Small Businesses, This is Your Week!

By Catherine Lang Cline

The head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Linda McMahan, announced that National Small Business Week will be held from May 5-11, 2019. So, let’s celebrate what makes small businesses so great!


If you have ever shopped at a small business you probably already know that the customer service is great. The owners take every customer, everything they sell, every dollar, very personally. This business is something that feeds their family, pays their mortgage, and keeps the electric on in their home and business. It also builds a strong community. But according to Forbes, did you also know that:

  • Currently, there are 28 million American small businesses, which account for 54% of all U.S. sales. (That is some serious impact.)

  • A strong network of local funds enables individuals and businesses within a community to support each other and build the community.

  • Small business owners are experts in their industries. They sacrificed time, money, and more to build businesses out of their passions.

  • Small businesses can provide one-on-one service that is often impossible for large corporations.

Now as one of those people who owns a small business I can tell you that we are not only aware of the above numbers, we try and improve those every day. For us, we are trying to make a difference every day; for our community, our families, and for ourselves. Small businesses were the first to offer gluten-free foods in our small bakeries, offer you services for coaching, organizing, and taking the hand-off for things you needed to delegate. We fix phones, wash cars, offer you your own personal expertise in so many areas.

Some people prefer the convenience of a large box store, maybe they prefer the price. It is a choice. But during the week of May 5, try shopping at a few small businesses. Then keep on shopping with small businesses.  What you will find is that you are ultimately investing in your community, investing in a personal experience, investing in someone’s dream.

Everything is good about that.


Employment Law: This Year’s Smokin’ Hot Topics

By Kristen Harris

The laws and legislative issues related to hiring, employment, and human resources management are constantly changing. Attending the American Staffing Association’s Staffing Law Conference helps us stay on top of these issues for ourselves, our clients, and our talent.

We’ve provided this quick overview of the hottest topics that may be of concern to our clients. Please keep in mind that we are not attorneys, and are only providing this as an informational resource. If you have questions or concerns about any of these issues, please consult with your legal counsel.

Top Four Employment Law Issues:

  1. Medical Marijuana. While it remains illegal under federal law, cannabis is currently legal for doctor-prescribed medical use in 30+ states, including Ohio. In addition, several states (not Ohio) have passed laws expressly prohibiting employment discrimination for medical marijuana use. The medically prescribed version does not get you “high” but what if an employee has a positive result on their drug test and explains it with a medical card? The ADA does not directly require medical marijuana accommodation because the drug is still federally illegal; however, it’s assumed that there is an underlying medical condition that may require accommodation. Maybe it’s no different than any other medical condition that requires medication? In addition, when there is a workplace accident it’s often standard practice for the employee(s) involved to tested for drug and alcohol impairment. With marijuana, unlike alcohol, a positive result does not necessarily mean the employee is impaired at that time; residue can remain in the body for several days or more. If you are in a state where cannabis is legal for medical use, consult with your attorney to establish best practices, policies, and procedures.

  2. Recreational Marijuana. Currently, there are nine states where cannabis is legal recreationally (and yes, this is the kind that gets you “high”). In these states, companies are looking at the impact on their employment policies and hiring practices. In many cases, it falls under the same policy as alcohol–employees cannot be under the influence while at work. In more dangerous occupations there can be concern about the impact on work performance, even when employees are only partaking off-the-clock. Some companies continue to have a zero-tolerance policy; others test only for certain jobs where safety is a factor; others have removed marijuana from their drug testing protocol. Recreational marijuana users are not a protected class (less tricky than when it’s prescribed to treat a medical condition), but businesses need to weigh their company needs against the available workforce in this tight hiring market. As always, consult your legal counsel to create policies and practices that fit your business needs.

