Silvia Christmann is unapologetic about taking up space in the business world, a notorious boys’ club that is known for being inhospitable to women who try to break in. After years of successfully growing businesses and startups from the pre-revenue stage to their first million, Silvia became a personal leadership coach for industry giants, working with top executives at companies like Google, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and TOMS shoes. Through all of her success, she has faced plenty of skeptics and critics, including plenty of men who challenged her credentials or her inclusive vision for the future of business.
Despite these challenges, Silvia is passionate about reshaping the nature of the global economy and workplace. She is currently a growth coach and business advisor, and a sought-after speaker at top universities and business conferences. Silvia’s poise, sincerity, and wildly creative mind are the magical combination behind her long-term success.
Name & Company: Silvia Christmann
Current home base: New York (and the world)
Originally from: Germany
Your superpower: Super fast in creative problem-solving. Like, insanely fast.
A woman in history you admire and why:
Queen Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth was the ruler of The Golden Age. Her reign was considered [to be at] a time when crown, church, and parliament had worked in constitutional balance, which is quite the accomplishment as a female ruler at a time [in which] women were largely considered to be property. She chose her country over marriage and prevailed over all threats made against her and her throne. Especially at that time in history…that is badass.
A (current) woman you admire and why:
Oprah… I mean, it’s Oprah.
Quote/piece of advice that you live by:
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” – Rumi
What inspired you to get involved with your current venture?
My mission is to maximize global impact by curating human potential. I want to motivate people to dare to care and to lead an amplified life. I want people to transform dated leadership models, stay engaged in the world, and build lasting connections within their communities.
What are you & your company doing to make history today?
I am a growth coach and business advisor who has spent the last 12 years helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses. I have spent my career helping high achievers develop themselves, build their teams, and scale their businesses. My clients feel motivated to create the change they want to see in this world; building innovative, successful businesses while staying personally connected and grounded to a balanced life well-lived.
What is one thing you and/or your company have accomplished that you are most proud of?
I give women the backbone and the hope to not only get paid what they’re worth, but also [to] go after what they want! I am mighty proud of this. The future is female and we need to see more women-owned-and-run businesses.
What is one project you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
I am very focused on building more awareness and thought leadership around reimagining the future of work in a global economy, [such as] the opportunities it creates and the problems it solves.
Here are the facts: the 9-to-5 is dead, work styles that do not include cubicles show higher productivity, and women-led/run companies yield higher returns — yet we have less access to capital and only hold 6% of C-level positions. Patriarchal systems are no longer the most profitable choice.
What, in your opinion, is one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
Challenges around misconceptions of what an entrepreneur looks like; most men network with each other and forget about women. I encounter daily setbacks and commentary limiting my reach simply because I’m female.
What is a trend in your industry that you foresee becoming popular in the future?
Diversity is the new normal. We can build companies that the world needs. It’s hard to create change from within. It’s much easier to start a new company, with products and services the world actually needs, and then create leadership models that are inclusive, diverse and break away from dated, top-heavy models in which women are not supported, valued, or able to thrive.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job?
Just recently, I was contacted by a conference organizer inquiring [as to] why I thought there were so few women in the audience. When I pointed out that it may be in relationship to the fact that they only have male speakers, I was told that they simply chose the best in their field and they were not interested in lowering their standards just to meet a quota. I personally know at least 20 women who are experts in those categories.
I chose to diplomatically point out the error in assumptions made, backed it with a few good data points, and declined my involvement as it is not worth my time to lead or educate the blind. I chose not to suggest women for them to contact, as it takes valuable time out of my day to help them search. I sent them a piece on “how to search for speakers outside your referral networks and best practices” instead.
I don’t work for free, and I do not choose to use my time to help people like this make more money by getting better speakers and thus attracting more female attendees. I highly recommend that women stop giving their “support” away for free. My time to give you advice = money.
In hindsight, I could have been less confrontational, as I got excluded from the boys’ club and now have no access whatsoever. If I had been more effective in my communication and more diplomatic, I would at least have a seat at the table.
What were you doing before your current role?
I was born in Germany and raised across Europe before establishing my life in New York City. In my early career, I specialized in business development and helped build successful companies from pre-revenue to their first million and beyond. Now, I focus on structuring businesses and transforming leaders during periods of rapid scale. Before starting my boutique practice in 2011, I played a central role in launching the startup venture MediaRadar. Under my tenure, the company developed into an adtech leader with more than $20 million in annual revenue.
I have been honored to work with impact-driven leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs as well as C-level executives who work at companies like Google, Bridgewater, PWC, Deutsch, TOMS Shoes, among many others, and have helped scale companies like Bond Collective (US), Look at Media (RU), and Sapina Ltd (APAC). I am a speaker and inspirational storyteller who has given talks and taught workshops at numerous global conferences, at Columbia University, and at Fortune 100 companies.
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to other female founders & change-makers?
Stop wasting your time on people who don’t see the light of day. All rules are created by someone. Mostly men. If you want to see a paradigm shift, create new rules.
Are there any great resources you have discovered (programs, websites/apps, groups, classes, etc.) that you would like to share?
Fun fact about yourself:
I have very large feet — size 41! (US size 11).
For more from Silvia Christmann —