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Principles: Life and Work Hardcover – September 19, 2017
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Winner of the Axiom Business Book Award for 2018
“Mr. Dalio has long been an object of fascination. . . . His new book is more significant than the original list of principles: It is part memoir, part how-to guide. It is a deeply personal story, with Mr. Dalio wading into how he started his firm in 1975, internal conflicts inside the company, and strife early on in his career. The book is both instructive and surprisingly moving. . . . Underneath what may seem like a clinical, emotionless approach is something different and far more poignant: Mr. Dalio is preaching for individuals to have a sense of humility and introspection, an ability to open themselves to appreciate pointed criticism and use it to improve.”
—The New York Times
“If there was an ‘it’ book for businesses or careers in 2017, it was Ray Dalio’s Principles. The book, weighing in at nearly 600 pages, begins with the author’s own story, including the rise of Bridgewater Associates, Dalio’s highly successful investment firm. Part memoir, part strategic plan, Dalio uses his own history to provide suggestions on attaining success while always stressing the power of individuality and personal goals. This isn’t just a book for the power elite. Dalio’s highly detailed game plan focuses on what he calls ‘radical’ truths and transparencies, and are applicable to the careers of powerful CEOs, ladder-climbing executives, longtime grunts, and fresh-faced rookies.”
“Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you in Principles.”
“I absolutely loved this book. It’s beautifully written and filled with such wisdom.”
“I found it to be truly extraordinary. Every page is full of so many principles of distinction and insights—and I love how Ray incorporates his history and his life in such an elegant way.”
“Ray Dalio’s market acumen is legendary, but it was creating and living by a set of principles that allowed him to reach the top. Everyone with goals and dreams can learn from Ray’s approach.”
“It’s important and instructive to share what you’ve learned in life with others, and Ray does this in an interesting and provocative way in this compelling work.”
“I was surprisingly moved by it. I found it to be remarkably engaging. It made me think about life and how we all deal with each other in pretty profound ways. And Mr. Dalio’s own story about how he came to these principles is fascinating.”
—Andrew Ross Sorkin
“The billionaire investor has created the strongest culture I’ve ever seen in an organization—one that prizes radical transparency over politics and meritocracy over democracy. In his long-awaited book, he describes the systems that he has designed to shape meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and the world’s most successful hedge fund.”
“I highly, highly recommend this book. It has already changed how I think about making decisions in my life and in my business.”
About the Author
Ray Dalio is the founder and co-chairman of Bridgewater Associates, which, over the last forty years, has become the largest and best performing hedge fund in the world. Dalio has appeared on the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world as well as the Bloomberg Markets list of the 50 most influential people. He lives with his family in Connecticut.
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In the second part of the book, the author gets into the stuff that's incredibly important, but difficult to implement. In short, he provides a roadmap and tools (via algorithmic means) to accomplish anything you want in life. There's a ton of substance, definition, & practicality on how to action your objectives. He has a five-step process to achieve what you want out of life, and it couldn't be more understandable and reasonable. The tricky part for most people (in my humble opinion) is finding a goal or objective that they can focus and remain passionate about for an extended period. If that's not your problem, then Mr. Dalio's advice in the second part of the book is significantly profound.
In the third section of the book, the author teaches you how to build the mastermind group/organization that's going to achieve the goals/mission you outlined in the second part of the book. The knowledge and thought that went into these 300 pages of the book are quite impressive. In short, the reader needs to get the culture right, get the people right, and then build and evolve the protocols that run the organization at a fundamental level. There's so much granularity behind those core concepts that it'll keep you busy trying to absorb everything.
In my humble opinion, MBA programs should be designing management courses around the information contained in this book. It's extremely thorough, practical, and organized.
Negatives. The book is a long read. If you're looking for something that's quick and easy, you're in the wrong place. The book is so organized (which I personally liked) that some might find it too programmatic. If you're looking for surprises and adventurous stories with your learning, you won't get that in the last two parts of the book. Dalio is all business.
In general, I'm so impressed the author took the time and effort to teach the world everything he has learned. You can tell he truly wants to help others be successful. The book has taught me the importance of trying to understand the fundamental building blocks of my own life. I now have an appreciation for trying to understand how things work and how I can model success habits around those principles. I've started to list my own principles, but it's hard identifying unique ideas beyond those found in the book (because it's so thorough). But the important part is that I'm aware of developing my own list and co-opting or creating new principles. This book has had a profound impact on me - it's definitely worth more than 5 stars.
I would give one piece of advice from my personal point of view (I spent a few years working at Bridgewater ten years ago): suspend your disbelief. Any smart person's cynicism reflex will get triggered at some point in the book. (Perhaps when you hit the part that talks about the "equation" Pain + Reflection = Progress.) Bridgewater's training materials used to start with a page that stated, "don't just believe anything you read", and yet here is an entire book that tells you not just how to organize work, but also your life. Several of the principles will strike you as trivial. Or not particularly in line with the latest scientific mainstream (not that I'm particularly believable in this - but, for example, the "right brain/left brain" stuff that's discussed in some of the principles to my Google-based knowledge has largely been debunked as an oversimplified model). So, if any of that happens to you while you're reading, just remember that you're reading it wrong. Because this is not meant to be a (pop) science book or a meta-study of existing frameworks for philosophical approaches to life and work. It's a highly and almost completely autonomously evolved framework that is at once extremely practical ("don't interrupt each other for at least two minutes") to extremely philosophical ("nature optimizes for the good of the whole, not for your own personal good"), born and forged in the hellfire of founding a business and surviving through the most brutal of crises over 40 years, and smashed up against a lot of situations that involved some of the smartest people you can think of. (Simple example of that practical evolution: as I recall, in the Principles version from 10 years ago there used to be a work principle called "don't talk about people who are not in the room"; that seems to have been replaced with "Never say anything about someone that you wouldn't say to them directly", which is a much more practical version.) It's impossible to argue that this doesn't have incredible, highly compressed value. Even though you might not want to end up subscribing to the entire school of thought (lots of reasons why you might not want to), there is nothing else quite like where it came from, so read it and struggle with it. As a bonus, content on "level vs. change" and thoughts on AI actually even drop hints on Bridgewater's investment process.
Finally, the entire first part of the book is Ray Dalio's life story, and it's the perfect backdrop for the principles, because it's awesome.
Most recent customer reviews
Book. Love the idea of codifying principles in life and work, and constantly updating them.
Turn them into algorithms.
Whenever you need to make a decision run the numbers.
compare with your own decision.