Coaching

Great coaching can change your life - run experiments

I claim that coaching can be among the five best things you do for your impact and well-being this year which will have important ripple effects on your life (40-80% confidence depending on various factors such as consistency of sessions). More concretely, I claim that this holds true with an investment of ~ 12-20 sessions with a great coach that fits you well. And, if combined with serious personal/professional development more broadly (~ 500-1000 hours), it might be one of the best things you do in your life (that has been the case for me and others). This is a big-if-true claim and I urge you to take it seriously by

  1. Experimenting with coaching yourself
  2. Reading a more rigorous case (including academic evidence, reasoning, and case studies in the comment section) that I co-authored on the Effective Altruism Forum here

Sadly, finding a great coach is difficult and some coaches are clearly misguided (e.g., revenue optimizing click bait on Youtube) while others are clearly under confident in the value they provide. Consequently, coaching is a high variance service. Fortunately, even okay-ish coaching with a well-intended beginner coach (or close friend) seems to improve the subsequent week by ~ 10% in terms of productivity, well-being, or habits so don’t be too risk-averse with experimenting (see a thoughtful post by Ben Kuhn here). 

So how do you go about finding the right coach?

  1. Find a few promising coaches
    1. Ask like-minded peers whether they’ve benefited from a particular coach
    2. Explore at least one other coach’s website/offer (see an overview of coaches here)
    3. Set up a free fit call (if possible)
  2. Run an experiment (e.g., six sessions) with the most promising one
 

Okay, so with that clarified, I’ll now enthusiastically yet sincerely present my coaching which has some probability of being one of the best five things you do this year (unless, of course, you’re reading this by the end of the year, lol 🙃).

Potential results

Benefits acquired

The following are examples of benefits that can be effectively acquired via my coaching (though it’ll require some effort from you to maintain them after our coaching) depending on what we decide to work on together:

1

Vision and hopeful career strategy

Higher clarity on a vision and strategy of how you can maximally contribute to the world with all its promises and pressing problems. This could include having long-term goals, finding your spot within the EA sphere, or excelling in your existing career path.

2

Thinking, reasoning, and decision-making

Better ability to represent “stuff” at the right level of abstraction, clarify assumptions, apply the right models, and use appropriate frameworks for your decisions.

3

Peak performance and purposeful productivity

Greater ability to set and accomplish bigger goals than before – especially via increasing the number of deep work hours spent on the most important tasks. Additionally, you’ll start to approach whatever you do as a worldclass […] in training.

Well-being

Use reflection and data to uncover what true well-being is for you and do more of what makes you happy and less of what makes you suffer while uncovering the important relationships between well-being and productivity. Bonus: Transition more towards eudaimonic well-being and away from hedonic well-being.

4

Approximating your best self

Become a more moral, wise, and heroic version of yourself by getting more clarity on the qualities you most want to embody and deliberately acquire them while creating an alive relationship with your best self and role-models.

5

Growth mindset

Realize that growth and astonishing progress is possible via strategic and sustained effort over years and transcend the binary fixed mindset that tells you that it’s all about innate talent and IQ (while keeping grandiosity and ego in check).

6

Masterpiece days

How you spend your days is how you spend your life. You’ll build meaningful morning and evening habits that you’ll follow with high consistency – not just something you do for a few days and then stop because it gets boring or you forget about it.

7

Self-relationship and self-compassion

You’ll come to appreciate the importance of creating a compassionate and loving relationship with yourself and ensure that you do activities that make you thrive without building complacency or losing your altruistic values.

8

Overcoming and growing from challenges (anti-fragile)

Increased ability to constructively learn from challenges and appreciate that they’re a part of life (at least until we govern the laws of physics and consciousness 🙂 ) that can teach you a lot. Instead of being thrown off for days, you’ll be thrown off for hours or minutes.

9

Habit mastery (including digital mastery)

Greater ability to implement and consistently follow desired habits (e.g., deep work or exercising) and decrease undesired behavior (e.g., excessive consumption of digital media).

10

Habit mastery (including digital mastery)

Greater ability to implement and consistently follow desired habits (e.g., deep work or exercising) and decrease undesired behavior (e.g., excessive consumption of digital media).

