BrianTan's Shortform

by BrianTan27th Dec 20207 comments
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How I learned about EA and how EA Philippines started

I’m Brian, co-founder of EA Philippines, and a recipient of a community building grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism. I think some people might be curious about how I first found out about and got interested in effective altruism, since this is a question a lot of EAs ask to other EAs. So I decided to write this Shortform post. I’ll also talk below about how we started EA Philippines.

I first found out about EA through the 80,000 Hours website in 2017. I was helping organize an event called the ASES Bootcamp for Career Design, a three-day conference that aimed to give Filipino students career advice on how to be great designers, marketers, coders, and entrepreneurs.

I posted on social media about the event, and a friend of mine sent me the link to 80,000 Hours, since he said it might be relevant for me to read for organizing the bootcamp. I ended up reading the entire 80,000 Hours career guide online, and I found it really interesting. I was already drawn to making a large impact with my life before reading 80,000 Hours, but I mainly thought about doing this through creating or joining a startup, or through content creation. 

80,000 Hours helped me realize that there are other high-impact career paths out there, and that there’s more pressing problems to solve than the ones I had in mind. I think the two top problems I wanted to solve at the time were helping people become more productive (i.e. through creating productivity-related tools or content), and helping people join or start startups, neither of which were in 80K’s top paths or problems. 

However, no one else I talked to about 80,000 Hours or EA was as interested in it as me back then. As such, I didn’t do much about my interest in effective altruism. However, I think 80,000 Hours played a role in how I crafted a life mission for myself later that year in 2017, which is to help people at scale. I made this my mission statement because I looked up to people, such as entrepreneurs and content creators, who were able to help millions or billions of people at scale. I wanted to emulate them with my life.

How we started EA Philippines

In the middle of 2018, I was about to enter my final year in my undergraduate degree in the Ateneo de Manila University, and I was thinking that I should start re-planning my career given that I was going to graduate soon. As such, I re-read the 80,000 Hours career guide, and got interested again in effective altruism because of that.

So in around August 2018, I searched on Facebook if there was an Effective Altruism Philippines or Manila, and there was none yet. However, I then searched again around October 2018, and suddenly there was already a Facebook page for Effective Altruism Manila, which we later renamed to Effective Altruism Philippines, with only around 40 likes.

I decided to message the page and found out that it was just one person running it - Kate Lupango. I met up with her and she invited Tanya Quijano, someone who she was told was also interested in effective altruism. Soon after, we decided to start organizing events under the name Effective Altruism Philippines, and our group has grown a lot since then. You can read about our progress in 2019 here.

In 2019, while helping run EA Philippines, I was interested to invest more time in learning more about EA. I listened to a lot of 80K podcast episodes, and read a lot of EA and EA-related books. I was just listening to these for fun. Little did I know that this knowledge would be very valuable for me for a job.

If you want to learn more about how EA Philippines got a community building grant, you can read this post.

GiveWell is a sponsor of the latest podcast episode of Tim Ferriss, the best-selling author and podcaster. I am a fan of Tim Ferriss and his podcast, and I think GiveWell sponsoring his podcast will lead to thousands of people learning about GiveWell, and subsequently donating to GiveWell and/or their top charities based on his recommendation. 

I wouldn't be surprised if GiveWell got at least a 4x return on donations by sponsoring this podcast. I am really happy to see  GiveWell mentioned on his podcast, and I think Tim gave a really personal spiel in his recommendation of them! He even mentioned that his podcast episode with William MacAskill in 2015 led to at least $100,000 of organic donations to GiveWell and/or its charities (based on donors organically attributing them to Tim Ferriss).

It looks like GiveWell may have advertised on more than 35 podcasts! They talk about their podcast advertising here and here.

Oh cool. Yeah I had heard that they have been experimenting and have had some success advertising on podcasts. I didn't know though that they've advertised on more than 35 already. I wonder if they're going to try sponsoring YouTube videos next. Not running YouTube ads, but paying so they can be mentioned by a YouTuber with a somewhat EA-aligned audience. I think Lex Fridman would be a good example. He interviewed Will MacAskill this year. Maybe that would be worth trying out.

Hey Prabhat, yeah I'm aware of Kurzgesagt, and am happy they have videos on topics related to EA. But they've never specifically mentioned EA or GiveWell yet. I think either of those happening could have a large effect.

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