Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ray Dalio's Principles

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio has the Principles book coming out this month, and finance folks are eating it out like candy.

You can watch the TED Talk Ray did in April to familiarize yourself with him.

Some people had an outraged reaction to his principles, including those who stamped his name over L. Ron Hubbard's "Dianetics" book, suggesting Ray and his algorithms of collective decision making is a cult. Look, I get, Ray's built up quite a little fiefdom here, and wants to show you the way to investment heaven.

Prior to this year, The Principles (minus Ray's autobiography) were available for free, and many of you may have already read those out of curiosity even if you didn't work at BA. (NY Times article on Bridgewater Associates)

Let's get down to business cause time is short and the water is rising:

1. I don't agree with Ray Dalio. However, I do think many of these principles are sound and useful. Notice the difference here.

2. Ray in his introductory talk mentions the Principles workhorse is not for everybody. In fact he clearly states that they are not for 30 or 35% of people. If we talk about the creative or unstructured folks that work in finance, those numbers are even less likely to favor the Principles workplace. So at least 50% of the finance types are likely to reject it. After all, I write for the 3% alpha-male minority. 97% of the general population out there does not agree with what I write, and accordingly, for their own benefit, they should NOT read me. [How many times do I have to say this !?]

3. I am a firm believer in taking what you need and leaving out the rest. You can accept and apply a principle or law from Dalio, but make it your law not Dalio's. For lack of time, unfortunately, I am unable to discuss all these principles (there are 210 of them).

4. A lot of Ray's Principles are common sense truisms that most people already use. It is "GOOD" to face harsh realities, and "BAD" to avoid it." Hey man, thanks a lot.

5. "'GOOD' worry about achieving the goal, 'BAD' -worry about appearing good".

I think Dalio is trying to kill office politics. Unfortunately, politics is life. You can't kill life. His idea meritocracy doesn't account for human nature. Ray wants you to be a computer, and he does put the "GOOD" of the whole organization above your own if your own is not the organization's already.

His critics say: that's why you have a "Circle of Trust" ,buddy [for making decisions], and that's why you have high turnover.

6. Are human beings "machines" like Ray seems to think ? Machines that split decisions between rational and emotional ?

7. "Avoid setting goals based on what you think you can achieve."

8. "Most problems are improvements screaming at you." There you go.

9. "How good is your ability to visualize ?" -Ok, good question to ask

10. Principle number 15: Don't depersonalize mistakes. Hello, Honest Abe, I thought it was all about improving processes here.  Onward and forward into the process of making you more average than you already are

11. Principle number 83: "Vary your involvement based on your confidence."

12. Principle number 96: "Don't pick your battles, fight them all." Is Ray going against Sun-Tzu here ?

13. P. number 98: "Don't assume that people's answers are correct." Wow, so much for trust...

14. P. number 101, subpoint b): "Maintain baseball cards and 'believably matrixes' for your people." Ha ! I knew it ! The KGB worked well for a reason.

15. Principle number 125: "Recognize that behavioral modification takes about 18 months of constant reinforcement." Now I see why fintwit people see this guy as L. Ron Hubbard.

16. Principle #129: "When you find that someone is not a good 'click' for a job, get them out ASAP." Hey, I wasn't even in, Ray. To begin with, BA only hires M 7 graduates only. Or maybe T10s. For those unfamiliar with the terms, M 7 stands for the Magnificent 7: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, and MIT Sloan. T 10 stands for "Terrific 10" and it also includes Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, and Duke.

If you didn't go to any of those terrific schools, you can take a shit outside in the bushes, with the dog. No toilet paper for you.

17. Principle number 140: Have as many eyes looking for problems as possible. Subpoint a) Pop the cork. No, I won't, unless you have a bottle of fine wine.

18. Principle number 159: "Avoid Monday morning quarterbacking". Jesus, you just fucking killed my Monday. (this is a joke, Monday qb means "evaluate a past decision based on what you know now versus of based on what you could have reasonably known at the time")

19. Principle number 165: "Understand 'above the line' and 'below the line' thinking and how to navigate between the two."

20. Principle number 182: "Watch out for consultant addiction." Ring, ring, ring...Hello, Mckinsey...I just wanted to send you a Christmas card.

So what is Dalio missing ? A lot, I think.

21. The more you talk about the truth, the less it becomes apparent.

22. Principle #44 says "Recognize that people are built differently." In aligning them to your model, aren't you discarding that "fact" ?

23. "Some people are planners while others are perceivers." No Ray, all people are perceivers. Some people are leaders, while most people are followers. You can't just uniform people. People like myself, the Pitbull of Wall Street, are born to lead. Others are born to follow. And it's ok.

"Fish die belly upward, and rise to the surface. Its their way of falling."- Andre Gide

Principles by Ray Dalio is available Sept. 19, 2017

Part 2

Feel free to fill out this Survey !

Create your survey with SurveyMonkey


  1. Many of the people at BA are intellectually lazy. Not my type.

  2. "If your attack is going well, you have walked into an ambush." -From Murphy's 21 laws of combat.


    1. Fun. This is the best website I've read in a long time. Your man Ray is running a tight ship.

  3. You have to be nuts to think this guy's got your interests in mind. His interest is his going concern wealth building machine, and all the individuals are expendable.

    1. Yeah, but you can vote anyone else...you like and dislike.

    2. Too many likes and dislikes will drive a man crazy, would it not ?

  4. Max, great piece. I wonder how these Principles apply to life outside of the BA HR Department.

    Dalio has been promoting his book on the Ferriss Show, next week on Tony Robbins. He is eschewing the financial press, lol.

    1. George, you got the "finance community" right here buddy. I'm here for you all: analysts, ibankers, valuation people, consultants, MnA middle market like myself, hedgies, even hedge hoes. So you don't get bored, I put up the 21 Laws of combat above. We're here to learn and thrive.

  5. I was riding the H train today, and a homeless man started talking out loud: I like you, and you, pointing to the riders, one by one...fucking smelling bum.

    You get people at this level, it becomes a nuthouse.

  6. Max, can you follow up on these http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/aphorisms.pdf aphorisms ?

    1. Did you fill out the survey ? And yes, I'll do a separate post.

  7. Ray said it before: "humans are essentially a machine." Tells you what he thinks of you.

  8. Does anyone see the resemblance between Dalio's Principles and the Borg in Star Trek: the Next Generation ? The Borg assimilates individuals for the empowerment of the collective consciousness. They have a collective mind (or supermind).

    1. Good analogy, Andy. " TV Guide named the Borg #4 in their 2013 list of the 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time." (Wikipedia)



To embed an image, please use this code: :img:IMAGEURL:eimg:
For videos, :youtube:VIDEO ID HERE:eyoutube: