Ray Dalio, who runs hedge fund behemoth Bridgewater Associates, is speaking at the Bloomberg Market’s Most Influential Summit with former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle is the panel moderator.
Both CEOs are talking about the intense focus on transparency at both of their firms.
Dalio is also one of those closely followed macro fund managers. He is also known for ’round the clock surveillance at his firm. Everything is recorded.
Dalio said that makes for “meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency.”
Bloomberg’s firm is also constructed differently from traditional institutions. There are no titles and all seating is open-plan. The CEO himself sits in the center of a bullpen.
At the same time, he also believes in delegating down and forcing all employees to take responsibility for pieces of the operation.
About ten minutes into the conversation, Stephanie Ruhle brought up a point you hear in cocktail conversation about both Bloomberg and Bridgewater — “what do you say to people who say that your company’s are cultish?”
Dalio responded that his culture comes with questioning, not blindly following like a cult. You have to talk about your firms core values, he said. They guide your company and if you don’t talk about them, you won’t have them.
You have to know what you’re living out, Dalio said. “Mike, what are you living out?”
“I’m living out the American Dream,” Bloomberg responded. “My mother said the only people we knew whose names were in the paper were there for petty crimes and thievery.”
He came from nothing and he had the opportunity to meet some of the most famous people in the world — like JLo, he mused.
That’s how he wants people to feel at Bloomberg — like they can achieve whatever they want through hard work. That aspiration is what gets him to work every day and why he went back after serving as Mayor of NYC.
“The alternative in my case was staying home and talking to Diana about feelings,” Bloomberg joked.
Dalio said that Bridgewater, to him, was a like a mission that he got to complete with his friends every day.
Neither CEO says that they have a problem with successors taking over their companies. This is especially relevant at Bloomberg now, since former CEO Dan Dctoroff recently stepped down to allow Bloomberg to take the helm of the company again.
“It’s unclear if the company would be as successful as it is now if Dan hadn’t been in charge for 15 years,” said Bloomberg. His succession plans are unclear, as are Dalio’s, but they say the aren’t afraid of feeling irrelevant after leaving their companies — when journalists aren’t calling and pundits don’t cite their opinions anymore.
“There are so many interesting things, like neuroscience,” said Dalio. “There’s a joy in mentoring.”
Younger people on Wall Street — the people who need that mentoring — have been a hot topic of conversation in the industry these days. Ruhle asked Dalio and Bloomberg if they felt that young people in finance were working to hard.
Bloomberg said that working hard wasn’t just a Wall Street thing, and it isn’t everyone’s thing. That’s ok.
“The most important thing for anyone picking a job is the culture that they pick,” Dalio responded. “To self actualize you have to exist in a culture that you like.”
So if you’re a type-A person like Bloomberg, who considers a packed schedule a kind of “high,” you would be into a the constant work schedule on Wall Street.
A word Dalio kept repeating over and over was “friends.” When Ruhle asked why he had never taken his company public he responded that it sounded like a “nightmare,” describing it as having thousands of new partners.
“So who are you trying to please in your firm,” Ruhle asked, “clients, investors….”
“I don’t break it up that way,” said Dalio. “I think of people inside the firm that I want as friends and people outside the firm that I want as friends.”
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