The Pivotter Series explores the themes of ambition, confidence, motivation, and productivity as experienced by high-performing women.
Maria Yuan, Founder/CEO of IssueVoter.org - NY, NY
We were recently lucky enough to grab Maria Yuan, founder of IssueVoter.org for a brief chat about the inspiration to start the organization and what motivates her to keep it going (and growing!).
NOTE: You should sign up for IssueVoter. It is a non-partisan platform that lets you send opinions directly to your reps, and provides alerts before your rep in congress votes. It's goal is to give everyone a voice in our democracy.
You can see the video below (apologies for the crappy sound!) or read highlights below.
Background: IssueVoter - born from a love of big challenges, personal experience, & parental influence
As far back as she can remember, Maria has had a passion for fixing big problems. Big challenges excite her, which is good thing - because managing IssueVoter is no small task. She arrived at the concept through several channels, the largest being her parents' encouragement to be politically engaged and her own experience in political campaigning.
What does ambition personally mean to you - what place does it have in your life?
Ambition is about always doing your best. You know when you are putting in 100% or when you're coasting. Being a naturally competitive person influences that process. I'm always striving to do the hardest, biggest thing. In the past, that has taken on a more traditional route - the schools I attended, the subjects I studied, the career I initially chose. Now my ambition has evolved. I wanted to take on the biggest, hardest thing in an area that I feel I can make a huge, positive impact.
Do you think our culture perceives “ambition” to be a dirty word for women? Why or why not?
I identify as ambitious. And I see that as a good thing.
In certain industries it could be seen differently, but for me, it was always framed positively. If there are negative associations, maybe that stems from assumptions of why someone is ambitious; he/she is seeking power, to be rich, or to be in control. That could be true - but maybe that person just wants to do their best. Perhaps our culture should encourage people to talk more openly about their motivations.
Where did you get your sense of Confidence?
I owe it to my parents. They have me the sense I could do anything. Growing up, they encourages me to participate in a wide variety of activities, which helped me learn about myself and my limits.
How do you keep that confidence going?
Having a big picture goal keeps me going: Having a representative congress. Having people's voices to be heard. Restoring representative democracy as it is supposed to function.
Also, paying attention to data points along the way keeps me going. So things like validation from accelerator judges (big names in tech!), positive feedback from users, etc.
And how do you define and work on goals.
Working backwards from a larger vision or main goal is an important process to actually get things done. Something else that helps me - focusing on what you can control, and trying not to worry about the things you can't.
What would you do with an extra 15 minutes per day?
The 7 minute workout or meditate!