Walking Tall: Key steps to total image impact
I bumped into the author of Walking Tall a few months ago. We were colleagues in the IT industry more than 20 years ago and hadn’t seen each other since. The funny thing was that in talking to Lesley about the inspiration behind both her book and her business, I was struck by the fact that I shared very similar views.
Both Lesley and I worked on the sales side of an organisation selling technical IT solutions to large organisations. We had both been struck by the stark contrast in appearance between the people who thought appearances mattered and those that didn’t. To illustrate the point, on the one hand you had the people who kept shoe polish in their desk draw and cleaned their shoes before each and every customer meeting, and on the other hand there was the apocryphal story about one of the sales people stopping at Burtons on the way to a customer meeting to buy a colleague a new suit.
Based on her experiences Lesley created Walking TALL International in 1989 as an organisation dedicated to helping people improve their image, brand and impact. The overlap with our own area of work in Extensor is that personal appearance has a great impact on a person’s influence, particularly early on in a relationship, and therefore on their effectiveness as a leader.
The book begins by setting out the case for personal branding. I think this is important as a great many people feel that we should be able to see beyond the image and value the person ‘for who they are’. Arguably this is true, but we do not live in a perfect world, we live in a world where the pace of life is hectic and people have to make decisions in an instant. This is why companies spend vast sums of money creating and maintaining their brand images, because in that way they are able to convey a vast amount of information based on the fleeting glimpse of their logo. For example, when you see the names BMW, Rolex, Apple and Primark I am sure that you instantly form an impression of what these names stand for. However if I asked you to describe the brand values you would associate with yourself, you might find it harder. Personal branding therefore is not about being posh, self-obsessed or weird, it is simply about conveying the image and impression of yourself you would like people to receive.
In the second chapter Lesley encourages the reader to assess their existing image, to see whether what they wish to convey through their image and approach is what they actually convey.
The rest of the book is devoted to building and tailoring your own personal brand; covering everything from the cloths you wear to your body language and the way you speak. This part of the book presents an á la carte menu of topics that different readers will find more or less useful.
Walking Tall is not a book that everyone will find valuable, but for people who are interested in maximising their personal impact and influence, Walking Tall provides a comprehensive set of thoughts and ideas that will help you develop and improve your personal brand.
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