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  • 11/29/2021 4:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We honestly can’t believe that it’s December already. Just last week we stuffed ourselves with turkey and started decorating for Christmas. For our last post of 2021, we thought we’d look back on some great memories, and get you excited for some things to come.

    Content galore

    There was a lot of great content submitted by our members this year. Here’s a few links to some relevant articles:

    Are you an EMERGE member who loves to write and is interested in contributing to our monthly blog in 2022? We are looking for content relevant to our audience of young professionals, and are seeking contributors among our members. If you have an idea, email marketing@emergelakeland.com. We would love to feature it! 

    Top events

    We had a lot to make up for in 2021 after 2020, and we made some amazing memories. Here are a list of events that had everyone talking this year:

    • Most attended event: EMERGE Gala: Murder Mystery!

    • The newest event: The Most Awkward Networking Event

    • The sharpest event: Membership Drive at Axe Calibur

    • Most impactful event: S.O.L.E. Saturday

    • Top professional development event: Follow the Leaders: Resilient Leadership

    We still have one more event up our sleeve in 2021, and if you haven’t signed up for our Vision Board Workshop yet, there is still time! Don your most festive holiday sweater and join us for a few hours of fun and crafts.

    Getting connected

    Our Marketing Committee worked hard to amp up our presence on social media this year, and you all gravitated the most toward Facebook, closely followed by the ‘gram. Our focus has been generating relevant, appealing and engaging content consistently for our audience--and we’ll continue to do that in the new year. And because coming up with content is a full-time job within itself, feel free to reach out to our marketing committee at marketing@emergelakeland.com with any ideas!

    In 2022, we  also have a plan to feature you, our members, for content. Do you have an interesting job? Have you just started your own business? Got an engaging routine that you think would benefit other professionals? Send us a brief email about it and we'll feature you! Include some pics, or even a video! 

    Member spotlights

    We started a new campaign this year that put the spotlight on our members, because they are the reason we exist. If you missed them, no worries! We made you a list:

    We also have a few more in the hopper, so stay tuned to our social media pages for more. And if you’re an EMERGE member with a story to share and aren’t too camera shy, reach out to us at info@emergelake and we’ll schedule you for a spotlight.

    What’s next?

    A new year at EMERGE means a new line-up of leadership in our committees. At our annual gala, we announced the new slate for 2022:

    We are definitely looking forward to what this upcoming year will bring in 2022. Feel free to reach out to any of these individuals directly with any questions or suggestions, or catch them at a committee meeting next year. There’s also one month left to say good-bye to the current chairs, so check out our calendar for details on the when and where. 

    And if you don’t see you this year, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! Catch us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

  • 11/01/2021 2:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    You may have already registered as a member, or you may still be deciding if EMERGE is for you; either way, you’ve clicked the right link, because we’re here to answer the burning question every new or prospective member of EMERGE has: What do I do next?

    SO, I'M HERE... NOW WHAT? EMERGE Lakeland has a lot to offer, so the options can seem kind of overwhelming at first. Everyone in EMERGE has been a new member at some point, so you’re not alone. We’ve all been there! You may know exactly where you’ll fit in, you may not, but don’t worry…we’re here to help!

    First things first…

    EDUCATE YO SELF. If you haven’t already, peruse EMERGE Lakeland’s website. Check out the About Us section and read about how we came to be. Our mission statement wraps us up our objective to serve you—our member—in a nutshell:

    "To create a venue for our members to build relationships, develop professionally, become politically aware, philanthropically active, and contribute to the economic development and quality of life in Lakeland."

    You’ll also see a list of our steering committee members. Maybe you’ll see someone you know?

    ATTEND A NEW MEMBER LUNCH. Check out EMERGE’s calendar of events on this site. Once a quarter, EMERGE hosts a new member lunch. This is the perfect opportunity for you to meet people (just like you) who are new to EMERGE, eat some tasty (and complimentary) food, and ask some questions.

    But what if the new member lunch isn’t for another month or so and you want to get involved NOW?

    CHECK OUT UPCOMING EVENTS. Volunteering, networking, socializing…there’s always something going on. Check out the event calendar, or follow us on social media (we’re on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn), to see what’s up.

    ATTEND A COMMITTEE MEETING (OR TWO. OR THREE.) EMERGE Lakeland has five committees for you to connect with, each with their own unique objectives: event planning, marketing, volunteering, professional development and membership promotion. Each committee meets at least once a month, so drop in on one to see where you connect. You can find out more details here.