10

Pains alleviated

The following are examples of pains that can be substantially alleviated (though it’ll require some effort from you to keep them at bay after our coaching) via my coaching depending on what we decide to work on together:

Social comparisons and need for validation

Spend less time browsing on social media being consumed by envy of the impressive things people achieved at a younger age than you and desperately needing others (especially higher status people) to validate what you do and who you are.

1

Struggling with our collective suffering and existential problems

Instead of falling into a hole of despair and empathetic suffering when engaging with the complex catastrophic problems of our time, you’ll build a sense of equanimity and hopeful compassion that allows you to serve the world rather than struggling with it.

2

Hopelessness and victimhood

Feel less like a victim of your circumstances who blames others for why your life isn’t the way you want and more like an empowered and hopeful agent who can influence (although not fully control) what you get from life.

3

Procrastination and guilt

Instead of wasting time on social media and internetting around until you feel guilty, you’ll courageously start your days doing the hard and important things and have a sense of winning most of your days.

4

Burnout and putting out fires

Move away from feeling as if you constantly have to solve problems, meet deadlines, and merely “survive” and more towards a thriving state of proactive accomplishment with clear time for replenishing and growing.

5

Perfectionism and inadequacy

Reduce the unreasonable standards imposed by your inner perfectionist and shallow social comparisons that leads you to feel like an inadequate piece of shit (especially in the absence of validation) and increase your ability to calibrate expectations and give yourself constructive feedback from a place of deep self-trust and self-worth.

6

What they say

Everybody should have a Seb. He really helps you take something chaotic and confusing and turn it into a manageable system where the next steps are clear. He’s got a great balance of helping you on the emotional side as well as the productivity side, and seeing how they relate to each other.

Kat Woods (Founder of Nonlinear)

Kat is the founder of Nonlinear, an organization focused on reducing existential and suffering risks by incubating cost-effective interventions.
Weekly coaching sessions with Sebastian during 2021 have leveled me up as a leader and increased my focus and capabilities toward building safe AGI. He’s helped me clarify my long-term and short-term priorities and create systems to build new skills. These systems range from installing new habits to tracking systems to measure progress and hold myself accountable. It’s usually the highlight of my week in terms of sheer utility, and he’s also just a delightful and caring person!

Michael Andregg (Co-founder of Fathom Radiant)

Michael is co-founder of Fathom Radiant – a company building a new type of computer to enable safe machine intelligence who has investors like Jaan Tallinn and Jeff Bezos and has been advised by FHI’s GovAI.

I now trust myself and my abilities to do what’s aligned with my priorities and saying no to things that are ultimately unimportant. I went from procrastinating while feeling guilty and stressed, doing unimportant things optimized for improving my CV to setting realistic and motivating goals that are aligned with my values while enjoying more time off and peace of mind. I now also have solid habits around sleep and exercise and trust that I can implement new habits when needed. I would highly recommend coaching with Sebastian!

Mathias Bonde Chairperson of EA Denmark

Coaching helps me think of more habits, routines and thought patterns as mutable. Sebastian helped me to develop better systems for the structure of my workday, daily planning, and increasing time for deep work and improve my communication skills. Sebastian gives thoughtful feedback, asks the right questions, and helps to find the experiments that reduce or eliminate the core of the problem the situation.

Charlotte Siegmann - Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow in Economics at Global Priorities Institute

My approach

You’ll get a space for going deep on what’s most important to you facilitated by someone who’s an attentive listener, a curious soul, and genuinely cares about your flourishing. Having such a space while getting the undivided attention of another thoughtful and capable person is incredibly effective. Two minds are better than one.

I feel a deep commitment to both who you are now and who you are capable of being. Most of the time, you’ll feel my warmth, appreciation of the progress you’re making, and curiosity about what you want to work on. Other times, you’ll be challenged by my exceptional standards, questions, and suggested directions because it’d be unethical to refrain from using my expertise in altruistic talent development to positively change the trajectory of your life. Collaboratively balancing these two commitments is difficult and that’s why we’ll co-create a feedback culture between us because no one is perfect and you and I aren’t going to be the first ones.

I recognize that we humans are fascinatingly complex systems with different parts that all interact with each other. Maybe your perceived pain point (or bug) is “I’m not productive enough” but the actual problem is that you’ve lost touch with your professional purpose, sleeping suboptimally, or that your schedule is all over the place and lack good habits.

