Anna Soo Wildermuth

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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: Leadership

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.

How to disagree – gracefully

award cup.magesDisagreements are normal when working on a project, vision or strategy. I have always felt a successful end game needs to have different points of view to achieve a positive outcome. Now, that does not mean to always handle disagreements with kid gloves or bare fists. The main goal is to focus on the result. Four key items to remember are:

• Respect the person or persons
• Stay with the facts
• Honor the opposing side
• Leave the door open to revisit

Asking the question for clarity

26447en_USI_QuestionMarkRecently, a client suggested that asking questions shows ignorance.  Smart people ask questions for clarity and to connect to the issue. I like starting the question with a how or a what. The why question only works when you are establishing a reason for the issue. The challenge with beginning with why is that the conversation could go down a rabbit hole or the weeds which may be unproductive.

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.

Showing appreciation is critical to success

jumping couple in field under cloudsA recent Chicago Tribune business section article, talks about the importance of showing appreciation by saying thank you in different ways. Giving thanks in ways other than words such as lending a helping hand, offering a small gift, or breaking bread (having lunch or coffee), are three great ways to do that. Showing appreciation forges relationships, professionally and personally.

Ask for what you want

coaching 2Often, we fail to ask for what we want, maybe because we feel we will be refused, or that we don’t deserve it, or don’t know how to put it in words. The asking part is critical, word choices matter and timing is important. However, nothing matters if you don’t ask.

Agree to disagree

coaching 2Today’s political environment is so charged that family members sometimes end up not talking to each other. Recently, I was riding in a car and the conversation turned challenging. I requested we not talk about politics unless we could agree to discuss by listening to each other’s point of view. We also agreed if we could not agree to disagree we should talk about other topics instead. If an agreement cannot be made to agree to disagree, then it is better not to discuss politics or any highly charged topic.

Breaking bread

networking-pic-gifSharing a meal with a new manager or employee is a great way to get to know each other on neutral ground. If time and geography allow, I always meet a potential new client before a proposal is written.

Recently, while coaching a group, it came up that they never had the opportunity to share a meal together. Food can be brought in during a lunch time. Since that time they had several opportunities to share a meal including once to celebrate and another time as they collaborated on a long project. Taking a client out for lunch or dinner as a thank you or just to get to know them can serve many purposes. I highly recommend it.

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.