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: Relationship Building

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

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.

Be a master host

entertaining-foodist-484Entertaining a client is a good way to continue to build a relationship. However, if not handled appropriately, the relationship may get damaged. To ensure it is an impactful and enjoyable event, follow these tips:

• Be respectful of the client’s time, let them choose a convenient time and date.
• Pick a dining location that is easy to get to.
• When extending the invite, share the purpose – a thank you or a catch up on a project.

These are guidelines I have used that have helped make entertaining a success for the client and myself.

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.

Are you irreplaceable?

coaching 2Some folks possess a blind spot. They feel that no one else can do their job so they walk around entitled. Everyone is replaceable. They key is to ensure that your replacement helps you move to the next level of your career. At a recent networking event, the person next to me lamented that she was not advancing in her career. She claimed the reason was that only she could do her job. In continuing the conversation, it came up that she had not thought about getting others involved in learning her responsibilities to groom a possible successor.

This caused me to remember a conversation with a YMCA board member. I chaired a fundraiser that was the most successful in raising money. The first thing I did was bring in a successor to chair it the next year. I pass this advice along to all my executives: Real success is finding your replacement because it frees you up for consideration for the next leadership role.

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.

Offering sympathy

earRecently the world has been hit with major tragedies. Situations arose where we have been indirectly in contact with those directly affected. It’s important to actively listen and offer sympathy with a simple “I am sorry”. Offering commentary on the event is best kept to yourself unless you have faced a similar situation. Active listening offers much more than event analysis to the person in pain.


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.

Two words to never use as a leader

haircut disasterUsing the words “but or however” throws up a wall that creates an adverse reaction because they tend to negate the verbiage said prior. In a recent Marshall Goldsmith Thinkers50 Video Blog,  Marshall  discusses the negative impact of saying but or however. In fact, just today, in providing feedback to a client, I caught myself using but and however without realizing it. Beware of the negative impact of these two words and work on replacing them.

Don’t be the smartest guy in the room

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

I remember how important it is, in the heat of the moment, to be seen as the smartest one in the room. It is a feeling you have when there is a goal that needs to be accomplished, you know the answer but everyone does not agree with it. You accomplish the goal while leaving some dead bodies in the process. In my experience, those dead bodies become your road blocks to moving up. Often, when coaching, the most difficult issue is getting clients to become aware of how being the smartest guy in the room can derail their careers. Even the CEO cannot be the smartest guy in the room all the time.