You almost certainly have great ideas, insights, and theories about how you want yourself and the world to be. You’ve read and listened to many books, blogs, and podcasts and you’ve had many inspiring conversations. That’s great (👊)! Sadly, this isn’t sufficient for your long-term flourishing. Consequently, this means that many of your improvements have remained temporary quick fixes or (intense) short-lived emotional relief as opposed to consistent and long-lasting change. Therefore, we’ll take substantial care to translate the things we work on into high-quality yet pragmatic implementations and follow up on them. Moving you from theory to practice. From big ideas to real-world progress.

Paul Rohde, is one of the most exceptional humans I’ve ever met.

He manages to simultaneously be a

  • Decent publishing researcher (PhD at LSE)
  • Ambitious Founder (flourishing humanity corporation)
  • Exemplary coach
  • Playfully light-hearted friend.

The craziest thing though? He was working as a shop clerk when he was 19 with no intentions of doing high school and university due to his socioeconomic background. But due to some great teachers and substantial personal development he incrementally changed his life over the past 13 years.

He epitomizes positive psychology (the science and practice of human flourishing) and behavioral science (data-driven psychology with a focus on creating behavioral change via interventions) while being among the wisest, committed, light-hearted, and intellectually capable people I’ve ever met. I’ve had the fortune of living and/or co-working with him for three years (a lot of osmosis!), received 57 coaching sessions (some of which were 4 hours long), and hundreds of intense discussions. While you’re likely better off by getting coaching from him (do check his availability) you’ll still be benefitting a lot from his character and expertise via me.

How I view the peaks of human development is deeply informed by my 7-year long involvement with effective altruism. Both the project (doing the most good for team sentience) and the community and its norms (which is great but has room for improvment). In you, I try to cultivate an extended morality, love, and altruism towards people close to us and on the other side of the globe. To humans as well as non-human animals. To those alive today and to the rest of our intergenerational family who has yet to be born. I aspire to support you in doing the most good with your career and life and focus on the careers that you find particularly promising while still taking care of yourself. Additionally, I try to cultivate excellent truth-seeking standards in the people I work with. In particular, a Scout Mindset: the motivation to see things as they are – not as you wish for them to be. With that said, your intuitions and judgment can be incredibly important and hardcore rationality and deference to authorities can foster unhealthy self-doubt.

The offer - six session experiment

Session duration:

1.5 hours.

Price:

$400 per session (happy to do $300 for those who otherwise can’t afford it or assist with finding external funding).

Frequency:

Weekly (at least the first four weeks)

Initial commitment:

Six session experiment because long-term change takes effort and takes consistency. For reference, this study found that it takes anywhere between 18 to 254 days to change habits in high quality and lasting ways. While we work on things other than habits, I believe that this is illustrative of the point I’m making.

Time-investment:

In addition to the weekly sessions, it’s essential that you invest an additional ~ 2 hours in the tailored action points you identify during each session (lasting change takes strategic implementation and sustained effort).

Why you shouldn't work with me.

In general I find it admirable to steelman the opposing view – in this case why you shouldn’t work with me.
While I think my coaching is cost-effective, I recognize that working with me is a significant investment and you might need more low cost experiments (in fact, that was the case for myself when I started coaching). In that case, you’re better off exploring options that are i) cheaper and ii) more flexible in terms of how much time you commit. I wish I could give more high-quality and concrete advice on how to do that but for now I trust that your own experimentation is the best approach.
If you want a coach who is solely using a non-directive approach and doesn’t bring in his or her expertise on human development.
You’re only interested in working on a single well-circumscribed problem as opposed to a more holistic approach (in the non woo-woo sense of the word).

You can find a better coach than me. While I’ve come to believe that I’m a great coach for my niche there are also other great coaches out there. The following coaches might currently be as good or better than me for some people:
Paul Rohde (He has my highest recommendation and I get coaching from him. However, he might not be a good choice if you are not seriously committed and if you have difficulties with occasional tough love.).
Tee Barnett (For leaders, specifically).
Georgie Nightingall (For emotional work, specifically).

If you’re struggling with substantial health issues (physical and/or mental) or are looking to heal a trauma – then finding a domain professional is definitely more important than coaching with me. However, they needn’t be mutually exclusive and can have synergistic effects.

Excited and ready to run a six session experiment?

Fill in this form or simply book a 30-minute fit call below