Community//

Female Disruptors: How Mandana Dayani is shaking up voting and civic engagement

…It’s not a quote. But one piece of advice I like to give is: fail fast. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, a bad hire, or a campaign or product that isn’t working, accept it as quickly as possible and pivot or change course. Time is so incredibly valuable and each failure is a critical opportunity […]


…It’s not a quote. But one piece of advice I like to give is: fail fast. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, a bad hire, or a campaign or product that isn’t working, accept it as quickly as possible and pivot or change course. Time is so incredibly valuable and each failure is a critical opportunity to improve.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Mandana Dayani. Mandana is the founder of I am a voter., a nonpartisan movement that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement. Its mission is to inspire and excite this generation and to make voter identity mainstream, aspirational, inclusive and an integral component of personal identity. Mandana began her career as a corporate attorney at top international law firm, Paul Hastings. She then worked as a talent agent where she developed licensing and endorsement opportunities for celebrities before going in house to work with stylist and entrepreneur, Rachel Zoe, to launch the Rachel Zoe Collection and to launch and lead her company’s initiatives in business development, digital media, strategic investments, licensing, publishing, endorsements, and television production. After 6 years, Mandana joined EBTH as Chief Brand Officer where she served as part of the leadership team which raised $84.5 million in venture capital, built its strategy and teams across all its consumer facing functions, led the company’s rebrand, and sold and produced its eponymous TV show to HGTV. She is also the founder of The Learning Series, an event series for women leaders. Mandana earned her JD from the USC Gould School of Law and her BA from the University of Southern California. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Peter Traugott, and their two daughters.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I am an immigrant and came to this country as a religious refugee. I have always felt incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded as a result of growing up here and living the American Dream. Seeing the political divide in our country the past couple of years was just so heartbreaking. When my second daughter, Miller, was born, I really struggled with how I could give back to our country. After many meetings with different members of Congress, I saw a huge opportunity to bring together the most brilliant women I knew to create a positive campaign that would empower and mobilize our generation to participate in our democracy.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We are working to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement. We want voter identity to become mainstream, aspirational and cool. It is such a privilege to have the right to vote and we believe by leveraging culture (music, entertainment, arts, influencers, fashion, tech, etc.), we can reshape the culture around civic participation.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share how they made an impact?

Peter Traugott: My husband, Peter Traugott, has definitely had the most profound impact on my life. When I knew I didn’t want to practice law anymore, I was so terrified of not knowing my next step, how I would pay off my student loans, or how I would even figure out what I wanted to do with my life. He totally believed in me, and ultimately my potential. We sat together for days creating an action plan, which led me to ultimately land my dream job. And then we did it again every time I wanted to make a big career shift.

Shannon Watts: Shannon Watts is my personal hero and was my mentor throughout building I am a voter. She is the founder of Moms Demand Action, the largest grassroots organization in America fighting for gun safety, and the most inspiring person I’ve ever met. She really believed in my voice and what we were building and helped us navigate really critical decisions early on. Shannon is also living proof that women can and will change the world.

I am a voter. Founding Team: And mostly, I would say the founding team of women from I am a voter. are my greatest mentors. I learn so much from these incredible women every day. Their endless talent, big hearts and commitment to advocacy inspires me so much. Did I mention how brilliant they are?

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

1 Accept compliments and don’t apologize for being good at what you do.

2 It’s OK to not be perfect (because you aren’t). Know your strengths, and hire people way smarter than you to do the rest

3 Just keep going.

How are you going to shake things up next?

We are working on lots of partnerships and activations for National Voter Registration Day on September 24th when we host our media shutdown. We will all be coming together to send one simple message: everything can wait, just register.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Fight Like a Mother by Shannon Watts. Shannon has been the greatest mentor, friend and inspiration for me through this journey for me. She was a stay-at-home mom of 5 when she launched Moms Demand Action, which is now the largest grassroots organization in our country. She believes in every person’s ability to create meaningful change and that women will move us forward. Her book outlines the steps to creating an impactful movement, which will be incredibly helpful to anyone ready to make a difference.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

All I pray for is that every eligible voter shows up to vote November 2020 and all elections moving forward; that they bring friends and family members with them. We need to show up for our country and push our communities forward in a united, productive front.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s not a quote. But one piece of advice I like to give is: fail fast. Whether it’s a toxic relationship, a bad hire, or a campaign or product that isn’t working, accept it as quickly as possible and pivot or change course. Time is so incredibly valuable and each failure is a critical opportunity to improve.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Please follow me on instagram @mandanadayani and our campaign on @iamavoter

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

— –

About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.