Kelly Riordan of Wewilldecide.com: “We all need to be involved and do our homework”

In other words, we all need to be involved and do our homework if we want to continue to enjoy the social and political freedoms that we have come to expect from our brilliant and unique democracy. I’ve created the syllabus and the ‘Cliff’s Notes’. The rest is up to all of us to implement […]

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In other words, we all need to be involved and do our homework if we want to continue to enjoy the social and political freedoms that we have come to expect from our brilliant and unique democracy. I’ve created the syllabus and the ‘Cliff’s Notes’. The rest is up to all of us to implement them.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Riordan.

Kelly Riordan, Founder of Wewilldecide.com is a typical frustrated voter that knew she could create a better way for the average person to obtain their political information without bias. She has no experience in politics, which she feels is an advantage in several ways, and gives her a unique point of view over those who specialize in it.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I’ve had all sorts of jobs, from being a Nordstrom manager, working in insurance, teaching ballet, tutoring anatomy and physiology, bartending, and now being a healthcare worker for the last 15 years. With all my varied employment, I never would’ve envisioned myself becoming involved in politics. As a regular voter in the U.S., I found myself sometimes voting, sometimes not. Several elections ago, I was feeling particularly guilty about not using my vote. I thought: so many have given up so much for me to have this right, and I was wasting it! That election I decided I was not only going to vote, but I was going to be an informed voter. That turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I thought it was going to be. I’m a research geek, give me enough time and I can get the answer to anything. Except this. There was no way I could search any database to find out if I agreed with my current elected representatives. There were no search engines that provided that information. There were and still are plenty of political sites, programs, and sources of opinion, but no real way to keep my own council. I was shocked that, with all my digging, I couldn’t make an informed decision. It was then that I came up with the idea for WeWillDecide.com.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Call me crazy, but I don’t think it should be such a monumental task to simply find out how your elected officials have actually voted on any given issue. Whether by design or accident, the general public being politically well-informed seems to be, at best, a low priority and, at worst, a calculated strategy. How is the average person that is constantly bombarded by opinionated information supposed to make any type of educated decision? The beauty of my site is that it is opinionated and free of advertising. I want to provide an uninterrupted stream of fact-based information that will become part of a user’s daily scrolling habits. It’s voting information: pure and simple, past and present, with access to upcoming proposed bills as well. In my opinion, seeing a representative’s proposed legislation is particularly telling. I’ve been shocked myself after spending just a few minutes here and there on the site, to see exactly how much I agree or disagree with each representative. I vote on what they vote on. If I need more information on a bill, I click on that bill and am taken directly to the Congressional page where I can read the bill myself. I can see how frequently each representative votes with their party, how many votes they’ve missed, as well as all their points of contact. It feels good to be able to access and process so much congressional information in an easy-to-understand format.

Ignorance is certainly not bliss in the long run, and the whole political process is much less frightening when you start to see how it actually functions. What do I intend to disrupt? Ignorance, abject ignorance.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am not a particularly computer-literate person. I can get by, but I’m in no way any type of web designer. I had my concept and vision well defined; I knew most of what I wanted for my site but didn’t know any web design professionals. When I was shopping around for a web designer, I contacted a few different design firms. I’d start explaining what I wanted, and over and over again I’d get, “Whoa, whoa, whoa there…that’s going to require a massive amount of memory, like a Facebook level of memory”. My answer was always: “So? And?” It took several different contacts and conversations, but I eventually found my genius web designer. I started talking, and to everything I mentioned he just said, “Ok, sure, what else?” Nothing was a big deal. It was amazing! Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all. My initial site designs were drawings on copy paper, which I then took pictures of on my phone and sent to him. The early construction of this site had more challenges than I could’ve imagined, so the lessons were constant and often. The most important lesson was that there is ALWAYS a way. Next lesson was that things will NEVER go according to plan, so be prepared to change direction often. Lastly, just because you don’t know what you’re doing, doesn’t in any way preclude you from doing it.

