Interview with business writer Maxine Attong

I’m chatting with non-fiction business writer Maxine Attong today. We’re focused on her newest book, Lead Your Team to Win –
Achieve Optimal Performance by Providing a Safe Space for Employees.
Bio:
Maxine Attong’s personal mission
statement is to “Enhance the lives of the persons with whom I make
contact”. This is supported by her beliefs that:
1) Human beings are creative
2) Human beings are intelligent
3) Human beings want to make a
positive contribution.
Her beliefs are evident in her
writing as she celebrates the power and intelligence of people and shares the
tools needed to succeed.
Maxine is a Gestalt Organizational
Development practitioner, a Certified Professional Facilitator and a Certified
Evidence Based Coach.
In these roles she facilitates
workshops and meetings for work teams and other groups to come to decisions
that everyone can live with, while providing safe and confidential environments
in which her clients can achieve business or personal goals.
Maxine remains a Certified Management
Accountant and is a member of the Society of Management Accountants, Ontario.
Maxine currently works as the Assistant
Vice President – Strategic Planning and Implementation- at the Guardian General
Insurance Company Limited.

Welcome, Maxine. What inspired you to write this book?
My first book – Change or Die – the Business Process Improvement Manual – is a technical book and a great reference manual for persons
interested in business processes. I wrote this book from my head, since it
documents my client experiences and work that I actually did in the Business
Process Improvement field. After that book, I was challenged to write something
that appealed to a wider audience by several of my friends. I also gained more
confidence to write about me, to share some of my thoughts and a bit of myself
with my audience. 



Lead Your Team to Win is
my heart book – as such there is a lot which has a lot of me in it, my
thoughts, my experiences and to say how I felt about leadership. That was one
part of the inspiration. The other part is that over the years of working in
corporate environments I noticed that people did not really show up at work and
I know that this was keeping productivity back. I also noticed that a lot of us
show up differently at work than we do in the other parts of our lives and I
reflected on how this separation affected me. As a coach, I keep noticing the
separation in clients and how it hampered their effectiveness. In my quest to
be an effective leader I wanted a style that worked for me.
Excerpt: Pages 14-16 of Lead Your Team to Win – Achieve Optimal Performance by Providing a Safe
Space for Employees
I wanted a leadership style that
would work with my personality and still allow me to have a winning team. I
knew that creating a safe space in my office was essential to achieving this
since it would:
• Get people to work creatively and
generate ideas and new solutions.
• Develop an incredible team with
outstanding performance that ensured me, as the leader, promotions and wins.
(My assumption is that each time a team member wins, the leader automatically
gets one or two wins.) To achieve wins, team members must have big ideas and
the guts to implement them. They need to fail and believe that while there’s a
cost to failure, there’s no personal loss; and they can certainly try again. To
win, the team needs to work together, think strategically about their actions,
and always weigh consequences. The safe space provides a cocoon in which ideas
are hatched, nurtured, and grown before being released for scrutiny by a wider
audience.
• Provide a stable environment in
which everyone can perform, even on the days when nothing seems to go right.
• Allow team members to bring to work
the adult parts of themselves that they often park at the office door and
retrieve when they leave the office. This safe space gives them permission to
be the responsible, accountable, decision-making, trying-to-be
the-best-they-could-be people they are outside of the office. These people make
tough decisions every day about household budgets, their children’s future, and
aging parents. They fail and keep going, juggling different balls to keep their
lives and those of their loved ones on an even keel.
• Permit team members to think, and
in so doing challenge me to think more. They need to ask questions so I can
explain and become clearer, and thus we can all generate even more great ideas
and make better decisions.
• Motivate the team so people feel
good about what they are doing, and work well because of these positive
feelings. When the team members feel safe, they’ll take risks that will bring
rewards, and will accept challenges to grow professionally and personally.
• Keep my big ego in check, to ensure
that my natural tendencies to be a benevolent autocrat don’t overtake my
humanity. This keeps me honest and responsible for the things I do and say at
the office. It also gives me the freedom to change my mind and not be seen as
indecisive, and releases me from the burden of feeling I always have to be
right.
• Satisfy my curiosity about
leadership and the many strategies I’ve read about. I wanted to create an
alternative style that would work with my personality and allow me to remain
true to myself. I wanted to present an alternate and realistic tool that people
like me could easily implement with their teams.
The safe space provides a dynamic and
creative environment for the free exchange of ideas, and encourages team
members to make decisions and take action. While it promotes team
accountability, it does not release the leader from the ultimate responsibility
for making the final decisions. The idea promotes a shared team consciousness
about the reality of the bigger political landscape within which the team
operates, and dissuades any pretensions of naïvety about how the organization
and various stakeholders need to be maneuvered. Thus, it provides a reality
check for the team and its members.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now I am resting. My first book was
published in 2012 and Lead Your Team to
Win
in Sept 2014. I have two ideas in my head. One is about the
strategic office – how to develop it and maintain it. The other
is about female leadership and its peculiarities. My head is leaning towards
the strategy and the heart towards female leadership. So until that battle is
sorted and the image forms I am not going to take any steps forward. One book
will emerge and that is that book that I am going to write. While that is
sorting itself out I am writing short stories which is a frightening exercise
itself.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I thought of myself as a writer when I was
a kid and teenager. Through my young adult years I became an accountant and
reclaimed my writer title in my 30s when I stopped being an accountant. I think
that my writing status is now confirmed since I wrote my second book – Lead Your Team to Win. It is my heart
book and makes me feel as I did when I was a kid.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If
not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I work a full-time job in corporate. I
work days Monday to Friday so I write in the evenings. My days start
off with journaling in the morning, a gym workout or a run, then I go to work. I
start to write around 7 p.m. after I have wound down from the day’s work. It is
something that does not tire me, so I end around 10 p.m. If I am in the zone, I keep going until whatever time and have a hard day the next day. I write for
at least 5 hours on a Saturday. On Sundays I rest completely, no writing except
for the morning journal.
How do I find time to write?
When I am writing a book I think of all
the hours that I am working as wasted time that I can spend writing. I spend
the lunch times in agony since I do not write on the company’s time or
property. When I get home I am eager to start writing. In a way, writing helps me focus on the work day, since work offers a distraction and a time for
thoughts to shape in my head as I focus on something else. I have the ability
to completely switch off work when I get home so I have the time to write.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I bought a red chair for my first book and
wrote every sentence on that red chair. It was the place that I went to to
edit, and finalize the book. I purchased a green chair for my next book and was
writing from it. My partner sat in the green chair one day and did some work on
it and that was the end of the chair for me. After he sat on it, the chair lost
its magic for me and I never sat on it again. I reserved one end of the sofa as mine and finished Lead Your Team to Win
from there. I have to claim a writing space and no one must invade it ever.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a writer. I knew
this since I was 8. I won my first camera as the first prize for a short story
that I submitted. Over the years I won vouchers for books in various
competitions and my letters to the editors were regularly published. I wrote
hundreds of short stories and poems, I was always writing as a kid and as a
teenager. But I did not become a writer, I became an accountant and then my
writing stopped.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I realize that writing is a balancing
factor of my life. In the years that I did not write I felt that something was
missing and that life was chaotic. When I returned to writing I felt that this
is what I was meant to do.

Links:
Thanks, Maxine!

4 thoughts on “Interview with business writer Maxine Attong

  1. Unknown says:

    The only thang we should be worried
    about achieving in our finite
    existence is the One n Only
    Seventh-Heaven.
    Absolutely NTHN else matters.
    If you ponder it,
    what else matters when you're
    on your deathbed?
    Hellfire? That's easy to achieve.
    Think. Know. Grow-up.
    Literally.
    Please dont grow down.

    trustNjesus, dear.
    ALWAYS.
    God bless your indelible soul.
    Yes, earthling, Im an NDE.
    I know now.

