I usually listen to audiobooks on business and end up satisfied with the format. After listening to the audiobook I skim the physical copy and re-read anything that stands out or that I especially want to remember. I keep the physical copy for reference later. The majority of the time this works very well. Principles: Life & Work is not one of those times. The physical book is a must have and vastly superior for a number of reasons.
Principles: Life & Work is actually three books in one. The first section goes into Ray Dalio's history and works well as an audiobook. It reminded me a lot of the opening to Bill Browder's Red Notice. Both men got lucky early on with success, had big falls and then learned from their mistakes and turned things around through perseverance. It is hard to empathize or relate with either man from these stories, but it reminds us that they are human. The reviews that mention bloviating, self-indulgent and egotistic are not entirely wrong. It would be hard to recommend this book on this section alone.
The second section of the book goes into life principles and also works OK as an audiobook. This section contains an anecdote on Ray's experience with doctors that is worth the price of the book alone. Pages 193-195 have this story if you give up on the book before getting there. I wish there were more stories like that to bring the principles to life. Unfortunately a lot of the principles don’t have this level of support. If you’re familiar with writers such as Adam Grant, Daniel Kahneman and Charles Duhigg the limited exposition provided for many of the life principles is wasted time.
The third section on work principles is ROUGH to get through as an audiobook. The are a lot of principles in this section that are in many cases hard to relate to unless you have experience in senior leadership at a company. There is also repetition (from the prior sections and within this section), limited anecdotes/support and weak organization. I would skip it entirely if you’re listening to the audiobook or not currently acting as a director or higher in an organization.
The reason the physical book is so much better is that it contains a section (pages 272-295) that just lists the principles themselves in outline format. This is the perfect format for this book overall. Reading the list of life principles after that section serves as a great reminder and summary. It is also helpful if you got bored or disinterested due to repetition of information from other sources. That format is also the perfect way to start the work principles. You can skim them and only jump into the work principles you find relevant. The book works much better as a 295 page book w/ a 257 page appendix. The outlines are easy to read as they are and function as a table of contents with page numbers on them.