Dave Cortright

121 karmaJoined Dec 2018Working (15+ years)


I am a certified professional coach (New Ventures West), with additional experience in crisis counseling (Crisis Text Line), compassionate listening (7 Cups), and peer mentoring (NAMI). I shifted to mental health and well-being after 25 years of working as a designer, manager, and director at various Silicon Valley tech companies. I am passionate about helping others, and by guiding them to find their true calling, I amplify my impact on improving the world.

I have been a serious philanthropist since 2004 and an effective altruist since 2017. I support environmental and animal welfare causes, as well as EA capacity building (through my coaching) and global mental health. I am a member of the International Coaching Foundation (ICF).

How others can help me

I'm looking for partners to work on a peer support group (PSG) program that will help alleviate the global mental health crisis. I'm especially interested in working with students at colleges and universities.

How I can help others

Figuring out what to do next in your life for maximal impact. 

Don’t ask what the world needs, but ask what makes you come alive, because that is what the world needs: people who have come alive.

—Howard Thurman


Topic Contributions

That’s true but in my experience the two are related. Things you care about you’ll be better at and vice versa. The protagonist from Good Will Hunting is the exception, not the rule

Sure, I'm all for trial and error. But the key is to "fail fast." If you're white-knuckling it—or even just drifting along not really engaged—for months on end, it's time to make a change.

I see elements of a common story in EA: I'm ok at X and EA needs more X, so that's what I'll do, even thought I'm not super passionate about it. The value to the world will make up for my lack of enthusiasm. I will make a sacrifice for the greater good.

This is a noble ideal, but in practice, I've never seen it sustained over the long term. There are a lot of ways to contribute to EA, and while some on paper might look more effective than others, intrinsic motivation dwarfs any of those differences. As long as you are choosing from the options within EA (or whatever you feel is effective), finalizing based on your internal compass is the way to go.

Thanks for sharing your story. I'm confident it will help others "fail faster" and avoid spending too long on a path that doesn't work for them.

Big Think just posted a video about improving leader selection by screening for psychopathy including narcissism… 

Seems like this is important, neglected, and possibly tractable. Is there anyone out there working on screening leaders for psychopathy?

I’ve been working on a logical, science-based definition of the arbitrary race labels[1] we’ve assigned to humans. The most succinct definition I’ve come up with is evolutionary physiological acclimatization. Essentially, the bodies of the descendants of people living in an environment with specific climate attributes and trends will become more adapted to that environment. For example, the darker skin, larger noses, and bigger lips of people of African descent helped their ancestors survive in the intense sunlight and heat.[2] Ironically, we have migrated to parts of the world where our physiology is mismatched with the environment.

Race is fundamentally an artificial construct that helped people in positions of wealth and power protect their place. They chose visible superficial traits to make it easier to delineate the in-group (whom the law protects but does not bind) from the out-group (whom the law binds but does not protect).[3]

I believe it’s necessary to acknowledge what race was and what it actually is if we are to move to a world where we truly treat all people as equals.

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Imposter syndrome is innately illogical. It presumes that everyone else either has poor judgment, or they see the truth but is going along with the deception that you aren’t capable of your current position. Poor judgment or “going along to get along” may be the case for any given individual, but when you add up all of the people in the group you interact with, it is statistically improbable, or it would require a Truman Show level of coordination to execute.

The antidote to imposter syndrome is trust. Trust in others to make fair and honest assessments of you and your capabilities. And trust in yourself and the objective successes you’ve achieved to reach your current place.

Thanks for the info! I fixed the broken link to Eric Barker's article on the Grant Study. Dr. Robert Waldinger—the current director of the study—just published a book called The Good Life, which I recommend if you want a deeper dive into the stories behind the data.

And here's an unpaywalled version Atlantic article from 2009 on the study.

This is objectively the best approach. If everyone just stepped up and put in the work to take care of themselves, we wouldn’t need charity at all. I shared the post with Hank Rearden and he’s 100% on board.

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