Founding a NGO Transforming Lives for 13k+ girls in Africa +🌍
Effective altruism and how to actually solve pressing problems
Have you ever imagined what regrets you’d have if you died right now? I recently talked with my close friend Maggie about this + Stoicism, and we realized we’d live our lives a lot differently if we reevaluated the bigger picture and really thought about this question.
"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" -Steve Jobs
Talking with Ziyaan definitely reminded me of the importance of living life with intention. Regret minimization is a powerful decision making framework if leveraged properly, and often times gets us past the illusion of perceived risks.
💓 Effective altruism - frameworks to actually make a difference
💪 Empowerment vs solution
❔ The “Why” and “How” of social impact
🎙 Δx podcast
3 years. $3-8. 100% biodegradable. Ziyaan created For the Menstruator from a school project, following a transformative life experience as a teenager in Kenya.
Over 500 million menstruators don’t have access, in Kenya 65%, in Africa an average of 1 in 10 girls don’t have access. These numbers are huge and no one is talking about this.
After a near-death experience when he was 15, Ziyaan had a wake up call. When he saw a documentary about menstruators not having access to sanitary products, he started off with a local effort with helping 22 girls in Tanzania. Since then, they’ve changed lives for 13,500+ girls.
But his podcast is about all the things you don’t usually hear about: the story, the “how”, the truth about trying to solve real, hard problems. It’s the raw, authentic, powerful, and Ziyaan-version of the story.
💎 Δx takeaways
Ziyaan’s life “began” when he faced a near-death experience with dengue fever (a mosquito-borne viral infection most common in Southeast Asia and Africa).
I try to live every single day with that mindset. If I had to pass away, would I have fulfilled my purpose or left a legacy or done something meaningful for this world? Would I have made a contribution? And unfortunately most ppl don’t think about that. We get so caught up in the day to day stuff... and one thing to leads to another and you find yourself on your deathbed and you have all these regrets about how you should’ve lived your life.
I’m curious how we can engineer those “perspective-shift” moments for ourselves. Perhaps a good first step is to imagine what would we miss if we had to evaluate our lives right now — if you could start over, what would you change? and then start doing those things now. We can internalize the idea that it’s way too easy to get caught up in trivial matters and not really start living life until it’s too late — in that sense, by minimizing regret, taking bigger risks, and leaving behind fear of judgement.
Everyone made jokes, I lost a lot of friends because I was working on something like this. But if I spent too much time thinking about it, 13,500 people around the world wouldn’t be able to have their lives changed.
Another interesting point was how much we often focus on solutions vs. empowerment.
Solution = one-time, create dependence, unsustainable in the long term
Empowerment = “teaching someone how to fish vs giving them fish”, grassroots, exponential effect (empower people who then help out their entire communities)
The secret behind Ziyaan’s sustainable impact was that he prioritized empowerment > solution:
made his original product from a temporary, one-time solution which only served to create dependence syndrome ⇒ long term empowerment
went in and tried to understand problems from a grassroots level, talked to people, used storytelling, and created stitching workshop to teach them how to create their own menstrual products
We also talk about effective altruism, the idea of “using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible, and taking action on that basis.” In other words, how to solve the world’s most meaningful and pressing problems.
Resources mentioned: “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!” Ted Talk, Yes Theory YT
📰 Δx change
💨 MIT’s fastest robot cheetah: Their model-free reinforcement learning system broke the record for the fastest run recorded :0
🧬 Most complete human genome yet: The Telomere-to-Telomere (T2T) Consortium—named for the chromosomes’ end caps—fills in all but five of the hundreds of remaining problem spots, leaving just 10 million bases and the Y chromosome only roughly known.
💻 2022 Top 10 breakthrough technologies: MIT Tech Review’s annual list of 10 Breakthrough Technologies which they believe will have the biggest impact. [☝️ Great place to generate ideas for problems to work on.]
I’ve been experimenting with a new form of podcast episodes which I think you’ll like a lot. More to come soon :)