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Are You Using Your Power Wisely?

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"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want
to test a man's character - give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Earlier this year we went through the season of honoring our historic presidents - and as we are living in very interesting political times I think it serves us well to look back so we can move forward. I expect I wasn't the only person who googled Abraham Lincoln on that 'not-quite-a-holiday-so-we-still-had-to-work" recognition of his birthday, and found a treasure trove of quotes that are still relevant today.

Call Me Difficult - But Why Do I Have To Pick Two?

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Over the course of my 30-year career in marketing, I've had the privilege (and pain) of managing many large marketing, CRM, customer database and web projects working with some very talented IT and Project Management professionals. One thing I often heard was, "Well, Kathy, you can have it cheap, you can have it fast, or you can have it good. Which two do you want?"

Client Spotlight: Portico Benefit Services

Client Spotlight: Portico Benefit Services 

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The word “portico” quite literally comes from the Latin word meaning “porch.” Over the centuries the definition has shifted slightly to mean “a structure with a roof.”
And what does a roof provide? As Bob Dylan might say, a little “shelter from the storm.”

Portico Benefit Services is that roof and shelter for leaders and employees of the ELCA and other faith-based organizations. It provides health benefits and wellness programs that help members live well through retirement and beyond. Their work is not only unique and inspiring, but also requires many unique resources so that their members can take full advantage of the available benefits. And with more than 50,000 people to serve across the U.S., their marketing team needed some extra arms and legs to help spread the word.

Cue Creatis! If Portico is the roof, then that would make Creatis one of the support beams.
Because we’re a one-stop-shop helping companies get marketing work done quickly and with excellence, we offered exactly the type of services they could use.

So for the past five years, Creatis has provided on-site resources and studio services to support Portico’s many marketing needs. Currently, we’re completing around 30 Portico projects per month in our studio, including: e-newsletters, brochures, website content, flyers, trade show booths, video edits and much more. We’ve also placed healthcare writers, project managers and other marketing resources on-site at Portico to bolster their internal team.

As an example of how well our hybrid model works, here’s a fun fact: One of the fantastic project coordinators we placed as a contractor at Portico was recently hired as a full-time employee - and now our studio project coordinators work with him almost everyday! How’s that for full circle?

The partnership has been so effective that Portico utilizes Creatis exclusively for their additional marketing needs. So what’s the secret?

Portico Vice President Kristin Steffen sums it up nicely, “Our partnership with Creatis is effective because of the mutual respect and understanding between our companies. The Creatis Studio functions as an extension of our internal team to quickly and efficiently create and update a variety of digital and offline content for our members. Likewise, the Creatis Staffing team saves us precious time in recruiting and sourcing contract resources as our business needs shift and change.”

Both companies walk the talk when it comes to service. We both understand that a healthy working partnership takes transparency, accountability, and trust. We’ve developed this special rapport by fostering ongoing relationships with individuals, and not just by blindly making demands and requests.

Here’s to 5 more years (and then some!) of being a Portico support beam.

For more information on Portico Benefit Services, please visit:
https://www.porticobenefits.org/

Closing the Minnesota Workforce Gap - United Means Jobs For All

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It is a privilege to be in the business of matching great people with great jobs as we support our clients across the Twin Cities.  Our success - and that of our clients - is dependent upon having a deep pool of well trained, diverse, experienced and AVAILABLE job seekers ready to join our teams.

And - as an employer in Minnesota - I have to say that I'm worried.

Coming Full Circle

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One of the best parts of my job is that I get to do a lot of lunches with people to talk about Creatis. Not only does this energize me (my 'off-the-chart' E of my Myers Briggs profile loves this)but it also gives me a wonderful excuse to reconnect with some of my favorite people from previous jobs.

Go With Grace....

I have created a fictional business executive named Grace. She's seasoned. She's smart. She's worked for great companies. She's steadily risen through the ranks. She goes 'all in' and is 110% committed to the company. And she's been given the chance to "pursue other opportunities" several times.  

Lucky Grace.

As you probably have already figured out, Grace is not a totally made up person as she is based on personal experiences from transitions I did over the course of my 30+ year career.  I know first-hand that exiting a company will be the most terrifying and the most liberating experience you have (get) to face in your professional career.  But there is life after (insert company name here).

How To "Go With Grace" During Life's Transitions

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I know a business executive named Grace. She's seasoned. She's smart. She does yoga. She calls herself an 'intrapreneur'. She only knows how to be 'all in' and is always 110% committed to anything she takes on. And she's been given the chance to "pursue other opportunities" more than once.

Lucky Grace.

As you may have guessed, Grace looks a lot like me and how to "Go With Grace" is based on my transition experiences over the course of my 30+ year professional career. I know first-hand that exiting a company will be the most terrifying and liberating experience you have (get) to face. But have hope... because I guarantee that there is life after (insert company name here).

It's National Boy Scout Day - How Prepared Are You?

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So today is National Boy Scout Day. How cool. Unfortunately, I was never a Boy Scout because in my day they didn't let girls join the troop. Which always bugged me because even back then girls could certainly hunt, camp and survive in the woods. Oh well, at least we had our cookies.

My Two Cents. Worth At Least A Nickel (I Hope).

According to Wikipedia, “my two cents” is a United States idiomatic expression taken from the original English expression ‘to put in my two pennies worth’ or ‘my two-penn’orth’.  It is used to preface the tentative stating of one’s opinion, because by deprecating the opinion to follow (suggesting its value is only two cents), the user of the phrase hopes to lessen the impact of a possibly contentious statement, showing politeness and humility.
How interesting! (But, of course, that’s just my two cents.)

