Image Matters Shortens Corporate Ladder Climb

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Kathryn Lowell can’t name her top clients.
Bentonville’s top-tier community is so tight-knit, even vague details about a specific person rising to the top of a company would give his or her identity away.
Lowell is owner of Image Matters, a consulting firm in Bentonville that works with heavyweights such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Saatchi & Saatchi X to boost employees to new levels of leadership and achievement.
Lowell’s fee for companies varies depending on needs while leasing her services individually is $100 an hour. It’s well worth it. She’s the only person in Arkansas certified by the Association of Image Consultants International.
“The buzz word now is executive presence, but it’s something I’ve been doing in my business for the last six years” Lowell said. “It’s all about how someone looks, sounds and acts.”
That’s why Lowell said her teachings go well beyond what a stylist would do, which is simply improving someone’s attire. When putting what Lowell calls “window dressing” on someone, you’re setting a company up to hire or promote the proverbial empty suit.
They portray the professional look, but not much is going on upstairs. Lowell said she can improve an executive’s character by first working on the four “tools” of one’s image.
Those tools are eyes, body, face and voice.
“It’s truly a powerful thing when you can get all of these pieces in place,” Lowell said.
Lowell, a Yale graduate who earned a MBA from UCLA, began her career in Virginia and her teachings have been so broad that she even helped high-ranking officers make transfers into the mainstream workplace after their military careers ended.
Lessons can be expanded or contracted depending on the industry, but Lowell said her major focus is on executives who want to climb the corporate ladder. She also has served as a keynote speaker and provided motivational talks during lunch or dinner gatherings.
Shaking hands correctly is the first thing most need to learn, she said.
“It’s a basic tool, but it’s something I always have to go over at seminars,” Lowell said. “And it’s very important because it is the first impression we have with a client or customer or someone new we meet.”
All of her tools are meant to train people to exude executive presence by keeping shoulders back, heads up and making eye contact when talking and listening. Also, be clear and concise when speaking and make sure everyone knows you’re knowledgeable in your field without coming across arrogant.
Basically, Lowell teaches people to be poised and sophisticated — no matter the setting.
“Someone truly with executive presence is an individual who can be on the warehouse floor talking to people comfortably in the morning, then in the afternoon, they can be presenting to the board of directors,” Lowell said. “They are equally at ease in both situations.”