    Sometimes dates and locations change, so be sure to double-check the calendar on the website. When you get to the location, look out for the table with the EMERGE signage and some of the friendliest faces in the crowd. If you have any questions, head over to our Contact page and shoot an email.

    TAKE A STEP. Well, we’ve broken down the initial steps for you, so now the rest is up to you. Trust us: it’s worth it!

    If you still have any questions, go to the Contact page and send us a message, or reach out to us on social media. See you around!

  • 10/20/2021 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month, we are sharing a vlog spotlight on one of our members, Taylor Carson. Get to know Taylor and why she loves EMERGE.

    EMERGE Member Spotlight: Taylor Carson from EMERGE on Vimeo.

  • 10/04/2021 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you ready for a change in career?

    By: Christina Ingrassia

    Do you find yourself daydreaming about quitting your job? Have you written one too many “per my last email” phrases lately? Filling out yet another TPS report?

    As you may have inferred from the previous EMERGE blog post, you’re not alone. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers (according to SHRM, nearly 4 million people quit their jobs in April 2021).

    But before you let your apartment lease lapse and gas up the car to live a nomadic life as a colored pencil blogger, consider whether a job change is going to bring you the relief you’re seeking or if you’re seeing the other side with a “greener grass” filter.

    The first thing to do if you’re considering whether you’re ready for a new position is ask yourself a few questions:

    What is prompting my desire to move on?

    • Are your work responsibilities a great fit for you? Do you look forward to the next work task, seeing your projects come to fruition, excited to learn the next skill to level up? Or do you dread the thought of sending the next email? Your work responsibilities might not be a great match for your skills or personality. And even if you have the skills to rock your current job, if it clashes with your values, personality, or work style, it may be a good time to start doing some personal introspection to discover new avenues to creating a daily experience that makes you excited to get to work.
    • Do you love your colleagues and enjoy working with them? Or do you seem to frequently be clashing with others at the office?  It might be time to take a look at your conflict resolution style, but if you aren’t in sync with your coworkers and you sense it is related to a difference in values rather than work styles, it may be time to look for a new team to contribute to.

    What is My Definition of Success?

    Let’s say you’ve decided to make the leap. Before you sweep your computer off your desk and exit the building dramatically, grab a coffee and spend some time thinking about your definition of success. Success means different things to different people, but people tend to feel successful when they are living an optimized daily existence according to their standards. For just a minute, forget what your boss outlined as a desired career progression in your industry and think about what an awesome life looks like for YOU. This is different for everyone, and you’ll feel most successful in life if you calibrate your work to align with your definition of success.

    For instance, some people feel most successful when each element of an individual day is optimized to contribute to a great day for them. Conversely, others feel most successful when the short term is optimized to create a fantastic result for them in the future, even if that means that each individual day is less enjoyable (or not enjoyable at all).

    There is no wrong answer, but it’s important to know which pathway speaks to you, because no matter what other people see, you will not feel an inner sense of success if you are on the wrong path for you.

    Additionally, if you find that your current employment isn’t structured to support your preferred style, consider talking to your supervisor—perhaps there’s some flexibility in how the framework of your current position is structured.

    Have I installed a Safety Net?

    Save 6-12 months of living expenses before you make a leap if you don’t know what your next step is. Job searches can take some time, and you want to be sure that you have enough resources to see you through. It’s wise to save this amount no matter what your life situation is, because you never know what could come your way that would spark a job change.

    Have I assembled My Safety Kit?

    A safety net should be accompanied by a “safety kit” of resources that are going to help support you during this transition. Think of adding the following things to your safety kit:

    • Encouraging friends and mentors—you’re going to need extra encouragement to weather the difficulties of a transition, so time to let a few (trustworthy) friends in on your plan to transition.
    • Healthy habits—don’t let your healthy disciplines go down the tubes during this transition. Try to keep as much of a routine as possible to support the healthy mental and physical habits you currently employ.
    • Learning Cap—All the skills you’ve built so far are going to coalesce to benefit your next venture, but in order to stretch ourselves, we also need to be willing to learn—a lot and quickly. Stay humble and be ready to learn everything new and then some.
    • Professional coaches—now is the time to hire someone to help you freshen up your resume, get a new headshot, and update your social media profiles.
    • Career Investment—what do you need to invest in yourself to take you where you want to go? Do you need to meet certain people? Polish up your conflict resolution skills? Learn a new language?

