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Thoughts on being overqualified for EA positions

Another point I've heard made a few times (and at-least-a-little agree with):

Let's say Bob transitions from COO at a mid-sized org to finance manager at a small org. Bob has done finances before, and within a few months has set up some excellent systems. He now only needs to spend 10 hours a week on finances, and tells his manager (Alice) that he's interested in taking on other projects.

Alice doesn't currently have projects for Bob, but Alice and Bob saw this coming and set clear expectations that Bob would sometimes run out of things to do. Bob was fine with this, he's happy to spend his extra time at home with the kids.

But also... Bob notices that their HR systems could use an upgrade. He writes up a plan and shares it at the next team meeting. Some people think this is a good idea, but the HR manager doesn't want to implement the plan and Alice doesn't want to put Bob in charge of HR systems.

Bob is a little confused but shrugs and goes back to building a chicken coop.

This happens a few more times, and it's taking up more and more of Alice's time to review Bob's proposals. She likes Bob's ideas and wants to find ways to implement them, but doesn't like Bob's leadership style so doesn't want to put him in a leadership position. A couple other people in the org do like Bob's style, and are confused about why he isn't put in charge of more projects.


So the takeaway is something like: even if you are hiring an experienced person to a junior role, you are essentially hiring them to a senior role because they think like a senior hire. If their work and ideas are not given the space to thrive (which means basically treating them as senior staff), then it'll likely be a source of tension. 

It's harder to carve out a senior-shaped-hole at an organization and higher stakes to hire someone with more seniority (which in my mind means autonomy over a budget and maybe a report or two). Organizations do this successfully all the time but it's a much more significant effort than hiring a junior role. 

Or put another way: the more agent-y the person you hire, the more you'll need to be careful about principal-agent problems. 


There is a bunch of nuance in here and various solutions, but I think it contributes to some hesitance around senior>junior transitions. 

Some quick notes on "effective altruism"

Ah whoops, thanks for the clarification. I'm glad that delineation was made during the session! 

Hmm so maybe some weaker point:  perhaps banners like 'atheism' and 'feminism' have the property 'blend me with your identity or consequences', whereas EA doesn't as much, and maybe that's better. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Anyway, thanks for the post Jonas, I agree with many points and have had similar experiences.

Some quick notes on "effective altruism"

at the Leaders Forum 2019, around half of the participants (including key figures in EA) said that they don’t self-identify as "effective altruists

Small note that this could also be counter evidence - these are folks that are doing a good job of 'keeping their identity small' yet are also interested in gathering under the 'effective altruism' banner. (edit: nevermind, seems like they identified with other -isms) .

Somehow the EA brand is threading the needle of being a banner and also not mind-killing people ... I think.

Would EA be much worse if we removed the 'banner' aspect of it? I don't know... it feels like we're running an experiment of whether it's possible to nurture and grow global prioritist qualities in the world (in people who might not have otherwise done much global prioritism, without a banner/community to help them get started). It's not clear if we're done with that experiment - if anything, initial results look promising from where I'm sitting. So my initial thought is that I don't quite want to remove the banner variable yet (but then again maybe Global Priorities could keep that variable)

Apply now for EA Global: Reconnect (March 20-21)

Thanks John, these are useful points which  also help me orient towards the conference!

Apply now for EA Global: Reconnect (March 20-21)

We’re particularly keen to reconnect with people who have been active EAs in the past but have drifted away from the community.

I have a number of friends that fall into this bucket, but when I think of inviting them I hesitate because I'm not sure what value they would get from it. Does anyone have a sense why  attending this event would be good for someone who has 'drifted away from the community'?

How to best address Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

+1 to stretching and mobilization, helped for me. Rock climbing helped my partner.

(the best theory I've found so far, but hard to tell if true) Often times muscle injury prevention is helped with teaching your brain/body how to activate the muscle in healthy ways (in addition to rest/stretching/etc). Sometimes much of the problem is your brain/muscles are trying to protect other muscles that are being used poorly, and this compounds (the 'helping' muscles get overworked, and other muscles try to save those ones, etc). 

How to best address Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

One thing that helped a lot for me was  using a keyboard with thumb keys (especially replacing keys where I typically used my pinkies like backspace, enter, cmd/ctrl, and shift). Faster to learn than dvorak and imo a more effective intervention.

I used an Ergodox EZ, there's also Keyboardio, Kinesis, and others.

This feels like an area where our society is insane:  our strongest, most dextrous fingers share A SINGLE KEY on the keyboard. 

Parenting: Things I wish I could tell my past self

Thanks for putting this together Michelle, and congrats! Would love to see something like annual updates :)

EA Assembly & Call for Speakers

Hey all,

The EA Book Club will be meeting before this assembly (2:30pm Eastern time) to discuss Will MacAskill's new book, Doing Good Better. RSVP Here.

p.s. I'm excited to hear about projects during the Assembly, and possibly share my own (just applied!)

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