I'm very excited to announce my newest project - my podcast, titled Self, where I share what I am learning in the areas of self-improvement and self-discovery. Click this link to have a listen! The full transcript will be included below.
I will be straight-forward and honest that these initial episodes may be difficult to listen to but I promise, as I work on these more, they will get better. These first episodes may be easier to read than to listen to but either way, I appreciate you for checking out the podcast and this post!
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Episode 1 Full Transcript
Welcome to Self, a podcast where you join me, Jacob Craig, as I research the areas of self-improvement and self-discovery. I am a researcher and author and my mission with this podcast is to simply share what I am learning in hopes you get as much value as I do. This podcast covers several topics, including health, fitness, motivation, personality types, self-worth, and more so that we can develop ourselves into the person we strive to be and reach new heights both personally and professionally.
This episode will be discussing Ray Dalio’s insightful book, Principles, and start to unravel the rabbit holes it has led me down. Being a high-achiever and creative mind himself and also having relationships with others like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and powerful political leaders around the world, he has tons of insight on topics like: what it takes to be successful, how we can take an idea and build it into something bigger than ourselves, and why it is important for all of us to have principles that we implement in work and in life.
On that note, let’s get started…
I chose Principles for my first episode because of just how powerful this book is. The amount I will be able to cover in this 20-minute episode will be just some of the highlights but I am being serious when I say every page of this book has value in it. I believe it is the most valuable book that I have read in 2021. It also covers so many areas that I will be able to branch off of this book for episodes to follow.
If you don’t know Ray Dalio, he built his company out of his two-bedroom apartment to earning the title of being the 5th most important private company in the US according to Fortune. He has also been titled one of the hundred most influential people by Time and one of the hundred richest by Forbes. But his life does not revolve around accolades like this. As you read Principles, you see that what he cares most about are the relationships he creates along the way and he and his family and coworkers had to overcome numerous hardships to achieve what they have today.
Ray’s company is Bridgewater Associates, an international investment firm (a.k.a hedge fund) out of Connecticut that handles investments from all over the world. Bridgewater is now up to 1,500 employees and Ray says that the success of the company has been sustainable by “having an idea meritocracy that strives for meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency.”
Let’s break down what he means in what I just said – “having an idea meritocracy that strives for meaningful work and meaningful relationships through radical truth and radical transparency”
– because this really is one of his core principles and it is mentioned throughout his book.
Since he does such a wonderful job defining an idea meritocracy, I will quote his description and this describes how Bridgewater’s culture functions overall. So an idea meritocracy is “a system that brings together smart, independent thinkers and has them productively disagree to come up with the best possible collective thinking and resolve their disagreements in a believability-weighted way.”
Ray states how he wasn’t worried about management when he started Bridgewater and never imagined the company hitting 40 employees, never mind 1500. He started the company with a friend that he played Rugby with who knew nothing about what the work entailed and they hired an assistant. Ray was so passionate about the markets and he wanted to work with people who were smart but also that he just enjoyed being around. That is why, even today, Bridgewater strives for meaningful work and meaningful relationships, because he says there is “nothing more important than getting the culture and the people right.” They strive to enjoy themselves and each other’s company while also executing their jobs excellently.
What makes Bridgewater so unique and interesting is how they practice their idea meritocracy through radical truth and radical transparency. They not only allow but encourage all employees, even new hires, to be honest and open about what they think of not only meetings in general but how each person they work with executes a task and their thoughts on individual parts of meetings.
For example, he discusses two instances where he himself was critiqued:
This hit Ray hard but caused meaningful discussion on how to fix this problem. He states how these three employees did not want the radical truthfulness and radical transparency to change in the company and that they understand Ray has good intentions but for employees that did not know him as well, his words were having a lasting, negative effect. This reflection allowed Ray to be conscious of these reactions and it began a decade-long process of producing the company’s Work Principles that were discussed and disputed, then written down and distributed company-wide.
I also notice that the part that says, “The future success of the company Is highly dependent on Ray’s ability to manage people as well as money,” relates to a later part of the book. He talks about his transition out of the CEO role and during this transition, the company is much larger and he catches an area where the company is skipping on quality assurance. This pushes an audit company-wide, where they realize this is a much bigger problem and he states how the company continues to do well with money management but that those same standards need to be kept with other components of the company, especially management.
