Marley Majcher, CEO of The Party Goddess!, has planned events for A-list celebs such as Pierce Brosnan and Sofia Vergara, and now, with her book, But Are You Making Any Money? she has become a sought-after expert on issues and trends facing entrepreneurs and small business owners.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
It has made me a much more empathetic leader. I have been married and divorced, and have 3 kids with a 13 year age difference between the youngest and oldest. I know what it is like to have to navigate tricky things in life. Your child is sick, you have to be at work, what do you do?
On the flip side, it has also made me not a pushover. It's harder for someone to BS me because I have been through so many challenges in life, and I know there's always a way to get through things and overcome challenges.
How has your previous employment experience aided your position at The Party Goddess!?
I worked in the restaurant business right out of college for 8 months until I moved to LA to start The Party Goddess! -- so I didn't really have that much employee experience.
In hindsight, I wish I had gotten more. I could have appreciated and valued the experience from working from other people because I just did it on my own and made a lot of mistakes, instead of learning those lessons from others.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at The Party Goddess!?
Going from zero clients to building a client list of full of A-list celebrities. We were very focused, worked hard and we got exactly what we wanted.
Being able to get on TV and leverage the brand is another highlight. I never thought of myself as a "TV person," but it happened and it's been a fun part for me.
Once, we were working in an event in the Hollywood Bowl. All of the crews were in there all alone setting up, and Stevie Wonder was doing his sound check. Being almost completely alone in the huge Hollywood Bowl, listening to Stevie Wonder is an incredible memory.
One of the challenges we faced was in our overconfidence, right before the economy tanked. I underestimated how long it would take for it to recover, and how steeply it would tank. We were a luxury brand, not very diversified, but we survived. The upside of this is that is cleared out a lot of people in our industry. We are now a much leaner operation -- more nimble and able to adapt.
It also forced a lot of questions on me, and made me really think if this business was something I wanted to do. There were a lot of aspects I didn't like, so I cut them out and now I'm doing more of what I love to do.
Why did you want to want to start your own business?
The thought of working for somebody else wants me want to gag! I don't do well with other people's rules. I knew I had the drive, stamina, ideas, commitment and perseverance. I figured, why not build something for myself?
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
My first piece of advice is don't build your business backward. By this I mean -- many women decide to start a business because they have a passion for something and they also have the skill. But you have to really think about what the market wants. You need to find the intersection of what you are good at, what you are passionate about and what the market wants. Passion is very important to a lot of women in business, but the market need has to be there as well.
The second piece of advice is to think of your unique selling point. What makes you different? What really is the benefit of working with you vs. someone else?
Don't underestimate the value of a business plan -- even if it's just one page. Build your pricing model from the very beginning. You need a solid pricing model -- this is one of the biggest reasons why people get into trouble.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I don't -- at least, by other people's standards. But I do by my own standards. People need to think of what "balance" means to them. To me, it means I don't need a ton of free time, but I do need to know I can get free time whenever I need it.
I did a lot of soul searching, and balance for me isn't defined by in a certain number of hours working vs. personal hours. My balance is more in the left brain vs. right brain. stuff. I love the left-brain stuff -- numbers, meetings, etc. but I get squirrely if I'm there for too long. Right brain activities -- exercising, meditating -- that energizes me.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Confidence! You need to know what you want to do and then commit. Feel good in what you are doing. You are smart and competent. Business is a mental game, and confidence is a huge part of that.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
It has helped me both by having mentors and being a mentor myself!
I have lots of mentors that have different strengths. I learned this from a professor at Georgetown who calls this a "kitchen cabinet." You need to have a bunch of different, smart people who have different strengths and can help you in different times in your life. You need to be well rounded with your mentors. I have super strong women mentors help reassure me about work/life balance, being a mom, etc., and I have some men who are mentors too who offer more tough love.
It is also important to be a mentor yourself because you can learn from the people you mentor just as much as they learn for you. It's fulfilling, and it helps you works and learn with a different generation. Mentorship keeps you sharp and updated in your level of expertise and helps you get better at what you are good at.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Marissa Mayer - She's a great example of someone who is fearless. She took the position at Yahoo! when she was pregnant and wasn't afraid to step into a challenging situation and work hard.
Sheryl Sandberg - I admire people who are willing to take firm stands and defend their platforms it even when they are criticized.
Mother Teresa - She's the ultimate example of someone who is somebody for others. I wish I had more selflessness, and she embodies this.
Sandra Bullock - She has had plenty of adversity and she can still laugh at herself and be humble and take everything in stride. Many of us have been in a situation where we have to pick ourselves back up again and she is encouraging to know you can move on and keep going while still having a sense of humor.
What do you want The Party Goddess! to accomplish in the next year?
I want to interview more up-and-coming female entrepreneurs and hear their stories that provide wisdom and inspiration. I also want to continue to do three A-list celebrity parties a year!