Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio is on tour for his first book, “Principles: Life and Work” and it’s one of the last times you’ll see him embrace the spotlight, he told Business Insider.
As the head of the world’s largest hedge fund, with $US150 billion in total assets under management, Dalio generally avoided the media for the majority of his career.
But when his firm gained increased interest in the mainstream media after it emerged strong from the 2007-08 financial crisis, which then led to further interest in Bridgewater’s highly unusual culture of “radical truth” and “radical transparency,” he became a regular topic of Wall Street coverage.
Dalio, 68, completed his seven-year transition from leading Bridgewater’s management this year but remains as chairman and co-CIO. To him, he said, it marked the beginning of the third phase of his life, where he will share with the world the management lessons he’s learned — hence the book and its accompanying tour, as well as his complementary TED Talk from April.
But that doesn’t mean he’s enjoyed putting himself out there. In the introduction to the autobiographical aspect of his book, he notes that he still has “mixed feelings about telling my personal story,” and adds “I wouldn’t mind if you decided to skip this part of the book.”
He told us that while he knew that making himself more public and going on a book tour would be difficult for him, he was faced with a choice to either work through his fear and share his message, or let his principles be analysed without his input.
“When you have discomfort, do you let discomfort stand in the way of doing what you think is the right thing?” he said, about this final choice he faced as head of management. “And I couldn’t make my last decision that way. I didn’t make my other decisions that way. So while it’s uncomfortable, it’s tolerable, and I feel that I’ve handled this the way that I needed to handle it.”
Dalio will be publishing a second volume of “Principles,” on the economy and investing, at an undetermined date likely in the next year or two. Once he’s done explaining what he has to, he’s going to go dark. “I know that I’m personally going to take a low profile,” he said, noting he plans on no longer commenting about his personal life or philosophy.
That said, he thinks he may still publish essays about the economy similar to the approach he’s taken on LinkedIn. “I’ll wait till it comes and I’ll see how it all is,” he said. If an unexpected financial crisis happens, for example, he may have to weigh in. “At such times, I feel it might be helpful for me to offer thoughts.”
Dalio believes his life philosophy and management approach, in which radically transparent processes are put into place for an “idea meritocracy,” could benefit anyone who reads them, regardless of how much or how little they implement into their own lives and companies.
“What people then do with these principles is up to them,” he said. “Them being clearly understood rather than distorted was important to me.”
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