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: Professional Development

Being nice is still critical for business success

the-big-love-heart-4aThe last article of a favorite Chicago Tribune business section columnist reiterated that he has not changed his opinion. Being nice, kind and thoughtful is critical to business success.

In my twenty plus years, I have found the executives with longevity are the ones who are good business people but also known as nice folks.

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!

What are your good triggers?

targetWhat is the trigger or triggers that confirm you are in the much fabled zone of doing nothing wrong? Do you sense the zone from the calmness of your breathing, steadiness in your hands or acute awareness of the positive things surrounding you?

This reminds me of playing in golf tournaments when my swing is in the groove. That is when the golf ball goes straight and the putts go in on the first stroke. The zone is also the time to push yourself a bit more whether on the links, presenting to a small group or speaking to thousands!

Do you do what successful leaders do?

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

A recent Chicago Tribune business section piece discussed mental muscle. I turned it into a checklist on things successful people do:

1.They refuse to dwell on mistakes.
2.They control their emotions
3.They are good at change
4.They focus only on things they can change
5.They please only themselves – not everyone else
6.They take calculated risks
7.They learn from their mistakes
8.They enjoy the success of others
9.They never give up after a mistake
10.They have the patience for long term results

I like this list because it supports my full potential for success.

When is too much information a bad thing?

haircut disasterInformation overload is a killer because it can jumble the true issues. Setting a timeline and a process to gather data are the first critical steps to ensure enough data is gathered. Doing the early research to determine what and how much information is needed sets you on the right path to completion. The timeline of when the project or report is due also acts as a finish line. Duplicate and / overwhelming information will only complicate the end result.

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!