  3. Immigration. With continuing emphasis on enforcement of immigration policies, it’s important to have properly completed I-9 forms ready for inspection. Even if you are a small company, keep in mind that when a large company is audited then often all of their suppliers and vendors are audited within the year. A best practice is to do your own self-audit annually. Create a process and have a team member who does not typically fill out I9s do the audit; when there is an I-9 inspection most frequently they find one or two mistakes that were made repeatedly. If someone on your team fills out I-9s every day, they believe they’re doing it right. With an audit, you can catch mistakes, follow the USCIS rules on making corrections, and retrain to prevent future mistakes. There is also new attention being paid to how I-9s are being completed electronically. I am not qualified to explain this but we can send you a very thorough ASA Issue paper on the topic, just send us a note. And, of course, consult your attorney.

  4. Background Checks. There continues to be attention focused on the use of arrest or conviction reports in employment decisions. These concerns are related to how the broad use of background checks may have a disparate impact on minorities. Even when a company is following consistent screening practices (e.g. every employee has to pass X, Y, Z background check), the question is being raised whether that level of background check is necessary and appropriate for every job. Is the reason that person has been denied employment related to that job or a business necessity? Factors to consider are the nature of the crime, time elapsed, conviction vs arrest, and the nature of the job they are applying for. Does the applicant’s criminal record prevent them from doing the essential functions of the job? Some states and municipalities require that an employer inform an applicant of the job-related reason they are not qualified. Consult your attorney and guidance documents available from the EEOC.

The best way to protect yourself is to stay informed and proactive. Review policies, ask questions, and resolve concerns before they become an issue.

If you are a Portfolio Creative client and have questions about these topics, or anything else related to our dual responsibilities of hiring and employing talent, please contact us at HR@portfoliocreative.com.


If you are not a client and would like more information on how these topics may apply to your creative staffing or recruiting processes, connect with us at kristen@portfoliocreative.com.


For more information related to hiring, staffing and employment, the American Staffing Association has valuable resources for both employers and employees.

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Greg Topps

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I am the Business Development Associate for Portfolio Creative! I am originally from New Jersey, though Columbus has been home for over half my life. I am a very active person, from working out daily to playing sports on the weekends. I call Upper Arlington home.

Morning:

I like to start my day with the weather report and some daily world news, to stay in the know! Otherwise, I enjoy listening to The Loper and Randi Show on 99.7 The Blitz as I prepare for my day, which includes a protein shake that consists of a banana, peanut butter powder and chocolate almond milk...it's healthy and tastes like a Reese’s Cup! On the weekends, I enjoy cooking up some bacon and eggs or the occasional pancake!

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Afternoon:

My afternoons are typically filled with meetings, so depending on who I am meeting with, no two days will be the same. If I do not have meetings, there will be research for new opportunities. I am also consistently learning, from trends within the creative industry, to organizational changes and improvements. Knowledge is power!

Evening:

With the exception of hitting the gym immediately after work, my evening is anything but routine! One night I may be enjoying dinner with friends, going to a concert/sporting event, practicing for my Sunday baseball game, exploring Columbus during a bike ride, or just vegging out on the sofa binging on Netflix!

A Day in the Life: Q+A with Destiny Evans

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My name is Destiny Evans and I am a senior at The Ohio State University. I am majoring in Strategic Communications with hopes of working in the cosmetic or fashion industry one day. I am originally from Cleveland, OH, but I have lived in Columbus full time for 2 years. During the day I have the opportunity to work with a company that people only dream of working for! A creative environment with intellectuals who want to see me achieve so many things! When I’m not at Portfolio Creative I am in class or at home brainstorming new ideas for my brand in progress Good Girl.

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Morning:

I wake up at 8 am every day sometimes with work at 9 or class at 9:45. I try to eat smoothies in the morning before class or work so that I can fuel my day with something other than campus food. In most of my classes, all I do is write, write, write. In my writing for strategic communications course, I learn how to write for news, broadcast and many other communication writing forms. I am excited that I get the opportunity to create real writing samples for my portfolio and work on becoming a hireable candidate.

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Afternoon:

When I’m not in class I am usually at 18th Avenue Library working on work for the week or I am babysitting which has become kind of a part-time job in between jobs. It gives me the flexibility to work when I want so that I can focus more on my last year of school. It also keeps extra money in my pocket to plan trips around my school breaks.


