January 28, 2019 //

What is a Chief Heart Officer?

Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Claude Silver lives by that salvo, and adds that “people will selflessly give you their hearts when you acknowledge, nurture, and inspire theirs in return”.

So who is Claude Silver? 

Claude Silver is the “Chief Heart Officer” of VaynerMedia (a $100 MM digital marketing agency).

And what is a Chief Heart Officer? 

Well to explain that, you have to cognize Claude’s mentor and the man who hired her, Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO and founder of VaynerMedia.  And to understand Gary Vaynerchuk, you don’t need look much further than one of his more characteristic quotes:“Three or four years ago, Steve Jobs’ narrative influenced many leaders in our space to become meaner to the people who worked for them, thinking that it would elicit Apple-like results. My passion, though, has never changed: to build an organization that makes billions of dollars — but in a nice way. Honey over vinegar.”

Gary terms it “the honey economy”.

Now… to understand Claude Silver, one only needs to read her LinkedIn Profile:

“I’m an emotional optimist, coach, manager, and mentor. As the first ever Chief Heart Officer, it is my great honor to lead at VaynerMedia. I work for 800 Humans, and I am in touch with the heartbeat of every single person in the company. My role is to infuse the Agency with empathy. It’s my purpose.

I constantly ask myself, how do I hold space for people? How do I make it not about my agenda? I’ve had an enormously fortunate career. And now this is about my life’s work. It’s bringing together every single personal and professional growth workshop I have attended, every corporate team-building session I have led, every trust fall I have caught. I don’t necessarily have all the answers; I’m helping our employees find their answers.

The CHO was created to scale Gary [Vaynerchuk], and to make sure that VaynerMedia’s 800+ employees—and one day it will be 1,000+—have a place they can find a home. My hope is that in our 15-30 minute meetings, they will feel a lot clearer and that they leave with a newfound path to a solution.  Which in turn creates success for them and VaynerMedia”.

Mr. Vaynerchuk hand-picked Claude for what he calls the 2ndmost important position at VaynerMedia.  So what is a “Chief Heart Officer”? I think she puts it best by referring to it as the company’s “Chief Inspiration Officer”.  And clearly she is in the right role, because her philosophy inspires me daily…and I don’t even work for her company.

The Center for Agile Leadership recently posted one of my all-time favorite quotes (by leadership guru, Alexander den Heiger):  “When I talk to managers, I get the feeling they are important.  When I talk to leaders, I get the feeling that I am important”.  Nothing embodies my feelings on the subject more perfectly than that.  And I have no doubt that if Claude Silver were to get a tattoo…

Of course, not every company is fortunate enough to have a Chief Heart Officer; so it is my unshakable belief that every leader, in every role of every company, has a distinct responsibility to be his/her team’s “Chief Heart Officer”, or else abdicate the title of “leader”.

Please consider the following questions and leave a comment below:  Do you agree with my last statement?  Have you had the privilege of working for a servant leader? Please describe that experience.  Moreover, would you say that (by Mr. den Heiger’s definition) YOU are a “leader”…or a “manager”?   Do you think your team would agree with that self-assessment?  Better yet – ask them– and then tell us what they said in your reply below.

ALSO, if you are a Center for Agile Leadership alumnus, let’s keep this conversation going live!  Please join the alumni webinar that I’m hosting Friday, February 15, 2019 at 1 PM CST entitled “Hustle X Heart”: Claude Silver’s philosophy for creating a kinder culture at work”.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts at that time!  REGISTER FOR “HUSTLE VS HEART” ALUMNI WEBINAR



2 Responses

  1. Karen Kahn says:

    As the leader of my own company I cannot agree more. Not everyone gets the message of kindness and family that I try to bring to our staff meetings, but the ones who do, stick. I am happy to say I get returners in the restaurant industry, people who leave to go other places when the season is slow, but always come back. Most restaurant employees change from place to place, but I do believe my policy of giving increasing responsibility and levels of trust to my team empowers them in a way that gives them a sense of belonging and “home”. I also see my employees posting about their company and taking pictures of the food and events on social media, not part of the job requirements or something I ever asked them to do! But a sign of being happy and proud of our company.
    Work can still be stressful at times, but when you have a strong foundation you will weather the storms with an intact mast and crew.

  2. Tori says:

    Hi I am very interested in hearing more about a CHO. I am an office manager for 4 doctors and 15 employees and we are restructuring my position and giving me this new title of CHO. I’m trying to research and understand what I will be doing. I am extremely empathetic, caring, giving and absolutely love and admire my team (my friends)! Is there a seminar or website I can get more information on this. It sounds like something I would LOVE to do, I’m needing to know what it entails. Thank you for your inspiration and any direction on this for me would be very much appreciated.

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