WW's Gail Tifford & VaynerMedia's Claude Silver on leading with heart, embracing new world and 50 years of friendship

These adland boss ladies go deep on insights for the industry and personal stories.

Long before Gail Tifford and Claude Silver became leaders in the advertising and marketing industry, the New York City natives were two little girls having play dates and dressing up in football jerseys.

Tifford, chief brand officer of WW International (formerly Weight Watchers), and Silver, chief heart officer of VaynerMedia, grew up together; in fact, they grew up on the same floor of the same Manhattan apartment building and their mothers were pregnant at the same time.

No matter how much time passed, Tifford and Silver remained close friends – even when living in different states or countries. Amid the pandemic, Tifford even surprised Silver at her house with cake and balloons for her birthday so the duo could celebrate together – while adhering to social distancing guidelines, of course.

This week’s Campaign US Pillow Talk with Tifford and Silver goes deep on so many topics – from fun, heartwarming stories about their sisterhood and empathetic leadership to leveling the playing field for talent and staying inspired – and more.

Below the video are some strong sound bites from Tifford and Silver, but for the real deal, dive into the full recording.

Silver on how to get through bad days amid the pandemic

"Remember that you’re not alone. Support is enormous. Get up go outside, put on music, shake it off, reach out to a friend and more than anything… don’t suffer in silence. There is no need to do that because we are all in this together."

Tifford on how she’s staying connected to younger talent

"Number one is reaching out and staying connect. And by the way, it’s probably freaked some of them out and they’re like, ‘Why is she texting me?’ But I think it’s important for them to know that they’re the future of this company and this brand and I do care about them and I do want to know what’s going on. So it’s about that connectivity.

"The other thing is that we’re in a space where we want to innovate and we want to hear anybody’s ideas, so there’s almost been this flattening of the organization where we have this idea hub and they can come straight to me with ideas. It’s been rally really fun to interact with people who when we were back in the office there may have been layers between us, and now I’m just a phone call away."

Silver on her hope for what will remain post-coronavirus

"What we’re seeing right now – that leading with heart and being more vulnerable – my hope and prayer is that it doesn’t end when we’re able to walk into a room with one another. There’s something to be said about DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) – it’s an honor to be invited into someone’s world. We’re seeing how that person lives – there’s a vulnerability and an honor there.

"It’s very easy for us to have our unconscious bias antennas up, so as leaders, we really need to check ourselves and neutralize the stage. What are the rituals we can have? We’re not going to be able to high-five or shake hands or walk over to desks, so what is it that’s going to bring us together and remind us that we all went through this sea of sameness? And it leveled the playing field because right now, we all take up the same size square and there’s something to be said about that and I don’t ever want to forget that.

Tifford on employment termination and closures at WW

"Within a week, we had migrated most of the meetings and workshops virtually and trained within three days thousands of coaches to get up and running on these Zoom workshops. We will start to open when we feel that it is safe to do so. But the reality of it is that we have always been on a mission to accelerate our digital transformation and as part of that, COVID has had severe impact on our in-real-life workshop experiences.

"The untold story is that we did pay people for months and months of not working, but you get to a point where we have to focus on setting up for the future, and the in real life experience – the future of that – is uncertain. It will always play a roll in our business but people are seeking more and more experiences like this, so we need to make sure we are ready to accommodate that."

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