One of my favorite quotes from Ray Dalio is, “Pain + Reflection = Progress,” and he shows how this works by how the company took painful moments like those and used those situations as learning experiences to grow and develop in unique ways.
Most interestingly is how they have created apps and tools to assist with management and finding out what people are like. One way that Bridgewater does this is through an app they created called the Dot Collector. The Dot Collector is used while meetings are in progress, requiring everyone to rate the attributes of individuals along with the reasoning behind their rating so that they are using real data and can look at patterns in the data to find out what people are like and what subjects they are most believable in. If you recall, their company’s system revolves around an idea meritocracy that uses believability-weighted decision-making, so this is a major tool they use to facilitate that. Dalio says to, “Think of each individual dot as an at-bat in baseball,” in that you don’t rate the person based off one instance but in a collection of instances.
A couple other tools that Bridgewater uses are:
Of the several tools Bridgewater has, what I think is the most valuable tool is also the simplest. The Daily Update Tool is an app that started out as daily emails he would ask his employees to send him to inform him of what they did that day, the issues that have come up, and reflections on their day’s work. From this information, he is able to see who is doing what and decide if issues should be discussed further as well as gauge morale, work load, and collaboration from an individual’s perspective as well as collectively at a high level. I can see how invaluable this tool can be to an organization and how easily it can be implemented.
The last tool I will describe is a prominent one and possibly the most interesting and unique as well. At the very beginning stages of hiring someone, Bridgewater uses a combination of personality tests and in-person meetings to find out what attributes best describe them and actually develop what they call Baseball Cards for each individual. This allows everyone they are working with to truly know what they are like from the get-go.
In the next episode, I will start to unravel what I have discovered through different personality tests but Ray states, “If I had to choose between just the assessments and just the traditional job interviews to get at what people are like, I would choose the assessments. Fortunately, we don’t have to make that choice.”
He goes on to describe the valuable information found in these assessments and the four that he finds most useful:
In early 2021, Ray actually released his own personality assessment called ‘PrinciplesYou’ which is completely free for anyone to take and has a ton of great features so you can compare with others and use it in your organization as well.
A personality type that Dalio frequently talks about in Principles is what he calls a Shaper. He defines a Shaper as “someone who comes up with unique and valuable visions and builds them out beautifully, typically over the doubts and opposition of others.” He worked hard to find and recruit individuals with these qualities to Bridgewater and even went as far to find out exactly what makes up a Shaper in great detail.
He did this in two significant ways:
Some key characteristics he found they have in common were:
Ray highlights that the key difference between these individuals is whether their shaping comes mainly in inventing, mainly in managing, or if they execute both consistently over decades.
As much as many of us commonly think that we wish we had the success of individuals like Jobs, Musk, and Gates, it’s important that we are honest when thinking about how exceptional these individuals are and that professional success does not mean personal happiness.
One of my favorite quotes from Principles is where Ray states, “Having spent time with some of the richest, most powerful, most admired people in the world as well as some of the poorest, most disadvantaged people in the most obscure corners of the globe, I can assure you that beyond a basic level, there is no correlation between happiness levels and conventional markers of success. A carpenter who derives his deepest satisfaction from working with wood can easily have a life as good or better than the President of the United States. If you’ve learned anything from this book, I hope it’s that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and everyone has an important role to play in life.”
He also states that, “Some people want to change the world and others want to operate in simple harmony with it and savor life. Neither is better. Each of us needs to decide what we value most and choose the paths we take to achieve it,” and asks us to think deeply about whether we care more to savor life or make an impact. This empowers us to think of what success means to us and take our own path to get there.
The sheer amount of wisdom in Ray Dalio’s book, Principles, can’t be captured anywhere else. As I said at the beginning of this episode, every page holds value and the amount of consideration you can tell is placed in the wording and phrasing is just incredible. That is why Principles is my favorite book that I’ve read in 2021 and it will be a book I will always keep in high regards.
As you venture through the upcoming episodes, you’ll see how this book has led me down a rabbit hole to learn more about and from individuals like Walter Isaacson and Adam Grant and tools that help me reflect and learn more about my personality type so that I can improve.
I appreciate you for listening in and sincerely hope that:
Thank you, I hope you have an awesome day – let’s go crush it and think about what we can do to be just a bit better than yesterday.
Alright, I’m out.
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