Paige Arnof-Fenn

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 is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.

What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?

How To Win Friends & Influence People — it is a classic with timeless advice on manners and people/human nature. You cannot go wrong with this one. Another good one is Getting To Yes — I took his negotiations class in business school and this reminds me of what he taught us, we are constantly negotiating in business and you have to always keep in mind what your best alternatives are and be ready to walk away.

What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?

During the pandemic other than food I have only really spent money on supporting local businesses and a few random items like exercise equipment and good wine 😉 If getting takeout and a nice bottle of red makes you happy these days I am all for it! I think we have all learned to appreciate the little things more than ever.

When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?

I am a big fan of Tai Chi, but I also do Qigong, knitting, reading, and watching TV to de-stress. I started learning Tai Chi >15 years ago and have gotten progressively addicted over the years. I now know the choreography of 2 different forms and I absolutely love it. It is a way to both relax and focus. I do it with groups online and even guest teach when the regular backup cannot be there. I have met great people, it has helped my balance, improved my bone density and helped calm my mind.

What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?

I think “there is no such thing as bad PR” is bad advice because there are a lot of ways you can dilute or damage your brand equity. Stay on message and on strategy for best results. It can take a lot of time, effort and money to try to course correct after the fact but once things are released/posted online social media can take on a life of its own and the information can live on the web forever.

In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?

I learned to knit 5 years ago when a group of girlfriends went to a spa for a getaway for our 50th birthdays and I took a class. I had so much fun that I took another class when I got home and have joined regular groups that meet every week (now on Zoom). I’ve knitted several things now I use regularly like scarves, dish towels, etc. and have met some great people. It has been a fun new hobby and has added a lot to my life, it is also very meditative and it really helps me focus and relax. I never had any interest in knitting before but I guess turning 50 made me curious about picking up a new skill and meeting new people. I highly recommend it.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

Volunteering to help others. I think \when you are grateful and appreciate your life you want to help others achieve their dreams too by sharing your gifts with them. There are so many ways to give back that enrich your life by helping others. I find the more you give the more you get.

If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?

When in doubt, choose kindness and always be grateful. It is a simple reminder of what is important in life. Everyone can make a difference.

How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?

There have been so many times in my career where things did not go as I had hoped or planned but with each setback I learned important lessons which made me more resilient and able to bounce back stronger, mentally tougher and try again because: * Not getting what you want can lead you to magical outcomes Being an entrepreneur provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect. 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 is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur. * You learn a lot more from failure than success When things work well you never really know why but in my experience when a project fails and you take the time to do a post mortem you can clearly see in retrospect where things broke down or which assumptions were incorrect and that is knowledge you will never forget again. Wisdom that comes from age and experience is gold. That is also where you make lifelong connections from being in the trenches together. * In retrospect you may look back at what you thought was a failure and realize it was a blessing in disguise Whether you were passed up for the promotion, did not get the job offer or missed the deadline for the launch you learn that as Winston Churchill said failure is not fatal and being resilient and getting back up and trying again is really what matters in life. Once I pursued a more entrepreneurial path I realized my definition of success had changed. It turns out I did not want to run a big company I am much happier being a big fish is a smaller pond.

Success is personal and your definition will change over time.

Paige Arnof-Fenn

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”?

Patience — It really is a marathon not a sprint so do not set arbitrary goals like being named 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 because it may take you longer than Mark Zuckerberg to hit your stride and that’s ok. Most people take many detours on their career path before finding their true calling. Don’t be disappointed if you get to 40 and are still exploring because the journey really is a great adventure so enjoy it! Fail fast — Don’t be scared to fail, just learn from every bump in the road so you make better mistakes next time, that is where you learn the most! You learn to do by doing. Course correct and pivot along the way, it makes for a fun career path. Keep learning — Finishing school is not the end of your education, you will be a student for the rest of your life so never stop learning new things. Your education is just starting to get really interesting and the grades don’t matter anymore. Be a sponge for knowledge & enjoy the learning process.

What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?

Success is personal and your definition will change over time. That is normal and shows maturity, find what matters to you and don’t worry about anyone else. If you are not excited by your job, I am a big fan of finding ways to bridge to another track to find something you truly enjoy spending time doing that shares your talents and gifts.

What is the most common mistake you see people make when applying for a job?

Video interviews are the reality today and should be treated just as importantly as face to face meetings.

What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?

DO: * Talk slowly and smile, be as natural and relaxed/warm as possible * Make sure you are in a quiet place with no distractions/pets/kids/phones ringing * Dress for success, look polished and professional * Always write a thank you note or e-mail after it shows professional skills and manners and helps you stand out reminding them of your strengths and interest.

DON’T: * Let your guard down before you log off, the “mic/speaker” may still be live/on * Wear a busy pattern it can be distracting on screen, solid colors are best * Wait until the last minute to log in/try it just in case you need to download software, etc. Make sure you have a phone number or back up plan in case it does not connect online as planned. Most of these are relevant for phone interviews too. Instead of worrying about what you wear though I recommend you stand up for the call so you voice projects better by phone.

How does your resume advice change from a 20 year old to a 50 year old?

Less is more the more senior you get. Results and reputation matter most not title as you move up thee ranks.

Are Resume's Dead?

LinkedIn matters more than a resume today in my experience.