Toni Bowie has lived in several places “both in and out of the States” as the daughter of one military man and the wife of another. Her husband proudly claims Frederick as his home town.
“But,” says Toni, “when someone asks me about home, I always say Columbus, Mississippi. That’s home. I love it and I miss it.”
When she finds the time to kick back and relax, Toni enjoys spending it with family — especially her eleven-year-old granddaughter who lives in Northern Virginia and is “the apple of our eye.”
“When you’re Grandma,” she happily acknowledges, “it’s really, really different. It’s a special kind of thing going on.”
You’ll usually find Toni hard at work at the helm of MaxLife LLC., a coaching and training company that does a lot of leadership and employee development training.
They also go into workplaces and organizations of all sizes to facilitate those hard-to-have conversations about topics that include:
– sexual harassment prevention
– domestic violence in the workplace
– diversity and inclusion
7 Benefits Of Working With MaxLife LLC
* Experience Personal & Professional Growth Through Conversation
“We can, in a very safe environment, share information, stories and experiences.”
* Reduce Distrust & Increase Morale
“We get to know one another. And, when you really get to know people, the distrust goes down and morale increases.”
* Reduce Turnover By Maintaining Good Employees
* Reduce The Probability of Lawsuits
* Increase Productivity
“You can have so many different ideas. People who have done things a different way can show others.”
* Increase Customers & Your Bottom Line
“A lot of people support organizations that they feel support people who look like them. When you have a diverse population and when you can maintain a diverse population, that can increase your bottom line.”
* Reduce Conflict
“Conflict is a real thing that happens when we don’t know people — when differences are evident. Sometimes uncertainty brings fear.”
Igniting The Entrepreneurial Passion
Tony credits her background with igniting her passion. Living in so many different places and the diversity in the friendships she has developed has made her more complete.
“Those relationships have been so important to me and where I am today. I want everybody to have relationships like that. I don’t want us to stop short.
She informs us, “We look at people and in about five to ten seconds, we sum them up. We make a judgement.
“We determine whether or not an individual is valuable enough for us to get to know them. That’s not nearly enough time to get to know a person.”
Helping participants to understand where those judgements come from and what they’re based on is a big part of what MaxLife does. “It’s based on our biases.”
Toni’s Journey To Changing Lives Through Entrepreneurship
Prior to starting MaxLife in 2011, Toni spent several years in higher education, working at several colleges. “I was a leader in diversity and inclusion on the college campuses.” It proved to be a strong springboard.
Toni recalls attending a lot of conferences and acquiring a lot of information that could be put to daily use in personal and professional lives. “I would sit there and listen and take it all in. Deep down, I used to think — I have something to offer, too!”
She admits there was fear there, too. “I won’t say it’s gone because I still have it but I’m much more confident in that I have really powerful, constructive, meaningful information that I can pass on to people. And, I think, kind of change lives. I think that’s what we do at MaxLife.”
What It’s Like To Have A Conversation With MaxLife
“We’re going to talk about your needs. We’re going to talk about the future – where you want to go, your vision, your mission.” There might also be an assessment to determine if the time is right to have these difficult conversations.
“Whoever you are, you get customized work from us. We’re going to talk about the awareness, the education piece, and sustaining what we have done. So, we might not be there just one day or one time.”
Toni continues, “It depends on the topic that we’re doing. You might want us to keep coming back. A lot of what we do works best with small groups – up to twenty-five to thirty participants in the conversation.”
The Biggest Entrepreneurial Challenge In Starting MaxLife LLC
“A little doubt and a little fear. That’s been my biggest challenge. The fear of launching a new business. It’s scary. It’s sometimes very lonely. And, when your cash flow is low, you even have some doubts.
“But, when you know what you know and you just have that kind of faith, and you feel like people can really use this information that you have to offer and you know your why, it gives you the strength to keep going.”
Advice Toni Would Give Herself If She Could Step Back In Time
“Stop being afraid. Go ahead. Don’t look for perfection. Always seek excellence but get started.”
Toni believes, “If I had done that the right way, MaxLife would have been launched at least ten years earlier.
“But, you know, when the time is right — it’s right. It’s right when it’s right,” she says, “and I’m okay with that.”
MaxLife LLC Is Making A Difference: The Proof Is In The Stories
MaxLife participants are sometimes asked to send in a story upon completion of a particular challenge. This feedback serves as one of the measuring sticks of their success.
Toni recalls one such story that recently came in from a woman who had previously held a certain perception about her Hispanic neighbors. For five years, she had observed that the neighbors sometimes appeared to have several family members living in the house.
“She always thought it was about money issues or some other problems were going on. It was never anything positive.” That changed when she had a conversation with one of her organizations and decided to get to know the neighbors a little better.
“She went to their daughter’s quinceanera — the coming out party of a young lady. She told us she was the only English-speaking Caucasian there but they welcomed her and they treated her like family.”
Finally, she really knows her neighbors. “Now, she is so much happier. She said she learned so much about their values, their customs and their families.” And, she learned that situations aren’t always as they seem to be.
“Instead of thinking about problems that they might be having because so many family is there, now she just feels like family is just so important to them that they want to be around family. That’s what they value.”
The change in perception has a much broader range. “It might sound small but this is her neighborhood. Think about the people that she works with who are also Hispanic. We carry feelings at home to the workplace — wherever it is that we are.
“Imagine if this were a teacher even and having Hispanic children in a classroom. We might feel a different way. Now, because she went through something with MaxLife, she’s growing from it. That makes us feel really, really good. That’s what we do.”
The App That Keeps Toni Up To Date
Toni confides, “I’d like to think I can do without my iPhone. Every once in a while, I’ve left it somewhere and I purposely didn’t go back and get it.
“But, I read very much in the early morning and my news articles come across my feed. I need those articles every day because they give me just that much more information.”
She adds, “They increase my awareness. I never want to stop learning. I have to stay current. Having an opportunity to read my articles via newsfeed — I can’t do without that.”
Toni’s ‘Big Mama’ Steered Her To Her Favorite Quote
“My grandmother was a very gentle person. One of the things I got from my ‘Big Mama” was working to be nonjudgmental.
“Don’t judge people because you never know their story. Everybody’s got a story. Being nonjudgmental reminds me of one of my favorite quotes.
“They may not remember what you said. They may not remember what you did. But people will always remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Anjelou
Coaching Services For Employees, Executives & Small Groups
Feel the need to start a tough-to-have conversation in your workplace or organization but don’t know how or where to begin?
Start here and now by reaching out to Toni at MaxLife LLC. Not a part of a group? That’s okay, too. Individual coaching is also available.
firstname.lastname@example.org (to schedule an appointment or for more info)
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Episode #097: Eric Verdi Interviews Toni Bowie