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Meet Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls in Cambridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paige Arnof-Fenn.

Paige, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
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 Meg Whitman & Ursula Burns as my role models. I started a global marketing company 16 years ago after starting 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 working 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 saw a market need and knew I could help so I jumped in. I had people and projects from day one. I built a website, created a logo and we were off and running. I had no idea I’d still be doing it 16 years later but I am still having fun. I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur.

As we were forming, I jokingly referred to the women in the group as the Marketing Mavens & the guys as the Marketing Moguls & for short I called them Mavens & Moguls as a working name but never expected it would stick. I did research over e-mail with prospective clients, referrers, media, etc & tested ~100 names. Mavens & Moguls was one choice on the list & to my great delight & surprise it came out as a clear winner. It has helped us be memorable and stand out from the pack. Because I have a hyphenated last name half the battle is for clients to be able to find you when they need your help. I have had clients tell me they could not remember anything other than my first name & one word of my company so they googled Paige & Mavens and we popped right up. I was at an event one day and a venture capitalist started waving in my direction and shouted “hi Maven!” across the crowd, everyone looked my way and we ended up getting introduced to a portfolio company that hired us! Names contribute to your brand and in our case I think it has been a major plus. Maven is Yiddish for expert and a Mogul is someone of rank, power or distinction in a specified area. I like the alliteration and I think it sets us apart from other consulting firms. It shows a little personality & attitude and implies we do not take ourselves too seriously. Would you rather hire “Strategic Marketing Solutions” or Mavens & Moguls? We are the “not your father’s Oldsmobile” of marketing firms. If nothing else our name is a great conversation starter and getting into a conversation is all it takes to open a door.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Part of being an entrepreneur is dealing with the bumps in the road as you grow. It is how you learn and part of the experience. For me the toughest part was admitting that the people you start with are not always the ones who grow with you. The hardest lesson I learned when I started my company is not getting rid of weak people earlier than I did in the first few years of my business. I spent more time managing them than finding new customers. I knew in my gut they were not up to snuff but out of loyalty to them I let them hang around much longer than they should have. It would have been better for everyone to let them go as soon as the signs were there. They became more insecure and threatened as we grew which was not productive for the team. As soon as I let them go the culture got stronger and the bar higher. “A” team people like to be surrounded by other stars. It is true that you should hire slowly and fire quickly. I did not make that mistake again later on so learned it well the first time. I wish I had known it even earlier though but lesson learned for sure!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Mavens & Moguls story. Tell us more about the business.
I built a global network of seasoned marketing talent to help organizations with their most pressing branding, marketing and communications challenges. We come together and form teams based on what our clients need. We do market research, web design and development, public relations, social media, thought leadership, messaging, basically anything a marketing department, ad agency, PR agency or market research shop does on an as needed basis. We work on retainer or on a project basis, whatever makes the most sense to get the problems solved. We were on the client side earlier in our careers so our heads and our hearts are more aligned with our clients than a typical agency or vendor relationship. We make recommendations as if we were in their chair because we used to be! Our goal is to solve the problems not to make our clients dependent on us. We are a virtual company so our overhead is low, we only take on work we are excited by not to cover our expenses. I am proud of the fact that so much of our work comes by referral and word of mouth and that so many of our clients’ think of us first when they have new marketing problems to solve.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I love the quote that the harder I work the luckier I get. In my experience success has a lot more to do with doing your homework and being well prepared than luck. Once you really know your business, the market and the competitive landscape well you are able to see trends and opportunities much better. It takes a tremendous amount of preparation and work to get to the point where it looks easy. I think Michael Jordan would tell you the same thing in fact. It has taken decades of busting my butt to get here. It is totally worth it. Luck is great but hard work is a safer route. There is no shortcut to success, I am a 20+ year overnight sensation 😉

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