An interview with Maria
I'm often asked about what I do so I thought I'd share with you this interview with me...
How did your company, Infinite Growth, come about?
I found that businesses weren't supporting their team members and leaders as well as they could. I've always been passionate about professional development and wanted to provide a more personalised approach that I believe is required for professionals to get the best results.
In 2004, I established Infinite Growth. From the outset, I've always kept my clients as the focus and enjoy working with people who want to move forward, are open to different approaches and are wanting to make a positive difference.
What are you passionate about in your work?
I'm all about structure, quality and growth. I enjoy being able to provide a structure for others to develop their skills in an easy and safe way. And when I say 'structure', it's flexible, not rigid. It's about developing at a person's preferred pace yet challenging enough that they grow with it. That's important to me.
I enjoy developing a program for an individual or a team which adds value to their working life and often spills over into their personal life.
I love the light bulb moments that my clients experience when they gain confidence in the area that we're working on. When they share that with me, I'm as excited as they are about their progress.
When I'm working on a writing project, such as developing a training program, I apply a structure so that my own creativity can come through. The end result is that I"m able to develop a high-quality program which adds value to the client's organisation, making it a win-win situation.
You're a facilitator, speaker, coach and writer. Which do you identify with the most?
I've never liked labels. It's easy to put ourselves into boxes and believe we can only do one thing. I find it limiting. My area of specialty is business communication skills, whether verbally or in the written form, so I identify with that title.
And I encourage my clients to not limit themselves either. So once they gain confidence in the area we're working on, I love how often they then step up to a new challenge. It's about removing those barriers that comes with labels that then allows talents to shine through.
Where do you see your work going?
My plan is to be able to help more people and to do that effectively, technology will be playing a major role. I'm now running online coaching sessions and have online courses as an option for clients too. So although I'll still be doing face-to-face sessions, I'll also be offering more virtual sessions. I'm excited by the possibilities that having an online option will bring.
Would you say you're a big picture or a detailed person?
Interestingly, I'd say I'm both. I see the big picture or end goal for the client and my attention to detail allows me to focus on excellence of delivery. I enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzle together and with my focus on structure, I'm able to help clients get from A to B.
You have a wealth of experience helping people in a variety of industry areas. What have you learnt from these experiences that adds value to your current and potential clients?
I've enjoyed the variety of my work. It's allowed me to bring a different perspective as an approach to a solution for either an individual or business.
One of the main things that I've learnt from all of these experiences is that it's important to provide an environment that helps people to develop in their skills and knowledge. It's also allowed me to have first-hand experience of some of the challenges my clients may face. So my programs are practical and client-focused.
The ultimate compliment I receive is the repeat work that I'm asked to do, whether it's coaching, facilitation, speaking or writing.
Tell us about your book, Success Talks: Conversations with Everyday Leaders.
I've always been interested in the role of leadership and its ability to have a positive impact on individuals, communities and business. I think leadership is often assumed with a role. But we all know that there are so-called 'leaders' who don't lead.
And there are people amongst us that we look up to and aspire to be like, yet they're not necessarily recognised as leaders as such. I call these people Everyday Leaders. So I asked my community and clients for people they knew who they thought of as leaders, whether they actually held that role or not, that may not be necessarily well-known. I was impressed by their recommendations.
My interviews were focused around their thoughts on leadership, practical experiences and their successes in their respective leadership roles. I think as a society we undervalue the Everyday Leaders among us who do make a positive difference to those around them and I wanted to bring that message to the fore. I felt privileged to have met these people and still keep in touch with many of them.
Your blog has been named one of the top 20 business blogs in Australia and your company has been recognised in business awards. What is the secret to your success?
I love what I do and to be recognised for that is a bonus. I don't know that there is any real secret. It's about providing quality and value for my clients. My programs are personalised and they work. My clients appreciate that, which usually means I'm invited back to work with other team members from all levels of the organisation.
I enjoy writing and I'm always keen to add value for my clients. So the resources in my blog help in this way too.
In the past you've volunteered your time in many capacities, such as in leadership roles in Toastmasters, mentoring business women and as a board member. Tell us about these experiences.
They were each unique and diverse experiences. I enjoyed all of them. Ultimately, it's about giving back and helping others in my community.
I was involved in Toastmasters for 15 years, so I had many opportunities to develop my speaking skills, but I also had opportunities to help others grow. I mentored people new to Toastmasters and took on a number of leadership roles within my home club as well as in the broader Toastmasters community. Each time I took on a new role, I did it with the mindset that I could help others and I would also learn something from the experience.
I participated as a mentor in the Women in Business Program that was run by the NSW government for a few years and enjoyed working with these entrepreneurial women. It's nice to know that I helped them in some way to achieve their goals.
When I was asked to join the board of the Parramatta College, I looked upon that as an opportunity to help a not-for-profit organisation help others. It was a perfect fit as I was able to use my business skills and my passion for education to help the organisation grow.
And in your spare time, you've been a State representative at the National Championships for Dragon Boat racing! Would you say you're a high achiever?
I have been told that and I think that's just part of who I am. As a child I was taught to always give your best in all that you do. And I've continued that in my adult life. I always strive for excellence in all that I do.
When I was involved in dragon boat racing, it was great from both a fitness and team perspective. As a team, it meant that we had to work together and have a strong focus on our goal. If you've ever seen a dragon boat team working together, you'll know that they glide through the water at a very fast pace. But one that doesn't work together just wastes energy and gets nowhere fast.
Competing at this level of the sport has given me some unique insights into teamwork and leadership, while also having fun.
Can you spot me in this photo?
I'm a strong believer in continuous improvement, being a member of the following professional bodies:
- Executive Women Australia
- Australian Institute of Leaders and Managers
- Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD)