Annafi Wahed, CFA, has a broad array of experience spanning the federal government, non-profit, political, and private sectors. In 2016, she left her role as a Senior Consultant at Ernst & Young to join the Democratic campaign.
Walking door to door, she saw firsthand how next-door neighbors could be completely isolated from one another by the media they consume.
Annafi launched The Flip Side as a passion project in 2017 and has spearheaded each new stage of the venture, including an innovative social platform for exchanging ideas with an algorithm that rewards thoughtfulness and bipartisanship.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Annafi Wahed: We’re on a mission to bridge the gap between liberals and conservatives. Every day, our editorial team combs through dozens of sources – left, right, and center. We focus on one topic and select the most thoughtful and well-articulated pieces to highlight each morning in a 5-minute curated email.
While our newsletter is already making a tangible difference in people’s lives – helping them understand and connect with family, friends, or coworkers with whom they disagree – we always knew it was just the first step.
We just launched our new forum, which uses human-centered design and a custom ranking algorithm to reward thoughtfulness and bipartisanship, rather than trolling or clickbait.
Pioneering a new approach to news and user-generated content, we will not be ‘just’ another platform, but rather curators of content and conversations.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Annafi Wahed: These are the must-haves for happy employees:
- A mission worth getting excited about,
- A clear understanding of how their work is directly tied to the mission, and
- Respect and appreciation.
Even if it’s obvious to you, whenever you introduce a new project, you need to explain how the project fits in with the broader roadmap. How is X project furthering the goals you set for yourselves this month, quarter, or year? How will the world be different if you achieve the goals you set out to?
You then need to ask and answer the following questions: How will you thank your team when they bring your vision to life? How will you keep them motivated when the going gets tough?
For each employee, make sure you know what drives them specifically and what kind of management and communication style they prefer/thrive under, and do your best to meet their needs.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Annafi Wahed: When I was in middle school, I read Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix and still think about it twenty years later. It was the first book I read that meaningfully deviated from the typical guns-blazing, head-straight-toward-the-fire hero trope.
The main character does the unexpected; he does NOT join the protest against an oppressive government.
While the protestors are all killed, he survives and goes on to eventually change the world. For 12-year-old Annafi, it was a jarring realization that there is more than one way to be a hero, more than one way to make a difference.
The book I’ve gifted the most is Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. While somewhat dated now, it’s still an excellent read about the shortfalls and dangers of artificial intelligence!
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Annafi Wahed: Someday I’d love to write about my experiences engaging with people across the political spectrum.
While on the whole, Republicans and Democrats are moving further apart and each group increasingly espouses a predictable set of beliefs, I’m happy to report there are still many, many people with heterodox views.
I’ve met Republican hedge fund managers who support universal healthcare, immigrant Democrats who want to curb not just illegal but also legal immigration, libertarians who want Congress to clamp down on free speech rights… the list goes on.
No matter how much media outlets and pollsters try to put us in a box, we humans remain stubbornly unpredictable!
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Annafi Wahed: I think it’s hard for people to appreciate just how much of your identity becomes wrapped up in your company. We’re a bipartisan media startup that fact-checks and curates commentary from liberal and conservative media in a 5-minute digest each morning.
No matter how hard we try, inevitably, there’ll be a handful of pissed-off people among our nearly a quarter million readers every day. It’s hard to absorb all that negativity and not take it personally.
It’s hard not to see your startup’s successes and failures as an indictment of yourself. Someone who’s never started a business or worked at an early-stage startup likely can’t fathom just how much each setback impacts you.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Annafi Wahed: The year 2023 is about building and gearing up for the 2024 election cycle. By the end of 2024, we hope to have 3 million newsletter subscribers and 100,000 premium members.
We hope to have noticeably improved the tone of national discourse. We hope to have shown that our country is not hopelessly divided; that Republicans and Democrats can still come together to tackle the big problems – even when they still disagree on a lot of things, even during an election year.
Our future is bleak if we continue living in the world Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey created. We’re the nation that defeated the Nazis. We went to the moon in under a decade.
We developed a vaccine for a novel virus in less than a year. SURELY we can find a way out of the troll farms. The Flip Side is leading the way, and I hope everyone reading this will join us!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Annafi Wahed for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Annafi Wahed or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.