Brand You: Are You Carefully Crafting Your Personal Brand?

By Kristen Harris

Our world is becoming more and more brand-centric and for good reason. Brands help set one product apart from another, stand out from the pack, and quickly communicate their promise to the customer.

We no longer just have vacuum cleaners, shoes, and sparkling water. We have a Dyson, wear Rothy’s, and drink LaCroix. We talk about brands as if they’re a part of our lives and share them online like they’re our friends.

In this creative space, many of us create, grow, market, and sell brands all day long. When people buy brands they know and trust, they’re buying what the brand stands for not just the product that’s being sold.

Are you crafting your personal brand as carefully as the brands you create for your clients? Do you have a personal brand that people know and trust?

Yes, we are people and not products, but everyone has a personal brand. If you only tell people about your functional skill set, the software you know and your years of experience, you’re promoting the product of you. When you share the unique combination of who you are, what you do, and how and why you do it, that’s the brand of you.

Your personal brand includes what you do, how you do it, your communication style, your values and beliefs, and everything else someone gets when working with you. It tells people who you are, not just what you do.

Personal branding tends to show up three key places: in-person, on paper, and online.

In-person, our individual brand comes across the minute anyone sees us. How we carry ourselves, our posture, confidence, speed, energy, volume, and wardrobe or personal grooming choices all add up to a physical projection of our brand. Whether it’s a choice we’ve made or something we’re born with, our physical presence is a part of our brand. Make sure the brand you’re projecting is the one you want. Some physical attributes can’t be changed but most of what people see and perceive about you can be adjusted to project the brand you want to communicate in-person.

On paper, our personal brand is clear on any physical materials like a resume or cover letter, marketing pieces, printed samples, or portfolio. It’s communicated through word choice, writing style, fonts, colors, graphics, and paper textures–and you get to make all those choices. Select options that project who you are and what you do; a good brand will attract the right people and repel the wrong ones.

Online, you get to create and curate your personal brand. Since you’re making all the choices, choose images and words that project the brand of you. Help people get to know what you’re all about, where your passions lie, and your unique skills or strengths. Caution: sometimes people curate their online presence and social feeds to the point of becoming inauthentic. Project the brand that you want to share but also keep it real–let people see a bit of the real-life messiness, behind-the-scenes steps, or special process of your work.

We live and work with other brands all day long; take a little time to consider your own personal brand and how you’re sharing it with the world.

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Kristen Harris is the COO • Co-Creator of Portfolio Creative. A central Ohio firm solely focused on creative roles, Portfolio Creative has been connecting companies with the top creative talent for onsite staffing, full-time direct hire, and project needs since 2005.

The Best Results Come With a Referral

By Catherine Lang-Cline 

Staffing Success recently published an article about how creative people are in high demand. We could not agree more. With every company needing a person with a skill set that addresses the many changes that are going on in technology and how we sell things, the need for web and mobile development, web production, user interface, and interaction design, and creative development has reached new heights.

About half of the companies out there can get a referral from someone else for people with these skills. What about the other half? That is where we hope that companies like ours can help. One of the reasons we started this company is that we thought we knew everyone in town that did creative, but over the last decade, we have met thousands more really, really good creative people. 

How does that help you? Definitely ask around for a referral. If that comes up empty, reach out to a well-respected company that either specializes in the project you want to accomplish or reach out to a service company/recruiting company that can find you the perfect person. What a well-respected company that specializes in what you are looking for can do is really understand your need and be connected with the exact person that will fit your project and your culture. Their reputation should be based on who they can find. Think of it as a group of people that can offer you even more referrals on who the best people in town are. Far better than an online job posting that connects you to people you don’t know.

What are the hardest roles to find?

  • Web and mobile development

  • Creative development

  • User interface and interaction design

  • Information architecture

  • User experience

  • Web production

  • Visual design

  • Marketing strategy

  • Animation

  • User research

Any of those sound familiar?

Again, find a partner that would love to talk to you about the changes in technology and people that can help you get things done. Find people that have done work like this, understand work like this, and understand what a person needs to know to get the work done. This is your company, this is your money, and you want to get the right person for the job the first time.
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Think we can help you or your organization? Contact us at www.portfoliocreative.com Also check out the Portfolio Creative blog and sign up to receive expert hiring tips from our pros.
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Catherine Lang-Cline is President and co-founder of Portfolio Creative, an Inc. fastest-growing company for six years. Portfolio Creative helps companies connect with creative talent in all areas of marketing, design, advertising, and digital roles for corporations, retailers, and large creative agencies. More information is available at portfoliocreative.com
This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included. ©2018 Catherine Lang-Cline, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

 

Diversity in Creative: The Power of Conversation

By Kristen Harris

Our business is to connect clients with the best creative talent, which means we’re working with candidates and companies in the creative space all day long. 

As we go about our work, we often notice a lack of diversity in race or ethnic background amongst candidates for creative roles. Let’s just say it here–we know that this conversation can be tricky territory. But if a company is focused on change, and it’s coming from the right place for the right reasons, we support that. Our job and the commitment we make to our clients is to find top candidates for the role regardless of how they look, their name, background, physical differences, or any other trait that has nothing to do with how well they can do the job. 

At Portfolio Creative we’re in a unique position because we work with both creative talent and employers, but we don’t have all the answers. Seeking input, ideas, and support from people with different experiences than our own, recently we tapped into the power of community and conversation by hosting a Diversity in Creative roundtable as part of the Columbus Foundation’s Big Table event

We invited creatives, marketers, diversity professionals, employers, hiring managers, and community leaders to discuss this topic. While nearly all of the participants were people of color, we knew each person would bring their own unique experience and perspective. All of the attendees were incredibly generous with their time, ideas and insights. 

They shared challenges and barriers they’ve seen personally and have observed in the workplace and discussed where there is an opportunity for change and how we might go about achieving it. While each individual’s experience is unique, there were common themes about how important contacts, access, sponsorship, preparation, and acceptance are to career success whether it’s within a company or starting your own business. 

How did we have a productive conversation about a complex and potentially awkward topic? We set the stage by asking everyone to be open, honest, and a bit patient with each other. Just by hosting the roundtable, we encouraged people to get involved in a conversation about a topic that is rarely discussed, and made sure everyone around the table was engaged. And we listened. We learned from others, heard their ideas, and asked questions to better understand the issue.

So, where do we go from here? We know one conversation won’t create change so we’ll keep reaching out to the community, inviting conversation, asking questions, and listening to learn. And, as it becomes more clear how and where we can be influential to facilitate change, we’ll take action. Because conversation is great, but action leads to change.

Our Favorite Places for Offsite Meetings

Our days are filled with meetings, but sometimes it's nice to get out of the office once in a while. Below are a few of our favorite places for offsite meetings. 

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Photo by Fox in the Snow 

Fox in the Snow

[German Village] + [Italian Village

Website

 

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Photo by La Chatelaine

 

La Chatelaine

[multiple locations

Website

 

 

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Photo by Pistacia Vera

Pistacia Vera 

[MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Website

 

 

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Photo by Jeni's 

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Photo by Mission Coffee

Mission Coffee

[MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Website

 

 

 

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Photo by Zen Cha Tea Salon 

 

Zen Cha Tea Salon 

[Short north

Website

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Photo by Winans

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Photo by Bros' Coffee 

 

Luck Bros' Coffee 

[Grandview

Website

Get More Candidates with an Inviting Job Description

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You have a role to fill and you know exactly what skill sets you need. You start your long line of bullet points and it covers every single detail of what you are looking for in a candidate; the amount of experience required, software knowledge, responsibilities…. Check! Check! Check! It's perfection. Or is it completely boring?

Sure, all of these details are incredibly important, but does it sound interesting or inviting? Think about when you receive an invitation to an event. The details are what, where, time, and maybe who it may benefit. Party invitations include all of that too but instead, there is a line about, “Come celebrate!” or “Join us!” or “Don’t miss this!” Exciting, right?

Now a job is not a party but in order to get people interested in what is making your job description stand out over the others? The job market is tight, what would make them choose to go to your party, um... company, over another job offer? What are you offering or should be offering that would make your company the place to be?

Here are a few examples of bullet points that you could add to your next job description that will really attract candidates:

  • You can help grow

  • Collaborative environment

  • You will own… (as in be responsible for)

  • We love self-starters

  • You will work with an amazing team

  • Freedom to create

  • Free coffee!

  • Looking for people that believe in our mission

  • Flexible hours

I am guessing that you see the difference between this and a typical job description. It is basically building some excitement around being a part of your companies team. If you have a lengthy description that you really want to stick to, you could also have this welcoming invitation in a nice intro. Notice that it has nothing to do with foosball tables or bean bag chairs.

Still struggling? Not only would we love to help you re-craft your job description, we would love to help you find “the one” for your company. We invite you to contact us if you need help with this or any other workforce issues. We would be excited to help — portfoliocreative.com

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Jackie Ayres

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Jackie Ayres, the creative mind behind Dyetology. 

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Hi, I am Jackie Ayres the designer and founder of Dyetology. Dyetology is a line of unique, hand-dyed accessories and apparel using natural fibers. I live in Westerville with my husband, 12-year-old son, and 2 Boxers. We landed in Columbus in the late 1990’s when my husband got a job with the Columbus Police Department. I feel blessed to be living in such a wonderful city! It has a vibrant art scene, embraces and supports entrepreneurs, has many great colleges, amazing job opportunities. I could go on and on. I love being part of the community and giving back. In March of 2017, I started a mission program with our socks when I found out that socks are the most needed clothing item in homeless shelters.  I knew I could help since socks were already a part of the Dyetology line. We do a buy one, give one program with our socks. Last year we were able to donate over 500 pairs to Faith Mission and their sister organization, Choices. I hope to double that number this year. This has been one of the most rewarding things I have been able to to do with my business. (see pic of socks, see pic of me at Faith Mission dropping off, picture of my husband and son helping package up the socks, and a picture of myself and McKenzie Hopkins, the Manager of Volunteer Services at Faith Mission.  

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Morning

After getting my son off to camp (in the summer ) or to the bus stop during the school year, I love to grab a cup of coffee at Java Central in Uptown Westerville. They have the best espresso and coffee around. Try a Cortado which is shots of their rich, carmel-ly espresso with steamed half and half….you won’t regret it. In addition to the coffee, I start my day by reading a page out of a daily devotional. I find this ritual keeps me grounded and reminded of what is really important, especially when things are super busy and I am juggling a lot.

Afternoon

Dye time. After catching up in the morning on emails, blog posts, anything on the “business” side of things I go downstairs to dye. My dye studio is downstairs in our basement so I don’t have far to go!  I dye most days of the week to keep up with orders and stock for the 15- 20 art shows/festivals I do a year. Each piece is individually dyed and unique in its own way- no two are identical! 
Since I work from home and it can be really easy to not get much activity in, I take the dogs out at lunch for “our” daily walk to get some movement in our day! 


Evening

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 I’m trying to get better balancing work and my family time which means not working into the night. It’s hard when you are a business owner and work from home- it can be challenging to have boundaries between work/home life.  I try to get in a work out most days of the week in the evening. I find my evening workout is a good stopping point for work and the start of family/personal time. We have everything thing we need to work out at home with a gym set up in the basement and the garage. I love to workout in the garage and will do so most of the year until the heater in the garage just can’t keep up with the Ohio cold.

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My husband and I don’t get out on a lot of dates, but when Pearl Jam is on tour, we follow them and do big dates! (see pic of us in front of Pearl Jam sign at Wrigley)  We are getting ready to go see them in August for 2 shows at Wrigley Field and we are taking our son this time to see Pearl Jam for his first time. Fun fact, my husband and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this week and we saw Pearl Jam for the first time as a couple back in 1992 and that’s something we have continued to do! 

Follow Dyetology

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Workplace Culture: It's a Reflection of Who You Are

By Kristen Harris 

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“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” (or lunch). 

This relatively common quote is often attributed to management guru, Peter Drucker, although it’s not really clear who actually said it. Really, it doesn’t matter who said it first, now people say it all the time. 

But what does it really mean?
What IS culture? 
And why is it so important?

While there are plenty, here is my definition of workplace culture: the set of norms your company and employees live by, otherwise known as “what happens when no one is looking”.

Culture is the standard of how things are done, how people treat customers and each other, the flow and pace of work. It’s all of the tiny (maybe seemingly insignificant) details that all add up to “this is how we do it here”. Culture is not what you do, it’s how you do it.

Every company and workplace has a culture, whether it’s been created intentionally or just happened over time. Cultures can be good, feel good, do good. Or they can be bad, feel bad, turn out bad. And, of course, there’s a lot of grey area in-between. 

In most cases, “good” or “bad” may be a judgment call of whether it feels right to you. If you like a laid-back vibe then a hard-charging, competitive culture won’t feel good. And, vice versa. Each culture may be right for that business, but rest assured that they are all different. Culture is a big part of what differentiates one business from another in the same industry.

Think about your favorite coffee shop. Is it a single location, down a side street, where only locals go? Or is it ultra-hip, in a trendy area, a place to network and be seen? Or is it a ubiquitous chain, found on every corner, consistent and easy to find? Each of these shops has its own culture–from the decor and how you’re greeted to what is offered, how it’s made and delivered to you. The way you feel receiving that coffee shop’s product and service is a reflection of their culture. And you probably feel more at home in one over the other. 

Culture reflects company values–what’s important to the people working there–and influences every part of your interaction. Which makes us feel more at home in one place over another.

At Portfolio Creative our culture has always been very important. Catherine and I set out to create the type of company where we’d want to work; we figured if it’s the kind of place we want to be, then our clients, talent and team members would too.

Here’s a taste of our culture:

  • Fun – If we’re not having fun then we’re not doing it right! There’s a lot of laughter throughout the workday, even in meetings (yes, we’ve proven even meetings can be fun).

  • Friendly – We smile, say “Hi”, ask how you’re doing and actually listen to your answer. We act nice because we are nice.

  • Caring – We genuinely like each other, our clients, our talent, and all the other people we get to work with. When you really care, it shows.

  • Helpful – It’s our job to help people; we’re problem-solvers for our clients, talent and each other. If we can’t solve the problem, we try to share ideas or provide resources; no one walks away empty-handed.

Culture isn’t about what you do–it’s how you do it and who you are. How everyone in the company behaves every day, even when no one’s looking. Especially when no one’s looking. 

Our Portfolio Creative culture reflects the values we live by every day. Want to see how it feels to work with people who are fun, friendly and caring? Reach out to let us know how we can help; you won’t leave empty-handed.

Why Clients (and Everyone) Deserves More Than a Text

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You know how when you read, hear, or see something that it can sometimes feel like that you have been hit like a thunderbolt? That occurred to me recently when I read that Nicole Kidman told Parade magazine that she has never sent her husband a text. "We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don't text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times."

We all know that to be true but I am willing to take that thought one step further by saying that too much texting or email will simply erode any relationship. Speaking in terms of personal relationships first, my husband and I are very busy, there is a lot of travel, too. Therefore for speed, we text a lot. Typical, right? Just a long string of notes like:
“What’s for dinner?”
“I found my keys.”
“I love you xoxo”

Informative and sometimes sweet but after a while, it is just words, just information without feeling. The feeling comes in the face-to-face. The expression your husband makes when he sees you enter the room, the actual laugh vs the “LOL”, and sometimes it is no words and it is just holding hands. Awesome. The idea of that kind of communication makes me want to not use texting as a form of communication with my husband anymore.

Now let’s move this all to a professional arena. Clients are busy, we are busy and a client relationship can turn into a long string of quick notes, updates, and questions. Sometimes the client won’t get back to you in over a week. Ask yourself if your client relationship has dwindled to a bunch of unfeeling data. Your clients need to know you and we need to know them. We need to shake hands, let them see our faces when we are so excited to be working with them, and get to know them as people with feelings and challenges. What if you chose to cut your electronic communication with clients in half? What if you called, left voice messages, went out for lunch or coffee? Clients may still email return responses and not accept your lunch invitation but the seed about elevating this relationship has been planted. Sometimes you have to wait for it.

It might take a sliver more time to do this, you may not want to talk because you prefer the safety of a nicely constructed email, but if the result is a better relationship with your client..so worth it! Ultimately, we will all like each other. And who doesn't like working with people that we like? Let’s try it again this time with feeling.

Want to be treated like a person? You might want to contact us at portfoliocreative.com. Open, honest, helpful people work here.
 