As I begin sharing personal and professional comments via this Creatis blog, I certainly hope you find my opinions and content useful.  Those that know me well might suggest that I am not one typically afraid of sharing my point of view. But what I have shared in the past was often more carefully ‘managed’ then they might have realized.

Right Person + Right Position = Best Utilization

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One, if not the first, piece of advice when starting an investment portfolio is to diversify. It's a way to help reduce the volatility of your portfolio over time, and essentially balance the risk and reward for your investments. A simple concept that puts the investor in a good position. However, many marketers aren't taking the same approach with their staffing and resourcing models causing them to deplete their budgets too fast, put their current employees at risk and simply not get as much done in their organization. Let me explain.

Thank Goodness The LPGA Didn’t Call.

As you may have guessed – I am an avid golfer.  So much so that many of my colleagues have encouraged me over the years to go find a marketing job in the golf industry.  “You’d be perfect!” was a common thing I’d hear.  “You love marketing. You love golf. You fancy yourself above average in both. It’s a real no-brainer.”

But for some reason I didn’t want my personal passion to be my work passion – if that makes any sense.  Probably because if my golf game went to hell and I began to hate the game I now love, I’d also start to hate my job and then I’d be left with nothing!

The Privilege of Being President (And Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Shut)

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"If you are not listening, you are not learning."
- Lyndon B. Johnson

"Leadership means duty, honor, country. It means character and even listening from time to time."
- George W. Bush

"Being President is like running a cemetery; you've got a lot of people under you but nobody's listening."
- Bill Clinton

I consider it a privilege to be President at Creatis. I wasn't elected into the role. My team didn't necessarily get to "vote me in" or choose that I was going to be their boss. But I had worked hard over the years and then got a bit lucky by being in the right place at the right time. And I take my 'presidency' role very seriously because with privilege comes obligation. The obligation to work hard to be a great boss. To know when to speak and, more importantly, to know when to keep my mouth shut. And yes, I am still working on that last part.

There's Chatty Kathy (And Knowing When To Keep Your Mouth Shut)

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So I'm an extrovert - pretty much always have been. For those of you who are also extroverts, I bet you immediately thought of me as engaging, energetic and talkative gal who might be fun to meet for a glass of wine. For all you introverts out there (including the one I married), I heard your loud groan from here and bet you were thinking - 'Ah geez - here comes another Chatty Kathy who is going to talk my ear off and sap all of the energy right out of me'. But even us Chatty Kathy's know when to keep our mouths shut.  Or - at least we are working on it.

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So before we get to the debate around who makes a better leader - extroverts or introverts - let's talk Chatty Cathy as I am sure you are dying to know her history.  Chatty Cathy was a pull string 'talkative' doll manufactured by the Mattel toy company from 1959 to 1965. The doll was first released in stores and then appeared in TV commercials starting in 1960. Chatty Cathy was the most popular doll of the 1960's after Barbie, and "spoke" phrases at random when the "chatty ring" protruding from her upper back was pulled. Chatty Cathy's original repertoire included 11 phrases like, "I love you", and an additional 7 phrases were added in 1963 to include such compelling asks as "May I have a cookie?"  Hmmmm....wouldn't it be interesting if all off-the-chart extroverts were restricted to just 18 phrases during any meeting. Wonder how that might change the flow of discussions.

Because extroverts tend to be outgoing, charismatic, socially confident and communicative - we fit right into the Chatty Cathy persona. Introverts, on the other hand, are typically deemed as shy, quiet, modest and cautious - someone who needs time alone at the end of a long day to recharge and who is less likely to dominate a conversation or have to be the center of attention. As I expect you know, there is a ton of research out there on who makes a better leader between extroverts and introverts which I find just fascinating (although sometimes contradictory). And of course the answer is neither.....or both.

Extroverts tend to command the center of attention and be the head of a discussion, which makes leaders with that profile very effective at invigorating others around them and managing people who like to follow.  Introverts, on the other hand, have a predisposition to listen to and consider the suggestions of others which makes them great at leading highly proactive employees who wish to have a say in what gets done and how. Extroverts are great at providing vision. Introverts are calm in a crisis. Extroverts typically have a huge network of friends and colleagues that a business can access. Introverts are typically excellent written communicators and highly effective in building one-on-one relationships both inside and outside your organization. 

So which is better? Guess you'll have to pull my Chatty Kathy string to hear my answer this time.  But I know we all agree that diversity yields better results and to be effective as a leader you must surround yourself with people who bring different skills and competencies to your team. But for all of us extroverts who naturally tend to dominate a room and who JUST WON'T STOP talking, some words of advice: two ears, one mouth, use proportionately.

Win or Lose - I'm Thankful to Be In the Game

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I will always be a loyal Minnesotan. I complain about our long, cold winters but absolutely love crisp, cold January mornings that take my breath away. I would prefer a longer golf season, but am always a bit relieved when it is time to put the clubs away and get back into the gym. I roll my eyes at the passive/aggressive nature of Minnesota Nice, but puff my chest out a bit when colleagues from other states tout our strong work ethic and comment that we are just so darn NICE up here. And my disappointment runs deep like all hard-core Minnesotans when once again our beloved Vikings miss a chance to play in the Super Bowl, but my heart still bleeds purple.

As another year begins, I like to pause and be thankful that Creatis calls Minnesota home and for our amazing clients like UnitedHealth Group, Medtronic, Deluxe, Portico, AmeriPrise, Marketplace Events and Starkey Hearing Technologies (our newest engagement), along with others. At Creatis, we are celebrating our 20th year in business throughout 2018, and strong client relationships like these have made it possible for us to remain a thriving small business here in Minnesota and employ more than 100 marketing, creative and communciation professionals each year. 

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