Elections

EP015: Sameena Mustafa Helped Build the Blue Wave

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I talked to Sameena Mustafa -- former candidate for Congress -- a few weeks before the midterm elections. Sameena is a progressive who aimed to unseat centrist Democrat Mike Quigley in the Democratic primary back in March 2018. Her bid was impressive, if ultimately unsuccessful, and shone a light on how out of step Quigley’s voting record has been with his very progressive district.

And in the context of the “Blue Wave” of Democratic victories coming to light since last Tuesday, the big message I take from my conversation with Sameena is this: There’s lots more where that came from.

The victories we are seeing now are the tip of the iceberg, And they are the result of work being done by progressives -- many women of color -- all over the country. And Sameena was one of those women, getting out in front, and insisting on a new direction.

We talked about:

  • The lessons she learned from taking on an establishment-backed candidate

  • How she drew courage from her conversations with voters

  • How her experiences as a Muslim, a woman, and an Indian-American informed her candidacy

  • Her take on the upsides and downsides of progressive and Democratic culture

  • Listen to Sameena’s new radio show, To the Left, here!

A big thanks to our sponsors:

Equality Hive is a Manhattan based ghostwriting and copywriting service for thought-leaders in the social evolutionary sector. Visit equalityhive.com to find out more and join the community.

The Brotherhood Community is for self-identified men who want to be part of building a world where they are able to lead with strength, vulnerability, and an open heart. www.brotherhoodcommunity.com

 

EP014: Esther de Rothschild & Aicha Cherif Are Getting Out the Love Vote

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Every. Vote. Counts. And as it turns out, that is often felt most keenly from the perspective of people who are not allowed to vote.

That what motivates Esther de Rothschild & Aicha Cherif in their work running the Love Vote, an organization that amplifies the voices of people who can’t vote -- either because of youth, citizenship, or disenfranchisement. And they are doing it to move people who can vote, to vote.

Esther -- the Love Vote’s founder -- is a high school teacher and filmmaker. Aicha is the Love Vote’s outreach director. Aicha’s also a high school senior whose citizenship status means she won’t be eligible to vote, even after she turns 18 next year. (You can read the New York Times profile of Aicha here.)

We also talked about their experiences at the helm of a social impact startup, as well as their insights on leading, collaborating, and learning in the social impact space.

We talked about:

  • How they are both partly motivated by their own histories of not being eligible to vote

  • What’s important when collaborating across a generational divide

  • Why “fake it till you make it” can sometimes be really bad advice

  • What it means to make trust and respect a foundation for collaboration

  • Mobilizing voters through an emotional connection, rather than a mental one

Get this episode’s Antidote to Burnout Culture 

Esther and Aisha offered rich insights on how to build bridges across the generational divide -- basically how old fuddy-duddies can successfully collaborate with a bunch of young whippersnappers.

The generational divide is such a common concern within the social change space, and Esther and Aicha have a lot of wisdom to offer on that.

And on the Tuesday after this episode comes out, I’ll be sending out an email that digs more deeply into the kind of learner’s mindset that Esther described as a key to her success.

If you want to get that email, hit the button below and subscribe.

Interview Highlight:

“I remember when I first met with a tech person about a website… and I said, ‘can you let me know what you see as the greatest potential weakness, both in this project and of what I’m bringing to it?’….

“[He said,] ‘You’re greatest strength as I see it now is your awareness of how much you have to learn. And there’s a lot of people who actually know pretty much as little as you, about this space, but come in either believing they know everything they need to know, or pretending they know everything they need to know. And that is a tremendous liability.”

A big thanks to our sponsors:

Equality Hive is a Manhattan based ghostwriting and copywriting service for thought-leaders in the social evolutionary sector. Visit equalityhive.com to find out more and join the community.

The Brotherhood Community is for self-identified men who want to be part of building a world where they are able to lead with strength, vulnerability, and an open heart. www.brotherhoodcommunity.com

 

EP013: Kat Calvin is Spreading the Vote

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This week, I speak with Kat Calvin, the founder of Spread the Vote.

After the Supreme Court took the teeth out of the voting rights act in 2013, conservative lawmakers started passing Voter ID laws around the country. So now we have eligible voters in 34 states that are turned away from polling stations because they don’t have a state-issued ID.

So Kat founded Spread the Vote as a way to get people their IDs, so they know they can vote, and so that they won’t be turned away at polling stations on Election Day.

Kat was recognized in Fast Company's 2018 list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business, and was named one of Business Insider’s 30 Under 30. She was also featured in one of BET's Black History Month profiles.

We talked about:

  • What motivated her to build Spread the Vote from scratch

  • How leadership means knowing your strengths and weaknesses, and then putting your ego aside when it’s time to let someone else’s strengths shine

  • The crucial difference between being a CEO/executive director, and being a founder

  • What life looks like as someone at the head of an ambitious organization working to secure people’s voting rights in the run up to a major election

Get this episode’s Antidote to Burnout Culture 

ANTIDOTE is an every-other-week email, inspired by my work with clients, and my conversations with social impact leaders and innovators on the Dialogue Lab podcast. 

For instance, one of the things Kat and I talked about was how successful social impact leaders don’t try to go it alone. They check their egos at the door, so they can prioritize what’ most important: their missions. And Kat talked about how you can usually tell when someone is letting their ego drive the bus -- driving away people who might help. And if you ask me, the fact that it’s easy to spot -- that’s good news.

Because spotting it is the first step to repairing and building the kind of strong partnerships you need to pull off your ambitious vision for change.

I’ll be sending out an email the Tuesday after this episode goes live with some of the key signs that tell you it might be time to take a look at who is driving your bus. Make sure you don’t miss it by subscribing below.

Interview Highlight:

[37:10]: “I think it comes from, how much you actually care about your mission. I actually really do just want to get as many people IDs as possible, so I know I need help to do that. Because I can’t do it alone. So if I actually really care about the damn turtles or whatever else. Then I’m going to do whatever it takes to fulfill my goal. Anyone who has been in this startup or nonprofit world knows plenty of people who only started something because it seemed glamorous, and they wanted to be on podcasts or in the press or whatever. And so they wanted to start things by themselves, and not have any partners or co-founders, because they wanted all of the credit, and never really actually cared about the product they were building or the mission or whatever. And they inevitably fail.”

A big thanks to our sponsors:

Equality Hive is a Manhattan based ghostwriting and copywriting service for thought-leaders in the social evolutionary sector. Visit equalityhive.com to find out more and join the community.

The Brotherhood Community is for self-identified men who want to be part of building a world where they are able to lead with strength, vulnerability, and an open heart. www.brotherhoodcommunity.com