Claude Silver: Leading with Heart at Vayner Media

Leading with your heart might be a scary phrase to some old-school leaders out there. But my guest today knows a thing or two about leading a fast-paced, successful company – without sacrificing human connection.

Claude Silver believes showing up with heart and humanity is the key to unlocking greatness in people. Today, she shares her incredible personal story, what a Chief Heart Officer does, how it differs from HR, how empathy has fueled Vayner Media’s growth, and their value of kind candor, as opposed to radical candor. We debunk myths and fears many leaders have about empathy at work, and she shares so many examples of how Vayner Media walks its talk in being a people-first organization while still holding everyone accountable and achieving success.

To access the episode transcript, please click on the episode title at

Key Takeaways:

  • The old models of command and control leadership are not going to take you into the future, they will not attract top talent, and the companies will be gone in less than 20 years if they aren’t willing to evolve.
  • Empathy doesn’t just roll downhill from leaders to staff, it needs to roll up hill to so that we’re partnering, no matter what our level, but also we’re accountable, no matter what our level.
  • You are a giant. Create your mission statement, your northstar statement, that will help you to understand what your purpose is every single day, not only when you have time to do it.
  • You were hired for a reason – amplify your skills and your strengths. You are not anyone else around you, you have your own light to shine and your own greatness to bring to your organization at whatever level you are at right now.

“People are not assets, people are your company. Heart is the central operating system of any human being and human beings right now, and probably tomorrow, are the central operating system of your company and culture.” —  Claude Silver

About Claude Silver: Chief Heart Officer, Vayner Media

Claude Silver believes showing up with heart and humanity is the key to unlocking greatness in people. As the world’s first Chief Heart Officer at Vayner Media, she sees it as her job to infuse empathy into every aspect of the organization. As a speaker, podcaster, and LinkedIn influencer, she’s now inspiring other leaders to do the same.

At a young age, Claude was repeatedly told she thinks too much with her heart — something she has now learned is her superpower. As a non-traditional learner, she left college after two years and had an epiphany while on a 93-Day Outward Bound trek: it was up to her to change the narrative of her life, and in order to do so, she had to change her thinking. This power has evolved into what Claude calls “Emotional Optimism”: a concept that is key to her Heart-First leadership style.

With Claude as Chief Heart Officer, Vayner has grown from a team of 400 to a Global team of 2000. She has proven that empathy plays a role in fueling growth and does everything she can to make each and every human feel safe, seen, valued, and included. This involves taking a hard look at how leadership is showing up, identifying cynicism and toxicity, and taking the crucial steps to flush it out.

Claude’s success coaching and leading people and guiding client relationships come from a mantra that she teaches to everyone she crosses paths with: “Be someone people want in the room”.

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