Originally published August 10, 2020
“Success” is a word that has countless meanings and exerts an individualized emotive. More often than not, success in the business world is part of the machismo culture. However, when a woman steps into that world, she defies expectation, overcomes obstacles, and shatters the patriarchy.
For a woman, the struggles of creating her own business may seem amplified and tiresome, inducing a sense of hopelessness. ink.mdc created this blog series, “Diary of a Startup Goddess”, because just one story can uplift any woman from such disillusionment. We’ve invited businesswomen, who have broken the glass ceiling who have redefined entrepreneurship, to tell their story because we want to encourage other women to pursue their passions. Join us each month for one of these incredible stories!
Mariya Palanjian, the owner of Globafly, is an inspiration to any female entrepreneur, leader or dreamer. From the age of nine, Mariya decided to be an entrepreneur and fashion a career where she is the maker of her own rules. She shares her amazing story with us.
Ana Holguin Gomez (AG): You have a master’s in business administration; how did you become interested in it?
Mariya Palanjian (MP): It began when I was probably nine years old, living in Armenia, which was part of the Soviet Union. I knew I wanted to have my own business. My mom said, “You can dream as big as you want, and you can do whatever you want. Just don’t talk about it.” Her advice was to put action behind those goals and work toward them. That was the moment I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
But I also loved school and education. I knew that for me to succeed, I needed to be educated. While in college, I was in the banking industry, and then I went into fashion. I was exploring industries that interested me, but I also knew that I needed to be molded a certain way to succeed as an entrepreneur. For example, banking piqued my interest because I needed to understand that industry in case I needed a loan later.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Good opportunities came my way, but there was always this intuition: “You are meant to be your own boss.” No matter how much money I made, I always felt, “I’m not in the right place. I’m not where I’m supposed to be. This is wrong.” Maybe my kids influenced the majority of that feeling because I wanted to be flexible and be around them. But my nine-year-old self kept saying, “You’ve got to have your own business. You’re sitting here and working your butt off for other people. You’re helping them build their business, but you’ve got your own dream to work on.”
AG: You launched GlobaFly in 2017. Why did you start this company?
MP: I was working for HelloSociety at the New York Times. But my commute to Santa Monica was horrific (15 hours of travel per week). I would work 40, sometimes 50 hours a week, so I would get home late and not see my daughters. I didn’t want to be away from them so much.
My team and I were running a huge campaign for Sorel, but the client was frustrated because they didn’t know how to track certain data (influencer marketing can be broad, and it’s hard to track things). So, the client was challenging us, saying, “After the campaign is done, what kind of data can you give me?” I’m analytical and data-driven, so I suggested we do a campaign that targeted one city at a time versus a national campaign. The client agreed; we chose five cities, and we went to each city and hired influencers there. The purpose was to see the baseline lift in that city and then give the client data and say, “Hey, we ran this campaign in Los Angeles; here’s how much your sales increased in LA compared to all the other cities.”
That campaign was the inspiration behind GlobaFly. I knew I could do this concept myself and help others that don’t have half-a-million-dollar marketing budgets. So, I resigned with a three-month notice because, at that time, we were running major campaigns for Royal Caribbean, Kia, and GM. I told them I would give them three months, as long as I could work from home. Two months later, they came back and said, “This is working out well; can you stay on board as a contractor?” That’s when I realized this is the time to start my agency.
The New York Times became my first client. I started doing light labeling for them, and a lot of the campaigns were city takeovers. But I still hated the fact that executives scheduling calls controlled my time. I couldn’t rely on being an agency where I still worked under somebody. That’s when GlobaFly started taking off with its clients.
AG: GlobaFly aims to impact, impress, and connect. What’s the meaning behind those words?
MP: When we do any campaign, we believe that just running a pre-recorded ad isn’t enough. Society has changed, and we don’t like to be hammered with information. We want to choose when and whom we receive the information from. That’s where influencers come in. But in reality, influencers can be anyone, as long as they have followers that respect and listen to their advice. It’s more so a matter of budget. If a client comes to me and says, “I have a budget of $5,000, and I want to spread the word about my shampoo,” then I would work with impacters, the smaller influential people. And if they have a bigger budget, that’s when the impressors come in: radio hosts, TV personalities, celebrities, etc. Depending on a client’s needs and their goal, it’s about getting their message across through influential people that can personalize it rather than running a pre-recorded radio ad.
We do live reads rather than scripted TV ads. For example, we hire influencers to test drive the car and take their family on vacation so that it’s an authentic experience. It shows how people use the product. And then the connection is where the media networks come in. Although we have these people that ultimately are the voice and the brand ambassadors, we need the tools to connect them. Some of those connectors are social media platforms, media networks (Sirius XM, iHeartRadio), and TV networks. So we’ll take that content that the influencers create and then distribute it and amplify it on these connected networks.
AG: You have a lot of experience, and you’re successful. What would you consider your biggest failure?
MP: For all of my businesses, it’s a lack of focus on money. We’re not taught anything about money in school during our grade school years, so it’s not rooted in us. I haven’t loved money as much as I should have because I always thought it was the least important. I’ve heard people say that when you love something, the money will come. But to reach the levels you want to, and for example, taking on investors, you need to have a focus on money. Sadly, money makes the world go round, and you have to focus.
AG: If you could do it all again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?
MP: I would choose the same path for myself. The only thing I would change is starting meditation at an earlier age. Meditation helps you stay present and makes sure that you’re doing things that align with your ethics and your passion. It helps you stay focused on helping others, too.
Mariya Palanjian, the owner of Globafly, is an inspiration to any female entrepreneur, leader or dreamer. From the age of nine, Mariya decided to be an entrepreneur and fashion a career where she is the maker of her own rules. Before being successful in the advertising industry, Mariya’s zest in entrepreneurship allowed her to establish two startup companies in the bridal industry. One of her companies, “Lanalia” was in an exclusive deal with TLC’s show “Brides of Beverly Hills”, while both her startups were featured in numerous publications.
After founding Globafly in 2017, Mariya continues to advocate the necessity of global branding and marketing. Globafly specializes in targeted city takeovers while incorporating key regional and national influencers, which has expanded the company’s portfolio to more than ten clients over one year. Mariya’s story typifies that any woman who dreams, takes action, and is unapologetic, will be able to carve her worth of striving for success.
~ ~ ~
Ana Holguin is an experienced research assistant and creative writer, who has worked in academia for several years. She has worked on several innovative projects and is soon to be a published author within the academic world. Ana specializes in the publishing industry and is responsible for educating fellow co-workers in marketing and advertising. Ana is truly a force to be reckoned with as she is considered a leader among her peers. She is currently a junior in college pursuing a mass communications degree with a minor in English.