The Mysterious Life Of Ray Dalio -- The Hottest Hedge Fund Manager In The World

ray dalio bloomberg 2

Right now, he’s the most successful hedge fund manager in the world, and according to Forbes he’s the 88th richest person on the planet with an estimated net worth of $10 billion.

Those are definitely notable numbers, but Dalio’s life and work vacillate between being very public and very private.

His hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, for example, is known for its secrecy — some even say that it’s cultish — and potential employees are often vetted for their personalities. They need to match the rest of the team on campus in Westport, Connecticut.

Then again, Dalio is also very public about certain things. He’s very open about his manifesto on investing, which he calls his ‘Template for Understanding.’ How many hedge funders do that?

Bottom line: There’s only one Ray Dalio, so you should study up.

Dalio was born in Jackson Heights Queens in 1949.

He wasn't a great student when he was younger, saying he had a bad memory and didn't like studying. Dalio got into investing after he got a great stock tip while caddying at Links Golf Club.

Source: The New Yorker

He holds a BA from Long Island University, and an MBA from Harvard.

He continued trading independently when he went to Harvard Business School, and landed a job on Wall Street when he got out.

Source: The New Yorker

Sometime in his 20s, he found out the Beatles were into transcendental meditation and tried it out.

He said it made him better at school and now he does it every day, and he thinks it's the reason for his success. Here's why:

'I notice a difference from the moment I meditate. I can be stressed, or tired, and I can go into a meditation and it all just flows off of me. I'll come out of it refreshed and centered and that's how I'll feel and it'll carry through the day.'

Watch him explain the whole thing below:

He's also amazed by nature.

'Man will never be able to build a flying device like a mosquito,' he told the WSJ. 'I look at nature's complexity and think, man has the intelligence of mould growing on an apple.'

He's also an avid bow hunter and likes to shoot deer and elk.

Source: Traders Log

That's very zen, but Dalio lost his first Wall Street job after getting drunk and punching his boss.

This story is nuts. After Business School, Dalio got a job in the commodity futures department at Shearson Hayden Stone, the brokerage firm run by Sandy Weill.

From the New Yorker: On New Year's Eve in 1974, Dalio went out drinking with his departmental boss, got into a disagreement, and slugged him. About the same time, at the annual convention of the California Food & Grain Growers' Association, he paid an exotic dancer to drop her cloak in front of the crowd.

He convinced some clients to hire him as a consultant, and at 26, founded Bridgewater.

He worked out of his two bedroom apartment.

Now Dalio and his wife Barbara live on a 5,500 sq. foot estate in a gated section of Greenwich.

The couple has four kids and they live in an 1891 5,500-square-foot colonial in the gated Belle Haven section of town. They once hosted a party with the Allman Brothers and Bonnie Rait at their house.

Dalio's son, Matt even planned a Dave Matthews concert there once.

Source: Connecticut Magazine, Greenwich Times

As for Bridgewater, Dalio runs a tight ship and wears the same thing to work almost every day.

Chinos, boat shoes, and a big company name tag that says 'RAY'. He's also been known to wear crocs. Yikes.

Source: WSJ

His management style is based on hundreds of principles.

Some of them are pretty weird. Dalio recommends trying visualisation, keeping communication very open and free, 'designing your machine' (coming up with a game plan), and getting to know yourself publicly.

Check more of them out here.

Source: Business Insider via Dealbreaker

There are no secrets at the firm, there's also no gossip, and 30% of employees leave in their first two years.

Dalio videotapes all meetings and demands the utmost honesty from his employees, according to Forbes. The firm also has 'Town Halls' where employees can ask senior management any question they like.

One employee said:

This event is a great chance to see the history of Bridgewater - to see some of the 'film' that is Bridgewater and not just the 'snapshots' that I have experienced... It is good to see how even the most senior people have made mistakes and how learning from mistakes is the key.

Source: Bridgewater, AR Magazine

But that doesn't mean people don't enjoy working there. One former employee described how Dalio got involved in an intra-office race.

In the summer of 2004, the marketing and client services department decided to coordinate a race around the creek that surrounded the Bridgewater building. The challenge went viral across the company, with people projecting winners.

When Dalio got ahold of the email, he was 'all in' and decided to coordinate the race himself. He then also invited some prospective employees that were in to interview that day to join!

'Footage of the scrum was captured by interns and later turned into a slow-motion video set to Eye of the Tiger.' 'nuff said.

Source: Raleigh Coaching

Apparently they also throw killer parties.

'The parties at Bridgewater (holiday, Mardi Gras, summer picnic, and Halloween) are great because they are not stuffy corporate parties, but parties where letting loose is encouraged instead of discouraged.'

Source: Bridgewater

In 2007, Dalio went to the White House and gave them a presentation on the mortgage crisis.

Since then, he's said he admires the way the government has handled the recovery.

He told The Economist it was 'the most beautiful deleveraging yet seen.'

Last year, Dalio and his wife signed Warren Buffett's giving pledge.

Now learn more about another unusual investor...

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