Co-founder and co-CEO @ Impact Academy
318Joined Nov 2017


Impact Academy is a non-profit organization that enables people to become world-class leaders, thinkers, and doers who are using their careers and character to solve our most pressing problems and create the best possible future.

I also work as an impact-driven and truth-seeking coach for people who are trying to do the most good.

I'm also a medical doctor, author, and former visiting researcher (biosecurity) at Stanford.


Thanks for your reply.
I agree that it's highly complex and can positively affect other cause areas and I'm happy to jam more on this. However, I also think it's important to not assume that it's a panacea that's good for everything. E.g., I do worry that focusing too much on well-being could be bad for the world as one starts to act in ways that optimize for that and neglects the significance of other cause areas. But I think it's plausibly a really big thing which is why I'm exploring. I've written you a dm to set up a call.

Good luck with this. Happy to have more appropriately great coaches available for people ambitiously trying to do a lot of good.


I'm currently exploring a new cause area profile for Impact Academy. Tentatively, I call it human development and it's strongly related to personal development - perhaps even a synonym. I'm feeling relatively confused about it and how it relates to mental health and community building more broadly - i.e., how it relates to good done in the world. As far as I can tell, it seems as if VIVID is pursuing this. One thing I feel confused about is what outcomes/metrics this field is attempting to optimize and the most promising strategies for accomplishing those outcomes. My current best guess is to use i) well-being (ideally both hedonic and eudaimonic) and ii) professional effectiveness (some measure of productivity). Do you have any better measurements?

Obviously, this is extremely hard because (as you point out) it depends so much on the specific individual. However, I'm guessing that there are some significant broad strokes things one can say about this.

Thanks for this. Just submitted my response. One small miss: When you ask what interventions people are interested in towards the end you've omitted coaching. I assume this is a mistake because you included it in the equivalent question around what interventions they have tried already. :)
When do you expect to publish the results? :)

This is a quick and highly selective summary of Toby Ord’s PhD thesis - Beyond Action. It can be downloaded freely from his website. I primarily wrote this for my own sake but upon completion, I realized that it may be useful to others too. :)




The thesis explores and strengthens global consequentialism and its six major forms. It attempts to address the major objections to act and rule-consequentialism and, somewhat, unifies the three major Western ethical theories.

In chapter 3, he thoroughly assesses the different accounts of global utilitarianism but I found those aspects to be relatively useless because they didn’t enrich my thinking at a sufficiently applied level. However, it did provide value to know that global consequentialism stands up to moral rigor and may be superior to other forms of consequentialism. Furthermore, it gave me insight into how certain moral theories are perpetually developed and how significant progress is being made and made me optimistic about “solving” moral philosophy (which I’m otherwise skeptical of).

When assessing what evaluative focal points to use (i.e., “things” that might be relevant to assess in terms of what outcomes they bring about), Ord focuses on the following:

  • Decision-procedures “what procedure should I follow when deciding what to do?”
  • Motivations and character. He proposes that we focus on these as they guide our actions (and thus are important for outcomes). I felt more drawn motivations and character and thus wrote a short section below.

Motivations and character

Ord proposes the following ontology for motivations (the things which guide our actions) and character:

Virtue, may be thought of as the character traits that tend to give rise to good outcomes.

Both Sidgwick and Julia Driver have spent a significant amount of time assessing virtues in terms of their consequences.

Interestingly, Ord notes that character can have consequences via other effects than the significant acts associated with it. He mentions that having a certain character could change your subconscious reactions such as how much you blush or the facial expressions you may have in response to hearing something.

Conclusion: A diagram of different moral theories and how global utilitarianism captures some of all of them

Note, the arrows can be read roughly as “justifies” (e.g., in deontology, the rules justifies the acts) and symbols and words in gray signify that only some of the theories mention this (e.g., in virtue ethics character only justify acts in some versions).

Similarly, a quote from Mill summarizes the complementarity and tension between ethical schools well:

Mill (1838), p. 111

‘Those who adopt utility as a standard can seldom apply it truly except through the secondary principles; those who reject it, generally do no more than erect those secondary principles into first principles. It is when two or more of the secondary principles conflict, that a direct appeal to some first principle becomes necessary … for the sake of the systematic unity and coherency of ethical philosophy.’

Thanks for sharing. I've only been vaguely familiar with Rees' work and have been somewhat worried about largely deferring to (and recommending) a narrow and very homogenous set of people. I'm reminded of this syllabus on longtermism which includes a more diverse set of thinkers.

Thank you Akash!

I appreciate the distinction between epistemic and emotional hope. You may appreciate the vaguely defined but seemingly interesting existential hope collection.

I'd further add the following points:
1. Focus on the fundamentals (sleep, exercise, meditation, and socializing in particular).
2. Ask yourself, how can I make today a success? Sometimes focusing on the smaller things we have control of can make a big difference.
3. Consider getting a professional who can empower you to be at your best while working on very challenging things. This could be a coach - you can find an overview of coaches and therapists here. This is a strong recommendation based on my own work as a coach (which may make me biased but I'm not listed on the site) and ~ 30+ people who I think very highly of speaking highly of coaching and similar services.

Thanks for this! Are you planning on making this a platform with active matchmaking or is it mainly going to be a listing with low effort vetting (e.g., simple form entry and ~ 15 minutes of verification)?

Load more