Ankord Memo - April 2, 2024


April 2, 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

April 2, 2024

Milan Kordestani Profile Image

Milan Kordestani

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

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Good Morning from a Sunny Los Angeles,

April has sprung, and a fresh breeze of excitement blows through Ankord Labs! As we stroll into the new quarter, I can't help but feel immense pride in everything our portfolio companies have achieved so far in 2024. From Narratives' captivating first interview to great SXSW performances and new albums coming out of Guin Records, we’ve been making waves. Both Nota and Audo have grown immensely; with Nota’s strong fundraising momentum and Audo’s new suite of career tools in development, the year is off to an incredible start. Throughout this quarter, Ankord Media has also seen tremendous growth. I'm thrilled to share that I've not only finished the first draft of my new book but that I’ve managed to consistently send out this newsletter every week of this year, which has been tremendously fun. Without further ado, let’s get down to business for Q2, which promises to be even more exciting!

Ankord Media:

If you don’t know about my work as a writer and content creator, know that I’m a best-selling author and journalist who contributes regularly to Entrepreneur, Rolling Stone, and Forbes, championing conscious capitalism and innovation across industries. My first book, I'm Just Saying: A Guide to Maintaining Civil Discourse in an Increasingly Divided World, reached #2 on the Wall Street Journal’s Bestseller List in 2023, and I am working on a follow-up manuscript, focused on fostering moonshot moments.

From Milan the Author:

This week marked two major milestones – first, I finally wrote the conclusion to my manuscript! It wasn't easy, believe me. Wrapping up a sprawling narrative and tying together all the threads can be a daunting task. To navigate this challenge, I sought wisdom from masters like Michael Pollan's thought-provoking conclusion in How to Change Your Mind and Robert Putnam's pragmatic epilogue of Bowling Alone. In the end, I decided to focus on crafting actionable recommendations, pulling together themes from the book and transforming them into practical advice to take going forward. I aim to leave readers not just informed but inspired to embrace a more ambitious future.

I also settled on a final title for the book…

Moonshot Moments: Ushering in the Next Human Renaissance through AI, Transhumanism, and Psychedelics

I think you’ll be blown away by all the dots I’ll be connecting in this book!

And that new and finalized title brings me to my second huge milestone this week: sending my manuscript draft to my publisher! Celebrations were had this weekend! Perhaps the only thing harder than finishing a creative task is letting it go and preparing for the first critique. But a huge shout out to my publisher, HCI, who will be helping me take this book from Google Docs to bookshelves around the world!

Last but not least, I want to extend an invitation. Reaching these milestones with my manuscript this week has me excited to share it more broadly. If you'd like to get a sneak peek and offer early feedback, I'd love to hear from you! Just reply to this newsletter to request a preview copy.

From Milan the Youtuber:

In a riveting interview this week, I had the privilege of conversing with Quan Huynh, a remarkable individual whose life story epitomizes resilience and redemption. Quan, a former inmate turned advocate, shared profound insights gleaned from his journey through gang life and incarceration. His narrative is a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery and the pursuit of purpose even in the direst of circumstances. It was a huge honor for him to trust me with his story, which was the first hour-long special coming from Narratives

One poignant moment in our discussion was when Quan recounted a tragic event from his past: the death of a friend during a violent altercation that ultimately led to his incarceration. From his involvement in gangs as a teenager to his eventual embrace of self-improvement and therapy, Quan’s story is a testament to the human capacity for redemption and the transformative power of second chances. Through his work with anti-recidivism non-profit Defy Ventures, he exemplifies a commitment to breaking the cycle of recidivism and empowering others to forge a new path toward a brighter future.

If you happen to know anyone with an extraordinary life story and a talent for storytelling, I would be immensely grateful for the opportunity to connect with them and bring their narrative to light. Please reach out!

Ankord Labs Weekly Spotlight:

Ankord Labs is a private venture studio where I incubate and invest in social impact startups. We partner with visionary CEOs who share our commitment to social good. Together, we engineer impactful companies that tackle real-world challenges faced by real people. Each week, I rotate highlights of the progress made at one of Ankord Labs’ featured startups. This week, the foci are Audo and Nota. Audo is a startup that’s built an AI career concierge that identifies the gaps between your current qualifications and your desired career outcomes to help you navigate your way to your goals. Nota is a venture-backed startup with a suite of AI-enabled tools that power content creation and distribution for legacy media publishers to efficiently and affordably create content so they can focus on reporting more than editing.

