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When you first meet Valerie Sokolosky, you realize that here is someone who practices what she preaches. Enthusiastic, organized, attractively dressed, she seems a walking advertisement for her seminar, Image of Excellence.

"It's not natural, let me assure you," she laughs. "I had to learn every bit of it, which makes it that must easier for me to help other people learn."

California native raised in Oklahoma, Ms. Sokolosky became an IBM corporate wife and lived all over the country; after settling in Dallas, she began speaking on salesmanship. The Image of Excellence seminar grew from those early speeches.

"When I started doing image consulting about 25 years ago, I was the only one doing it," she says. "Now there are make-up artists and color analysts who call themselves image consultants, but to me that's only a part of it. Your image is what you project, what you do, what kind of memory you leave behind you."

Image of Excellence is broken into four sections. The first concerns the impression others receive of you visually, verbally and non-verbally. This part of the program inspired Ms. Sokolosky's first book, SEASONS OF SUCCESS, which is into its fourth printing.

The book, CORPORATE PROTOCOL-- A BRIEF CASE FOR ETIQUETTE, was sparked by the second part of the seminar. "It's not really a manners book," Ms. Sokolosky states. "I don't lay down lists of rules for every occasion; what I try to do is teach the skills of manners so people can learn how to feel comfortable in any situation, social or business."

The third part of the seminar deals with communication skills; not just writing and speaking the language in a manner proper to business, but learning to understand your personality traits in business and how to recognize those of others, resulting in positive rapports and work relationships in and out of companies.

"I hesitate to call the fourth segment ethics, but that's a part of it," Ms. Sokolosky goes on. "I try to instill the importance of the integrity approach to marketing and customer selling and service. Without the customer, a business wouldn't exist, so don't you think the employees of the company should work to find what is of value to that customer?"

Is she ever accused of being a goody two-shoes or a reformer?

She smiles. "Occasionally, but my challenging statement is, companies don't improve until people improve... Organizations don't... Families don't... It's interesting, too, as a national platform speaker that no matter what industry I'm speaking to at a convention or sales meeting, they all ask me to be sure and include something about being the best they can be.

"I guess that's the heart of my business," Ms. Sokolosky says. "I'm in the business of helping organizations, companies, and people be the best they can, and that covers how they look, how they act, how they talk, how they think, how they present themselves professionally as well as personally, and how they sell. That's what comprises an impage, and everyone should have the best image they can."

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