional, something magical happens. If you’re struggling with that transition, or you’re ready to take your creative career or small business to the next level, we can help! Contact Artisan Creative today to take your next step.

We hope you’ve enjoyed issue 518 of our a.blog.