Kyle J. Lucchese

Managing Director @ Effective Altruism DC
703 karmaJoined Apr 2022Working (6-15 years)Washington, DC, USA
effectivealtruismdc.org/

Bio

Participation
7

Hi! I'm Kyle (they/them).

Along with Andy Masley (Executive Director), I help run Effective Altruism DC. I am also a qualitative researcher of nonviolent resistance methods.

How I can help others

I might be helpful in discussions on the following subjects:

  • EA philosophy,
  • EA community building,
  • Academic research,
  • Exploring impactful careers, effective giving, fields of study, and/or donations,
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion,
  • Non-directed kidney donation,
  • Buddhism/mindfulness,
  • Traveling/living outside of the U.S.,
  • Or if you just need a friend to listen.

For context: I have a Bachelor's in Business Administration (Marketing/Management) and a Master's in International Affairs (Ethics/Human Rights, with regional specializations in East & Southeast Asia).

Comments
47

Hey, @Mechaluke. Thank you for your post!

Deciding where to go to college and what to study are huge life decisions! It is great to see you are going about this so intentionally. 

In reading your post, I think I have more questions than answers. Most notably:

  1. Have you determined what it is that you want to return to study? This seems unclear in your post.
  2. Where do you want to study? 
  3. What schools are the best for what you want to study? How much does it matter that you go to a top school (objectively and to you personally)? 
  4. How supportive is your current environment? How would that change if you were to move to study in the US? How do you anticipate these changes might impact your health? 

While I have other questions, these seem most broadly pertinent. I'd be happy to chat more 1-on-1 if you think that would be helpful. Feel free to schedule some time with me or send me a message on the Forum.

Glad to hear it! 
 

Just a quick note - EAGxBerlin is confirmed for September 13 - 15. Though applications are not yet open, you can save the date. 

I just want to give a quick shoutout to the whole Forum team. You have done an incredible job creating, testing, and implementing new features and navigating numerous highly complex issues throughout the year. Thank you for all you do! 

(Wishing you a wonderful New Year's, too!)

Context: I have been a practicing Buddhist, primarily in the Plum Village Tradition, since 2011. In addition to my personal practice, I am currently training to become a "lay monastic" (essentially, just doing more formal Sangha-building).

First and foremost, I appreciate your openness about your experience. I definitely understand how frustrating this can be, and you are certainly not alone in this. I feel comfortable in assessing that most, if not all, struggle with this to some extent - even years into practice. Myself included. There are so many variables that impact one's ability to be present and mindful, and it is important to be compassionate toward yourself whenever this happens for you. 

Broadly, what has helped me in my own practice is not conceptualizing meditation as meditation = sitting meditation. There are many forms of meditation (walking, deep relaxation/resting, hugging, eating, etc.) and every moment is an opportunity to be mindful and present. Another aspect of this particular tradition that I have found helpful is to move away from conceptualizing meditation and mindfulness as means to an end (consequentialist/utilitarian-esque thinking), and rather, as the end in itself (this is largely how it is regarded in my main tradition, but others regard meditation as [TLDR:] the way to enlightenment). 

I have also found that more diligently studying the sutras/teachings/texts/history has deepened my understanding and helped my practice, but I have simultaneously worked to avoid over-intellectualizing; instead, working to embody the practices and to integrate them into my daily life (incrementally over time, even if it is just a few seconds of being more mindful per day/week/month). 

As for jumping into a retreat - results vary drastically. Some find this beneficial, others find it extremely challenging and occasionally harmful (the latter is often true if people are struggling with deep emotional/psychological topics). I tend to encourage people to try a one-day retreat, maybe a weekend, rather than going all in on a week or more. It may also be worth considering which type of retreat you partake in; I would recommend doing research and tuning into what sounds best based on your wants/needs at the time you are searching. I attend retreats in various traditions throughout the year, but I most often attend retreats at Plum Village centers, as I have found that style most suitable for my wants/needs. I do find that other retreats/traditions can be more helpful at different points.

It is difficult to discuss this at length in a comment format, but I would be happy to hear more about your experience and discuss it further, if you think doing so would be beneficial (others are welcome, too). Feel free to schedule some time for us to chat.

In the interim, I am happy to answer questions here, in a message, or by email.

Thanks for your questions, Niklas! It is great to hear that attending EAGxBerlin was so beneficial for you both times.

 

Please note: I am not affiliated with CEA in any official capacity. My insights are based on limited information and personal attendance at several EAG(x) events over the past few years.