    Whether or not you decide to quit your job, taking these steps will drive your career progression, rather than passively hoping a sub-optimal situation will improve. When the next chapter of your career begins to unfold, you’ll be ready to take the reins, or at least the next step.

    About the author

    Throughout many years in the realms of Human Resources and Higher Education, Christina guided countless people through the process of job and career shifts, and found it highly rewarding to see people shine in their careers. Recently, Christina launched Nitoris Vox, a fashion travel company that hosts shopping and women’s travel experiences in the US and globally.

  • 09/24/2021 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    This month, we are sharing a vlog spotlight on one of our members, Nicole Bradham. Get to know Nicole and why she thinks joining a committee is important.

  • 09/07/2021 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Great Resignation is upon us. Droves of people are leaving jobs thanks to work fatigue, health concerns, waning benefits, and family obligations–the list goes on. Others are leaving corporate allegiances in the dust for better opportunities. The general sentiment of burnout and dissatisfaction with the average workday existed long before the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. With worker shortages shaking things up even further, how will employers ever get back to the status quo?

    To some extent, they can’t; the old definition of normal is over. Here’s your double red flag, level five warning. If you’ve been reluctant to change before, there’s more on the way. A rapid culture shift is imminent. 

    People are working for companies because they want to–not have to. The “great resignation” topic came up for discussion at a recent Professional Development Committee meeting. We could’ve gone on for hours about the trajectory set by tech-savvy, risk-taking millennials, soon to be echoed by an influx of stability-seeking, performance-driven Gen Zs in the professional workforce.

    That discussion left us with the burning question: What kind of behaviors are young professionals looking for out of companies that would make them want to stay in the traditional workforce–extremely structured, success defined by hours worked, rigid policies and protocols, honor through loyalty–instead of shifting into widely-accepted alternatives, such as joining the gig economy or entering hybrid/fully-remote positions? 

    We reached out to friends and pees to answer this question. Here are a few of their responses.


    #1. A clearly defined workplace culture. Businesses should cultivate a workplace culture that your employees will brag about for years to come. Culture is not the occasional pizza party or perks that check a box; instead, it consists of what attitudes, values, and behaviors are perceived as commonplace within an organization–your company ethos, if you will–developed in alignment with business goals and intentions. It is more about how those ideals are applied in day-to-day functions than simply a statement or boilerplate recruitment materials. One of the best strategies to develop or improve culture is to place core principles at the heart of your organization. These apply to all team members, not individuals or certain roles. For some businesses, this can mean collaboration, where teams work together and share different perspectives, creating more engaged employees. For others, it means respecting one another’s time by setting appointments, shifting priorities, engaging team members for their feedback, actively encouraging time off, offering schedule flexibility, showing genuine care by supporting individual talents and aspirations, and so on. We spend roughly 40+ hours of our weeks with our occupations, sometimes while we try to sleep and even while we dream. Everyone deserves to be in a setting where their opinions and thoughts are respected and inherent human traits are recognized. Studies show a strong workplace culture inevitably yields financial benefits, improves productivity, and retains talented staff. Satisfied employees are free PR, too.

    #2: Professional development opportunities. Most job applicants and employees are looking for access through their employer to professional (and personal) development opportunities, whether for individual team members in their respective roles or budding leaders. Young professionals may crave mentorship and guidance from respected superiors, but they are also looking for clear signs of career growth opportunities. To some, this means extensive licensing or certification processes coupled with exams, fees, and ongoing education requirements. Offering financial support for memberships or costs associated with career milestones is one way to encourage individual growth. Lunchtime learning sessions, seminars + webinars, and conferences are great ways for your team members to dive into their craft. These opportunities double as moments for networking and collaboration. Such long-term investments in staff lead to better engagement, increased productivity, and overall employee retention.

    As a business owner or leader, consider leveraging your community knowledge to share opportunities with your team to expand their professional networks. A great way to do this is by vetting respected local philanthropies or professional organizations (EMERGE, anyone?). While networking and volunteering do not come as a natural interest to some, others might not know where to start and need an introduction. Both are critical as they develop communication skills and camaraderie within teams. The extra step to encourage engagement between your team members and the communities their work impacts can make their work more fulfilling.

