MaxDalton

I lead the Centre for Effective Altruism. I used to be a moderator here, and helped to launch the new version of the Forum in 2018.

Here's my LinkedIn.

Feel free to reach out if you think I might be able to help you. Follow the links to give (anonymous) feedback to me or CEA.

Wiki Contributions

Comments

CEA Update: Q2 2021

I'm glad you appreciate it! Thanks for the feedback on those comparisons: I'll make a note to try to give more historic data points in the future.

Which EA forum posts would you most like narrated?

I think it would be really cool if you could read the posts in the introductory sequences (the ones in blue with numbers here https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/sequences). We're planning to keep polishing/publicising these posts as an introduction to EA, and I think it would be nice if there were an audio version for people who preferred that.

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

Good question! Unfortunately I don't have an amazing answer. I think the values are a bit of a mix between simply reflecting where we currently are, and where we'd like to go. Overall, it feels like we're maybe 60-80% towards the ideal on these dimensions. So they are genuine strengths, but I think there's still room for us to grow in the dimension. There isn't one that stands out as more already-achieved, or as  more in need for improvement: they're all in that ~60-80% range.

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

I love my job, and feel very lucky.

Positives:

  • I genuinely like and trust my colleagues. I really enjoy working with people who care about very similar things and are deeply into the same ideas/culture. I've learned a lot from them.
  • Being able to (somewhat) shape the role to what I enjoy and am good at (e.g. I hate public speaking but love writing - others at CEA are the opposite, so I can write speeches for them). This is something that we try to do for everyone at CEA: to find a role that really plays to their strengths.
  • Facing a lot of open-ended and challenging projects, and having feedback (either from colleagues, stakeholders, or reality) on them. I think this is a great way to learn (and again, I think this is maybe pretty common at CEA).
  • When I feel like we're making progress, it's amazing. It's so good to invest deeply in something and see it pay off.

Negatives: (I think this basically boils down to "when it goes wrong, it's stressful")

  • The flip side of shaping the role around me is that I can't always shape the role to my interests and personal likes! I gave a talk at the EA Coordination Forum and that really stressed me out (I think probably it was a mistake to give the talk).
  • The flip side of the progress is that I feel pretty bad when we mess up or I fail at some project I've been working on.
  • The flip side of the open-endedness is that it's often unclear whether I'm doing the right thing. I spend a lot of time reflecting on this sort of thing. It's a bit stressful.
AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

Amy covered most of this, but to expand on a few points.

  • My favourite retreat activity was an EA-themed baking competition. Our last retreat was in December, and we also had a really nice "secret santa" round.
  • Memorable office party activities include seeing who can slide the furthest on a beanbag on a smooth floor, and trying to estimate how many average dinosaurs you'd have to have  to equal the mass of the moon.
  • Caitlin is our head of people ops. A big part of her job is supporting staff morale - both by facilitating fun things like the above, and by making sure that staff have the support they need.
AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

I agree with a lot of Amy/Julia's impressions. Some other thoughts:

7 years ago (I was an intern over the summer, so I'm probably missing some things). I think "CEA" was really just a legal entity for a wide variety of other projects. There was a bit more research being done in-house (e.g Global Priorities Project), and I think basically everything was happening in Oxford. 

Compared to then: more cohesive, less research, people more distributed across the world.

5 years ago: things were beginning to get a bit more integrated. Different teams were coming together and trying to figure out what the internal culture was. I think CEA was also really figuring out what to focus on: there were research projects, projects promoting effective giving, EA community building etc. 

Compared to then: Narrower focus and more established/consistent team culture.

2 years ago: I think there was a lot of uncertainty: we were searching for new leadership, and didn't have a solid long-term strategy. However, I think we were beginning to integrate a bunch of cool hires that we made in 2018, and we had a supportive culture. We were focused on making sure we followed through on existing commitments (rather than ambitious goals/new things). We had an office in Berkeley as well as in Oxford.

Compared to then: Clearer goals/leadership, more focus on expansion, no Berkeley office and more focus on remote work.

I think I listed mostly good or neutral things. When I reflect on what I miss from previous eras, the main thing is the in-person office culture (though I hope we'll get this back as we move into our new Oxford office).

AMA: Working at the Centre for Effective Altruism

Amy covered some of our work here. I think more broadly this is something that we try to consider in all of our programs.

Another example of some proactive work is discussed here (under "epistemics").

Thoughts on being overqualified for EA positions

If people aren't listening to Bob because they don't like his leadership style, then I would say that Bob is a bad culture fit (or, to be blunt, not a good leader). I wouldn't describe this as the organization "not letting him thrive."

I could also imagine it being that the org has a bad culture (e.g. they systematically don't listen to the ideas of people in more junior roles)

CEA update: Q1 2021

For groups support calls, one staff member's NPS was 83% and another's was 55%. (They were talking to different user groups, which probably explains some of the discrepancy.)

CEA update: Q1 2021

Thanks for explaining! The guess about how people use the scale seems pretty plausible to me.

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