Claude Silver on Scaling the Heart

Claude Silver is VaynerMedia’s Chief Heart Officer, the capstone of a career focused on guiding client relationships, global brand strategies, operations, and management. An abiding passion for creating spaces in which people can thrive defined her previous leadership positions at JWT London, Publicis London, SAYMedia, and Organic, among others.

At VaynerMedia, Claude cultivates the heart(s) of the agency’s success: its people. With a purview that includes staff relations, development, recruitment, and retention, each practice is underscored by Claude’s drive to unlock the inner professional potential of every VaynerMedia employee.

Tim Sanders on the Power of Love!

Former Yahoo Chief Solutions Officer Tim Sanders has consulted with industry leaders, governments and trade associations on sales processes, new media, leadership development and talent management.  He’s one of the top-rated speakers on the lecture circuit and a widely quoted bestselling business author. Tim has been featured in Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and ABC News. His philosophy on business life is simple: Share your knowledge, network and compassion to multiply the value of everyone you interact with.

Tim is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller Love Is the Killer App: How To Win Business & Influence Friends. It’s been translated into over a dozen languages.  His other books include Today We Are RichThe Likeability FactorSaving the World at Work and Dealstorming.

Next week’s guest is Choose2Matter founder, Angela Maiers.

Paul Michelman: Working Together In a Changing World

Paul Michelman is editor-in-chief of MIT Sloan Management Review, serving as the guiding hand behind MIT SMR’s content strategy as it expands across both digital and print platforms.  Prior to joining MIT SMR in December, 2015, Paul served as editor-in-chief of Safari Books Online.  Before that, he spent a dozen years in leadership roles at two of the other premier names in management publishing: As Harvard Business Review’s executive editor and director of new editorial products, Paul launched a suite of digital initiatives over a 10-year period that today comprise the core of HBR’s online brand.  And as executive editor of strategy+business, he spearheaded its digital make-over.

Next week’s guest is the CEO of Havas PR, U.S., Marian Salzman.

In the absence of communication, we fill in the gaps. Don’t!

I’ve been leading workshops for CEOs and key executives in recent months (23 workshops in all so far), where we talk about what it takes to be an even higher performing group or team.   As you might imagine, effective communication emerges as critical on two fronts.  1) My workshops inspire conversations that would either never take place organically or would never happen in the larger context of the health of a group or team.  Yet when they do take place, the resulting clarity that’s created often dispels erroneous perceptions.   2) When such communication doesn’t take place, it doesn’t leave a communication hole or gap because in the absence of communication, people insert their own narrative.  And when they do, the narrative often creates tension, and is too often dead wrong.

Here’s a brief example: You arrange to meet a colleague at a restaurant at 1:00 PM.  You’re waiting there and before you know it, it’s 1:20 PM – no call, no text, no communication.   You text and call your colleague and receive no response.  So what happens now?  You probably start to speculate as to why your colleague is late.   One of your assumptions is that (s)he simply forgot about the appointment.  The longer the speculation continues, the more likely your blood pressure starts to rise, as you become increasingly annoyed by your colleague’s forgetfulness, even though you have no proof that anyone forgot about anything.  You learn later that your colleague’s mother fell ill and had to be rushed to the emergency room – a bit more important than your appointment.   Now you feel terrible.   The hope here of course is that you didn’t go off on your colleague before (s)he had the chance to share what happened.

While this is a rather simple example, imagine the angst, misunderstanding, and resentment that can be caused when people fail to communicate with one another over the longer haul.  Among the five factors of high-performing groups or teams is valuable interaction – interaction that’s fueled by effective communication.   The solution:  Communicate more and, in the absence of good communication, fill-in the gaps less.   Resist your tendency to create your own narrative when one hasn’t been provided for you.  It will reduce the stress level for you and your peers, and will likely open new avenues of opportunity.

Larry Robertson on Community and Creativity

Larry Robertson is an innovation advisor – a rare combination of many parts that quilt together into a greater whole. He’s the author of two award-winning books – The Language of Man. Learning to Speak Creativity and A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress. He’s also the founder of two ventures: Lighthouse Consulting, a firm that for 25 years has guided entrepreneurs and leaders, and a non-profit focused on creativity. These things and more make him a widely sought after expert in the areas creativity, entrepreneurship, and leadership. A quick listen to him ‘live’ in this podcast and in other appearances will immediately show you why.

UConn Women’s Basketball: 9,923 #AndCounting

Friday night, I was on a Delta flight from JFK to San Diego, where I took advantage of the free satellite tv to watch the women’s college basketball semi-final games from the Final Four in Dallas.  I was especially interested in the second game between Mississippi State and the University of Connecticut.   UConn has become even more famous this year for having won 111 consecutive basketball games.  And after losing three seniors, who were the top three picks in the WNBA last year, this would have been a rebuilding year for any other program in America; yet, UConn was back to the Final Four – streak intact and on the doorstep of winning its fifth straight national title.

While I enjoyed the streak as much as any UConn fan, I was far more impressed by the team culture that makes such a streak possible – one that doesn’t measure itself against its opponents so much as set its own standard of excellence.  One that inspires a relentless commitment to getting better each and every day.  I’m not sure when it started, but the hashtag #AndCounting took on a life of its own once UConn broke its own record (90) for consecutive NCAA basketball wins (men or women), and with each win thereafter, it was always noted, for example, as 100 #AndCounting, etc.

The prevailing thinking across the country, and especially for UConn fans, was that this team showed no signs of losing, and if they didn’t lose this year, everything points to their being even better next year.  ESPN’s Kara Lawson speculated that because of this, 200 consecutive wins wasn’t out of the question.   But as head coach Geno Auriemma warned everyone time and time again, all streaks come to an end.  Unfortunately for UConn, it ended on Friday night with a buzzer beater in overtime.

The winning streak and program’s 11 national championships are great headlines, but they aren’t the story.  The story and the lessons the coaching staff and these young women have to teach all of us lie in the team’s culture.  The streak that I believe matters most to the coaching staff, and should matter most to the players, is the number of consecutive days they add to perpetuating a winning culture and honoring the players who came before them.  In fairness, during many interviews I watched throughout the season, the players talked about this quite a bit.  They don’t focus on the result; they focus on what makes the result possible.

To that end, I’ve created a new UConn streak.  Let’s call it the UConn culture streak.  I’ll mark its beginning as January 31, 1990 – the day the UConn women’s basketball team played its first game at the then new Gampel Pavilion.  The following year, the team would advance to its first Final Four, and in 1995, go on to win its first national championship.  The rest is history.  As of today, its culture streak is 9,923 days #AndCounting.   Congratulations to UConn on a wonderful season and for showing all of us what commitment to excellence and teamwork is all about.