Ankord Memo - February 23, 2024


February 23, 2024


Milan Kordestani

Entrepreneur, writer, and founder of 3 purpose-driven companies oriented toward giving individuals control over their own discourse and creation. Milan works to produce socially positive externalities through a mindset of social architecture.

Milan Kordestani

February 23, 2024

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Milan Kordestani

Hi! I'm Milan, an LA based founder and writer, architecting impact-first businesses.

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Good Morning from a Snowy Montana, 

This week’s letter has been challenging to write as I’ve been battling the flu in a blur of tissues, thermometers, and enough Nyquil to tranquilize a moose. While battling the sniffles and insomnia, I managed to hallucinate a memory of one of my favorite childhood songs that I had forgotten, buried deep in my subconscious. Since I last wrote, I have had a handful of healthy days where I managed to read lots, kick off some promising partnership opportunities, launch a new site, and work on my book! Keep reading to learn more. Buckle up because we're diving in!

Ankord Media:

From Milan the Author:

Just before the flu took over, my mind found solace in working on my manuscript and exploring the concept of "moonshot moments." These transformative leaps of progress, from the moon landing to the invention of the light bulb, ignite a spark within me, inspiring awe and a profound sense of human potential. With feverish determination, I’ve been crafting the first chapters of my next book focused on Moonshot Moments (9,000 words in the last week is no small feat). While I can't say the flu hasn't slowed my progress a tad, the momentum has been significant and deeply fulfilling. 

Ankord Labs Weekly Spotlight:

Narratives & The Doe:

I’m excited to share that the team at Narratives and Ankord Media came together to launch a landing page for Narratives as we build the organization. Click here for a first peek, and join me in celebrating the power of storytelling to drive social progress! For those of you new to this newsletter, Narratives is a 501(c)(3) content organization dedicated to sharing a broad spectrum of perspectives from across all cultures, demographics, and regions. It operates two distinct publishing arms: The Doe and Narratives. The Doe is our platform for anonymous storytelling, offering a space for authors to share their experiences without revealing their identities, fostering a unique environment for diverse, impactful narratives. Meanwhile, Narratives is set to feature personal stories under the authors' real names, celebrating the storytellers' identities and experiences directly.

We’ll have a more prominent, more comprehensive brand and site launch in the coming months, but that launch requires content and partnerships (which we are crushing):

Defy Ventures: I’m excited to share that we are just weeks from conducting the first bylined interview for Narratives. Through a beta partnership with Defy Ventures, other Narratives journalists and I will interview formerly incarcerated people, sharing their stories of survival, perseverance, and empathy building. Defy Ventures helps incarcerated individuals gain entrepreneurial skills so they can break free of the recidivism cycle. I’ve met a few times with Quan Huynh, a former inmate who now helps run Defy and has published his book, Sparrow in the Razor Wire: Finding Freedom from Within While Serving a Life Sentence (highly recommended, by the way!) We’ve decided to do a lengthy interview for Narratives, discussing his triumphant life story and how Defy is helping inmates transition to a more productive lifestyle. I’m thrilled to bring his powerful voice to Narratives, and the whole team is excited to have impactful content as we build this new non-profit. 

Pars Equality Center: This month, I also met with Peyman Malaz at Pars Equality Center, a  non-profit supporting Farsi-speaking immigrants in the US. The teams at The Doe and Narratives will be working with Pars’ staff on a project to support Afghan refugees who have been granted asylum in the US after the military pullout of 2021. Those who feel comfortable will share their stories with me to publish on TheDoe anonymously, where we’ll create videos for viewers to see and hear the real people behind this political crisis. For those comfortable sharing their identity, they’ll publish Narratives. We’re proud that, for many Afghan women who had experiences of trauma and fear, The Doe will offer them their first safe space to tell their stories. I will have to brush up on my Farsi skills, but I’m thrilled to have such a good reason to practice!

Finally, I want to thank the team at Narratives and The Doe immensely for their hard work reviving The Doe and bringing Narratives to life. We’ve had countless stories go viral in the past few weeks. Their headlines are below, and you can see tons of great civil discourse in the comments, too. Moderation is a challenge; we’re learning as we go, but we’re excited that our audience still cares to read and support our work. 

Things I’m Reading (Audiobooking):

  • Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines, by Dr. Joy Buolamwini: In the spirit of Black History Month, I audiobooked "Unmasking AI" by Dr. Joy Buolamwini. It's a powerful exploration of how biased data and algorithms can perpetuate societal inequalities, particularly regarding race and gender. As a founder of AI development, this book was illuminating and unsettling. Buolamwini's personal experiences encountering discriminatory AI firsthand, her research uncovering the "coded gaze," and her subsequent activism through the Algorithmic Justice League was eye-opening. It challenged me to critically examine the potential for bias in my projects, reminding me of the responsibility we hold as developers to create responsible and ethical AI that amplifies, not amplifies, existing injustice. This book is a must-read for anyone involved in AI, urging us to prioritize human values and actively work towards equitable AI solutions.

Things I’m Listening To:

  • Gole Maryam: One night, while trying my best to fall into a deep sleep well tranquilized by Nyquil, I lay awake, unable to sleep for hours. In that Nyquil haze, I found myself recounting a rhyme and a couple of words of a song my mom used to play for me on the way to school in the 6th grade. It’s a genre-bending folk/pop mix from 1990s Iran called Gole Maryam. The following day, I called my mom, trying to recount the song, but I only remembered two words from the song and not the rhythm. She remembered the song situationally when I described where and when she’d play it for me, but no other specifics. The second night of my flu, again sedated with Nyquil, three more words came to me and the rhythm. This time, I voice-recorded it and then immediately called my mother. She didn’t recount it immediately; she was half asleep when I called her. But the following day, she identified the song, and I’m so excited to share it with you. Please see it linked here. Additionally, if you’re interested in tuning into any of my other favorite Iranian songs, please see my curated Persian Playlist here.

Wrapping Up

With that, I’m happy to report that I’m recovering well from the flu and enjoying beautiful skiing runs with my younger siblings and family. So much work is going on in the background at Ankord to support all of my notable startups and media ambitions; thank you to everyone helping me build this empire. Mark your calendars – the next few weeks promise big announcements you won't want to miss. Stay tuned, stay curious, and remember, every journey begins with a good night’s sleep and caring for your physical and mental self. 

Thank you again for subscribing to this little corner of my world. Until we meet again next week, may your moonshot dreams burn bright.

Stay Warm and Healthy,

Milan Kordestani