  1. It is unlikely that attending EAG London would diminish your chances of being accepted to EAGxBerlin, as the latter event tends to have a more regional focus. That said:
    1. In a hypothetical scenario where the admissions team for EAGxBerlin is faced with two equally qualified applicants and one has attended an EAG while the other has not, they might favor the latter if they believe it would bring them more counterfactual benefit. 
    2. Conversely, attending an EAG might positively influence your application, provided you are otherwise qualified. It could be seen as a demonstration of high engagement and knowledge, potentially benefiting other attendees who might be less experienced.
  2. It is my understanding that there will be an EAGxBerlin in 2024.
  3. It is also my understanding that there will be an EAGxRotterdam in 2024.
  4. Volunteering does not increase or decrease the likelihood of your acceptance. Though, your performance as a volunteer may positively or negatively impact how you are perceived. 
    1. Regardless, I highly recommend volunteering at these events. It is an excellent opportunity to deepen engagement with other volunteers and staff while contributing to the smooth operation of the event(s).

I would like to note that some individuals have expressed experiencing diminishing returns as they attend multiple EAG(x) events, especially if they occur in quick succession. This has not been my personal experience. As a community builder, my focus involves sharing insights about EA DC, community building and community health, and policy-related careers, both within the US and other regions of the world.

In a recent post, I shared where I am donating through the end of the year where I am donating through the end of the year.

TLDR

I will likely write a post in January to share my 2024 giving plan. 

Thanks for your comment! The UNOS pairing and BOTEC are great callouts. Fortunately, Johns Hopkins Hospital is a part of the program network. As for the BOTEC: I am going to spend more time researching across sources (including interviews and with the donor team), but finding solid data to factor in has thus far been challenging.

Hi, Eugene. 

Thank you for sharing some of your story. It has been nice speaking with you on a couple of occasions. 

Here are some opportunities that come to mind:

  1. I would start with LSE's Financial Support Office. Explain your situation and how this is impacting your participation at the University. They are the audience most likely to be sympathetic to your situation. 
  2. Open Philanthropy offers a couple of opportunities that may be relevant:
    1. As you are a university group organizer, you might consider applying for the University Organizer Fellowship.
    2. Given your academic interests, performance, and attendance at a top school, consider applying for the Undergraduate Scholarship. The application deadline is August 18.
  3. The UK has a great scholarship portal.
  4. You might also read more about support for students from Ukraine in UK higher education. 
  5. I am unsure of your status in the UK, but you may qualify for support through Student Action for Refugees (STAR).

Please do reach out if it would be beneficial. I wish you the best in your journey! 

We received the following response to a survey, and I think it is relevant, given the topic of this episode:

 

Re: my impact. It wouldn’t let me put in my answer: -$100000. I’d pay to undo my involvement in EA. 

Context for survey analyzers:
Organizers:
Andy, -------, Kyle, --- are great overall. I hear great things about them whenever I run into people who go to EA events, and they are warm and welcoming. I mostly see them at social events and I like them. I appreciate what you do for people and the causes you care about!

Gender: I’ve had no problems at EA events. I know of one woman who was hit on several times after meeting a guy at an EA event, didn’t like it, and wasn’t sure how to handle it. Organizers helped and he stopped hitting on her when he was asked to stop. From what I know, organizers handled it well. Good work.

My impact: (long answer)
My impact clearly went down as my involvement in EA went up.
I pretty desperately wish I could *pay* ~1/3 of my net worth to undo the negative consequences of my EA involvement, and go back to being productive and happy in a perfectly good career that is low impact by EA calculus. It was way better for me, EA friends and colleagues, and the world 
when I unabashedly loved my old job and was a happy, productive human. 

I first got involved via an EA DC reading group and a CEA fellowship in 2020. I read and talked to EA “bigwigs” a bunch around the world and was convinced by rational arguments and EA people that I was Needed in EA and it was The Right Thing To Do for someone with my rational+altruistic values, so I left my “low impact” career. That went badly. I was not productive, generous, or happy anymore and that lasted years. A lot of EAs I knew were suffering and still doing the work though, so I kept on. It got bad eventually and I tried to go back to my old career (working with kids), but I psychologically am not able to perform as well in my previous career either anymore. I have no other equivalent options. My planned lines of retreat if EA things failed (family support and going back to my old career) are not viable for unexpected reasons. I care a lot about career performance, so this has crashed my mental health and self-confidence and finances too.
My remaining options (much lower pay for more hours in a less interesting career) are clearly worse for professional and altruistic goals than what I was doing before, and may not even be possible. My life plans mostly went backwards.

I don’t want organizers to feel bad. I do want someone else to have a different experience. I was a rational person but I was not strong enough against rational arguments that I Was Needed In EA. I can instead point to ways that my head was convinced (via BOTECs, 80k, etc) to override clear data from my heart about what was not good for me personally to do. 

