Paige did not plan on starting a company. She always wanted to go work for a global business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When she was a student she looked at leaders like Meg Whitman and Ursula Burns as role models. Paige started her career on Wall Street in the 80s and had a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and then worked at 3 different startups as the head of marketing (all had positive exits). She took the leap into entrepreneurship right after 9/11 when the company she worked for cut their marketing. She had nothing to lose so created a platform to do work she truly enjoys with and for people she respects. It has been a journey to get here but she feels lucky to have found it. She loves the autonomy, flexibility and the fact that she knows every day the impact that she has on her business. She is working harder and longer than ever and has never been happier. Working for yourself and building a business you started is incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, Paige jokes that she is the accidental entrepreneur.
CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP — What meaning do you give this term?
For me conscious entrepreneurship is doing well by doing good, measuring success by more than profits looking at a double or triple bottom line. Business should be driven by purpose and consistent with your values, a force for good on every level not only for you but for your customers/clients, your community and the world.
CAREER — What led you to your particular career path?
Working as a Financial Analyst on Wall Street I realized early on I wanted to switch career tracks so after 2 years I decided to go back to school for my MBA which allowed me to rebrand myself/try a new area as a summer intern in marketing/gain new skills/build my network and my confidence. For me getting an MBA was critical for finding work I enjoyed and making the transition smoothly. I took marketing classes and got experience on and off campus to help me build a resume in the new field which gave me credibility as a marketer. I positioned myself as being strong analytically which would help me be a better marketer using data to make decisions. It is important to have a story to explain your transition and show confidence in your decision not to be defensive about it. I realized the skills and activities I liked best in my finance career were the ones that would make me a better marketer. Once I shared that perspective the recruiters understood my interest and offered me jobs. I have loved the work and have been in marketing ever since, first going in house at large Fortune 500 firms then running marketing at 3 successful startups and now as an entrepreneur who started a global marketing company 19 years ago.
MENTORS — We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been an invaluable mentor for you? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I have been so fortunate to have great mentors, champions and role models throughout my career including former bosses, my father, senior women in organizations where I worked but the person who has always encouraged and supported me as an entrepreneur and has my back every day is my husband. He started a company too so understands the journey of an entrepreneur and has been my sanity check and thinking partner every step of the way. He is both a cheerleader and butt kicker depending on the situation and I trust his judgment and advice because I know he always has my best interests in mind. I am very fortunate to have him in my corner.
THE FUTURE — How do you see the face of entrepreneurship in 5 years? How do companies /brands need to adapt to secure their place in the future?
I think there will be more entrepreneurs in the future for sure. Our country and the world will only thrive post Covid if entrepreneurs create businesses at levels we have never seen before. Our future and the health of the global economy depend on it I think. It will be the key to our success and will include more diversity, more personalization, better privacy controls & regulation and more of a focus on social responsibility, justice and equality. Given the uncertainty in the economy and stock market I see growth coming from the entrepreneurs around the world, it will only be more important in the future not less.
CHALLENGES — Entrepreneurship is very challenging. We each have our own coping mechanism. Mine is humor. What is yours? Can you share a story?
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!
INSPIRATION — Is there an entrepreneurial book or podcast that inspires you that you would like to share with our readers?
When it comes to business advice I prefer the classics. These 2 books offer timeless advice and inspiration for any business person or entrepreneur I think:
How To Win Friends & Influence People — it is a classic with timeless advice on manners and people/human nature. When it comes to leading by example 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 to get respect you have to always keep in mind what your best alternatives are and be ready to walk away.
For marketing I prefer books by practitioners because they are more relevant and have current examples from pop culture vs. theories based on research. No matter what area of marketing you go into you need to communicate effectively, understand what motivates your customers and leverage online and offline tools so here are the best books I recommend:
Anything by Seth Godin but one of his latest is This is Marketing, you can’t be seen until you learn to see, he is a master who really understands what drives people to purchase from a practitioner’s perspective using his first hand experience and simple language not jargon.
Everybody Writes: Your go to guide to creating ridiculously good content by Ann Handley. Handley argues that in an online world everyone is a writer so you need to learn how to create content that attracts and retains people’s attention. She provides practical tips, easy grammar and usage rules that are valuable whether you are working with a big brand or startup these are best practices that will make your writing better. Great advice we can all benefit from now more than ever.
Fanocracy — Turning fans into customers and customers into fans by David Meerman Scott. David’s book is a real world practitioner’s guide from someone who has lived the job from the front line, he has been there and done it so he tells it like it is not theoretically but from the trenches. The name of the game today s how to get your fans engaged online and here is the manual to do it.
YOU — Is there anything you would like to share that we have not asked you here?
I want to leave the world better than I found it and be remembered by the people whose lives I touched as a force for good in their lives. I lost 7 people very close to me in 6 years and know first hand no one on their deathbed wishes they worked more, made more money or won more awards. They just want to be with the ones they love most to tell them they mattered. I think of those people often and the roles they played in my life. I want to be remembered for passing along the very best in me to others so their lives are better and happier in some way because I was part of it. That’s pretty much it. I try not to sweat the small stuff, it is just a distraction.
Reach out to Paige Arnof-Fenn on LinkedIn.
Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
Conscious entrepreneurship for me is about building a sustainable business that values and respects the resources used and makes an effort of giving back to society.
I believe we need entrepreneurs to really get involved in the causes close to their heart.
This is why I reach out to entrepreneurs that aim for more than generating profit. With this interview, I aim to share entrepreneurial purpose-led passion to inspire others.
Looking forward to learn from you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.