Ankord Memo - April 25, 2024


April 25, 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 25, 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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Hi friends!

You may have noticed that I’ve been away from my desk the past 10 days, and that’s because I took a joyful vacation with my family to Japan, in part to celebrate my 25th birthday. My sister, brother-in-law, and I traveled alongside my father and younger siblings on a tour of Kyoto and Tokyo. There is truly nowhere else in the world that compares with the unique and beautiful culture and energy of Japan. We explored hole-in-the-wall noodle joints, wandered aimlessly through serene Buddhist temples, and ate more raw fish than I’m willing to admit. Here are some of the highlights:

  • For an incredible sushi experience, don't miss Sushi Ko in Ginza, Tokyo. While we visited many sushi spots in Kyoto and Tokyo, Sushi Ko’s chefs offered a beautiful experience with fish that was flawless in flavor.
  • TeamLabs Borderless in Tokyo offered a mind-bending experience, with fantastical visions at the edges of contemporary art.
  • We went to a hedgehog/meerkat cafe, where my sister Misha fell hopelessly in love with a meerkat named Saburo. My younger brothers all fell in love with the hedgehogs and hamsters, so I highly recommend the experience for animal lovers!
  • The myths of how good convenience store food is in Japan are all true. Onigiri from 7/11 became our delicious travel companion on every bullet-train ride.
  • One of the most unique experiences was slurping ramen in a tiny Shinjuku restaurant tucked away in the Golden Gai area. 
  • I loved the Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto and Senso-ji Temple in Tokyo, and all the small Shinto shrines, rock gardens, and curated flower beds were stunning. We were especially lucky to visit during cherry blossom season - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be wowed by the perfection of the natural world.

It was outstanding to celebrate my birthday with some relaxation with loved ones in a different time zone. And, as with any trip, I’m thankful we were safe and healthy, and that the experience went off without stress. If you have the chance to visit Japan - take the trip, it’s absolutely worth the long flight!

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and I actually spent this past Monday (both my birthday and Earth Day!) back in the office, battling jet lag and reconnecting with Ankord Labs’ CEOs and team members. I have such gratitude for my Ankord team holding down the fort while I was out, and I’m so proud of the continued efforts of all the founders, CEOs, and leaders that we work with. So without further ado, let’s talk a little about what else we’ve got cooking here at Ankord.

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 Content Creator:

I just got back home, and I’m already gearing up to go back on the road! In May, I’ll be popping into Michigan, Maryland, and New York to create new content. I'll be meeting with several exceptional academics to not only gain deeper insights for my manuscript, but also record extensive podcast interviews for later conversion into insightful, bite-sized pieces of wisdom. 

First, I’ll be heading to the University of Michigan to meet with Dr. Ben Kuipers, my insightful theoretical mathematician mentor. In this chat, we'll delve into human destiny, trust, cooperation, and AI in a long sit-down interview. Then, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore beckons, where I'll meet a legendary father-son team leading the field of clinical psychedelic therapy research. Dr. William Richards, a pioneer who has tirelessly championed legal psychedelic research for over 40 years, will share his expertise on using psychedelics for end-of-life anxiety and experiencing mystical and spiritual moments. His son Dr. Brian Richards, a rising star advocating for accessible psychedelic therapy, will join the conversation. Together, they'll give me a tour of JHU's cutting-edge facilities before discussing their incredible impact on the field. Talking to an icon like William Richards is a dream come true, and I'm equally excited to hear Brian's vision for the future of psychedelic therapy. This trip promises to be a profoundly enriching experience.

The following week, I’ll be swinging by New York City. I've got a packed schedule to follow up with Eddie the Fiddler for a potential Narratives interview, and if possible, snag an interview with one of my favorite Instagram creators, Eric J3ng. I'm also keeping my eyes peeled for any other intriguing Narratives stories that might pop up while I'm there. If you know any amazing people in New York City with impactful stories, please respond to this newsletter and let me know - I’m always looking to meet amazing people and hear about their experiences.

From Milan the Author:

The feedback process on my manuscript has begun! The Richards', Dr. Kuipers, and a few loved ones are diving into the manuscript now. There’s been a lot of positive feedback, and while critical reads come with the territory, I'm soaking it all in. My cold outreach efforts to find reviewers is in full swing, with subject line tweaks and availability requests each day. Even polite declines from major writers and thought-leaders like Tiago Forte and Nick Bostrom have been valuable.  Right now, it's the calm before the storm – everyone's heads-down editing, leaving me in suspense! Will they love it or send me back to writing whole new chapters? One thing's for sure, though: this book will be fueled by a multitude of perspectives, and that's incredibly exciting to me.

Do you want to be a part of the manuscript critique process? I would love for you to be a part of my development process. Respond to this email with the word “manuscript,” and I’ll send you over a draft to check out! Be a part of my creative journey, and get a sneak peak at timely topics like AI development, global cooperation, and consciousness expansion.

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.

  • Audo: An AI career concierge that weighs your career aspirations against your current qualifications and current job market demand to guide you towards revenue generating jobs. 
  • Nota: A venture-backed content creation and distribution platform created for legacy media publishers to efficiently and affordably create content so they can focus on reporting more than editing.

Nota: The Nota executive team returns energized from the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. Nota CEO, Josh Brandau, took center stage by participating in a thought-provoking panel, "How does implementing AI in your newsroom drive sustainability?" Click here to watch this fascinating discussion, and learn how Nota is supporting long-term stability and sustainability for publications of all sizes.

Ankord Labs: At Ankord Labs, we're busy iterating on what we're calling the "Series A" prototypes for both Audo and Nota.  These prototypes will go beyond the companies’ current offerings, serving as a comprehensive “demo-friendly'' suite of tools and features that Audo and Nota’s leadership can use to showcase the full range of functionalities and innovative ideas we have for the future of these product lines. The Series A prototypes will allow us to demo a wider array of features to potential investors and user focus groups, giving a more robust understanding of how Audo and Nota are going to evolve in the years to come. We want investors to not only see how Nota and Audo are succeeding today, but also what a future improved by Audo and Nota could look like for our customers. Even better, we’ll be able to gather feedback and continue iterating on these prototypes throughout the process - ensuring both Audo and Nota remain at the forefront of their respective industries. 

Things I’m Reading:

  • The Fiasco of Iranian Diaspora Politics by Arash Azizi - During our time in Japan, my Iranian-American family watched the tense standoff between Iran and Israel unfold. This situation highlights a complex dilemma faced by the Iranian diaspora community, torn between their desire to see the current Islamic Dictatorship in Iran fall and their concern for the safety of loved ones and civilians in the country. Arash Azizi's article delves into the heart of this challenging position, shedding light on the difficult choices confronting Iranians abroad.
  • I Drank and Slept My Way Through My Child’s Cancer Treatment at The Doe - I am always excited when a story at The Doe causes a lot of debate, because that means that people are stepping outside their comfort zones and reading articles that challenge their pre-existing beliefs. This article encourages us to gain empathy for those going through an experience few of us will ever be so unfortunate to live through, and seems to be helping many readers let go of shame or confusion they felt about their own challenges working through the pain of cancer of a loved one.
  • Sacred Knowledge: Psychedelics and Religious Experiences by Willam Richards - Since I will be meeting in person with William and Brian Richards’ next month, I’ve been devouring all their peer-reviewed articles and books. This one, by father William, draws together many of the themes I’ve enjoyed in Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy and connects them with research on psychedelic therapies. If you are interested in spirituality, psychedelics, and finding “meaning”, this is an incredibly accessible, easy-to-read introduction to the topic from one of the absolute titans in the field of psychedelic research.

Things I’m Watching/Listening To:

  • My Japan Soundtrack - I’ll admit, I spent a lot of time in Japan catching up on Coachella (see below), but I did latch onto a couple of songs that I will now forever associate with my trip there.
  • Nowhere, Fast by Jean Deaux - Last Friday was thrilling for the team at Guin, as Jean Deaux’s new EP Nowhere, Fast is the first female release of 2024! People are digging her sound, and the album has had a phenomenal first week, securing spots on over 30 playlists! Take some time this week and dive into Jean's journey of self-discovery and personal growth on this new EP.
  • Coachella - I did not attend Coachella this year, and to be honest, the FOMO was real. All of my spare moments in Japan (mostly on bullet trains and taxis between beautiful temples) was spent tuning in to the amazing Coachella performances on my phone! So many performers brought great energy, but my sister Misha and I - as big Latin music fans - were most excited about Peso Pluma’s set and whether he’d bring out fellow performer Anitta.
    • My sister Misha’s breakdown:
      • For context, a year or two ago, Anitta had Peso join her on stage at Coachella, but his girlfriend was there, creating tension. He barely danced with Anitta and seemed to avoid her. Fast forward to now: Peso's broken up with his girlfriend and is 10X bigger than before. 
      • As Misha and I rode to the airport to come home from Japan, the big moment came: Peso brought Anitta on stage at Coachella, and absolutely owned the moment! We were losing our minds - and so was the audience, as well as those leaving Youtube Live stream comments. It was the kind of moment that you go to live shows to experience!

Wrapping Up

While a part of me was sad I missed out on Coachella, it’s a reminder that every opportunity comes with tradeoffs. My recent travels in Japan offered a powerful lesson in mindfulness. The serenity of Buddhist temples and shrines served as a tangible embodiment of the philosophy: to be present, in that space, in our bodies, and in that moment. This week, I’m challenging myself to continue to embrace that same concept. Take a breath, pause the what-ifs, and truly soak in the now. Remember, presence is about appreciating the unique experience of this very moment, exactly as it is. Thank you for taking these few moments to read this newsletter, and I’ll see you next week!

With both love and jet lag,

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.