Shoshin: The Olympics of Business

Thursday, July 29th, 2021|

We’ve been engrossed in the Olympics this past week as we watched athletes who had put their lives on hold to continue training for an additional year, finally take center-stage in Tokyo to compete in their chosen sport.

Each athlete speaks about their perseverance, determination, and unwavering focus on becoming better and stronger in their field. Even those who are at the top of their ranking in their nation, or have won previous Olympic medals, continue with the same determination and focus to better themselves each time they enter their respective arenas. For many, it means 6+ hours of training each day—every day, even though they are already masters in their sport.

They understand that a one-second improvement can be the difference between standing on the podium, or not. These athletes have accepted the Shoshin mindset, a Zen Buddhist philosophy of a beginner’s mindset that fosters openness and acceptance for continued learning and growth.

This made us think about business and the importance of ongoing training for our teams. How often are companies and employees incorporating the Shoshin mindset?

Many firms start new hires with an intensive orientation and training, and then only provide feedback or additional training when something isn’t going right. Even worse, if the candidate hasn’t performed well by a specified timeframe, it’s assumed they are not a right fit for the role. A lack of proper training by the company is rarely taken into consideration.

What if, as hiring managers, we created a continuous training program, an investment in growth and learning to encourage all employees to adopt the Shoshin mindset in their daily routine?  And, as candidates what if we created an opportunity to go back and review the basics, shore up our foundational knowledge, add new skills and embrace new technologies?  Even if we’ve been doing our craft for years, how much more successful would we be if we improved our skills and became just a little bit better, faster, stronger?

At Artisan Creative, we’ve embraced continued learning and have implemented the following into our workflows over the years:

Training on Processes

  • Hold on-going bi-weekly one-hour trainings to continue learning together
  • Create short Loom Videos for all tasks, so new hires have a quick visual reference
  • Use Trello to house docs and references
  • Utilize Slack for quick questions if someone is stuck

Self-development

  • CliftonStrengths assessment to learn more about our peers
  • Toastmasters to become a better presenter and speaker
  • As needed Coursera or Udemy classes

In a market where it’s a challenge to find candidates, continuous investment in our teams can make the difference between success and failure.

In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few~ Shunryo Suzuki, Zen master

How do you implement ongoing training and the Shoshin Mindset in your business?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 589th a.blog.

The Intentionality of WFH

Friday, July 16th, 2021|

Industry reports are showing that staggering numbers of employees are re-visiting their priorities to decide whether to stay in their jobs or to leave for other opportunities.

According to the labor department, in April alone, 4 Million people left their jobs.

With labor shortages in every industry from hospitality to technology and the fact that not everyone has left for another job…..we wondered why is there such a huge demand vs. supply of skilled professional talent?

Some candidates are leveraging this demand and focusing on freelance vs full time careers.  Others have moved out of their city, changed their focus, and are spending more time outdoors or with family while contemplating what to do next. Others are taking inventory of their skillsets and taking online courses in a variety of disciplines to expand their current skills.

One thing that is clear, is that a large population does not want to go back to the office in a full time capacity. And, for some, they don’t want to go to the office in person at all.   For employers and employees, it’s important to define what the future of work looks like and understand why it’s important to know how and where we want to work.

The pandemic has taught many the value of time, and how we can best spend this precious commodity.  At Artisan Creative, we’ve long held the view of an integrated life with work vs. trying to find balance in work and life.  Finding work/life balance implies being out of balance and putting work first, then life.

We prefer to put the emphasis on life first and then integrate work within it—life/work integration.

We have been a remote team for 11 years now and we respect the moments when a team member takes a few hours off to accompany their child to swim class or tends to a personal matter.  We embrace the time someone needs to go for a walk in the middle of the day to reset.  We do all this because we trust one another and know the work will get done because we’ve committed to doing so. We also believe we will return to work happier.  We do all this because we know our team embraces our core values of Accountability, Agility,  Trust,  Communication, Enthusiasm.

One thing we’ve learned over the years is that remote work is not for everyone. The idea of it may be attractive to many, however, the execution of it takes diligence, self-discipline, and intentionality.

As you contemplate a return to work—whether hybrid, fully remote, or in person, be sure to evaluate which specific work situation is best for you and know whether you can self-motivate, and stay accountable to yourself and to your team.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 588th issue of our weekly a.blog.

Impacting Workplace Culture

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019|

Most of us spend significant chunks of our lives at work. How we experience our jobs, our workplaces, and our professional cultures is a big part of who we are and shapes who we become. Therefore, all of us – HR and management, creative professionals, all of us – have much to gain from becoming more actively invested in our workplace culture. We deserve it.

As you become more aware of your workplace culture, how it works, and how to make it better, here are a few things to keep in mind.

All Culture Is Designed

Workplace culture rarely happens by accident. It is the result of values, whether spoken or unspoken and of actions, whether conscious or unconscious. When we act more mindfully and communicate our values more clearly, we grant ourselves more agency to collaborate and create the sort of workplace culture that better serves our needs and helps us achieve our goals. When we have a strong, supportive workplace culture, we can take pride in nurturing that culture and living in tune with what we really care about.

Know Before You Go

Recruiting and onboarding should include clear communication of the values, priorities, and expectations of the workplace culture. Before you join a team or take on new members, make sure your workplace culture is made explicit, and that it’s something everyone involved can proudly uphold and celebrate. It’s going to be a big part of your life – make sure it’s a good fit from the beginning.

Keep the Paths of Communication Open

If you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask! Workplace culture is everyone’s business. A healthy one will encourage curiosity, new ideas, and positive contributions. As the millennial generation of workers and entrepreneurs rises in influence, its values of transparency and mission-focus can make it easier to ask useful questions and have important conversations about workplace culture.

Little Things Matter

Seemingly minor details – color schemes, layout, and organization, or whether a workplace is dog-friendly – will compound in importance over time. When you can turn small elements of your workspace or your office culture to your advantage, you make a powerful investment in your long-term success and happiness.

Check-In With Yourself

Even when you’re working hard, give yourself the time and psychological space you need to know your own mind, listen to your heart and gut, and be aware of how your workplace culture is resonating with you. The tools of mindfulness can be helpful with this process – more than a style of meditation, mindfulness is a set of habits you can adopt to develop a more perceptive and grounded take on the world. If those at all levels can become more mindful of workplace culture and dedicate themselves to nurturing and improving it together, it can be an enormously positive influence on team cohesion, productivity, and overall well being.

At Artisan Creative, we love to see creative professionals and businesses thrive. Contact Artisan today to start the conversation.

WE hope you’ve enjoyed the 545th issue of the a.blog.

Best Practices For Remote Meetings

Thursday, July 18th, 2019|

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.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 538th issue of the a.blog

Cool Job Perks

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019|

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.

Dry Cleaning: Hate doing laundry? Need to be spotless and wrinkle-free for client meetings and presentations? Consider a job that will steam your pants and tumble-dry your whites, on the house.

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.

Together with our top talent and world-class clients, we’re helping to shape the workplace of the future. Contact Artisan Creative today and discover better ways to work.

We hope you enjoy the 522nd issue of our a.blog.

 

 

Pet Friendly Work Environments

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019|

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.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 520th issue of our a.blog.  Follow us on social and meet the furry friends who keep us company at work.

 

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 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.

Reducing Our Footprint at Work

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019|

We only have one earth, and all professionals and businesses share a responsibility to do what we can to take care of it. When we become more mindful of our environmental impact and make more efficient use of our resources, it’s good for the soul, good for the planet, and often good for the budget. We can take inspiration from some of the world’s largest companies and their efforts to be better global citizens. In celebration of Earth Day, here are a few tips for reducing our ecological footprint at work.

Cut the Commute

Whether it takes the form of encouraging ridesharing and mass transit or going partly or entirely remote, reducing time on the road is great for the environment, as well as for stress and spending levels. If you must commute to work, make responsible and productive use of your commuting time, and seek out the wealth of local transportation apps that provide the best options.

Do an Energy Audit

Account for the ways you use electricity in the workplace. Can you switch to more energy-efficient light bulbs? Do simply switch off lights when they’re not in use or leave it for someone else to take care of? Can you rely less on heating and air conditioning? Slight reductions in energy use make a big difference when we all do our part. And, cultivating a more mindful and responsible attitude toward energy can improve all aspects of your work…… awareness is key.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Promote and participate in a workplace recycling program. Avoid buying new supplies until you’ve made full use of what you already have. Whenever you can, make do with less. Oftentimes the most familiar environmentalist wisdom remains the best.

Know Your Supply Chain

You know your business, and you know it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How well do you understand the processes that surround it, and the full impacts they have? Sustainable procurement is an often-overlooked opportunity to build more environmental responsibility into the business processes that will impact our future.

Change Your Lunch Habits

It’s getting cooler, and easier, to go vegetarian or vegan. Some workplaces are implementing no-meat policies. With remarkable advances in meat substitutes, low-impact diets offer increasingly nutritious and delicious alternatives to fast food. Pay attention to improving what you eat on the job, and you’ll look better, feel better, and help reduce the burden on our species and our planet.

At Artisan Creative, we believe that great work springs from a holistic approach to building careers and lifestyles that serve our true desires. Contact us today to learn more.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 517th issue of our a.blog.

 

Managing a Remote Team

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019|

Remote work is on the rise. Taking advantage of the increasingly robust connective and collaborative capabilities of digital technology has been statistically shown to reduce employee stress, improve employee engagement, and save time and money for companies.

It just requires an ever-so-slightly modified style of management.

Digital nomads will play increasingly important roles in the future of business. If you’re a manager, it’s time to prepare yourself to help foster success for employees and contractors who work mostly or entirely off-site. Here are some key tips for managing a happy and productive remote team.

Start With Onboarding

From your onboarding and training processes onward, make sure your expectations are clear and that remote work best practices are baked into the culture of your business and enthusiastically embraced and understood by your team.

Facilitate Transparency

When employers, managers, and professional collaborators can’t hold regular in-person meetings, clear systems for accountability and transparency are crucial. Make it easy for remote team members to track and report on their work and to reach out to others for help as soon as they need it.

Use Technology and Stay Connected

Even if different members of your team live in different time zones, they need to be able to communicate with each other, as everyone must feel connected. For example, Zoom and slack can help you hold weekly video meetings, even if they’re simply status check-ins. Use the most appropriate project management software to track responsibilities and accomplishments and to enhance off-site collaboration. Build a strong company culture, encourage your team to support each other and take pride in what they do together.

Hire People You Can Trust, and Trust Them

The people who are best suited to remote work are generally highly motivated self-starters. They take responsibility without too much guidance or external discipline. They communicate clearly, sincerely, and consistently.

Take extra care to only bring in those who can contribute their best efforts to your team without peer pressure, micromanagement, and constant attention. Then, let them work. When managing a remote team, instead of being a taskmaster or a disciplinarian, be free to serve as a resource and a positive example of how people can work closely together without the need for geographic proximity, cubicles, or Casual Fridays.

Artisan Creative runs on the efforts of a tightly bonded and highly successful remote team. We have been a remote workforce since 2009 and understand better than most, the unique challenges of managing a remote team and how the right approach can set you up for success. We’d love to share our expertise with you. Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 516th a.blog.

 

Digital Spring Cleaning

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019|

Happy Spring! Today is the first day of spring, the vernal equinox when the sun’s rays shine directly on the equator, and our days begin to get longer.

Spring cleaning is in the air, and this year we are focusing not only on de-cluttering our home offices and workstations but also focusing on our digital clutter and noise!

Multi-version files, copies from years ago, duplicate images, a multitude of apps, and incessant notifications lead to not only a cluttered digital space, but also to a cluttered mind leading to distraction and reduced productivity.

Below are several tips to help you with your digital spring cleaning:

Managing your smartphone

Moving all apps into a folder, alphabetizing and deleting those no longer in use is scary, yet liberating. In his article Beautilty, Jason Stirman describes the step by step to do this task.

Duplicate Files

If you aren’t already using proper naming conventions, start now. It’s too easy to get bogged down with multiple file versions with slightly different names. Choose a file naming convention process and stick with it. Whether you start with the name or date, stay true to it and implement it across your team or department.

If things have gotten out of hand, manual intervention may not be possible. In this case, duplicate file management apps like Gemini or a variety of version control options such as Git, SVN, and others will solve your problem. If you are a creative, use Adobe Bridge or DAM to manage those assets on an ongoing basis.

Backup and Delete

Once your files are organized, then back them up to the cloud, or to a drive. Back it up and have the peace of mind that you can always find that one elusive file. Delete all non-current files as well.

Say Goodbye

Turning off notifications, and unsubscribing from emails and newsletters that are overflowing your inbox will give some breathing space. Whether you change the frequency of newsletters or divert them to their own folder, change this flow of digital noise to something that is both manageable and realistic for you. You can use Unroll.me to batch unsubscribe and remove email subscriptions you no longer need.

Inbox Zero

It’s hard to start, however, once you achieve inbox zero, you’ll never want to go back. A few easy steps can get you organized and help build a workflow so you can get to inbox zero. Tools like Sanebox help manage all those LinkedIn invites, or Basecamp notifications.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our 513th a.blog.  Please connect if you are looking to hire your dream team, or looking for your next job opportunity.