    Decide.

    • Unknown says:

      Yay!
      yoo RITE!!
      Dunno if you saw this before…
      yet, here it is once moe, curly:

      Greetings, earthling! Need summore new-fangled-thots N ideers? Look no firdr, brudda. Can't stay long. Done gotta git, Paw… yet, if Im a sower, we plant the Seed; if Im an artist, we RITE the Word:

      Would U please help a plethora of King Size, wildchild, rawkuss poetry/wordz which are lookin 4 a home in thy novelty?? Thx. Whew. They're pretty insane. They're bereft of reason. Oi! Blimey! They're bloody PINK spiders!

      Gotta gobba lotta shrewd, surreal, supersonic, sardonic satires, sassy N savvy elixers N electronic elegance (and palpable nuance) on our YOUTHwitheTRUTH blogs. Wannum? Have'm. N'joym. Gettm outta my hair!!!

      How mucha wanna betcha our sugar-high-mojo, pleasure-beyond-measure, fuse-blowin-exploits R a copious madhouse of one lavish bookay D.O.A.? Our proFUSE NRGod who leads U.S. to explosive fairy-tales in the 'one-stop-shop' symphony Upstairs? God's the BigDude, the Owner of ElysianFields, the Grand Prize, the Austere Overdrive, NoPurchaseNecessary: our bombastic tenaCITY on a Hill which'll plant the Seeds 4u2 grow-up to new N greater heights!! Mama mia! Thatsa good pasta!!

      CAUTION: our 22ish, avant-guard, accurately-atrocious, offa-the-reservation-like-Jimmy-Hoffa, metal breadcrumms R sooo out-of-order, toots, they're an intimate wealth of bottomless sophistication. And dats da lethal fak, Jak. Go ahead. Sue me. Yawn. But, yet, here's the perennial KOO D'TAH: who else has actually SEEN the Great Beyond in spirit & lived to tella youse bout the bionic, bloated, brevity-like-earth we're living on?? Yes, earthling, Im an NDE, almost salivating4salvation. So gain altitude, never attitude: death has no intrinsick favorites.

      If Mr. abSUREditty's an ultra-great-reward, and not everyone enters, Q: why is it an excruciating deluge of epic-.357-caliber where the quality's a limitless bulldozer plowin, pushin-your-power-cord with eternal goodies? A: the Prize-A+-TheEnd just gives U.S. moe-curley-graphix 2 VitSee: an explosion-of-extravagance which few R asking 4 anymore! Grrr. They're too concerned withe grotesque sanity of ambivilant piss-ants which swiftly crawl like lemmings to their scorecard destruction. C'est la guerre.

      THANK GAWWWD!!! the Don has the ebullient BAWLS!!! to do the Manifest Destiny!!! To lead U.S. forward to the White House Upstairs with his SQUARES!!!

      So, break-free, earthling; be like a contraversial outgrowth of incredibly-intoxicating-effusiveness in your zeitgeist to give the ultimate, stunning, backknuckle potency: Wiseabove. Wanna join this useFULL idiot Upstairs 4 the most zany, kooky, X-acto-knife antidotes? Extremely exquisite, explicit endorphins in abundance? Puh-lenty of pulverizingly-tantalizing psychopathic psychosomatics with eXtras? i2i-kick-velocity's-ass-ultra-maximum-rocket-fuel-party-hardy at my pad ya ever encountered without d'New Joisey accent 4 an eternal slew of precarious, magnanimous & primeval absurdities indelibly etched in the granite corridors of eternity with a total-barrage-of-melt-in-thy-mouth 'depth-of-undenial'???

      Make Your Choice  -SAW
      …cuzz nobody gitts outta here alive, earthling.

