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  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • JORDAN THIBODEAU: So thank you all for joining us.

  • I'd like to introduce you to Ray Dalio.

  • He's the founder of Bridgewater Associates.

  • He founded that 1975.

  • And it is one of the most successful hedge

  • funds in history.

  • So let's give Ray a nice Google welcome.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • RAY DALIO: I'm in a stage in my life

  • where I'm entering what I call the third stage of my life.

  • I think of life as existing in three big stages.

  • The first is that you're learning from others.

  • You're dependent on others.

  • You're a kid.

  • The second stage of your life is then you're working.

  • Others are dependent on you.

  • And you're trying to be successful.

  • Then after, you get to the later stage in life.

  • Third stage of your life is others

  • are successful without you.

  • And that you're free--

  • according to Joseph Campbell free

  • to live and free to die, OK?

  • So that you have that element of freedom.

  • And so I'm at a stage in my life where--

  • I started Bridgewater out of a two-bedroom apartment in 1975,

  • and I've brought it to where it is now.

  • According to "Fortune," it's the fifth most important

  • private company in the United States.

  • It's been successful.

  • It's been good.

  • And that my objective at this particular stage

  • is to help others be successful without me.

  • I learned along the way certain principles.

  • Every time I would make a decision,

  • I would write down the reasons I would make that decision.

  • And I put them out.

  • I debated them.

  • And I developed these principles.

  • So think about principles as just

  • being these reasons for making a decision if you're

  • in this situation, how do you deal with it?

  • It was also very important to me to operate

  • in a very unusual way that seemed very sensible to me.

  • And it's an idea meritocratic way.

  • So I want to describe Bridgewater

  • as being an idea meritocracy-- in other words,

  • a real idea meritocracy, which I'll explain and show to you,

  • so a real idea meritocracy in which the goals are

  • meaningful work and meaningful relationships.

  • Meaningful work-- I mean you're on a mission,

  • that you feel you're on a mission together

  • to do those great things.

  • And meaningful relationships, meaning

  • that you care about each other.

  • It's part of a community.

  • And to be on that mission together.

  • And that was really great in terms of our success.

  • But it was meaningful work and meaningful relationships

  • through radical truthfulness and radical transparency.

  • That means, literally, people saying anything

  • that they feel that they want to say in terms of being polite,

  • of course, but sharing what they really believe is true

  • and working themselves through to have an idea meritocratic

  • way and to literally record everything for everybody

  • to hear.

  • So I mean, literally, there are a combination of videos

  • and tapes of all meetings that happen so that nothing

  • is hidden, because you can't have a real idea

  • meritocracy if you can't see things yourself.

  • And so it's a very unusual place,

  • and it was really the basis of our success.

  • And I want to explain that way of operating

  • to you because this idea meritocratic way, in which

  • there's meaningful work and meaningful relationships

  • through radical truthfulness and radical transparency

  • so that you could have thoughtful disagreement

  • and have ways of getting past that disagreement to then move

  • on, like a legal system.

  • That has been the key to our success.

  • So that's what I want to try to convey to you.

  • And I'm just going to take a few minutes

  • to try to go through a few slides

  • to give you a sense of this.

  • I wanted big, audacious goals.

  • I wish big, audacious goals for you.

  • Go after your goals

  • And on your way to your goals, you're

  • going to encounter your problems and your failures, right?

  • That's going to happen.

  • Otherwise you just go straight to your goals.

  • No.

  • That's the learning process.

  • You account in your failures.

  • Failures is part of the learning process.

  • From the failures, what I found was great.

  • I started to think of failures as lessons.

  • I started to think of them as puzzles

  • rather than develop emotional reactions to those failures.

  • I started think, pain plus quality reflection

  • would give me progress.

  • So I started to think of almost the failures like puzzles

  • that if I could study the puzzles, the puzzles was,

  • what would I do differently in the future

  • that wouldn't produce that problem again when it happened?

  • And then I would reflect--

  • well, what was that?

  • That would be my principles.

  • What would I do differently in the future?

  • If I solved that puzzle, I would get a gem.

  • And the gem was principle, a principle

  • to handle it better in the future,

  • because failure is a learning process.

  • It's an essential part of the learning process.

  • If you can realize that and you write down

  • those principles-- write them down.

  • It's been fantastic.

  • So we'd learn those principles.

  • And then it would help me improve.

  • And then I would go on to more audacious goals.

  • And I look at evolution-- personal evolution

  • or almost every evolution-- evolution

  • of a company, evolution of everything,

  • as being this constant looping process that I sort of think

  • of as this five-step process.

  • In other words, to be successful, you have to out

  • you have to do five things.

  • First, you have to know what your goals are

  • and go after those goals.

  • Be clear on your goals.