Sharpen Up Your Search

By Kristen Harris 

Shark Week has become such a big deal, it’s practically a national holiday! (Nice work, Discovery Channel.)

We’re always picking up new ideas about careers and job search. So, in the spirit of the almost-holiday, here are a few lessons learned from the sharks. Happy hunting!

  1. Never Stop Moving. Sharks have to keep swimming to avoid sinking to the bottom. They are basically always moving, even if it’s ever-so-slightly. Whether you’re building a career, starting a business, or searching for your next opportunity, never stop moving. Do something, even if it’s small, every day. Read an article, learn a skill, send out a resume, contact a potential client–small actions add up over time to keep you moving forward (and prevent sinking to the bottom).

  2. Adjust to the Situation. If there is no food, sharks move on to a location with more options. This is the same with searching for a job, new business, or career growth. If the opportunities aren’t available where you are, adjust and focus on where the opportunities are. This could mean changing tactics, finding new connections, redesigning your marketing pieces, changing your area of focus, or literally relocating.

  3. Choose Your Surroundings. As predators, the feeding behavior of sharks changes according to the presence of prey and competition. They (literally and figuratively) feed off of the energy of the group. Remember that the energy of the people you surround yourself with has a strong impact on your mood and motivation. Spend time in positive situations with people who are encouraging, helpful, and supportive.

  4. Remember and Learn From the Past. Sharks have very good memories. They migrate to follow food sources and remember the (often complex) migratory patterns of their prey. Reflect on where you were successful and not-so-successful in the past. How can you repeat some of the patterns that worked, perhaps in a new and updated way? And remember what didn’t work, avoid it, and try something new?

  5. Socialize with Your Kind. We think of sharks as solitary, but some species are very social, hanging out and hunting in “schools”. As fierce predators, they do not need special protection so this grouping is thought to be purely social. We gain a lot by spending time with others as well. Seek out individuals and groups related to your industry, interests, or a new topic you want to learn. The connections you build can extend way beyond the one meeting or event, leading to long-term relationships and valuable career connections.

The waters can be rough out there! If you have questions about your career or job search, we’re here to help. And we don’t bite, promise.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Laura Roccaforte

In the latest installment of our Columbus Creatives: A Day in the Life series, we talk with Laura Roccaforte, a baker and cookie decorator extraordinaire of some of the coolest and most adorable cookies we've ever seen! 

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My name is Laura and I am the face behind Bakes by Lo, a cottage home bakery that specializes in custom decorated sugar cookies. I grew up in Cleveland in a small suburban city where my high school days consisted of multiple art classes and my home life included watching and helping Mom bake whenever we could. My love for both of these carried into college, where I took more art classes for fun and “procrastibaked”, AKA baked when I should have been studying. After graduating, I thought: Why not combine both of the things I love so much? Eventually, Bakes by Lo was born and I spent every minute outside of my day job baking up cookies for friends, family, and soon enough, actual customers.
Today, my husband and I reside in Hilliard, just blocks from our local Whit’s to satisfy our daily ice cream cravings. :) 

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Morning

My best days start with a workout. My favorite: an early-morning run with the sunrise. It’s the best kind of meditation; it’s quiet, I can release my thoughts, breathe deep, and wake up with the world. It’s the best way to clear my head before the day really begins and it becomes filled with cookie ideas and to-dos.

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Afternoon

I try to keep my workday as routinely as possible. Early in the week, my day consists of standing in front of my trusty blue Kitchenaid, Tiffany, while she mixes batches and batches of dough to be made. Later in the week, my day consists of decorating the baked cookies. I like to think of my cookie as my blank canvas, and my icing as my medium. The cookie that takes 30 seconds to eat may have taken 3 minutes to decorate. A lot of love goes into each one! 

Evening


Did I mention I love ice cream? Any chance we get, AKA almost every night, my husband and I are biking, walking, driving to support our local ice cream parlors. Whit’s, Handel’s, Graeter’s, you name it, we’ve enjoyed it. In the midst of this great city, Columbus also has great metro parks that I love exploring. It’s the perfect way to escape from the bustle of the day (and work off that ice cream). I’ve lived here for 7 years now and there is so much to see and I never get sick of seeing it!
 

Follow Bakes by Lo!

To see more of her amazing cookies, including some she made for us! 

Instagram || website