What would have helped instead:
- asking me and others about Agreeableness or Neuroticism and present strong counterarguments to EA thought for those of us who are high in one or both
- Ask me where else I’m already volunteering or donating and *encourage me* to keep doing that. At first, only ask me to work on EA projects without dropping any other things. See how that goes first. 
- Regularly present the counterargument to the EA approach of Maximizing Good at Scale via Your Career. Stop telling me I’m Needed in EA without first encouraging me to improve my current path a bit and see if that sticks. Find someone smart to be in regular conversation with new EAs and organizers who can remind people to *be patient*. Yes you may have short timelines, but I’m not ok with being collateral damage for the cause. Wait to see if people who contribute their time to other causes will *independently* choose to work on EA projects in a way that seems better for their life overall, before asking them to stop contributing time elsewhere to give to EA. 
- Practice humility and gratitude aloud and often for people who keep the world running outside of EA. I’m really glad EAs are trying to keep it all from disappearing, but we do still need a bunch of other people who are keeping civilization running in the meantime. It’s a collaboration. Say that kind of thing aloud often to balance out this sort of thing — 
- I overheard an AI-related EA organizer once say, “That would be stupid!” because someone suggested they should stop working unproductively on EA projects that were also making them miserable. Afaik, that was years ago and they are still unproductive and miserable. I heard another well-liked EA say to a friend who was considering a great non-EA job, “That’s nice, but what does that have to do with saving the world?” 
I get where comes from but it’s not smart or healthy. People are different; they should not all do EA things. 

Many EA organizers seem convinced that what worked well for them will work for others, and that anyone smart and interested in EA who is uncertain or unsatisfied with their current career should be nudged or pulled into an impact-oriented career (impact according to EA definitions). ‘The potential stress will be worth it!”

This is wrong. With some people (like me!) it is Bad for the world when we leave our existing careers.

I wish we told people this earlier and often:
When people are bored or unsatisfied with their job or the scope of their impact, that’s not necessarily a sign that EA will be better for them.

Boredom and frustration and inefficiency are part of a lot adult jobs, even EA jobs! It’s part of adulthood for most people to be bored and annoyed with the limited impact of their work sometimes, and when EAs are allergic to that fact, it’s at least partly a negative symptom of being a youth movement. It doesn’t always go deeper than that. 

I admire people who shoulder ‘boredom for a cause.’ I admire and am thankful for people who make that cause “being able to care of and support myself and my family, plus maybe a few other people.”
It takes a lot of work to get to that point and sustain it for a lot of people in today’s economy. I’m thankful to people who find ways to give within work, and then ‘do more’ to give back outside of work after they’re professionally stable. They often have accumulated wisdom and slack in their life that I no longer have, which they can share with others. 

I was seriously an all-around better person with a better life before I chose to prioritize EA goals over my other goals. That may be true for others too. 
No one wanted it to turn out that way. But it did. 

While EA orgs and work in EA cause areas sometimes are really cool, and it’s satisfying to choose problems to work on carefully and to be around lots of motivated people. But a lot of those orgs are also young and inexperienced still testing out healthy workplace culture and trying to do too many things. EA org staff are busy and their analysis of their impact is often not actually much deeper than a BOTEC and a prayer. I want people to learn that EA work is not necessarily Better or worth the sacrifice, even by EA metrics!

For many people, the Best Career Answer, the Most Good answer for them and for the world is for them to stay excited about the ways they can find satisfaction with the impacts they can have on colleagues and customers in their current career, set some clear professional and personal goals, gain skills to incrementally increase efficacy at work, draw self-esteem from being an ethical and reliable adult professional with interesting/useful hobbies, and increase the sources of satisfaction they have outside of work, including via donating or volunteering for things related to their areas of expertise.

This is not the sexy, prestigious, most ambitious answer that most EAs want for themselves. That’s ok, some EA-sympathetic people should go against the grain and truly decide for themselves what is Good for them. Healthy and smart EAs really really hope people will do that. People need to see and hear this message.

“EA Lite” (having a bit more impact wherever you are) has some good tools for thinking about work satisfaction. God, I’d be excited for the future of EA thinkers if there was at least one prominent, funded, ex-EA or EA-adjacent advocate who was working a “regular job” and creating content in the EA Lite vein for prospective and flailing EAs who really need to consider this line of thought for themselves. 

For example, in Intro to EA Career content, get successful EA-adjacent people with “regular jobs” to regularly and persuasively argue that “EA says it’s rational to maximize how much good your job does. Conventional wisdom is not that. It may go badly for you to try to do that. Really consider conventional wisdom before you discard it. Conventional wisdom and data on life satisfaction data that jobs can be just stable jobs that support your goals, and Good Careers can take lots of forms.”…. Get someone successful who actually believes this to say it. 

*Then* get someone successful who believes 80K stuff to present that. 

Lastly, I know EAs are not going to evangelize fewer career changes. “Plan changes” are incentivized as a measure of impact and most EAs believe that what they believe is Good. But my plans changed and it was bad. How is that counted? I wanted that to be counted in this survey. It’s a number that should be credited to CEA and 80K too really, not solely EA DC. It was CEA fellowships, 80K, EA reading groups, and EAG(x)s as much as DC EA that got to me.

I am pretty [expletive] up now but I hope others figure out how to be less so. 

Whoever reads this has permission to publish it in whole or in part somewhere.

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