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Founders Story with Paige Arnof-Fenn, the CEO of Mavens and Moguls

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder & CEO of global marketing and digital branding firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, The New York Times Company, Colgate, venture-backed startups as well as non-profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. Paige serves on several Boards, is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes. Her LinkedIn is at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paigearnoffenn

 

Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?

I am a child of the 60s and 70s who grew up in the Deep South. All 4 of my grandparents were Southerners too, we all lived within a few hours’ drive when I was a child. I am the oldest of 3 and was always a good student and athlete growing up, responsible and hard working. My father and both grandfathers were in business so I always thought I would go that route too. From a young age, I loved sports, movies, TV, and travel. I went to a girl’s sports camp every summer for 2 months from age 9-16. I was an exchange student in France in high school and in Italy in college. My family moved when I was in middle school and I am still friends with most of the people I grew up with from school and camp. As an adult I have lived and worked in NYC, LA, Bay Area, Atlanta, DC, Cincinnati, etc. but have been in Boston for the past 20+ years.

 

How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

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 and had a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and worked at 3 different startups as the head of marketing. I became an entrepreneur and took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing. I had nothing to lose. Being an entrepreneur provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect. 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 is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am an 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).

 

What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?

A mentor told me that to stay sane and be successful as an entrepreneur “me time” is not a luxury or pampering, it is maintenance, respecting my time on the calendar, and taking myself as seriously as I take my most important clients is the most important act I can do to care for myself because if I am not at my peak performance I am not going to be useful to anyone else either so I have learned to give myself permission to say no. Whether it means sleeping in (no to an alarm clock), meditating, taking a walk, delegating more work, or just turning off your phone and computer (no I will respond later on my own schedule), simple acts of letting yourself relax and enjoy the moment are the very best gifts you can give yourself. It is about touching people in meaningful ways which may mean being less busy not more.

I try to disconnect from technology periodically and focus on cultivating human, face-to-face relationships (when not social distancing). Even meeting for virtual coffee or drinks can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. 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.

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