Lifestyle Of The Lady CEO

Originally published in Silke Endress, International Professional Women's Magazine, May 2007.  Copyright Silke Endress, reproduced with permission.

"I am the first Delaware National Founding Partner of WIPP, which is an incredible organization and the kinds of directions, insights, opportunities, and leadership is phenomenal, you cannot put a price tag on it.

WIPP is not structured like other organizations where you have pockets of chapters; it is a central public body nationally. We are a bi-partisan, national focus public policy group, which directly impact women and small business owners. The structure, guidance, and support WIPP provide its membership from a national perspective, is priceless."

I grew up in the South, New Orleans, Louisiana, my home, a place I love very dearly, my family is still there. I went to John H. Martin High School, which is no longer in existence. Specifically, I was okay in high school I was very much involved in the Drama Club, newspaper, and 1962 High School Queen, graduated in 1964. The highlight of my experience as a girl was to represent my high school as the High School Queen and ride on the back of that open convertible before the football game and walk out and be escorted on the field; was a big deal to me. Which I now recall was of great significance to me.

CeCe, now that you are making me go back in my memory bank, I specifically remember my 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Garrett, who would always say 'you have to enunciate', she drilled that into your head. We read Shakespeare, we had poetry, and she made sure that we had verb subject agreements and parts of speech.

Moving further back to 9th grade another strong English teacher was Mr. Waters who introduced me to the drama club and said that we must have plays in schools. So African American teachers during my time was a whole black experience. It was something that you canít trade off, because everybody was interested in how you made it as a person, and how you carried yourself, then, would be a reflection of who you are now, and as a matter of fact IT IS a reflection of who I am now. Now going back to that high school experience, I would not trade that for the world, remembering going to Socials and Teas and getting dressed up for the Debutant Ball, that was the thing and I canít put a price tag on that. Those days, now that youíve awaken them up, probably has a lot to do with who Maxine Williams Knox is today.

Silke Endress: When you went to college did you know immediately what you wanted to major in or was that nurtured? I hear sincere passion and grounded motivation, what drives you?

No I did not know immediately, what I wanted to major in, that was actually nurtured. I did not go to college until after I got married, moved to New Jersey, and decided at that point that I wanted to get a college education. Life and circumstances forces you to make some choices and decisions. For me it was get back in school.

I earned a degree in Education with concentration in Reading. Then I began to realize that my strength really lies in leadership and I wanted to nurture my leadership development more than just settling for being a teacher. My driving force was that I had two children and I always wanted to be in a position where I can take care of my children, and that drove me more than anything else, not to mention my husband {laughter}.

We came up poor CeCe, and between my mother and grandmother who had to do "days work", that's what motivated me. "Days work" in the South, is where you cleaned someone's home all day. In the summer I would go with my grandmother, Callie, for days work, and at the end of the day she got paid $4.00 and bus fare to get home, she would give me half of it. So when you ask what drove me, it was that.

Silke Endress: Create a metaphor for our readers; give them a snapshot of who you are in the place that you are in your life today as a CEO.

As CEO of Knox Enterprises, Incorporated, I am Maxine Williams-Knox, am a very sound and grounded individual in terms of my directions, focus know where I want to take my business from now up until the next five years. I take time to redesign, redefine, redevelop my business plan, that it is current with trends, knowing the market, knowing the industry, knowing who the competitors are and constantly looking for ways to consistently diversity. We are on the cutting edge, looking into international and global markets for strategic positioning.

Recently I have been appointed by U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Hector Barreto to a two-year term on the SBAís National Advisory Council. When the opportunity presented itself, I was in the right place at the right time to be recommended for that position. The NAC (National Advisory Council) to the SBA is just that, we serve in an advisory capacity to make suggestions and recommendations to the SBA in terms of how they can strengthen and enhance their current programs, with my particular interest being women owned and small businesses looking at the superfine 8(a) processes, and specifically how to gain greater access to capital for minorities and women business centers. Thatís who I am today.

Silke Endress: Tell us about your business, your title, goal, missions, purpose and leadership style.

My company is Knox enterprises, a women-owned management consultant and training company. Our base is in Wilmington, Delaware. We are a for-profit business, our mission is to help organization adapt and turn around quickly in order to be successful in todayís business environment. Our mission is to provide specialized consultant facilitation and training support to government and corporate entities. We feel that if organizations are going to gainfully compete in this hyper competitive marketplace that we find ourselves in, they are going to have to be able to manage and integrate business technology and organizational strategies into what they are doing, specifically developing their human capital, or developing their human asset, our 21st century leadership is crucial. You cannot function effectively and be on the cutting edge in this global marketplace that we find ourselves in unless you are able to have a workforce that is ready to meet the current needs that are out there.

My leadership style is that of a 21st Century leader, Iím a very savvy business person, I pass that on to my clients, Iím no nonsense and directly to the point.

Silke Endress: Maxine close us out with an inspirational message and your favorite quote.

Regardless of your socio-economic background, regardless to your age, color, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, do not let anyone demean your self worth, your self worth is so important. As women, sometimes, that self-worth can be taken away from us, or our self-esteem or self-confidence, can be shaken, donít let anyone stop you from moving forward. If you have a dream, you must have a passion for it, must fall in love with it, do whatever it takesÖ go back to school, get a mentor, even if you have to reach down and call on your ancestors, then do it! Donít loose sight of that dream. Thatís all we have is THAT DREAM. Go out and do whatever your passion is, even if itís a cookie cutter, do whatever it takes to be the BEST cookie cutter in the world. Hold on to your dream, hold on to your self-confidence, donít fold up or give into anyone, or sell yourself short, BE THE BEST OF THE BEST!

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