Lee Davy talks with Philipp Gruissem about his absence from the World Series of Poker , his new psychology project and much more.
In this interview with Philipp Gruissem we talk about his absence from the World Series of Poker (WSOP), his growth in the effective altruism movement over the past 12-months, and what it feels like to mentioned in Peter Singer’s new book: The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically.
We also talk about his new business project Re.Mind: Changing Perspectives, his views on drugs and what he would do if he had 10,000 hours spare to master a new art.
I didn’t see you at the World Series this year.
“It’s the first time that I missed the World Series in the past five years. I had some visa issues. The United States don’t want me anymore. They think I am a bad boy.”
Did you miss it?
“I don’t like Las Vegas. It makes me feel bad. It starts after four or five days, and then after three to four weeks I am a different person, so I was very happy not to be there. But when the $500k was going on and the One Drop and Main Event I was a little bit sad, but I have had a really good time in Berlin, and this year was the first time I made some profit. Maybe this is why I am really happy not to be there? I had a bad year last year and invested some money here and there. There are a lot of cool possibilities open to me at the moment. I would like to invest in those opportunities and so I needed some cash.”
How as your effective altruism growth progressed in the last 12-months?
“12-months ago I was more in the mindset of making a lot of money and being able to support the charities that were important to me. That was my main goal. I have changed since then. I want to go into the business sector to make more money, and then use that money to help more people. I want to make money through the business for sure, but I want everything that I am involved in to benefit the world and the people of the world.
“This makes sense for my effective altruism perspective and also makes sense from a business perspective. If you help many people with whatever issues they have then you will make money. This is the basics of business.
“I am really happy with progress so far. I am done with the testing for the first project that we have launched. It’s called Re.Mind: Changing Perspectives, it’s a psychology project. We are launching a platform where you get some tutorials and articles and then you can use our app to start working out your problems. It is very flexible and we teach you knew ways of approaching every problem you have.”
When does it launch?
“In about three weeks. Keep your eye on www.re-mind.us.”
You appeared in Peter Singer’s book: The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically. How did that happen?
“It’s an honor to be in his book. I chatted a little bit with him on Skype. It’s really nice for me and I hope it builds attention for what we are doing. I don’t know how he got to know about our project. The mysterious ways of the Internet I suppose?”
In the book there are tales of people living on very little money, donating kidneys, and creating all kinds of different changes. How does all of that make you feel?
“It’s a very difficult thing for me. I could donate more than I do, but is it the best thing for me to do? I could run it up with poker, I could invest in business, and so it’s a difficult choice. I look at it like a portfolio. Imagine you are a stocks trader and your goal is to have the most impact in the world. I would want to make the most money with the least variance.
“The portfolio I have is diversified. I like to donate a bit, invest in business, and have some money saved incase the economy crashes. If my money is gone I cannot donate anything anymore. It’s not a zero or one decision. I think you have to diversify.
“Effective altruism gets deeper and deeper it’s not just a concept. It affects your whole life and psychology. It makes you happy. We fund the Happiness Research Organization in Germany and I visit them tomorrow. I am heavily into measuring happiness, what makes you happy, or not, and effective altruism is very high on that list.”
Describe what living ethically means to you?
“That’s a tough one to answer in a few sentences. I think if you live to your own true self without all these insecurities and problems and worries and all the shit that we have in our head, then you naturally live ethically.
“What makes us do shit is that we are scared of our financial existence, losing people, losing things, and so on. My intuitive guide is very good, it’s just screwed by these things in our past. That’s my opinion.”
A lot of people ignore their intuition, don’t you think? When did you wake up?
“I wouldn’t say there was a single moment. There were many steps. Reading about Buddhism got it starting, and then reading about effective altruism. Then I had a couple of experiences with drugs that made me realize what I wanted in my life, what I didn’t want in my life, and what my purpose was.
“You see things from a different perspective when you are on drugs, and that’s like one of the biggest things. The project I started called Re-Mind is about changing perspectives. This is one of the most important lessons. Jumping into other people’s perspective and finding other perspectives within yourself is important.
“If you use drugs in the right way then it’s fine. It’s easy to abuse drugs. All drugs can be used for right and wrong. I am talking more about psychedelic drugs: the downsides are smaller and the upsides can be bigger. Everything has an up and down side and you have to be ware of that, read about it, find the right circumstances and not use them purely for fun.
“Don’t use drugs for killing your pain when you have problems. It doesn’t work. You need to be a in a good state of mind, have a workout, go somewhere with your best friends, set a goal for your learning, review afterwards and figure out how you can be a better person. Most of the time drugs are used incorrectly.”
What other great books and resources would you recommend for people who want to learn more about effective altruism?
“It’s tough to recommend a book. There is always the right book at the right time. Every person needs the right book at the right time. The books that helped me back in the day are not actually that good. There may be just one page, which was like: “wow I get it now.” I wouldn’t recommend any books right now.
“I have read infinite amount of self improvement and spiritual books and I feel like what they say is true most of the time. The problem is they tell you how you should be. The things is people know what we could do better but we don’t do it. These books show people what you are not, and what you could be, so they make you feel shit. I don’t want to know what it’s like to be enlightened. I want to know how to get there.
“The program that we have designed is a step by step guide to become whatever you want to be. It’s for everyone. Everyone is different. They know what they want to be, but don’t know how. Our app is designed to alleviate those problems.”
Do you use any supplements or other modes of learning to increase your levels of intelligence?
“I have taken caffeine pills for grinding online when I get a little tired. I have read a lot about Modafinil and Adderall, but I have never tried it. I think this whole thing is very dangerous for society. Imagine you become a better student and learn things really fast. Brainpower is money and people do everything for money so everyone will take them and when you don’t take them you have a disadvantage.
“If I play a final table and everyone is taking the best drugs out there I have a big disadvantage. The young people who don’t know anything will fuck themselves up just to climb the ladder. The drugs might get better and not have bad side effects, but it’s not like that now. People do coke to enhance their cognitive skills but it has so many bad side effects. Whatever energy you get is just borrowed. You can’t sustain it.”
Malcolm Gladwell once said that it takes 10k hours to master something. If you could choose anything to spend 10k hours working on what would it be and why?
“To become a Venture Capitalist. I would like to learn more about business and start-ups. I would like to help other people with their start-ups. Connect people who think like this and promote my positive business framework. That’s what I am learning about right now.”