Nota: Nota just launched a brand new landing page, and it features some stunning motion graphics videos we are proud to have had a hand in at Ankord Labs. Be sure to head over to Nota's new landing page to check them out for yourself!

Audo: In the last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Chris Ball, CEO of the education technology company Instructure. We delved into the company's groundbreaking initiatives, particularly in education and upskilling. Instructure’s innovative approaches include a digital wallet, Canvas, for students to own and manage their learning credentials, shifting the burden of access costs away from students onto educational and employment institutions. While Canvas primarily serves institutions, upcoming tools like Projects in Progress and Parchment are tailored for direct-to-consumer use, which is an exciting move. We discussed some of Instructure’s collaborations, like a project with the California Department of Corrections to overcome connectivity barriers to provide learning opportunities in prisons. 

Emphasizing the shift towards skill-based hiring, Ball predicts a future where 90% of employers prioritize verifiable skills over traditional qualifications. Ball foresees a significant transformation in higher education, with a potential 30% of institutions facing closure in the next decade, leaving only the most prestigious, state-backed, and financially secure entities. We discussed the challenge of outcome-based education spanning both K-12 and higher education, with efforts to prepare students for diverse post-secondary paths gaining traction, including dual enrollment programs blending high school and community college experiences. It was fantastic to speak with an industry leader to see how they view the same social and educational challenges we are looking to address at Audo.

Things I’m Reading:

  • A Feminist Awakening Upended Our Marriage from The Doe - This recent article is such an interesting piece of storytelling as it tells the perspective of both a husband and wife deciding to leave the Mormon church together. 
  • Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam - In the throes of research for my book manuscript, I found myself revisiting Robert Putnam's seminal work on the social impact of the decline of civil society in America in the 1950s-1990s. Picking it up again wasn't just a refresher; it was a revelation renewed. Putnam's insights on social capital and the decline of civic engagement resonated deeply, even more so than on my first reading. This time around, the analysis felt particularly poignant, offering a fresh lens through which to examine the challenges faced by my generation - the one that grew up after Putnam's call for a return to a more connected society. His work has become a touchstone, prompting reflection on the state of civil society and its evolution since the book's original publication.
  • Robo-lawyer Startup DoNotPay Did Something Almost Unheard of in Silicon Valley: It Paid a Dividend from Business Insider - Recently, I've been inspired by my friend Josh Browder's innovative approach at DoNotPay, his purpose-driven startup that helps everyday people fight back against exploitative business practices. Browder is not just making waves with his impactful products but also redefining how a company treats its employees and investors by paying out a dividend, having reached profitability, to employees and investors alike.

Things I’m Watching/Listening To:

  • Cowboy Carter - Beyoncé's new album, Cowboy Carter, is excellent! Beyonce is an incredible storyteller and continues to show there's no genre she can't conquer!
  • Milan’s Regaee Playlist and One Love - I’ve been listening to an absurd amount of Reggae music the past 3 weeks since watching the new Bob Marley movie, One Love. If you’re interested in exploring some good vibes this week, feel free to give my playlist a follow and hit shuffle.

Wrapping Up

As I wrap up this newsletter, I want to encourage you to embrace the spirit of new beginnings. It's the perfect season to breathe life into those projects that may have stalled during the long, dreary winter months. Whether it's reigniting a passion project, launching a new side hustle online to fund your summer antics, diving into that paused writing project, revisiting a fun hobby, or planning that long-awaited trip, now is the time to reclaim your momentum. The holidays and New Year often bring distractions and pauses, but with the fresh air of spring, it’s time to revitalize your spirits, step outside more, and allow your creativity to flow freely. If it helps you stay motivated, send me a message telling me what your next big move will be! This month, it’s time to embrace the energy of renewal and seize this opportunity to make your dreams a reality. 

A reminder, if you’d like to be a part of the early feedback process of my next manuscript, please shoot me a reply saying “Moonshot Moments Please!”

Grateful for your attention,

Milan Kordestani

Milan Kordestani, a social entrepreneur and impact-driven founder, serves as the CEO of AnKord Labs, a startup incubator committed to fostering businesses that scale social impact at scale. With over 6 years of experience building predominantly technology-based startups, Milan architects and invests in co-founders who are deeply ethical, and compelled to contribute to making the world a better place. He is an avid contributor to several online publications, and his first book reached #2 on the Wall Street Journal’s Bestseller List. Milan's values are to scale conscious capitalism, and cultivate collaborative consensus to advance the species.