Break Out - The Business of Being True to Yourself
Tim Wikstrom knows a few things about living your best life. In fact, it’s his job.
As the owner of Breakout Communications, a training, facilitation, and consulting firm, his goal each day is to teach people how to be authentic to themselves. Ten trainers, in addition to Tim, work all around the United States helping people become better — better at communicating, at public speaking, or simply at listening to their heart.
Wikstrom found himself drawn to doing good for others at an early age. He says he wanted to be lots of things growing up in Louisburg, Kan., but they all had one thing in common-- he wanted to affect those around him in a positive way. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Kansas before working as an intern, and later a full-time employee, at Sprint.
It wasn’t long before he discovered that he loved to teach people the art of being their best selves.
A fond look comes over Wikstrom’s face as he recalls interviewing with a company in Boston that lit his entrepreneurial spark.
“What I walked away with was that I loved it. [The company] showed me that you could change your voice, your eyes, your posture — and that can change how you look at me.”
It made such a difference in his personal and professional life that he developed a “whole new confidence,” he said. He also found that he was a natural teacher as he, after taking the job, began officially instructing others in social skills like eye contact and active listening.
“The classroom isn’t work to me, because this is what I was born to do. It’s my passion, my calling. I’m fortunate that I found it 10 years ago, and I haven’t let go of it ever since.”
Wikstrom began developing Breakout Communications — focusing on creating “human capital” in personal and business relationships. Giving classes on nonverbal social cues (like eye contact, posture, and facial expression), problem-solving, and “gracious honesty” helps give his clients the tools they need to get the results they want out of their daily interactions.
Breakout Communications was also the first local business certified by the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. He shares his excitement at the success the chamber has had thus far, and talks about how useful it is for the LGBT community to come together in the business realm.
“We are an under-utilized population, a resource,” he said. “And we also have the opportunity to be inspirational. Maybe some young person will see this and latch on to something that they really want to do. Really, it’s hope.”
As Wikstrom chose the name of his company, he thought about how breaking out can mean many different things.
“Every day we break out,” he said. “Coming out is breaking out. I broke out when I started my company. I broke out when I tried something I never thought I could do. I never thought I’d be the owner of a successful communications company, but I never thought I couldn’t, either.”
He said it’s about knowing yourself but not limiting yourself, owning all the things you are with pride, and being able “to see not only into the mirror, but through the mirror to who you want to be.”
Wikstrom definitely walks his talk — he’s easygoing yet professional, quick to smile, smartly dressed and kind. So what inspires the man who gives people the gift of confidence for a living?
“Live your life for you, do good for other people, and that will come back to you,” he said.
Wikstrom, it seems, is living proof.
Photo: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at maglcc.org.