    #3: “Work-life balance” as an expectation. The past year and a half has taught us that the only way to maintain successful outcomes in any unprecedented situation is to remain agile and adapt. For many, that meant shifting business models, changing measures of productivity, and even adjusting schedules. At this point, we are all understandably tired of hearing the phrase “be flexible,” but workplace flexibility and a respectable balance between professional and personal time has long been in demand from a workforce facing challenges such as rising costs in childcare and caretaking responsibilities, long commutes, or other overwhelming personal obligations. A recent LinkedIn poll ranked flexibility and balance as the #1 key differentiator sought out by job seekers in our local market. Younger members of the workforce are more likely to prioritize taking care of life’s inherent commitments over a rigid schedule, and inflexible employers may struggle to build tenured employees because of this.

    #4: Competitive compensation. Entry or junior-level professionals place a certain amount of trust in their employers to offer fair wages and benefits that match their qualifications. The entry-level workforce is most vulnerable in this regard. These individuals often diminish their value in salary negotiations or set the bar too low. Salary-setters carry a responsibility to recognize the value of a new hire and communicate that through a fair offer; otherwise, someone else eventually will. For those on the hiring side, re-evaluate your interpretation of experience levels. Many college students, young parents, caretakers, etc., often take roles that allow more flexibility than traditional roles. Be mindful of skills that are transferable from one industry to the next. Ask yourself, did this person’s previous experiences require them to:

    • utilize problem-solving skills?

    • demonstrate empathy and understanding?

    • act under pressure within short time frames?

    • interact with the public regularly?

    • pay attention to meticulous details?

    Pairing repurposed skill sets with technical training can be a great way to acquaint someone with a new occupation or industry. Softer skills are often the hardest to master; however, they are qualities of great team members and future leaders. Additionally, if additional paid benefits are not an option, consider other ways to show appreciation or value, such as wellness incentives, paid time off, or individual recognition for achievements. Remember to also celebrate the small things. Enthusiasm can quickly wane if even minor victories are pushed aside. The desire to be recognized for diligence and achievement is not unique to a generation or particular group of people.


    This is by no means an all-inclusive, exhaustive list of talent retention strategies, nor is it a one-size-fits-all model. No two organizations are the same, and circumstances change daily. Hopefully these ideas initiate self-reflection or inspire some sort of change-leading behaviors within your organizations.

    We’re all on this roller coaster together now through the foreseeable future. If you are a leader struggling with employee turnover, ask yourself if there are trends worth paying attention to. If your team seems distant or disengaged, ask them what you can do to further support them through challenging times. Don’t wait until it’s too late to reel them back in. Whether you’re navigating an entry-level job search or looking for a change, ask more questions during the interview process. Ask your interviewers questions such as how they would define their company culture, what is the average employee tenure at their company, or what is their opinion of work-life balance. Decide what values are important to you and find that right alignment!

    About the Pro Dev Committee

    The Professional Development Committee leads the charge in planning EMERGE events focused on career or personal skills applicable to young professionals. Our goal is to build upon the mission of EMERGE by creating content and providing programming for our members and the community based on current headlines and timeless topics in professional development. The Committee meets once per month and is always looking for ideas and contributors. Email prodev@emergelakeland.com for more information.

  • 08/19/2021 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Meet EMERGE Member: jermaine thornton

    This month, we are sharing a vlog spotlight on one of our members, Jermaine Thornton. Get to know Jermaine and what drew him to EMERGE.

  • 08/02/2021 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Emotional Intelligence in Business

    By: Kelly fischer

    Today, many people are talking about Emotional Intelligence, and maybe as a business owner you are asking yourself:

    • What exactly is Emotional Intelligence?
    • How can I use that in my business?

    So, that is exactly why I am here writing this article to help you to understand what is this and how to use it as an entrepreneur or business owner.

    Maybe now you are asking, “And who are you?”

    I am Kelly Fischer, a Master Coach specializing in Business Administration with 15 years of experience in business as an entrepreneur and business owner.  I have researched many systems of excellence in business and leadership principles.  I seek the best experience for the companies and clients I serve. My experience comes from many years of hiring and developing people lacking Emotional Intelligence, and I paid the price; that’s why it is my mission to bring this knowledge to every entrepreneur and business owner, no matter the size of the company.

    Let’s learn about Emotional Intelligence in Business!

    Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to connect with yourself and develop your best version, and the capacity to connect and help others to develop their best version, as well. According to Daniel Goleman, author and researcher, who coined the term “Emotional Intelligence,” says in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ,” that Emotional Intelligence has two important pillars:

    1. Personal Emotional Competence: How I relate with MYSELF. 

    Example: Boldness

    • Self-Confidence
    • Resilience
    • Optimism
    • Flexibility
    • Persistence, etc.

