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: Personal Development

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.

Sense of humor

smileExpressing a sense of humor with truth but not in a mean-spirited way, goes far. This helps in the continually depressing news cycles. The late-night hosts usually succeed in spinning depressing news in an intelligent way while using a touch of humor. This helps negate the dark stories, just a little.

Zip the lip

no_talking1Social media has a life of its own. It is worse than gossip and can haunt those who traffic in it and anyone around them. Facebook and Twitter are platforms to express news and instant emotional reactions, good and bad.
People have even gotten fired for being caught up in loose comments made in the news by high powered folks. They thought if it was ok by those folks, then they could say it too. However, the reality is that some have power and freedom without repercussions and others face the wrath. If something is that important for you to express it in writing, write the words to yourself first and decide the way you want to handle it the next day.

Win with grace

jumping couple in field under cloudsGraceful winners that acknowledge the folks that did not win will be more successful in the long journey. We see how it plays out in the award shows and in politics.

I often see folks in the business world take just a short jaunt up the ladder. They honestly think their success was all their own and refuse to see how competition made them better. Success comes to those who truly understand and admire the folks who lost. People that only knock the losers end up being the real losers. It does catch up to them.

Why work for free?

earthVolunteering for a nonprofit charity or trade organization has many benefits. My experiences in the Association of Image Consultants (AICI) and Chicago Minority Diversity Suppliers Council to name a few, have been very valuable.

These groups gave me the opportunity to stretch my leadership skills while working in a group situation or leading a team. Serving on the boards for the Ray Graham Foundation for the Disabled also provided me with many experiences.

I gained skills in how to navigate media situations while collaborating with leadership. This has served me well when working with Fortune 500 organizations. Volunteering in your organization for projects is another smart way to gain leadership experience and exposure.

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!


Stay the course

24What does staying the course mean? It means deciding what you want to achieve and even when it looks like many obstacles exist, moving toward that achievement.  A client (Sam) wanted to become  president of an organization where he had been a member for more than 20 years. In this organization he served often served as chairman, producing the desired results for each assigned committee task.

I was interviewed to work with Sam but he chose to go with another coach / advisor to run for the position of president. He lost the first year. This made him recognize the many skills and strategies he needed to put in place. I felt strongly about working on these while the other coach did not. I was asked to become involved halfway through the second run which he lost by a few votes.

Sam then ran with three other candidates, all of whom were older. He lost in run off. Anyone else would just settle for another role. Sam finally won against three other candidates proving that he had what it took to stay the course by viewing obstacles as opportunities and always moving toward his goal no matter what, to eventually secure a win.

Be a graceful winner and loser

Key to LeadershipIn a recent primary election, the winner did not push her competitor to concede because she had lost badly eight years ago and understood the pain. This reminded me of a loss I experienced some years ago that I did not handle well. It took the care of a few close colleagues to help me realize the bigger picture and apologize to the winner. Years later, I went on to be the president of the group. The point is that we will experience many wins and losses in our lives. Remember to be graceful for both occasions. It’s especially wise if you want to maintain many working relationships as you move forward.


coaching 2Improv is about making the person next to you look good. I took a year of Improv at Second City in Chicago to help me be a better speaker. It also helped me design some experiential programs for speaking to audiences about personal branding and interpersonal skills. Improv helps in networking where thinking on your feet is useful because it encourages you to begin a conversation that is inclusive and not intrusive. Improv recently was featured in the New York Times business section on how team Improv can build creativity in thinking.

Know your own worth

a winnerIn the movie, Joy Luck Club, one of the Asian daughters loses her identity because she tries to assimilate herself into her new husband’s family and lifestyle. In doing so, she loses her own identity. I use this story with clients who might be in difficult business relationships with company stakeholders. They try to reach the finish line with work but the line keeps moving. These individuals take pride in their ability to deliver expectations but continually find themselves in situations where they cannot. They keep doing more but more gets piled on them because the finish line keeps changing. The folks who survive by pushing back in an intrusive environment are ones who know their own worth. So, when you can put a stake in the ground by letting people know what you are worth, you not only get yourself back but you receive the respect of others.