Paige Arnof-Fenn said it herself—she loves to build great brands. This love for branding pushed her to found Mavens & Moguls, a Cambridge-based firm that does everything marketing for a company. Consult with them and you’ll get help with marketing, branding, PR, market research, and communications.
With Mavens & Moguls, Paige Arnof-Fenn caters to a variety of clients worldwide. Her company helps out “organizations who want to increase their visibility, profile and awareness” through proper messaging and value propositions. In other words, they help you put the right words together with the right pictures to tell your customers the story they need to hear. Mavens & Moguls have worked with both Fortune 500 firms like Virgin and Microsoft and early-stage startups.
Before Mavens & Moguls, Paige Arnof-Fenn had already worked with major brands. She used to be the first Vice President of Marketing at Zipcar/Avis, Vice President of Marketing at Inc.com, and the first SVP of marketing at Launch Media, before selling to Yahoo.
Paige Arnof-Fenn also worked as a special assistant to Sergio Zyman, CMO of global marketing at The Coca-Cola Company. She even had a government posting, directing the 1996 Olympic Commemorative Coin Program at the Department of Treasury. Before that, Paige handled brand management at Procter & Gamble.
As a professional, Paige Arnof-Fenn devise creative and brilliant strategies that put together the most compelling story for the customer. Most importantly, she has a whole lot of fun doing it, too.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Paige Arnof-Fenn: I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a global 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 Mavens & Moguls after beginning my career on Wall Street in the 80s and having a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and then working at 3 different startups as the head of marketing. All 3 startups had positive exits. I took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing. I had nothing to lose. Running a global marketing business provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect. I get to set my priorities, I have time to travel (pre-Covid) and hang out with my inner circle, and work out every day. It has been a journey to get here but I am lucky to have found it. I love the autonomy, flexibility and the fact that I know every day the impact that I have on my business. When I worked at big companies I always felt the ball would roll with or without me, that if I got hit by a bus someone new would be in my office right away. Now my DNA is in everything we do and I can trace every decision and sale to something I did or a decision I made and that is incredibly gratifying and fulfilling. Like most entrepreneurs, I am working harder and longer than ever and I have never been happier. Working for yourself and building a business you started in incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur. I knew I had made it as an entrepreneur when Harvard wrote 2 case studies on my business a few years after I started it, we were very early to pioneer sharing resources on the marketing front (before my company it was really only done with HR, legal and accounting/finance).
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Paige Arnof-Fenn: Never! To be successful today you must be resilient because you get knocked around often so you have to be able to keep getting back up and trying again with enthusiasm and energy. A lot of people tell you no (investors, board, customers, candidates, etc.) so if you are easily daunted or do not have thick skin you will not last long in my experience. A good sense of humor goes a long way too but without resiliency you will not survive in business today. It makes the biggest difference between success and failure I think because the road is always bumpy and you know you will have to overcome obstacles along the way. I stay motivated because I get excited solving problems and helping people. I have always loved fixing things and helping out where I can. I am naturally curious and get energized talking to people so when I meet interesting people it is just natural for me to ask a lot of questions and when I hear about things that they are dealing with where I can be helpful I want to roll up my sleeves and jump in. It’s just how I am wired I guess. I love the challenge of cracking the code to see what works. More challenges create more opportunities!
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Paige Arnof-Fenn: It can be hard to laugh at mistakes but looking back I remember one week early on when I had 3 or 4 talks lined up over a couple of day period so I went from one evening event to a breakfast the next morning to a lunch and evening talk the following day. I enjoy public speaking and get a lot of referrals and business that way. The morning after my final speech I showed up at a meeting with a prospective client along with a few of my colleagues and I realized I was completely out of business cards. I was so embarrassed and my team laughed at me since I always remind them it is important to be professional and prepared all the time. I ended up sending a hand written thank you note to the prospect with my card enclosed and we won the business so I turned my mistake into a good outcome plus I have never run out of business cards again! It is a great lesson in the power of humility, resilience, persistence, manners and having a sense of humor.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
Paige Arnof-Fenn: Hire great people and train them well. If my team had not been able to step in when my family members got sick and started dying my business would have had to close. Delegating is how we did not just survive but were able to thrive when times got tough.
Create a culture that attracts people with a growth mindset. I have been fortunate to work in several world class businesses in my career like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola with growth mindsets and l have tried to create that culture in my company too. In my experience, having a growth mindset helps successful people realize that the more happiness and wealth they acquire the more they can help others succeed too. Their gratitude becomes a multiplier and virtuous circle creating a positive environment for future success. Fixed mindset people tend to feel that they know it all and see the world as a zero sum game, so if someone else is winning they must be losing. Growth mindset people never stop learning and experimenting, they are focused on the future and see opportunities ahead by creating a culture of learning and growth. The key is to make the know it alls see the power in becoming learn it alls.
Don’t be scared to pivot or course correct as needed, you learn more from the failures than the successes so make sure you conduct post mortems when things go wrong and celebrate the key learnings so you never make that mistake again. How you handle bad news sends a very strong signal to the team, taking smart risks leads to success over time but when someone is not a good fit it is best to move on sooner vs. later so they do not drag down the team, keep the bar high so the A players stay engaged.
Great leaders are confident and humble enough to bring onboard people who are smarter, more experienced, and capable of executing the vision. Learn to delegate and empower people to take more initiative so they can rise to the occasion. Providing the team with autonomy and the opportunity to collaborate on tactics generates creative solutions.
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
Paige Arnof-Fenn: I would say if you want it done a certain way then do it yourself but if what you are trying to achieve is a goal or outcome then consider delegating which may help accomplish it faster, bigger and/or better by getting others involved who bring more ideas and energy to the process. Delegating is a multiplier when done well in my experience.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Paige Arnof-Fenn: I would love to spark a movement or create change through a new (domestic) Peace Corps (2020 version) and suggest we are all in it no application required. We have millions of people unemployed, the largest number in our history. We need our roads and bridges fixed, clean water in our communities, tutors, day care, senior care, census takers, contact tracers, there is no need to pay people to stay home or send them abroad to build infrastructure overseas we need it here right now across all 50 states! We also need peace to prevail and I think if we work together side by side to fix these problems in our communities we will all be on the same team.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
Paige Arnof-Fenn: Thanks so much it’s been my pleasure!