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Meet Sahar Mandi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sahar Mandi.

Sahar, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story is a classic case of lemons becoming lemonade… and I’m so glad to finally be where I am right now because the past few years have left me parched!

On January 8th, 2017, in a sterilized hospital room in Santa Monica, my mom lost her long battle with cancer and turned my entire world upside down. Though she had been sick for over 13 years, I was far from being ‘prepared.’ How was this real and why had I assumed this wasn’t actually going to happen? I could never realistically imagine a world without her part of it. At least not in the near future while she was still so young, full of life, in her 50s. So when her last breath turned the impossible into my reality, everything – including my very identity and how I saw myself fitting into the larger world – was brought into question. Were there other assumptions that I was foolishly accepting as truths (i.e., what makes a good job, life, partner, etc.)? 

Something I did know was that the corporate life wasn’t for me. Despite having a fairly successful career trajectory that included tenure at notable companies such as CNN, E! Entertainment, iHeartMedia, and TBS/TNT, there had always been a void that I couldn’t quite pinpoint or fill.

But if not an office job, then what? It was during this period of introspection that I saw a common theme: communication was at the center of most of my life’s defining experiences, and it influenced a lot of my present inclinations.

To start, I grew up in Iran with a Filipino mom (born & raised in the Philippines) and a Persian dad (born & raised in Iran). One from a matriarchal society, the other from a patriarchal one. One from a Catholic family, the other from a Muslim one. My parents’ cultural differences were vast and for a long time, English – which was not native to either of them – was their only way of communicating. Witnessing the evolution of their relationship showed me how crucial clear communication is to forming deep, functioning connections with the world around us… regardless of upbringing, backgrounds, or differing points-of-view.

The importance of communication was again magnified – this time through its absence – during my adolescence when my family immigrated from Iran to the United States just as I was about to start junior high. Can you imagine being a pre-teen trying to make friends in a new school, not understanding any of the cultural references everyone else grew up with, AND not speaking the language? Living through the discomfort of this period illustrated how poor communication can significantly impact overall mood and quality of life, while also highlighting the fact that good communication is a learnable skill that, with practice and the right guidance, can be mastered by anyone. I’m the living proof!

With this belief in mind, I was always naturally inclined to offer communication tools and advice to any family member, friend, or colleague I’d see struggling. And, as I re-evaluated what my priorities in life were going to be, I concluded this was the only aspect of my job I truly loved and would miss. From there, my next move was clear: I quit my corporate gig and focused on becoming a full-time communications coach. Am I making as much as I used to in my office job? No. I’ve had to make significant sacrifices in pursuit of this new career, including leaving Los Angeles to live in a more budget-friendly apartment in Orange County.

But the fact that I wake up 100% excited to do a job I love is such an invaluable blessing, and I have to thank my mom for that. Aside from passing on her entrepreneurial spirit to me, her passage from motherhood to angelhood forced me to confront my reality in such an intense way, that I was able to see past my vanity and unapologetically pursue a path that was an all-around better fit… leaving me happy, fulfilled, and – perhaps most importantly – heard.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I imagine the notion of a “smooth road” is foreign to any budding entrepreneur! And just like everyone else, I’ve had my fair share of struggles with forming a sustainable business plan, setting up a streamlined operational system, and managing a to-do list that’s growing at a faster rate than I can keep up with. But overall, my general attitude toward obstacles – past, current, and future – is, this too shall pass.

One of my favorite quotes reads, “So far, you’ve survived 100% of your worst days.” I love this because it creates a separation between me and whatever issue I’m facing. And, it empowers me with the reassurance that no matter how bad something might seem, as long as I hang in there and show up day-in-day-out with my all, things will eventually become better… just as they always have!

It’s amazing how resilient the human spirit is, and I am confident that if we are kind to ourselves and trust in our gut, no struggle can keep us down for too long.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am the founder of Sahar L. Mandi Consulting, providing communication skills training to ambitious individuals, entrepreneurs, and professionals, as well as start-ups, non-profits, and corporations.

Humans are a social species and as such, communicating with others is inevitable no matter how introverted (or not) anyone might feel. But few have stopped to consider how their communication style might be affecting their professional life, and whether or not it’s holding them back from achieving the growth opportunities they deserve. That’s where I come in: to help people/organizations take their career/business to the next level by equipping them with the tools they need to confidently stand up, speak out, and get noticed.

My method – which includes an equal focus on mindset, body language, and hard presentation skills – empowers clients with a holistic communication approach that allows them to remain authentic while clearly expressing their thoughts, ideas, and worth in any setting they find themselves in.

Partnership opportunities with me include:

One-on-one coaching, where I provide fully customized weekly sessions that address each person’s unique needs. Our first session is always free, and you can book it here.

Live workshops & webinars, where I provide half-day or full-day group training alongside like-minded peers. To learn more, click here.

And lastly, I have a fully digital online course that dives deeper into every aspect of communication via actionable video lessons distributed over a period of six weeks. You can start the program at any time and, while the curriculum is designed to be a self-study, I’m always available for any questions participants might have along the way. More info on it can be found here

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. All of my experiences have brought me to this point today, and I’m straight sipping on that lemonade!

However, I do want to acknowledge the amazing support I’ve received to help me get to where I am today. First and foremost, thank you to my partner Mo for going through all the ups and downs with me the past 8+ years and never running out of encouraging words to say to get me through the tougher days. Second, thank you to my sister Yasy for being my catch-all for everything, from proof-reading random things, to engaging my brand on social and everything in between. Third, thank you to my dad who has always had my back no matter what and makes me feel confident enough to try anything, knowing he’ll be there to catch me should I fall. And last but certainly not least, thank you to my friends for cheering me on, recommending me to their network, and making sure I don’t forget to have fun.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Ayda Haghighatgoo

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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