Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for May, 2017

Why I Joined The Board At Women’s Audio Mission (WAM)

I recently joined the board at WAM (Women’s Audio Mission), a wonderful organization in the bay area that provides  hands-on training, work experience, career counseling and job placement to over 1,200 women and girls every year in creative technology for music, radio, film, television and the internet. We gave to WAM as part of our #100ForKoka campaign and they reached out to see if I wanted to take a greater role. Meeting with the Executive Director and Head of the Board, I was very excited about the opportunity. I thought I would share a letter that I sent to the board as part of my candidacy confirmation…

For those of you who haven’t met me yet, my name is Sandy Khaund. I am the founder and CEO of UPGRADED, a company that has built a platform that leverages the blockchain to secure event tickets. My Twitter description says I’m a “Father. Husband. Innovator. Runner. Sports Nut. Music Lover.”  As I’ve been thinking about WAM, I remembered to add that last one. It’s such an important part of who I am.

The explanation of why I want to be part of this organization is probably covered in some of my other activities associated blog posts, including my work with Inventors University (a fledgling organization where my 11 and 8-year old daughters teach Python and Scratch to elementary school girls on weekends) and the opportunities that I’ve had to speak out on behalf of promoting women in STEM (link, link).

But my unique enthusiasm for WAM can be traced to Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl, the greatest drummer in the world. Dave Grohl, who once played every instrument on an incredible 12-song debut solo album and turned it into a band. Dave Grohl, the author of the greatest song ever written (“Everlong”–this is not up for debate).

Grohl gave a speech at SXSW three years ago. If you’ve never seen/read it, I highly recommend it. I’m probably lucky he didn’t give this speech when I was 20 or else I’d be a struggling musician as opposed to a well-off engineer. While the whole speech rocked my world, it’s these words that reminded me of why tech was my calling…

It’s there, if you want it. Now, more than ever, independence as a musician has been blessed by the advance of technology, making it easier for any inspired young musician to start their own band, write their own song, record their own record, book their own shows, write and publish their own fanzine (although now I believe you call it a “blog”?) . . . now more than ever, YOU can do this, it can be all yours. And left to your own devices, you can find YOUR VOICE.

Technology is the path to creativity, and for girls, creativity can and should be the real draw of technology. Don’t go into technology because you can implement an Inversion of Control design pattern in Javascript. Go because you can create something with meaning and value. Go because you can find your voice. And for so many girls, WAM is the path for girls to find their voice. And if, as a means to an end, they happen to learn the value of technology and the careers associated with it in the process, well that would be kinda nice as well. 🙂

Logistically, I expect that my ultimate contribution would be dictated by need. Skills wise, I’ve always prided myself on being multifaceted. I have three technical degrees as well as an MBA. My titles have ranged from CEO, to COO, to Director of Marketing, to CTO. I’m told this makes me either flexible or schizophrenic. From my conversations, the board clearly has some very talented people involved and my goal isn’t to provide redundancy as much as the step in where I most needed and can add value. And baseball terms, I’m willing to be the “utility player” as much as possible. Consider my years of running my own startups as training to expect the unexpected.

But with that said, I do have an expectation of baseline contributions. I love the idea being an evangelist for WAM to my network and an ambassador when one is needed. I love the idea of helping craft/refine the vision and strategy for expansion. I love the idea of being another person for Terri could use as a resource going forward. And I love the idea of sitting on the side and watching budding minds geek out on the cool equipment in the studio. And I hope I’m given those opportunities.

Open Letter Regarding NUSD

As I watch the constant debate around the creation of a new school district in our neighborhood, I’m reminded of this new path that the nation seems to be taking. As with our President’s proclamation of “America’s First”, oblivious to the consequences and shirking our responsibility as a global leader, NUSD is clearly this neighborhood’s attempt at a proclamation of “Northgate First”.

The approach to this exodus is troubling. No one likes gerrymandering, a frustrating tactic used by politicians to subvert the political system by manipulating district boundaries to create an unfair advantage. NUSD is the educational resource version of gerrymandering, a blatant attempt to manipulate boundaries in order to sequester wealthier resources and optimize for their own gain without regard to the impact on the rest of the community. This isn’t necessarily racist. It is absolutely ignorant. It is self-serving benefit disconnected from communal responsibility.

The irony is that, in the name of promoting education, the lessons that our children are getting from this is to take care of yourself first and not think about the consequences it has on the community around you. The message to those affected by this move is clear: your problems are “not my problem”.  We shouldn’t tolerate that. I prefer to live by the words of George Bernard Shaw, who once said “My life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” That’s the philosophy we can choose to take or we can march towards “Northgate First”. Let’s choose carefully. Our children are watching.

Tag Cloud