    2. Social Emotional Competence: How I relate with OTHERS. 

    Example: Leadership

    • Service
    • Teamwork
    • Focus on Solution
    • Conflict Resolution, etc.

    More than 2,000 years ago, a wise Prophet who divides the age before Him and after Him, says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, the second is this ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31, NIV) Here He is talking about how to live an abundant life and described the Pillars of Emotional Intelligence: connect with yourself in all areas, with others, and--in the first place--connect with your faith, and then you are able to bring out the best of you and this connection will show you how to bring the best from others. Today, many studies show that when a person connects with their faith by prayer, meditation or mindfulness, the person is able to think clearly and make better and wise decisions. Dr. Caroline Leaf in her book, “Switch on your Brain,” chapter 4 page 72 shows us studies from scientists like Ellen Langer and Mihnea Moldoveanu on “The Construct of Mindfulness” that state that “Research dating back to the 1970s shows that capturing our thoughts in a discipline way rather than letting them chaotically run rampant can bring about impressive changes in how we feel and think. This change is evidenced in cognitive, emotional functioning as well as the neural level. My research shows that controlled focused thinking leads to impressive improvement in cognitive functioning and emotional balance.”

    THE 10-90 RULE

    Great companies choose their collaborators not only by analyzing the resume and measuring the intelligence and capacity to do the job (IQ); they are also choosing people with a great level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ), the capacity to manage the emotions and bring the best from themselves and others even in moments of pressure and crises.

    An entrepreneur, business owner or a collaborator who is persistent and resilient acquires these  positions because they have the ability to keep walking even in adversity. Persistence is a competence directly linked with success.

    Today, a business owner that knows how to manage emotions follows a simple concept called the 10-90 Rule. The 10-90 Rule teaches us to manage our emotions showing us the way we react to events is much more influential then the events themselves. Below a better demonstration:

    • 10% is what happens to you without your control.
    • 90% is what you do with that, how you react to that event.

    When we control our reaction to events beyond our control, we are using our Emotional Intelligence, and then we are able to change our thoughts and, in consequence, our communication.


    Maybe you are asking yourself, “How can I measure the level of EQ in me and my collaborators?

    HR departments are developing the ability to measure emotional intelligence  in partnership with business coaches, using coaching tools to measure the Emotional Quotient of the candidates for new positions.

    In the first phase, when a company is opening a position, they can use a tool called  “Architecture of Position” which defines the characteristics of IQ and EQ for a particular position. During interviews, the company can give an assessment behavioral profile test to help identify the ideal behavioral profile that matches with requirements for the position.

    With individuals already working in the company, HR can use the assessment to develop a tool called the “DNA of the Organization” to see if the team is in the best position and maybe reallocate some people according to their profile and EQ.

    With leaders and executives, this could be used a tool called Multidirectional Emotional Intelligence to measure the EQ of the leadership of the Company.


    Maybe you are wondering: “Okay Kelly, and now what to do with all of this information?”

    As a CEO and business owner, the results of these assessments are important. They will enable you to take justifiable actions that will  bring out the best from you and your team. While you may need to adjust the Strategic Plan for the company, relocate people, promote individual and group meetings, give more responsibilities, hire new people - or even let people go that may be better fits elsewhere - it will all come together to better support your company’s Vision, Mission and Values.

    The main thing is that Emotional Intelligence in Business needs to start with you, the business owner, entrepreneur, CEO; you need to l bring out the best version of yourself, to achieve the High Performance and then you will influence your team to be their best version.

    About Kelly Fischer 

    I’m Brazilian from Rio de Janeiro, but I have adopted Lakeland since 2019 as my city and I am proud to say I am not only “carioca” but I am “lakelander” as well.

    I love challenges and learning new things that’s why I am constantly developing and challenging myself, so writing articles for Emerge Lakeland Business Owners is very exciting for me!

    I am a Business Coach with 3 years of experience helping other Business Owners to achieve their goals, but in addition to that I have over seventeen years of experience running my own Architecture Company specialized in architecture focused on multi-family properties and real estate investment that gave me experience in business management, strategy and marketing, that helped me to help others colleagues and Business Owners. 

    I have a BS in Architecture and a pair of masters degrees – in Management of Natural Resources and in Business Administration. In addition, I am a Specialist in International Properties (CIPS) and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). 

    Today I led my own company Royal Fischer Business Solutions here in Lakeland, as CEO and Master Business Coach, and I am able to help many Business owners in the US, Brazil and more.

    You can follow me and my company on Instagram @kellyelficher or @royal.fischer. My email is royalfischerconsulting@gmail.com.

