I'm excited to announce my new venture vChief, a virtual chief of staff service. When I first tell people what I'm working on, I often get confused looks from them. They ask, "What exactly is that?” “What does it mean that it is virtual?” “What does a chief of staff do? I thought that was just for politicians..." All good questions, which I will answer shortly.
Working as a chief of staff is nothing new to me. For more than six years, I have worked as chief of staff for a leadership team member at Teach For America and with vChief’s first client at Braven. It is work that I am passionate about, and I love seeing the benefits it brings to leaders.
I love it because no two days are ever the same. You might go from building a budget, to writing a speech, to planning a board meeting, teeing up a few days of Twitter posts, to strategizing on expansion plans and pricing schemes. Truly never a dull moment juggling a dozen tasks at once. And the moments where you are working hand-in-hand with a leader, anticipating their next request and meeting it before they ask, feels like two voices finding a perfect harmony.
I have seen how invaluable it has become to the leaders I support. I see it when we are finally able to squeeze in an hour of "thinking time" or extra family time each day, amidst all of the meetings and travel on their calendar. I see it when they stop sending me emails at 3 a.m. I see it when we look back at their priorities dashboard, and we've moved from red to green across the board. I see it in the satisfaction of their teams, who are more engaged and effective, getting what they need from the top.
So to answer those questions that everyone is asking...
"What exactly is vChief?"
We are a virtual chief of staff service supporting leaders from all sectors and domains, who are looking for high-level strategic support without the expense of a full-time staff member. We are a leader's right hand - a critical thought partner and strategic advisor. We proactively take things off our client's plates so that they can be the best leader they can be.
"What does it mean to be virtual?"
Most of the time, we are not in the same location as our clients. Yes, there are many benefits of being co-located, but in this virtual era we have found that we are still able to provide the highest level of service using the latest in remote technologies. Turns out that video chats can help build connections quickly and instant messenger can replace the quick hallway conversation. Yet there are times when face-to-face meetings are necessary, and we are happy to occasionally travel to clients and spend time in-person.
"What does a chief of staff do?"
Using a collaborative needs assessment, we work with clients to identify the areas in which they and their organizations need the most support. We direct our efforts to those areas to ensure the executive’s time is focused where they can optimize impact. This looks very different from client-to-client, because it is truly based on their unique needs. No two chiefs of staff have the same duties. We help align our client's time with their personal and organizational priorities, ensuring it is maximized. We lead strategic planning, manage projects, support internal and external communications, plan events and conferences, and create systems and processes that enable teams to operate at peak capacity. And much, much more. See this list for examples.
So chiefs of staff are not just for politicians anymore. They are gaining prominence in the private and nonprofit sectors as CEOs, COOs, business executives & entrepreneurs in every industry realize the many benefits they can bring. And we hope to bring that to many more leaders through our virtual, part-time support, making it more accessible to leaders at all levels.