#019—Does your vote even matter?

Hey all, I want to start this week’s email by admitting something to you: I used to be pretty indifferent when it came to voting. I made excuses like “my vote doesn’t really matter” or “I don’t like the candidates so why vote?” 

It wasn’t until Miles Lasater (shoutout to an incredible investor and advisor!) sent me an email on why our votes matter (even when we think they don’t) that it really clicked for me.

So I decided to share my aha-moment, and help others understand what voting can really mean. As many of you already know, Darlene and I had over 2.5K people join us in the 10-day Think Better Challenge this past month. To conclude the series, I created and shared a guide on how to think about voting using mental models.

I got an overwhelming response to that guide, so today in Final Thoughts, I wanted to share some points I made in that email with all of you. This is all coming from a place of growth and learning on my part, too. But that’s exciting, and I’m glad I have the chance to share it with you all. 

But first, let’s get to the resources for this week 🎊


When people hear “upskilling,” they often think about learning to code or some other skill that’s completely different from what they do now. The connotation is that what they know isn’t enough, so they need to do something else. The problem is that doesn’t always work out. I’ve seen quite a few teachers who learned to code and then realized that they didn’t really enjoy it because it was so different from what they loved to do. 

So, I want to introduce a different way of thinking about learning something new: adjacent skills. Basically, these are the skills that are complementary to what you’re already doing. So, a software engineer might learn technical writing to better explain their work or a product. A writer might work on research or SEO skills. A marketer might dip into psychology and discover a new career they resonate with.

Essentially, looking for skills that can increase your value in the job market but also align with your interests. If you’re looking for ways to learn those new adjacent skills, I’ve got some resources to get you started below.

  • For those of you who are being told to launch a side-hustle or freelance career, but have no idea where to start, here’s another workshop on Freelancing 101 being held next week!

  • One of my beta users told me she’s been using her Personal Learning to annotate job descriptions and has been using those annotations to prepare for interviews! She has them saved in a quest called Dream Job Search.


  • Turn a Side Hustle into a Business

October 6th, 10:00 a.m. PDT

In this workshop-style webinar, you’ll learn how to take ideas you have and turn them into a bonafide business that allows you to connect with the right customers, share your message and story in a way that engages them, and creates the type of income and impact you’re looking for. More details here.

  • Latinx Recruiters in Tech

October 7th, 2:45 p.m. PDT

Join this global event hosted by Techqueria to talk to Latinx recruiters at the world's leading tech companies as they share their top five search strategies to position yourself ahead of the pack, power your search and land the job that’s best for you in 2021.More details here.

  • Becoming a Changemaker / Creating Impact

October 15th, 10:00 a.m. PDT

If you’ve become more activated and fired up over the past few years, it’s time to build a road map to making advocacy and changemaking a more sustainable, consistent, and fulfilling lifelong pursuit.  More details here.

  • Mental Health Week: Get Moving

October 15th, 6:00 p.m. PDT

Finish off the week with an hour of movement to get your blood flowing, endorphins pumping and energy levels rising ahead of the weekend! More details here.


“My vote doesn’t matter.” 

This is, unfortunately, an all too common response when you ask someone why they don’t vote. Maybe they live in a red state and vote Democratic (or vice-versa), or maybe the district they live in has been gerrymandered to help an incumbent win term after term. 

There are very real issues with the system we use for electing our representatives and president, but there are also some very good reasons for you to vote anyway. To break them down, I’ll use a few mental models. 

1. First up, Social Proof. 

Let’s say your vote doesn’t decide a race or issue on the ballot. That’s pretty normal—the loss of one vote is rarely a deciding factor. However, the loss of hundreds or thousands could easily be a deciding factor. So could the addition of that many votes. 

Keep in mind, if 60% of the eligible voting population turns out on election day in a presidential election year, that’s considered a strong turnout. Put another way, 40% staying home is considered pretty good. 

And because human beings tend to take our lead from the people around us, i.e. we like social proof, a few people voting (or not) can actually lead to a big difference in turnout. 

If you were to text a few people you know and remind them to register and/or vote this year, not only would you be countering the narrative they hear that their vote doesn’t matter. You’d be providing positive social proof that other people are voting—people they care about and respect. And social proof works. Simply asking friends and family about voting is one of the most effective ways to increase the likelihood they do it. 

2. And that leads me to my second mental model: Second-Order Thinking.

Okay, so now let’s ask, “What would be the second-order consequences of significantly increased voter turnout?”

Well, we know from experience that if a small but committed group of voters turn out regularly, they can re-elect a politician over and over. And because the politician knows they only have to appeal to that small constituency, they’re free to ignore or oppose issues with wide support among the public. 

But if voter turnout increased by a significant percentage (even a few percentage points is a big deal), that would send a message—the politicians couldn’t rely on that small, hyper-partisan base to re-elect them anymore. They would need to appeal to a larger constituency. Otherwise, they’d risk being thrown out of office in the next election. 

3. Which leads to my final mental model: Feedback Loops

When fewer people vote, it leads to a feedback loop where politicians get less and less responsive to public opinion. But when more people vote, it creates the opposite effect. Politicians listen because they know their job depends on it. And crucially, people keep voting because they see it gets results. That’s known as a healthy democracy.

I know from experience how easy it is to be cynical about politicians and the political process. But don’t take the easy road. Get informed, get registered, and get out the vote. 

  • If you need info on your state’s registration process and deadlines, you can find all of that here

  • And if you want to learn more about the many candidates and ballot measures you’ll have a change to vote on on election day, you can find a complete rundown here.

Hope this is helpful! If you’re curious about mental models, you can always join the 10-day Think Better Challenge here

And you can always email me directly - I always want to hear from you!

Keep on,