SebastianSchmidt

I'm a coach for people who are trying to do the most good with their lives while leading a meaningful life.

I'm also a medical doctor who did biosecurity research at Stanford, co-founder of EA Denmark, and an author.

Topic Contributions

Comments

Altruism as a central purpose

Thank you, Joey. This resonated a lot with me and I think this is an important contribution.

I agree that it's important to distinguish between high emotions "fireworks passion" and deeper "compass" passion ~ purpose. A deeply felt sense of pursuing something greater that transcends emotions and personal needs (although they are important too and can easily be neglected. Perhaps, especially by EAs). 

While I'm increasingly talking about this with people around me, I still feel some perceived barrier to doing so in some  EA contexts but this post just expanded my perception of the Overton window. 

Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

Thanks for this. I agree, it's a potential pathway to becoming a coach which involves more than building skills. E.g., forming an identity as a coach - for me it took a long time to be comfortable in the skin of being a coach (likely amplified by doing this during covid and moving to another country where I knew one person only). Ideally, I would have added more nuance and an illustration as it's not a simple linearly progressing approach but when we're new to something we need simplicity.

Would love to read about your path!

Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

I appreciate this although having a list of not-recommended programs for people starting might also be highly valuable. Especially, as it takes quite a bit of nuance to steer clear of the lower quality ones. With that said, I'm curious to hear what high quality you'd like to promote. I'm guessing Paradigm?

Business Coaching/Mentoring For EA Organisations

Great initiative! The time is definitely ripe for something like this and it's wonderful that you're pivoting your business in this way. 

I have one concern, namely that the things you and your clients appear to be optimizing for are growth and revenue/profit. Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with this but I worry that the expertise and skills of your coaches might deviate considerably from what EA leaders want to be optimizing for (e.g., different measures of impact over very long timelines and in epistemic terrain that's very messy). But ultimately, this is an empirical question and I wouldn't be surprised if what you offer is already valuable and my concerns are more important slightly down the line. Did you have any leaders sign up and do you collect feedback from them?

Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

If I were to add a gross simplification of an alternative strategy (that I've used over the past 2 years)

  1. Experiment with different coaches and find a coach whose theory of change, style, and approach you like.
  2. Become an "apprentice" of that coach by getting regular coaching from him/her while reverse engineering/deliberately practice that coaching method.
  3. Get your first coachees and use the simple versions you've acquired this far to incrementally build your own coaching "style". #LearnByDoing
    1. Crucially, get good at requesting feedback from your coachees to grow.
  4. Find peers and mentors with whom you can have many conversations to reflect on and improve your coaching. Hero version: Move together with other coaches.
  5. Follow situational inspiration (i.e., use the challenges and questions you encounter from your individual coaching practice to seek out models, skills, and additional mentors)
  6. Build your map of the coaching landscape and experiment with an at least moderately promising coaching course.
Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

Overall I like this approach a lot and agree with a lot of it (I'm also a coach)

Could you share an example of each of the four categories of coaching courses that you mention? 

While I broadly agree with your assessment, I recognize that I could also easily be wrong as I haven't done a particularly systematic search and I've only done one coaching course myself and spent 15-180 minutes researching 7 other courses.

Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

The bigger coaching landscape:

  1. I appreciate your emphasis on leaders and can clearly see how someone like you would be particularly well-positioned to doing this. However, I think it's worth high-lighting that there are other promising "audiences" who can benefit massively from coaching even though they're currently less impactful. In particular, I'm thinking about underutilized talent (there's so much out there!) as they have much lower opportunity cost on their time (and can more diligently carry out the actions and reflections) and are more flexible about certain worldviews, strategies, etc..
    1. A simple toymodel to describe this with tentative ballpark numbers (sorry for the numbers. We're all intrinsically valuable people capable of living our purpose for the greater good - I hope no one will be offended here):
      1. EA leaders might have an expected lifetime impact of 100 points and great medium-term coaching might increase their lifetime impact by 30% [5%-60%]. 100*1.3 (coaching effect)=130. I.e., 30 counter-factual impact points.
      2. Underutilized talent might currently have an expected lifetime impact of 5 points but can experience astonishing effects from great medium-term coaching and associated "growth time". Concretely, it might increase by 250% [50%-500%]. 5*3.5 =17.5. I.e., 12.5 additional impact points which is the counter-factual.
    2. These numbers are very rough and could easily be off by a factor of 5 in either direction but they do seem kind of reasonable to my first-hand experiences although it's probably more likely than not that they'll be overestimates. However, they broadly show that focusing on underutilized talent might be similarly promising to focusing on leaders although a group of coaches should seek to serve various groups.
    3. What do you think about this - in particular the numbers that I brought forth?
  2. How much unmet (known as well as unknown) demand do you think there currently are within the community? I.e., given the eagerness of the participants (as well as my personal experience) I'm inclined to think that virtually all EA leaders should have a coach.
Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

The specifics of coaching leaders and the trial:

  1. I'm struck by the effects reported after just around 4 sessions ~ 7 hours. I can't help but question whether these effects will last for more than a month after the coaching. When did they fill in the survey relative to the coaching? For how long do you predict that the effects will last?
  2. What do you think the ideal coaching frequency is for people in this reference class? I.e., every week, every other week, once per month? (Assume that we'll have unlimited supply of high quality coaches).
  3. One of the main rooms for improvement (from my perspective) might be if the evaluation had been conducted by a third person and I'll probably see if I can find someone like this if/when I do a trial myself. Do you have any thoughts or reactions to that?
Underinvestment at the top: what I discovered coaching a dozen EA leaders

Thanks so much for this. Super inspiring that you decided to do something as rigorous and transparent as this and thus contributing beyond your own coaching practice.

I find the results mindblowing - especially as it's on people who are steering the trajectory of one of the more promising (youth) communities of our time.  Even just the simple fact that people with so high opportunity cost on their time want to continue says a lot. In other words, if this is as good as it seems, one should prioritize providing this kind of coaching (or something similarly valuable) to all leaders within EA. 

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