Anna Soo Wildermuth

Welcome to Personal Images, Inc.!

Here I'll give you up to date tips on developing your personal and professional image to ensure your first impression will be your best impression. Also I will blog about current image and communication blunders. Feel free to join the discussion by leaving comments, and stay updated by subscribing to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting my blog. – Anna

Change One Thing is a superb book that gives excellent advice to help jumpstart your engine." Stephen R. Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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Archive: Coaching

Failure is an option for success

haircut disasterI recently heard Seth Godin give a talk about “Engagement – Do the Work You Love”. One of the elements of the talk stressed the importance of failure and the lessons learned from it. As we begin to grow and become more proficient in a subject, I believe we continue to strive for success and we work diligently to not fail. What that occurs, I think our growth ceases.

Folks I work with try and learn from situations that did not work out. An important failure I had early in my career was that my son told me to get out when making a pitch that suddenly heads south. I did not follow his advice.

In my presentation (the RFP was 50 pages), the interview was scheduled with two folks. Instead it turned out to be a team of five! I was terrible but instead of getting out of the interview, I forged ahead with my struggling presentation. It took me a year to get over it.

A few years later, I was asked by another company to put on a year program for 300 with 30 at a time in one day. I went into the interview with five people, performed well and won the project. This first failure was painful but it was the lesson that keeps giving.

Strengthen your Emotional Muscles

GiftSeth Godin also talked about ways we need to feed and stretch our emotional muscles mentioning that at least once a year he takes in a retreat and reads material to do just that.

I try at least twice a year to take a class or obtain another certification in a skill that will help me grow emotionally and observe life from another point of view. Last year, I became an international coach credentialed as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC).

This year, I made time in my very hectic schedule to attend a digital marketing conference on artificial intelligence and the ways it is revolutionizing the field. Strengthening your emotional muscles will also help renew and energize your passion.

Lessons from successful folks

targetA recent Chicago Tribune business section piece about critical lessons from successful entrepreneurs brought to mind how relevant the lessons also are for everyone working for an organization. These are the lessons:

• Persistence – Rejection is Normal – Lessons Learned – Recovery is Necessary – Never Give Up.
This reminds me of my first rejection. It took a year for the nightmares to stop but it still stands as a good lesson learned. Now when I get rejected on a project I do not take it personally but rather as a business situation.

• Think Long Term – What is your vision and what are you installing to keep it in the forefront? Add a new skill to keep it moving forward or review what is needed to ensure you are headed in the right direction.

• Take Risks with Growth in Mind – Take on a new project with a new dimension to expand your brand. Exposure is necessary for growth.

• Stay True to Your Core Brand – What is that you stand for? What are you doing to help it grow in a direction of expansion not dilution. Work on projects that not only enhance your core brand but bring a new critical element to it.

No glory in leadership – it can be lonely

A key laying on a piece of paper with the word "leadership" on it.

I remember once asking my coach why leaders seldom are one of the gang. Successful leaders make difficult decisions that are painful but necessary for the organization or project. After those decision, many times, those around us feel rejected.

Being the oldest of five in my family resulted in me making decisions not always welcomed when it came to my late parents or when I served as the president of an organization. What mattered to me at the time is the long-term benefit for everyone. Acting that way felt natural to me. Would I do things differently looking back? No, not really… because I still think I made good decisions.

Being on time – a rare professional quality

alice-wonderland-rabbit-clockI often hear complaints about those who are never on time. They arrive late, run overtime in meetings causing extended sessions that nobody wants. Everyone is busy and it shows a lack of respect for those waiting. Here are some tips to stay on time:

• Plan to arrive 15 minutes early
• Plan a 60-minute meeting agenda for 50 minutes
• If you need more time as a presenter, ask for it in the beginning of the talk
• Always assume everyone’s schedules are busier than yours

Delivering difficult news

ElephangIn a recent brewing scandal involving a major sports organization, the president of the group made a statement about it. What impressed me about this is that the president refrained from the usual allegation denial. Instead, he expressed concern while stating the incident was under investigation and would be addressed after the findings were revealed.

It was genuinely felt that the organization would be honest with the findings. Delivering difficult news must be heartfelt and honest. This approach was much better than not speaking about the situation or worse, defending it before all the facts were in.

What do successful people do in difficult times?

jumping couple in field under cloudsThese are my key elements to help transition from difficult to better times:

• Learn from the situation, no matter how difficult
• Never dwell on the past
• Put a plan in place to move forward
• Take responsibility for the situation
• Get support from family and peers

Why is presence so important?

targetOften, I observe technically competent folks with reasonable communications skills rise up the ladder pretty quickly and then hit a wall. The C-Suite does not see them as the face of the organization. This usually is first impressions garnered on connecting with an audience. It is the way they carry themselves meaning posture, pace and how they look any audience in its collective eye.

Also, it’s putting together clothing choices, grooming and the key ingredient of style and confidently navigating situations. They can be cut some slack if it is noticed that confidence and communication skills promote steadiness. Can some develop the critical factor of presence to move into the C suite?  Yes, with the right coach, mentors and champions, the C-Suite is a possibility!

Inclusive not intrusive leaders

Thumbs upSuccessful leaders are always inclusive in their interactions whether is it just acknowledging with a hello in a casual encounter or making introductions in a meeting. They are inclusive in providing feedback. Even in difficult situations, any intrusive or destructive behavior is avoided.

This reminds me of an incident on a major project for more than 1,000 retail service centers. The vendor of choice missed the deadline for delivering the products. The CEO called a meeting with the leaders of the vendor organization. He stated in quiet voice how much he valued their relationship…however if the product was not delivered within 30 days he would cancel the order and go with a new vendor.

He did not yell, question their professionalism or go thru the cost of damages. Nor was he in their face on how bad the situation was. Instead he was all about moving forward.

Successful leaders learn from failing

A key laying on a piece of paper with the word "leadership" on it.

Many leaders that are afraid of failing, end up failing by not taking risks. They play it safe by choosing the path of least resistance for success. The leaders willing to be creative and explore options not guaranteed to win end up winning. They know that failure is a learned event on the path to more successful wins.