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: Culture

Speaking at a Memorial

microphone-vectorI was recently reminded of a time I was asked to be the lead speaker at a memorial by my sister for her husband. Later, a friend mentioned how she enjoyed her husband’s service. The friend liked how each person who spoke shared a thoughtful insight and in some cases, a humorous story about her husband.

What is important in a memorial service is that the individual is brought to life in a unique way through the folks speaking. Make sure that speakers are given a brief guideline prior to speaking. Serving as a lead speaker at a memorial service is an honor. It is also a responsibility to the family to help coordinate the service.

Swimming with the sharks

sharksRecently, a well-known prime time news anchor tried to validate a point with a spokesperson by asking a question about a lie from the spokesperson’s team that appeared on the news. This anchor is known for integrity and has a knack for handling sensitive subjects with the guests on the show.

The spokesperson was a shark, a fast talker employing a high spin level skill at making observations and details sound like facts. The anchor, unfortunately, did not respond well even though he the truth was behind the question.

What I would recommend, is to ask the questions at least three times. Then, instead of doing the cha-cha with the guest, end the conversation on a high note by letting the other person to wallow in their own comments. Don’t swim with the sharks unless you possess some shark skills of your own!


C-Suite Presence

24There is never a bad time in your work environment to discreetly and judiciously project an image above your pay grade. But a particularly good time is when you are called upon to make an appearance before your most senior executives or Board of Directors. On these occasions, you must not underestimate the importance of body language. Your posture and engagement with that group must project the message that you belong at that table. Listen attentively so that you are sure of not only what has been said, but also what has been meant. Think carefully about what you are going to say and how you say it. Words matter, especially if you are careful not to use more than you need. And of course, give whatever assignments from that encounter that come your way your highest priority. In many companies, there is an executive pattern of behavior that is just a shade more refined than what most of us experience on a day-to-day basis. Think about how you can become comfortable with that behavior.



Customer service in a poor company

haircut disasterGood people get worn away when working for a bad company as in the story below.

As a business owner, I know that having good credit is very important for many reasons. For example, using automatic payment ensures I am never late for a payment. A company I did business with changed credit card companies making it necessary to call all the vendors to replace the card. This firm experiences many problems with their systems. They are trying to mitigate that by hiring good customer service people. However, no matter how good or how new, a customer service staff can only stay positive when dealing with legitimate complaints. Not ones stemming from receiving a call from a company saying a payment was rejected because they did not have the credit card.

I spoke four times to different representatives about this very situation. They apologize because they have the new card in the system but are uncertain of the problem. You can hear their frustration (forget about mine!).  How can a company keep good people when the system works against them? How can the reps  keep a cheery voice and attitude when the problem keeps recurring? That’s what wears them out, I suspect.

How do you connect with your audience?

Stripe Shirts with TiesThere much to learn by watching the politicians on stage, from the way they speak to their clothing choices. In a recent New York Times article, the vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, was featured about his clothing choices. He was compared to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
President Obama is a Hart Shaffner Marx customer (custom tailored to his physical size – tall and slender). Vice President Joe Biden was not wearing an off the rack suit either. The average man on the street rarely wears a suit today and if he does, it is not custom tailored. Tim Kaine wore a non-custom made suit along with a matching shirt and a not-current-style tie. His clothing sent the message: I am just like the average guy on the street and I am for you. The idea is to dress for the audience you want to connect with.

Customer Service

coaching 2I am still amazed when customer service calls me back. Recently, I had two very different customer service experiences. One was a rep who directed me to the website to make changes to a service plan. Two days later, after no success with customer service and not being able to get into the website, I went to the retail store to speak to a representative. This person could not get into the site either but promised to call me back the next day.

No call.

I then called the store number where another customer service person helped change the plan. Four days of phone calls, no luck with website or even with the retail store.

My second example was a “wow”! I called first to get a customer service person. This person told me he would handle it and would call back with the correction needed. He called me back within ten minutes with the change and a confirmation number.

When running a business, customer service is critical to the survival of almost any business. It will set you apart from competitors but the key is to “wow” the customer!

A polite gesture?

coaching 2Often, after a program, an audience member will come up to ask for my card because they would like to know more about how I can help them or their organization.  I follow up with an e-mail or a call but often do not get a response even after a few tries. Maybe they are traveling or been hit by a car? The reality is that sometimes people are not really serious or life gets in their way.

My rule of thumb is to follow up immediately for a month then I do it monthly for a few months. I eventually call or email, letting them know they can contact me if they would like to meet or talk about personal or organizational needs. Then, I put their information into a file for future business. Even if those comments are just a polite gesture and not a serious request, you always want to follow-up because it is a good business practice.

The value of a bad boss

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

It would be ideal to never be saddled with a bad boss. The type of manager who never appreciates what you do, who overloads you with unreasonable expectations and timelines and who sends you numerous emails late at night. This kind of leader can be brilliant, maybe even another version of a Steve Jobs, which is where value can shine through the craziness. You could be exposed to situations that provide insights into moments of high achievement.

As an example, when I was in sales, the owner was very demanding. However, as painful as it sometimes was, the skills I developed dealing with him helped turn me into a top sales person and trainer in less than two years, in a position I went on to hold for ten years. Even today, after twenty-five years, I still use many of those sales tools to procure and retain business.

First impressions are critical

a winnerLesa Frances Kennedy, CEO of the International Speedway Corporation and Vice Chairwoman of NASCAR, answered the question: How do you hire?

“First impressions are so important in terms of fitting in on the team. The moment you walk in the door; you’re being observed. You may not know that, and it’s not anything formal, but I’ll get feedback. You read the body language of some of the people they’ve met, like a receptionist, and you can pick up very subtle cues about how they felt about that person. Was the person respectful?”

As you read this quote from the NYT Corner Office, Sunday, October 25th, consider the first impressions you create no matter who you meet. Does your first impression project confidence and approachability? Are you someone they want work with in the best of times as well as when problems arise?

Better to have tried than never attempted.

Key to LeadershipI encouraged a client to go on a high profile interview because the more he received exposure to leaders, the better the opportunities might be for him in the future. (The old saying who you know has been long been replaced by who knows you!) Often, folks miss opportunities because they lack confidence or are afraid of interviewing. Practice is good, however exposure and practice is much more effective in building confidence so that when the opportunity arises, you’re ready!