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

I haven’t really had any mentors per se, but I have been surrounded by a tribe of ridiculously intelligent people. It took me several years to get this site up and running the way I wanted, and without my numerous friends that acted as sounding boards for all my ideas, I don’t think I could’ve gotten through it. It’s particularly important, especially when tackling an entirely new concept to just talk, talk, talk about it to every brilliant person you can find. I’ve gotten so many great ideas and made so many changes just bouncing my concepts off the people in my circle. There is no substitute for super-smart, chatty friends.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

This really can’t be generalized, as every best assessment will always be on a case-by-case basis. Disruption or change, for better or worse, has to be analyzed for every individual system and situation. Moreover, what’s good or bad is subjective and usually open to interpretation. What’s good for some people or interests isn’t for others. Therein lies the problem. More often than not people seem to want overly simplified, definitive, absolute answers to what are really very complicated issues and circumstances, and there’s no pleasing everyone. So even attempting to address these elements can be considered, by many, to be ‘disruptive’. As far as institutions and ideas that should be exempt from question or improvement: I feel that, in the final analysis, any system that cannot withstand a little disruption is obviously not a very robust one. Still: should In-N-Out expand its menu? I personally don’t think so. I think it is what it is supposed to be and does what it does very well, but I’m sure there are people that would disagree. If I want onion rings with my meal, I’ll go to Foster’s Freeze for a great burger and a delicious shake (not to mention a variety of different flavor options). My local Foster’s Freeze doesn’t have a drive-thru. Should they add one? I don’t know. I really don’t need them to, and it would drastically change the dynamic that I enjoy at that location in many ways that would ruin it for me, but once again, I’m sure there are people that eat there frequently that might disagree.

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

When my grandmother took the cookie out of my hand, ate it, and said, “Never trust anyone.”

Hence my need for obtaining my own information. All of my many contacts, friends as well as strangers that, when I told them about my concept, said over and over again: “You have to finish this site. We all need it.” And finally, these are not words of advice, but a quote that I’ve kept in mind the whole time I’ve been working on this project: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” — Thomas Paine. In other words, we all need to be involved and do our homework if we want to continue to enjoy the social and political freedoms that we have come to expect from our brilliant and unique democracy. I’ve created the syllabus and the ‘Cliff’s Notes’. The rest is up to all of us to implement them.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I could tell you, but then some unscrupulous characters will just steal my ideas. It’s the beauty of a Free Market Economy. 😉

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I was chatting with a charming woman not too long ago as she showed me pictures of her daughter. Her daughter is in her early twenties, painfully intelligent in college, with a major in chemistry, and very beautiful. I couldn’t help but say: “Poor girl, she’s got a tough road ahead.” Being female with pointed opinions and ideas can be very intimidating to some. A great quote is: “Everyone will turn away from a scream, but they’ll strain to hear a whisper.” Presentation is everything. Sometimes, I’ve found that I’ve had to present my ideas delicately and as “no big deal” so as not to put others off. Also, using self-deprecation to disarm people can often make them more receptive. But it is a little sad that, even after all this time and the social progress we’ve made, that men and women alike have issues and insecurities about women having ambition and revolutionary ideas. However, gaining in years is very helpful, as you tend to care less and less what others think and to keep your own counsel as to what may be possible and feasible. My personal mantra is, “I am THAT b*tch!”

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

I’ve always found Marlene Dietrich’s life most inspirational, as I’ve seen in the media and read in the book that bears her name as its title. Her journey of leaving Germany and touring with the USO on the frontlines during WWII is unreal. She was given the rank of Captain, and her army ID card carried her married name in the hopes that, if she was captured, she wouldn’t be killed. She tirelessly performed overseas and did an unbelievable amount of volunteer work in the United States. And she did it all with staggering style, glamour, and an indomitable sense of humor. That takes real courage. I’m just annoyed and stubborn.

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. 🙂

In the vast possibilities of what my site could do, I would hope that someday the political parties might actually pay attention to the population’s opinions. It would be amazing if politicians weren’t packaged, managed, and thrust upon us as our only voting options. What if the powers that be could see which elected officials truly represent the public’s wants? In my smaller hopes, I’d love to hear people talking about political figures in the same way they tend to talk about sports figures: running down the stats and the scores. I nearly cried when my hairdresser asked me, “Did you know that Kamala Harris votes with her party 76% of the time?” after using the site. That’s exactly the type of information I want people to be able to glean from We Will Decide. I’ve been surprised myself seeing how much I have in common with some representatives and not with others.…Could you imagine if our system actually started to recognize parties other than Democrat and Republican?

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

Winston Churchill’s quote, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never! …in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

It keeps me going through the worst resistance and opposition: to all the people who have ever told me that my ideas are silly or stupid, and to all the authoritarian voices that have ever tried to suppress the things that are not in their interest. The world would be a very different place today without that one person’s level of conviction. One person’s voice and drive can absolutely make a difference.

How can our readers follow you online?

My Facebook link for WeWillDecide.com is

https://www.facebook.com/RealVotingHistory

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

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