    • Unknown says:

      Yay!
      yoo RITE!!
      Dunno if you saw this before…
      yet, here it is once moe, curly:

      Greetings, earthling! Need summore new-fangled-thots N ideers? Look no firdr, brudda. Can't stay long. Done gotta git, Paw… yet, if Im a sower, we plant the Seed; if Im an artist, we RITE the Word:

      Would U please help a plethora of King Size, wildchild, rawkuss poetry/wordz which are lookin 4 a home in thy novelty?? Thx. Whew. They're pretty insane. They're bereft of reason. Oi! Blimey! They're bloody PINK spiders!

      Gotta gobba lotta shrewd, surreal, supersonic, sardonic satires, sassy N savvy elixers N electronic elegance (and palpable nuance) on our YOUTHwitheTRUTH blogs. Wannum? Have'm. N'joym. Gettm outta my hair!!!

      How mucha wanna betcha our sugar-high-mojo, pleasure-beyond-measure, fuse-blowin-exploits R a copious madhouse of one lavish bookay D.O.A.? Our proFUSE NRGod who leads U.S. to explosive fairy-tales in the 'one-stop-shop' symphony Upstairs? God's the BigDude, the Owner of ElysianFields, the Grand Prize, the Austere Overdrive, NoPurchaseNecessary: our bombastic tenaCITY on a Hill which'll plant the Seeds 4u2 grow-up to new N greater heights!! Mama mia! Thatsa good pasta!!

      CAUTION: our 22ish, avant-guard, accurately-atrocious, offa-the-reservation-like-Jimmy-Hoffa, metal breadcrumms R sooo out-of-order, toots, they're an intimate wealth of bottomless sophistication. And dats da lethal fak, Jak. Go ahead. Sue me. Yawn. But, yet, here's the perennial KOO D'TAH: who else has actually SEEN the Great Beyond in spirit & lived to tella youse bout the bionic, bloated, brevity-like-earth we're living on?? Yes, earthling, Im an NDE, almost salivating4salvation. So gain altitude, never attitude: death has no intrinsick favorites.

      If Mr. abSUREditty's an ultra-great-reward, and not everyone enters, Q: why is it an excruciating deluge of epic-.357-caliber where the quality's a limitless bulldozer plowin, pushin-your-power-cord with eternal goodies? A: the Prize-A+-TheEnd just gives U.S. moe-curley-graphix 2 VitSee: an explosion-of-extravagance which few R asking 4 anymore! Grrr. They're too concerned withe grotesque sanity of ambivilant piss-ants which swiftly crawl like lemmings to their scorecard destruction. C'est la guerre.

      THANK GAWWWD!!! the Don has the ebullient BAWLS!!! to do the Manifest Destiny!!! To lead U.S. forward to the White House Upstairs with his SQUARES!!!

      So, break-free, earthling; be like a contraversial outgrowth of incredibly-intoxicating-effusiveness in your zeitgeist to give the ultimate, stunning, backknuckle potency: Wiseabove. Wanna join this useFULL idiot Upstairs 4 the most zany, kooky, X-acto-knife antidotes? Extremely exquisite, explicit endorphins in abundance? Puh-lenty of pulverizingly-tantalizing psychopathic psychosomatics with eXtras? i2i-kick-velocity's-ass-ultra-maximum-rocket-fuel-party-hardy at my pad ya ever encountered without d'New Joisey accent 4 an eternal slew of precarious, magnanimous & primeval absurdities indelibly etched in the granite corridors of eternity with a total-barrage-of-melt-in-thy-mouth 'depth-of-undenial'???

      Make Your Choice  -SAW
      …cuzz nobody gitts outta here alive, earthling.

  2. Unknown says:

    The only thang we should be worried
    about achieving in our finite
    existence is the One n Only
    Seventh-Heaven.
    Absolutely NTHN else matters.
    If you ponder it,
    what else matters when you're
    on your deathbed?
    Hellfire? That's easy to achieve.
    Think. Know. Grow-up.
    Literally.
    Please dont grow down.

    trustNjesus, dear.
    ALWAYS.
    God bless your indelible soul.
    Yes, earthling, Im an NDE.
    I know now.

    Decide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *