Meet Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a global branding and marketing firm that has as clients, some of the world’s most well-known brands like Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, etc, she is also a columnist of the media outlets Entrepreneur and Forbes.
Who is Paige? define yourself.
I am an entrepreneur who started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago and love the life I have built. I am married and have a close group of friends who bring me lots of joy and happy times together. I feel very lucky to have created an ecosystem where I spend most of my time doing things I truly enjoy with and for people I care about both personally and professionally. I make time every day for some form of exercise and I laugh a lot. I know how fortunate I am.
Tell us more about your family, how was Paige as a kid?
I am the oldest of 3 kids. I was always a good student, hard worker, high energy and a good athlete. I have always been into sports. My dad and both grandfathers were commercial bankers and I was always good at math and numbers. I grew up in the Deep South and still say y’ all. I think I was a classic type, a bossy big sister and am still the one among my friends who tends to organize things and make plans. Both my parents have died and I miss them a lot.
You have a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at Stanford University and an MBA at Harvard Business School, both are some of the best Universities in the world. Was it difficult for you to get here? how was your experience with it?
I loved both my alma maters and feel they were a perfect fit for me. I had good grades and test scores so I knew I had a shot to get in. I majored in Economics in college because I knew I wanted to go into business and thought it would give me a good base of knowledge. I wanted an MBA to give me more credibility and career flexibility down the road. Both were good decisions for me.
You worked in marketing in very important companies as Morgan Stanley, Procter & Gamble, Coca Cola, Zipcar, among others, how did you jump from that point to found your own Marketing firm, Mavens & Moguls?
I actually worked in finance at Morgan Stanley, I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a large multi-national business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When I was a student I looked at leaders like Meg Whitman & Ursula Burns as my role models. I started my career on Wall Street in the 80s as a Financial Analyst and had a successful career in Corporate America with Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and worked at 3 different startups as the head of marketing. I took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing. I had nothing to lose. I call myself the Accidental Entrepreneur and I have never looked back.
"I had parents who told me I could do anything and encouraged me to get a great education"
You are an entrepreneur and has clients as Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate etc, you are a keynote speaker, you were the first woman to be elected Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Sports Museum at the TD Garden and the former Chair of the Alumni Board of Stanford University, a founding Board member of Women Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology, a columnist for Forbes and so on... what is the recipe for your success?
A lot of hard work, years of paying my dues, learning from really smart people at every stage of my career. I think luck plays a role too. I had parents who told me I could do anything and encouraged me to get a great education, I graduated from my MBA program at the trough of the recession so was able to build my career as the economy came roaring back and the internet was taking off so my timing was good too. All 3 of the startups I joined as CMO had good exits and a lot of companies I had interviewed for went under so I picked well.
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
Every day is different which keeps it fun and exciting but I always start my day with breakfast with my husband and exercise and we end the day together too. The middle can get crazy though with meetings, conference calls, proposals, speeches, writing, mentoring and networking.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
If I am genuinely excited by the opportunity I go for it. I do not take any work on at this point in my life for resume value or for money I have to really want to do it or learn something new.
"I love working with and for people I respect and want to be successful. I love being able to control my calendar. The hardest part is learning to say no and not over committing"
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love working with and for people, I respect and want to be successful. I love being able to control my calendar. The hardest part is learning to say no and not over-committing. Many days I wish I could make more hours to be able to do more things personally and professionally.
If you could, would you change any steps you took in your career, and if so, what would you change?
I think each step played an important role and I learned something in every job. The toughest parts were probably where I learned the most so I would not change a thing it got me to here after all.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think it is a mistake to hide behind technology and CRM systems when prospecting. My advice is to disconnect from technology and focus on cultivating human, face to face relationships. Meeting for coffee or lunch can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. and it is a great way to get to know people better, their interests, hobbies, and dreams. I have found that building relationships are what drives my business and technology supports them once they are solidified.
Technology helps advance the conversation but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time. I plan lunch meetings ~3 days a week and invite clients to events I think they might enjoy attending to spend time together.
As a marketing expert, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Thought Leadership is a great way to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well-trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts.
You are a very busy woman and still, you have time for volunteering, donating money and sharing your expertise, what does it drive you? what´s your motivation for doing it?
My parents and grandparents were very involved in their communities so I guess I come by it naturally, it is in my DNA. I think it is the responsibility of business leaders to give back and saw firsthand at both P&G and at Coke that you can be successful and also have a strong impact where you do business. It is really important to set that tone at the top.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I am not sure I balance well but to be more productive I try to find creative ways to multi-task that incorporates work and exercise. When I worked at large companies they had gyms at the office or groups who walked at lunch but when you are an entrepreneur you have to get creative to find balance. Instead of meeting up with your local colleagues at a coffee shop, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too. You'll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share. It works with customers too, I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box. A change in venue is always nice and you feel so much better when you are moving and not trapped behind your desk. The other tips I like to incorporate are taking public transportation when possible, parking at the far end of the lot and walking as well as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, it adds up to a lot of extra steps and movement if you do it every day. I think that respecting my time on the calendar and taking myself as seriously as I take my most important clients is the least I can do because if I am not at my peak performance I am not going to be useful to anyone else either. Give yourself permission to say no.
Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), getting a massage, taking a walk, or just turning off my phone and computer (no I will respond, later on, my own schedule), simple acts of letting I relax and enjoy them the moment is the very best gifts I can give myself. Other than doing something active every day to stay healthy and break up my the day I plan lunch meetings -- I get out of the office 3-4 days a week which is a great way to shake up my routine and stay connected personally and professionally.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Watch sports (we are season ticket holders for the Celtics), read, go to movies, live music especially jazz, knit, hang out with my husband and friends.
What are your plans for this 2019?
Work hard and play hard ;-)
There is still the glass roof for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented the glass ceiling? if yes, What are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I left the corporate world in 1997 when I was in my early 30s so was able to reframe a lot of those issues by working in early-stage startups before I founded my business. I did not raise any outside money so was fortunate I could self fund my company.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to work in marketing?
You have to be aware of pop culture, trends, etc. to be successful in marketing. My advice is to pick a few things you enjoy doing and do them really well. You cannot be everywhere all the time so choose high impact activities that work for you and play to your strengths. Regarding social media don’t let it drive you crazy, you do not need to be everywhere, it does not matter which platform you choose just pick one or 2 that are authentic to you.
It should look and sound like you and the brand/reputation you are building. Whether yours is polished or more informal, chatty or academic, humorous or snarky, it is a way for your personality to come through. Everyone is not going to like you or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first.
"Most of my business comes from networking. People do business with people they know, like and trust so you have to get out there to build your reputation online and off".
Most of my business comes from networking. My rule is that you should network in person during the business day and do it online after hours. People do business with people they know, like and trust so you have to get out there to build your reputation online and off. Prospective customers and jobs can come from anyone anywhere anytime so you should always be on your best behavior & make a great lasting impression. Be nice to everyone & make friends before you need them, you never know who is in or will be in a position to help!
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you really are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Paige and what´s not?
I am a big believer in personal branding and think it is very important for entrepreneurs because if you do not brand yourself then the market will brand you instead. The single most important ingredient to creating a great brand is authenticity so here are a few tips from my experience to help establish an authentic brand:
- Be original. What makes you unique or special?
- Be creative. How do you want people to think & feel after interacting with you vs. your competition?
- Be honest. Let your brand be known for speaking the truth, and you become the trusted advocate and go-to source.
- Be relevant. Brands aren't created in a vacuum.
- Be consistent. Develop a cohesive message, and live it every day.
- Be passionate. Everyone loves to work with people who are passionate about what they do; it makes life much more fun and interesting.
I just try to be myself and if someone goes to my website and reads my articles they will learn a lot about me I think.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
There are so many amazing women it is hard to pick one. Would put Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Gloria Steinem, and Tina Fey at the top of my list. They are all inspiring, smart, talented, brave, originals who are leaving a mark in their fields.
Name: Paige Arnof-Fenn
Company: Mavens & Moguls
Designation: Founder & CEO
Country: The USA