Evening:

I have a twin sister whom I live with along with a good friend. We enjoy cooking meals together and brainstorming for our lives after graduation. We are all very ambitious and goal driven so I am always looking for our next adventure!

Kondo Your Career: Tidying Up Your Work Life (it could be magic!)

By Kristen Harris

A few years ago Marie Kondo wrote a little book about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up your home, which gained popularity and spiraled into a Netflix series. Now it seems like everyone I know is “tidying up”.

The word “Kondo” has even morphed into a verb. Friends of mine have said ”...last week I Kondoed my kitchen…” or “I spent all week Kondoing…” In fact, just last night I Kondoed my tee shirt drawer (she was right, they’re easier to find when folded into little squares).

Why are people obsessed with decluttering? I believe it’s because we crave a sense of control over our lives. With news, information, entertainment, and work bombarding us from every direction 24/7, we want to feel like we can control some part of our life. Even if it’s just the tee shirt drawer.

So I started thinking, can you Kondo your career? Does this concept of tidying up apply to work as well as home? Yes, and not just by cleaning off your desk.

Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that speak to you or, in her terms, “spark joy”. This is the same for work and career–we only want you to hold onto things that bring happiness. Let’s be honest, it’s called work for a reason; not every moment is going to be sunshine and roses. But I truly believe that everyone can find happiness in their work and, if that’s not the case, then it’s time to find work that can make you happy.

Just as she suggests tackling your home objects by category, we encourage you to look at your work life and career in the same way. Start with self-exploration, then experiences, resume, work samples and, finally, relationships.

Self-exploration is first and critical because if you don’t know what you want and need, it will be impossible to clear through the rest. Collecting and reflecting on experiences helps you gather information to edit and update your resume. Next, gather, edit and organize work samples that support your resume and the type of opportunities you’re interested in. Finally, review, edit and maybe increase your relationships to match your wants and needs.

When helping someone declutter their home, Kondo has them gather everything from one category, literally making a huge pile of all of those items (e.g. clothing or kitchen tools). Use this same concept when tackling one of these career categories. For example, to begin tidying up your work samples, start by making a big pile of everything you have (literally or electronically).

Then consider each piece and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If yes, put it in the “keep” pile; if no, then thank it for the role it played in your life and let it go. You really only want the best of everything in your life, and that includes your best work, best experiences, best relationships, etc. I know, this process all sounds a little woo-woo but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know what brings us happiness. There is a mindful, introspective component to this clearing method that allows us to keep the best and release the rest.

Once you’ve narrowed down to what you’re keeping, then find the best method for organizing and storing. This could mean creating a dream board, re-designing your resume, building a new portfolio website, re-organizing the folders where you store work samples, or connecting with all of your contacts through LinkedIn. Whatever the method, you need an attractive and easily accessible way to store these items or information.

Taking time to clear through materials, experiences, goals, samples, and relationships that are no longer serving you can bring more happiness (maybe even life-changing magic) to your career!

We Are Good Humans

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Odds are, being a good human in business will not make you number 1. Business is too often about the numbers, the profit, the margins, and how much has been delivered. Don’t get me wrong, we love a profitable year because that just means that we have done a really great job. It means we have marketed ourselves well and we have provided a lot of work for creative people. Our biggest return on investment is how much we have helped–whether or not we have been good humans. This formula has worked with a number of successful companies like Nordstrom’s, Tom’s, and Southwest, all amazing companies but not the largest in their sector.  There are 100s more that put people before profit, but here is our story:

After working for a number of great advertising and marketing departments and getting paid pretty well we had to figure out what Portfolio Creative was going to be about. We started it with an idea. The idea was to have a service that could connect creative talent where the client could stay within their budget and the talent could make what they were worth. That’s it. Months of planning and 6 months after “opening our doors” we could actually pay ourselves. The risk was worth it. We then started to invest in the company with people, software, and all the stuff that makes businesses work to connect more people. Most importantly, we learned that this community believed in us, and not being the Lamborghini-type, and we wanted to give back. We wanted to be good humans.

We are good humans because we:

  • Love reinvesting in the community, this region is ours and it is worth investing in

  • Volunteer hundreds of hours of our time serving on boards to better the region

  • Take action to empower artists, women, minorities, and small businesses

  • Believe in and trust our talent, clients, and internal team to work hard and dream big

Also we:

  • Know advertising and marketing and only send the best choices to our clients

  • Believe that artists should get paid what they are worth and we will work toward that

  • Try to find solutions for any business size

  • Are very flexible to get a project rolling

When your ROI is more about “How can we help?” vs “How much money can we make from this?” you know that you will never be the largest and you will probably never be the most profitable. But we know that, in our little piece of the world, we are making a difference. This creative community helps each other whether you are the artist or the client. That makes us fit in here perfectly.


Why a Podcast?

At Portfolio Creative we have been placing creative people into roles and helping our clients find the perfect person for well over a decade.

Even before this all started, we were creative people, hiring people, interviewing people, or being interviewed ourselves. With all of that life experience, we’ve acquired a lot of knowledge about how the job market works (and how it doesn’t work).

  • We have learned what makes a successful interview from both sides of the table.

  • We have learned how to present ourselves and how we wanted to be presented to.

  • We have learned how to find a job you love or an employee that you would soon love.

  • We have learned a lot–but what good does all that knowledge do if it’s trapped inside our heads?

So we decided to start the Illumination Bureau podcast to share all of that information. To help candidates get hired and for clients to find success in hiring the right person. Everyone is making a first impression at one time or another; this podcast will share information about putting your best foot forward. And, sometimes, it is just not a fit. We’ll also help you move on and find the job or candidate that is.

We’ll talk about finding the right job, moving up the ladder, mentoring employees for leadership, side hustles, contract employees, and so much more. There is a wealth of topics we can cover and, if we don’t know, we’ll bring in an expert.

We hope that you will learn a little something as you listen and share these podcasts with those that you think could use some help. Together, we can build a stronger creative community.

We’ll be talking to you soon,

Catherine & Kristen


We Find A+ Talent

By Kristen Harris

We are all about talent. Whether you write impactful copy, design beautiful graphics, create amazing physical or digital spaces, take stunning photos, or manage a project to the nth degree, you have creative talent. And we believe in the power of your talent to impact business and change our community, maybe even the world. Yes, I went there...your creative talent can change the world.

Catherine and I are creatives at heart, with BFAs and entire first careers as artists, designers, art directors, and creative managers. Now, through Portfolio Creative, we get to help other creatives bring their own talents to the world. When our clients are looking for just the right person and creative people are looking for their next opportunity, they come to us. Why?

We find A+ talent.

It’s our business and mission to connect great creative talent with companies who need their skills and talents. New ideas, innovation, and fresh perspectives are inherently creative and increasingly important to business success. It’s possible to sell practically any product or service anywhere in the world, but think about how much creativity it takes for that to happen. Someone has to think of and create an amazing new thing, and then it has to be shared with others who may need or want it. Every step of that journey requires A+ talent. Companies need great people–to find the right person at the right time–and we do that.

Our team works hard every day to find and connect with top creative talent with a wide variety of skills. We want to work with the best of the best, and that goes way beyond just finding a great person. Because we truly care about the people we work with, celebrating their successes and cheering them on throughout their career, we build genuine long-term relationships.

“We find A+ talent” is one of the things that makes us unique. And having that reputation means we are constantly reaching, setting the bar higher, and expecting more of ourselves. Because like attracts like: A+ Players want to work with other A+ Players. To earn the right to work with the best, we have to be the best.


