Claude Silver is an emotional optimist, coach, manager, and mentor. The very first Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia, a digital agency with expertise in social media that works with a wide range of clients including Shell, Toyota, and Unilever. Claude works with 800 Humans and is in touch with the heartbeat of every single one person in the company. Her role is to infuse the Agency with Empathy. The CHO was created to scale Gary Vaynerchuk, and to make sure that VaynerMedia's employees have a place they can find a home. Learn what motivates her, how to create an amazing company culture that attracts the best talents and what it's like to work for one of the biggest and best agencies in the world with Gary.
Claude, you are the first Chief Heart Officer in the world. What does this position entail and how do you see its ultimate purpose?
The ultimate purpose of the chief heart officer role is to serve all of the human beings in the organization, while carrying the torch of the cultural values and guiding principles throughout the organization.
VaynerMedia’s culture is rooted in a sense of belonging. And what that means is we do our best to practice the art of connection. Connecting with one another on a human level connecting with one another for inspiration and creativity, connecting with one another. Because we want to turn each other into champions, all of that good stuff. belonging, absolutely, unlocks the power of vulnerability and courage. And with those two things unlocked, anything is possible!
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”– Maya Angelou
I have this “hanging in two different places in my office. It’s just that important to me. It’s the last line that is the most important. How you make people feel. This is the crux of being a Chief Heart Officer. This is the end all and be all. Anything and everything I do in life must equate to the last line of this incredible poem.
What was your career path and how did it lead to your current focus on “employee's hearts?”
My career path has taken some zigs and zags but what's been always very central is my belief in human beings my curiosity about human beings. And my drive to help all of us become the very best. I've done everything from waiting tables to being a project manager. I owned a surfing company where I was in the water 275 days a year. I was on a client service department. I worked as a strategist and advertising agencies for many, many years. And throughout all of that time though. One thing that I was the most loyal to was developing the people around me, mentoring them, and creating really awesome strong sustainable teams that were rooted in kindness, collaboration, and curiosity.
I have known who I am, what I do, and the impact I have and how much I enjoy being of service for so long.
Quite frankly, I love people, I believe in people, I am an emotional optimist. I know what my impact is. I want to hold space, I want to be a joyful service and I want to watch people grow.
So at the end of the day, what lights me up, what makes me so happy and come to work and click my heels and want to be of inspiration, is being part of someone’s journey. The introspection, the challenging, the questioning, and getting to the other side.
And so, after a short lifetime of being a strategist and working advertising agencies and being part of creations ads and campaigns, I just wanted to be the creation of someone’s life more than advertising.
Do what you love, doing what lights you up, doing what motivates you to get out of being every morning. Do what your heart is really called to do.
VaynerMedia has a unique company culture. What's one crucial aspect of it that you would recommend to other companies to start with?
Build self-awareness among employees!
My mission is to allow people to “bring their whole selves” to work.
When I sit down with people and have conversations on a day to day basis, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.
I’m dealing with people and life on life’s terms. There are alot of things that happen in life, including some really hard things like personal tragedies.
I have to remember that when I’m talking to people about their performance, their day, their purpose, or their achievements, and it all has some kind of “real life” thrown into it. They’re thinking about their grandmother when they’re talking to me, or their friend who went through a tragedy.
My wish is not for people to “compartmentalize” their lives and leave their personal lives at home when they show up for work. My wish is for people to be real here, and for me to be real here.
That means I need to bring my whole self to work. I need to show up as I am when I’m not at work.
Another way to do this is by helping people develop more self-awareness and understanding of who they are in my one on ones.
I’ll take people through a “map” of themselves, starting with a question like, “how does the team see you? What is the value you bring to the team?” We’ll go through what they think their value is. If I have feedback to give them, that’s a perfect time for me to give feedback.
When they say to me, for example, “I’m strategic” — I’ll ask them, “what does ‘strategic’ mean?” If they say, “I’m a problem solver”, I’ll follow up with what I think being a problem solver at VaynerMedia means.
If I make it my focus to understand what our people want, help them uncover who they are and what their strengths, and then help them lean into those strengths, I know we’ll maintain the great culture at VaynerMedia.
What motivates you in your life everyday?
I am often asked how I can work with people all day, every day and not get drained or lose my steam.
The answer is simple for me:
The thing I love about people is we have Hope. We have a feeling of potential inside of us. We have a promise that there is something bubbling somewhere inside
If you look and listen closely you will catch this vibe off of the people around you:
"I’m going to be amazing! I’m going to do something great! I’m going to move a mountain or two or three. I am going to inspire people. I am going to give generously of my heart."
These are the things I love about people. And I hear and see this every day. Everyone has a promise of who they can be inside of them.
What are you looking forward to in Cyprus?
The People! The sunshine! Your languages! The food and the smiles on people’s faces!!!!
Meet Claude at Reflect and learn how to create a company's culture that attracts the best people and lasts! ➡️ https://reflectfest.com/cart