Paige Arnof-Fenn On How We Need To Redefine Success

Start to measure productivity by what you get done based on accomplishments not activity. Our job is to get through this period together intact, that will make us all feel we have been productive and help us redefine what success means. Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, […]

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Start to measure productivity by what you get done based on accomplishments not activity. Our job is to get through this period together intact, that will make us all feel we have been productive and help us redefine what success means.


Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing interviewing Paige Arnof-Fenn.

Paige is the founder & CEO of global marketing and digital branding firm Mavens & Moguls based in Cambridge, MA. Her clients include Microsoft, Virgin, venture-backed startups as well as non profit organizations. She graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Business School, serves on several Boards, is a popular speaker and columnist who has written for Entrepreneur and Forbes.


Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

I am a child of the 60s and 70s who grew up in the Deep South as the oldest of 3. I was raised to be responsible, honest, hard working, and confident all great qualities for an entrepreneur. Both my grandfathers were successful entrepreneurs and only one graduated from high school. My dad took a more traditional corporate path and my mom stayed at home and I had always assumed I would go into business (vs law or medicine) and follow in my dad’s footsteps. After college I took a series of corporate jobs and got an MBA like my father but by my early 30s I knew I had more of the entrepreneurial gene in me so I took the leap and started my company. My parents always supported me to challenge the status quo and question authority when I had done my homework and could make a strong case which is also great training to becoming an entrepreneur. They were also very proud of me and encouraging when my high school guidance counselor told me I needed more back up schools because I was shooting too high for college and I went ahead and applied to my top choices anyway. My mother reminded that man every time she saw him how much I loved going to college at Stanford and getting my MBA at Harvard Business School so I come by my renegade tendencies naturally I guess. My parents seemed to get me when I tried to bend, break or change the rules if I had a solid argument so I learned early on to not stop just because someone says no. That is such an important part of being an entrepreneur and has served me and. my business very well.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

I thought starting a business would let me take my foot off the gas a little but you will never work harder or more than you do as an entrepreneur! Because it is for your vision and dream you will never love it more too. People who start businesses thinking it is less work will be disappointed. There is always more you can be doing to build your business so it is hard to turn it off, trust me.

How has your definition of success changed?

My definition of success has changed a lot, instead of looking at finish lines — numbers, job titles, houses or cars, or a level of public profile — I factor in things like whether I get to do work that at least sometimes lets me feel like I made a genuine difference in the lives of other people. I love being helpful to my clients, nieces, nephews, godkids, mentees, etc. It is great knowing my experience and hard fought lessons learned can be put to good use as an advisor, board member, coach, consultant, friend, volunteer and aunt/godmother. I’ve always loved solving problems and enjoy running my business, I am so lucky to have created a platform where I can both give and receive so much joy and spend time with those who matter most to me.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

Due to the pause from the pandemic what has risen to the surface is the power of true love, true friendship, support, contact, relationships, community. And I think the gift is that we are coming out of this intact. We see how being more adaptable with work/school, creating hybrid options for added flexibility is critical for families to thrive in the new normal. With most people working remote/hybrid there has never been a more important time to provide accurate, empathetic communication with transparency, truthfulness and timeliness. It is inappropriate now for content to appear tone deaf in any way to this crisis. We have learned to acknowledge that now things are different so we need to communicate in a way that will give our audiences better focus, helping them to create a bridge from today to the future. We need to communicate in a way that combines information and need, synthesizing feeling and facts. I feel we have a tremendous responsibility because never before has communications had the power to help society in the way that it does right now. Words are part of the healing process and we can see which leaders and brands are doing the best job every day with messages that touch not only the mind, but also the heart and soul.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

Maybe the biggest silver lining is that this crisis reminds us that we have always needed each other and we have learned that everyone is struggling right now to find a new normal so the key to success is to show our humanity and compassion while we look out for one another. With Zoom, social media, cell phones, etc. we see that technology does not have to be isolating it can be used to build our real world communities and relationships too!

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

Spend time personally and professionally with people you admire, respect and who challenge your thinking. When you are around people who are better/smarter you rise to the occasion. I became a better tennis player when I started hitting with people with more talent and it works like that in all areas of your life too. To be better push yourself out of your comfort zone to move up the food chain when possible.

Choose quality over quantity. Whether it is the supply chain shortages/delays, inflation, climate change or something else, we have seen that less can be more with smaller group gatherings, deeper conversations, not as much running around, sleeping longer, more time outdoors have all been welcomed and appreciated.

Be agile/adaptable, we changed how we live/travel/socialize/go to work/school/how we buy stuff. The adoption of technology accelerated by a decade in the first few months of the pandemic. If you are not excited by your life, 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. There are new opportunities to create a better future popp6ing up in unexpected places now that virtual/hybrid is the norm.

Start to measure productivity by what you get done based on accomplishments not activity. Our job is to get through this period together intact, that will make us all feel we have been productive and help us redefine what success means.

Whether your business is B2B or B2C every business is P2P and connecting on a personal level is what matters most. Successful businesses understand their product or service is about more than the transaction, they are in the relationship business. People buy brands they know, like and trust. Everyone is not going to like, buy or hire you but for the ones who would be a great fit for you make sure they feel and keep a connection and give them a reason to remember you so that when they need your help they think of you first. We are all in the relationship business after all. Wasn’t it Woody Allen who said 80% of success is just showing up. It is a strategy that has worked for me.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

Our lives improve when the quality of our relationships does, the people we spend time with the most. Family is who you can count on, the people who make good times even better and tough times easier. They check in on you because they care, they are givers not takers, it is a connection and an attitude not tied to bloodline. I think Covid has taught us to value the people who really matter in your life and hold those relationships dear. If people do not call or touch base at all now why are they in your life really? How important can they be to you? I will spend more time with fewer people after the pandemic and those people will be family to me. Our definitions of success, family, love have all changed. We know who and what is essential now.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

It comes down to attitude and having a growth mindset which 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. We saw examples of people who were driven by fear/scarcity and others by generosity throughout the pandemic. We are all better off when people choose to be compassionate. 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.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I think you have to look within, 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.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

I’d choose Michelle Obama I think her perspective and experience will be critical to our future success and she will be part of the solution to many of our problems now. She is smart, kind, and makes things happen. Michelle can be the catalyst that lights the spark on our new path.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.MavensAndMoguls.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/paigearnoffenn

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

You too thanks so much it’s been my pleasure!

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