We Value Creativity

By Catherine Lang-Cline

One of the main reasons we started this business is because we value creativity. It was not necessarily to start a staffing business, but that was the closest model. And, I had gained a bit of knowledge of the basics of a staffing company as a freelancer because I had used companies in the past to help me find work while I also found my own projects. I was registered with a few companies at the time but my best jobs came from the company that specialized in creative. Knowing staffing is important, being connected, but by valuing the creativity, you can offer more.

Tell me if you see yourself here. Growing up I remember valuing my Spirograph®, sketch pads, new crayons with the pencil sharpener in the back. I would spend hours on someone else’s Etch-A-Sketch® because we couldn’t afford to buy one. Easy Bake Oven® led to decorating cakes, graph paper allowed me to draw out layouts for homes, doodles on my school paper contained little outfits I would design and the complete love affair that I had with photography.

My career started by getting a BFA and getting a job with an agency. Commercial art is creative from the problem solving to the finished deliverable. There is also no end to possibilities; headlines, copy, content, images, and format. I appreciate all of it like a symphony that comes together and makes something lovely. Don’t get me started on my love for music.

What else? I travel to see exhibits and art museums. I read great books, watch movies, listen to podcasts, and see speakers just because I love a great story. How about you?

I tell you this because creative people are a special breed. It a talent to visualize and create something out of nothing. Starting a business is also creative and this brings us full circle. Why do we do this? Why does Portfolio Creative exist? Why have we never taken on anything other than the creative space?

We value creativity.

Creative people speak a different language. (Sometimes no language, as for us, it is just sometimes easier to draw a picture.) Our favorite people to work with are the ones that understand us and our vision. The ones that want to turn us loose and see what we can do because they value the talent we possess. The ones that see what we do as having value, not something to be handed out for free. My business partner, Kristen Harris, also believes in the value of creativity and our first conversation in starting this company was, “We want this to be about making the right match, finding the right person for the job, making sure the talent gets paid what they are worth.” (Let’s face it, as artists, we are always asked to do something for free.)

“We value creativity” is one of the very unique things about us. Artists are unique. Creativity is unique. People that value creativity are unique. We exist for all of you.


How To Love Your Job (or at least make the most of it)

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Believe it or not, many, many people do love their job. The stars aligned and they found their calling in the field that they love with the team that works wonderfully together. It is actually possible that you can achieve this, too. It may require a few adjustments or it may require you getting what you need right now and then strategizing for your next move.

If you already love your job with no issues, congratulations! You are one of the lucky few and you may be able to guide others in making it a great job for them, too. Bear in mind, you can’t fix everyone and some people are just in the wrong place but you may be able to help. If you see coworkers struggling maybe offer them some thoughts on why you love your job. Maybe it is the flexibility or the opportunity. Sometimes it is a conversation about how what you do is helping people.

If you love your job except for maybe just one person that is also employed there, you might have to dig deep and be direct. Sometimes having a conversation with a person can fix a lot of things. If someone talks over you, constantly is late, is never accountable, etc., you will get better results if you approach that person and tell them how their action makes you feel or how it affects the team. The idea of this is not to lecture them, but rather see the results of their action. Going to HR could be a choice if you feel that it is beyond what you can handle but sometimes people are not self-aware and if a few small things can be rectified, you might have a little more love for your workplace.

Finally, you might just not be in the right place. The culture of the company may not match yours or the work style or the people. You can make the most of your situation by transferring to a new area or figuring out what you can add to your skill sets at this job to prepare you for the next. Can you take on new responsibilities? Can you work on leadership skills? Can you learn some new software or skill that might expand your career? It will definitely help the company you're currently working for and you all may like this change. You could possibly love your job! If all of that does not work, you have set the stage for the next step in your career. Don’t forget while you have a job you can work on passion projects or activities outside of work that can lead you in a new direction.

The point is if you are not in love with your job:

  1. Talk to someone at the company that is and find out why

  2. See if you can change things in your environment, you may need to speak up,

  3. Start looking at opportunities within the company to make a change or gather more experience for the next step in your career.


You spend more time at work than at home or with your family. You might as well spend that time at a place you like going to and being with people you like.