  • And you will encounter problems on the way to those goals.

  • Those will be your barriers, OK?

  • There are tests now.

  • Don't just emotionally complain.

  • Think about them as your problems.

  • You have to diagnose those problems to the root cause

  • to get at the root cause.

  • And that root cause might be yourself,

  • what you're doing wrong or what somebody else is doing wrong.

  • So you can't depersonalize it.

  • You have to really look at it so that you make those changes.

  • And when you get at that root cause,

  • only by knowing that root cause can then you

  • design a way to get around that root cause.

  • Like, if you're not good at something yourself,

  • it's OK if you find somebody else who's good at the things

  • that you're not good at because nobody can be good

  • at everything, right?

  • But you have to do that.

  • You just can't keep banging yourself on the wall.

  • So you have to design something that's practical to get around

  • with it.

  • And then you have to follow through and do it.

  • A lot of people come up with designs,

  • but you have to do the thing that's necessary.

  • And by trying that thing that's necessary, again ,

  • you will find out, are you getting to your goals or are

  • you encountering your next set of problems and so on?

  • And that, I believe, is the personal evolutionary process

  • that has helped me.

  • Those rules that I was able to write down

  • and that you can get in this book, "Principles," which

  • is why I'm passing them along.

  • Those rules-- we were actually able to then

  • put into the algorithms and build decision-making processes

  • that replicate the brain.

  • We'll get into that in a minute.

  • OK, so in order to be successful in the markets,

  • one has to be an independent thinker.

  • In order to be an entrepreneur, one

  • has to be an independent thinker and bet against the consensus

  • and be right, because the consensus in the markets

  • is built into the price.

  • Whatever anybody thinks, it's built into the price.

  • So you have to bet against the consensus.

  • And you're going to be wrong a fair amount of times

  • about betting against the consensus.

  • But in any case, you need to be an independent thinker.

  • And for an entrepreneur, you need

  • to be an independent thinker, because you're

  • inventing new stuff.

  • You're doing something.

  • And you don't know if you're right.

  • So in order for me to be successful,

  • I needed to have a bunch of independent thinkers

  • in order to have them be effective.

  • OK, well, now, how are you going to get

  • this bunch of independent thinkers

  • to agree on anything, OK?

  • I had to have an idea meritocracy.

  • In other words, I had to have a system that literally,

  • systematically allows for thoughtful disagreement

  • so that this idea meritocratic people could then

  • get at the right answer, because that's fantastic

  • if you can have that thoughtful disagreement

  • to get at the right answer.

  • It's very powerful.

  • By having that and then systematizing it--

  • principled systems--

  • a system for having thoughtful disagreement for an idea

  • meritocracy--

  • we could produce greater amounts of successes.

  • We also produced failures.

  • But we would look at that way, produce our learnings.

  • And that produced, as a result, happy employees who really

  • believe in this idea meritocratic thing

  • and owned the company, intellectually and otherwise,

  • own the company.

  • And we had happy employees.

  • And then it became easier to attract those types of people,

  • those types of people who believe that everybody has

  • the right to make sense of things

  • and that there's a power in thoughtful disagreement.

  • And that allowed us to attract more people,

  • and that was the basis of going from the two-bedroom apartment

  • to Bridgewater now.

  • So now we have about 1,500 people,

  • and that's how it works as an idea meritocracy.

  • And I want to pass that along to you,

  • and I want to say, OK, so what is an idea meritocracy?

  • You could have your own versions of this.

  • You pick what is fine to you.

  • But three different things are necessary for an idea

  • meritocracy.

  • First, everybody has to put their honest thoughts

  • on the table to see.

  • Now, I watch this, and I think it's so many organizations, so

  • many people--

  • they all keep it bottled up in their heads, right?

  • And they're critical behind the scenes.

  • And that's bad.

  • So can you put your honest thoughts

  • on the table with other people's honest thoughts

  • so that you understand what people are thinking, OK?

  • It makes everything, first of all,

  • a lot more efficient, right?

  • It's terribly inefficient when everybody doesn't know what

  • the other person's thinking.

  • And then also, it doesn't allow ownership.

  • It can't be an idea meritocracy if you just

  • don't work it through.

  • Everybody's talking behind the scenes.

  • We don't allow talking behind the scenes,

  • but anybody can challenge anything at any time.

  • OK, then you have to understand the art

  • of thoughtful disagreement, thoughtful disagreement.

  • So many people react badly to disagreement.

  • You have to change the modus operandi

  • and start your thinking.

  • It should be curiosity how do you know who's right?

  • How do you know who is wrong?

  • It should prompt curiosity not anger.

  • It tends to produce to some extent anger

  • because it's like a barbaric animal behavior

  • that what happens is the amygdala part of us