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DEI and Positive Vibes with Zane Landin

Blog by Emma Sievert

Interview by Teju Calambakkam

As we join hands to honor the significance of Pride Month and Disability Pride Month, we would like to introduce Zane Landin, the Internal Communications Specialist at National Geographic, and the CEO of PositiveVibes Magazine. In a recent interview with Landin, we learn more about who he is, what he does, his perspective on DEI in the workplace, and what to expect as an aspiring communications professional.


Introduce yourself!

My name is Zane Landin, I use he/him pronouns. I’m a recent grad from Cal Poly Pomona, which is a state university in California. I majored in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. I have completed several internships in communication, media relations, marketing, whatever I can get my hands on that has to do with communicating, advertising, design, creative, a lot of different avenues I’ve explored, so that has been a really exciting thing.

How did you get into your field?

I stumbled upon the world of internal communications because I did an internship with General Motors this last summer and the summer before. I owe a debt of gratitude to The LAGRANT Foundation because I was informed of the internship at General Motors because of them. The moment I did the interview, I wanted to work there because they seemed really friendly and understanding. Even just my passion for disability, they were interested in pursuing somehow, and that already piqued my interest, because I want to work for an organization that cares about communities like that, so, I was on the GM brand team in the summer. They then let me return as a DEI Communications Intern.

I ended up returning to my university as a consultant for their first-generation program, and while I did that for two to three months, I was interviewing for the role I have right now at the National Geographic Society under the NatGeo brand. The society where I work is the non-profit that funds the explorers.

I’ve gravitated towards this role not just because of the brand, but for the role in internal communications, which I think is very exciting. It is all about making sure the company is aligned with the message you’re communicating internally, making sure that employees know exactly what’s going on, and what’s cool about the role is that can you can just work with so many different folks, and so I feel like I’ve learned how to be a vast communicator, because I have to send a message about so many different topics, if it’s about finances or if it’s about DEI, and I find that exciting.

I’ve been able to lead many cool projects like revamping their intranet, I was nominated to serve as the disability rights group there, as a co-chair, which was cool, and just being there and being so new and fresh to the company, I never thought that would happen.

I think what’s helped is just me just showing up and being authentic and just asking questions or attending events so people know who I am. I’m not saying attend events ‘cause it’s gonna play in your favor, but, you know, have an actual genuine curiosity, ‘cause I think people can tell when you’re there motivated by self-interest.

Can you elaborate more on your experience at National Geographic? Have you always wanted to work for them?

I’m not gonna say I’ve never wanted to work for them, because there were times when I applied for a couple of internships at Nat Geo. I never got them, and so I never really saw myself working at NatGeo mostly because of, to me, how big the brand is, I always thought that I should start somewhere else, maybe I should start at a place that isn’t as well-known, so it won’t be as competitive, and that was me kind of. I think a lot of people kinda do that, and I think some people choose not to apply for careers at Google or Microsoft or Meta or wherever, because they think they are not of that caliber. But sometimes you are, and you just don’t think you are.

I applied for a couple of roles like I said, those just didn’t work out, so this one did work out. And also, not even just the 1 to 2 years, but like everything that I would work on was something I wanted to do. It was event planning, ‘cause we plan internal events. I get to work on a newsletter that goes out to everyone, I do intranet stuff, which is basically our internal website. I get to help support the executive communications team, I get to work with the CEO on several things. And I'm really connected with DEI stuff because, again, internal will touch that stuff, and so it was like, just so exciting to see how aligned the position was with what I wanted to do, wanted to learn, where I wanted to be in a profession, and stuff that genuinely excited me.

So that’s been my experience at NatGeo and immediately when I got there, everyone was just so lovely and everyone was so helpful and I already connected with folks and I feel like I can be my authentic self, with talking about being queer, just even being open about my mental health. And there’s always a fear of doing that, even in a meeting where I disclose my mental health journey, it was like, I was like “Should I do it?” And then I was like “I dunno”, and then I did it, and people did resonate with it, and because I did that, more opportunities came up, like the Asian network that I love there, I actually suggested, “Could I do a mental health event where we talk about the intersection of being Asian and mental health and it’s a really interesting dynamic”. They let me do it ‘cause they knew about my passion for mental health, and they already knew me because I attended a lot of their stuff and I always felt really comfortable there.

Can you talk about your magazine, PositiveVibes Magazine?

I was taking a copyediting class for my major, and our final project was we had to create our own publication, and I decided to create one on mental health advocacy. It started off with wanting to share information about mental health. Then it moved forward, moving into featuring people. So we have featured, like, over 90 people. And every experience is very different, and it's not for you to resonate with all of them. You can find pieces in everyone's story. I'm sure there's still a message in there that you can relate to. And yeah, I've been doing that, and I think it's propelled me to be a really strong mental health advocate because I have been able to interview so many people and just have learned so much about what their journey has been like. So I'm still doing it. I'm going to do it for hopefully forever or a very long time, and it's all about just sharing those stories about real people doing real things.

I just think it's so important to have a workplace that's diverse and has several perspectives. And it just makes the workplace more exciting because there are different passions, there are different people. It's like we really can find collaboration here and we can really challenge each other on the way things have been done for a long time rather than “let's do it this way”.

And sometimes you're even in an echo chamber with some of the people you work with, because I work with communicators a lot. So sometimes I was like, oh, let me talk to a DEI person, let me talk to a tech person. Maybe they're going to give me a fresh perspective. So it's not even like, again, the social identities. It's like making sure that you have different backgrounds and different educational experiences, whatever it is.

I think it's just super important to have a flexible, really good work environment where people are embraced for being who they are.

What advice do you have for young aspiring professionals looking to get into the communication, advertising, and marketing spaces?

Broadly, find organizations. Because a lot of people say, how do I navigate alone? You really don't have to. And I know it feels like you're alone. Trust me, there are hundreds of organizations that will help you. You just kind of have to do the work. That's an unfortunate thing I have to tell people, but it's like, do the work and find these organizations because they will give you opportunity, they will give you scholarships, they will give you mentorships, they will give you courses. Whatever it is, it's there. And that's why I tell people it's like, apply for everything.

And I know sometimes, you've navigated spaces that felt like you didn't belong. And you're like, well, I'm not going to be good enough for this, or they're not going to pick me because I’m a certain identity. That's the worst feeling. And when I hear people say that, I'm like, no, I think that it's very sad you think that. And I understand you're saving your heart from failure, but there's a good chance you could get it, though, because I guarantee you a lot of students are thinking the same way you are. I just tell people, to see their worth and what they've accomplished, don't compare themselves to other people, and find organizations that will help you get to where you need to be.


Let us applaud Zane Landin's unwavering commitment to creating a world where diversity is cherished, equity is realized, and inclusion is celebrated. Through his work, he inspires us to embrace our differences, learn from one another, and journey towards a future where all individuals are seen, valued, and appreciated.

You can find Landin on LinkedIn.


Jul 31, 2023

This was such a great interview! Zane discussing about his initial hesitance when it came to applying for positions with big name companies is something that resonated with me personally. His dedication to celebrating diversity and creating a more inclusive environment is amazing!


Jul 31, 2023

Zane is the 🐐


Chris Wong
Chris Wong
Jul 31, 2023

Zane is awesome, I'm so glad our chapter had the opportunity to speak with them and get all of this insight. 😁

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