  • 07/22/2021 9:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Meet EMERGE Member: Emily Crain

    This month, we are sharing a vlog spotlight on one of our members, Emily Crain. Get to know Emily and what drew her to EMERGE.

  • 07/02/2021 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Six ways you build your design portfolio and improve your craft

    By: Sara WRIGHT

    Whether you’re a designer fresh out of college or a self-taught individual, making sure you have a robust and professional portfolio needs to be a priority. As a graphic designer—or in most any other artistic career—you need a portfolio if you ever hope to be taken seriously and land a good job.  

    The “I want to be a designer to earn a decent living” starter kit 

    While it may feel like a catch-22, especially if you haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to design, there are ways for you to create content for your portfolio and keep your skills sharp.  

    1. Volunteer your services. Non-profits who don’t often have the budget to afford a full-fledged marketing team with designers are always looking for help. While you shouldn’t make a habit of working for free, this is a great way to hone your skills and support a cause you care about. 

    1. Connect with online design communities. Sites like Behance or Dribbble are great places for you to share your work, receive feedback and draw inspiration. The Futur is another that offers designers a ton of resources and support, especially on the business end of things.  

    1. Improve on yourself. Remember that God-awful flyer you made your first semester of Photoshop 101? I’m sure you’d rather not—and it’s certainly not something you would want to showcase in a portfolio—so why not improve it, instead? 

    1. Be prompted. If you’ve run out of inspiration, there are tons of online design prompt generators to give you some ideas (you can find lists of a few here and here). Some design communities, like Dribbble, host “weekly warm-ups”, or sign up for The Daily Logo Challenge 

    1. Make a commitment. Set reasonable goals for yourself that keep you creating on the regular—and hold yourself accountable. For instance, take part in one of those prompts I mentioned in #4 on a weekly basis and post it in one of those design communities I mentioned in #2. And remember to disregard the amount of likes you may or may not get—use it more as a tool to watch yourself grow. Train yourself to be encouraged by progress, not likes. 

    1. network, Network, NETWORK. Professional organizations like EMERGE Lakeland are a great place to exercise skills and make professional connections that could turn into actual paying jobs. Joining your local branch of the American Advertising Federation is another good idea. Now, for creative introverts like me, that sounds (and is, let’s be real) terrifying. Still, pushing out your comfort zone can do wonders for your creativity. 

    Things to keep in mind

    Putting yourself out there not only opens yourself up to opportunity; it also leaves you vulnerable to criticism and the urge to compare your work to others. And speaking from experience, it is very easy to get discouraged as a creative.  

    While it is important to know how to take criticism as a designer (it's part of the job), always consider the source and never take it personally. Criticism from other professionals can be valuable because different perspectives will help you better craft your art—but it can also be frustrating. Training yourself to sift through feedback to find something relevant is really an artform itself. Basically, whether I agree with the criticism or not, my response is always, “Thanks for the feedback! I’ll look into it.” This allows me time to reflect on what was said and compare notes with other creative professionals to see if anything worthwhile pans out of the critique to improve the design. 

    As far as comparing yourself to others, you need to realize that there is always going to be someone better than you—and that is a good thing. I’ve spent hours scrolling through creative feeds looking for inspiration, only to walk away questioning whether I’ve made the right career choice. And while I’ve been designing on varying levels for nearly a decade, I still haven’t found my signature “style,” and that’s a very personal pain point. The thing is, knowing that you need to improve and taking steps towards improving is how you grow. Don’t compare yourself to others; instead, learn from them. 

    In summation 

    This line of work takes commitment; it also requires a great deal of self-motivation. Showcasing your best designs in your portfolio and making sure you keep it current and updated is important. Taking the time to practice and watching hours of tutorials is also required. Even if being creative is your passion, there will be days when you just don’t wanna. And that’s ok. Taking breaks are important, too. Draw inspiration from the world around you, and when you’re ready, start small, keep it simple and don’t give up. 

    About Sara 

    I'm a New England native who currently lives in Central Florida. An outgoing introvert with an eagerness to learn and explore, I have a degree in digital media technology with a specialization in graphic design. I was self-taught in graphic art and decided to pursue an education to refine my skills and potentially make it a career. I am currently employed full-time as a Senior Graphic Designer; I also do freelance graphic art under my business name, 
    Your Visual Storyteller. You can follow me on Instagram at @your.visual.storyteller. My email is sara@yourvisualstoryteller.com.

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