Mandana Dayani’s professional career is the stuff dreams are made of. She’s a badass business woman. A brilliant brand builder. And a master of the career pivot. She’s gone from practicing attorney to talent agent to VP of Rachel Zoe’s fashion empire to Chief Brand Officer at Everything But The House to currently the founder of I am a voter.® , a nonpartisan organization creating a cultural shift around civic engagement.
There have been plenty of ups and downs along the way, but she always sticks to her own best piece of advice:
“Fail fast. Time is incredibly valuable. If the job is not right, if the boyfriend sucks, if your friend continues to disappoint you, and if the campaign isn't gaining traction, move on quickly. Learn from it. Pivot. Grow.”
I am a voter.® is making it “cool” to show up and cast your ballot. Partnerships with aspirational brands like The GREAT, Jennifer Meyer, Lingua Franca, Grayson, Clare V., and Iris&Romeo (if we do say so ourselves 😉), plus celebrity support and a simple, clear social campaign are all a culmination of the skills and relationships Mandana brings to the table.
Read on for the source of her valiant activism, how to navigate talking politics with friends and family, and her brilliant advice for making a career change.
I’m an immigrant and have always been raised with a very strong sense of patriotism - America saved our lives. So seeing our country so divided these last few years was so heartbreaking. I knew I had to do something about it, so I just started taking meetings with several different senators and congresswomen to learn how I could help. The message I kept hearing was that increased voter participation would be the most impactful way to make systemic, long-term change. It took me a while to even wrap my head around the fact that almost 100 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the last election. Take it from someone who fled a dictatorship, voting is an incredible privilege. So I decided I would leverage my expertise in building brands and messages and my relationships with incredibly brilliant women to reimagine civic participation. And I knew that if I could get these incredibly talented and inspiring women together in a room, we could build a meaningful message and leverage our relationships and skills to create true impact.
FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
I started our podcast, The Dissenters, with my friend Debra Messing for people who want to make a career change. We believe that the key to finding your purpose and your people, is sitting with what really keeps you up at night, and taking that next step to doing something about it. Research, reach out to a community leader, join a movement, ask a mentor for a coffee or zoom meeting. It’s so empowering and liberating to just chase your passion.
At our core, I am a voter.® is a nonpartisan movement aimed at changing the culture around voting and civic engagement. Through positive, informative, and empowering messaging, we seek to unify around a central truth: Our democracy works best when we all participate. Our goal is to increase voter registration and turnout for this election and all upcoming elections!
KEEPING HER UP AT NIGHT
I worry about the lack of voter turnout. Did I mention almost 100 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the last election?!?
GIVING HER HOPE
Voters in the 2018 election were the most racially and ethnically diverse ever for a midterm election. Every 2 years, 7 million Americans turn 18 and become eligible to vote, and the minority and youth vote will have greater influence in the 2020 election than ever before. This makes me so hopeful!
TO TALK OR NOT TO TALK POLITICS
Be honest about your feelings and what’s important to you. Make sure to have research and data to support your positions. But also, sometimes separation from politics is important for your mental health. It can be very taxing! I know my family and I do not agree on our politics, so I made the decision not to discuss it with them after the first few rounds. And now, I look forward to my time with them as just a break from it all.
JUST DO IT. PLEASE.
VOTE! Text MAIL to 26797 right now to find out if you are eligible to vote by mail and to request your ballot. Make sure that everybody in your network is registered and ready to vote and that they recognize the impact that they can have. Our democracy works best when everybody participates!
HOW BUSINESSES CAN HELP
Some of our brand partners have run internal registration campaigns to ensure all employees are registered to vote, which is incredibly important. Give employees adequate time off to vote on Election Day. Share voter registration tools, deadlines, and reminders with your audience and encourage them to vote as well! I am a voter.® has amazing resources for partners, so reach out to us if you are interested in learning more.
Shannon Watts! She is the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization of six million moms across America fighting together for gun safety. She was a stay at home mother of five when she began this incredible movement and has been a leading force in defeating the NRA. The clarity in vision, commitment to community, and ability to mobilize and inspire, that it takes to create something like this in just seven years is beyond extraordinary. She is as badass as it gets.
Photo: John Park @johnparkimage
TEACHING HER CHILDREN
Kindness. That is what activism ultimately is – compassion, empathy, and showing up for your community.
I am living it now! Working on I am a voter.® and The Dissenters is more than I ever thought possible.
GET UP AND GO
Power Peptide Lip Balm in Nude, KOSAS concealer, Westman Atelier highlighter stick, coffee and the Grayson x I am a voter.® button-ups have basically become my uniform.
And, don't forget to vote in the #2020 election! #IAMWOMANWATCHMEVOTE