Episode#50 – Principles


by Ray Dalio


The book in one sentence

“Make better decisions more quickly and have [a] better life as a result.”


My personal opinion

What a masterpiece this book is! This is the kind of book we all want to write at some point: reflecting your own life and sharing your experience and learnings with the next generations.

The book is divided into two major parts. The first one is autobiographic and tells the story of Ray Dalio, how he founded Bridgewater Associates and how he build it up to a world-leading company. The second major part is dealing with his Life and Work Principles which are a great summary of different kind of best practices.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book. Probably because I am such a big fan of history and real life stories. Especially when it is an autobiographical book, it can makes you feel goosebumps.

The story of Ray Dalio and Bridgewater is well written and combined with several reflections by Dalio. That is what it makes so entertaining for me: when you have this commented retrospect of the past. These sections are the best moments as a reader to learn from.

Two quotes about Dalio’s ups and downs I want to bring up here.

“I saw that to do exceptionally well you have to push your limits and that, if you push your limits, you will crash and it will hurt a lot. You will think you have failed – but that won’t be true unless you give up. […] The most important thing you can do is to gather lessons these failures provide and gain humility and radical open-mindedness in order to increase your chances of success. Then you press on.”

Really cool! Love this attitude!

And this quote, too, is one of my favourites from this book.

“In time, I realised that the satisfaction of success doesn’t come from achieving your goals, but from struggling well.”

The second half of the book deals with Dalio’s actual principles. This part of the book is super valuable from a learning perspective but was for me very hard to read. But finishing the whole book, you will end up with so many ideas and principles you want to adopt and establish for your own life and work. This book is an amazing work!


To whom I would recommend this book

Principles is that kind of book which is great to discover early in your career. It will help you, as stated above, to make better and faster decisions.

For me it was the right time to read Principles. I guess this book is much more powerful if you already made some mistakes and personal “evolutions”.

So, if you are in the first few years of your professional life, I definitely would recommend you to take the time and read Principles. Nevertheless, I think it is an all-time good read which is worth reviewing from time to time. It is one of these books which you can take a look at during several stages of your life and every time learning something new.


What I learned from this book

The following comments and statements are based on what I learned from the first part of the book, the autobiographical part. The Life and Work Principles are straight to the point and I do not want to copy half of the book here. If you like this episode I would recommend you to get the book and find the principles which suites your current life and work situation best.

  • Making a decision, you can never be sure to know everything. Always assume that you miss some information.
  • Something I am exploring right now in my career is an advice you get in this book within the first pages: “[…] it would be more efficient to write down my thoughts every day so others could understand my logic and help improve it. It was a good discipline since it forced me to research and reflect every day.” This kind of reflection – writing down what works and what does not work – is for me some key lever currently. (For that kind of exercise I can recommend this type of notebook Some Lines a Day by Leuchtturm 1917).
  • Try not to be the jerk who is totally confident in a totally incorrect view.
  • It’s over when it’s over.
  • It’s valuable to study history and learn from the past. Most of the time there was someone or a similar situation from which development and outcome you can benefit.
  • How to make sure that you are right with a decision: look for other independent thinkers to have thoughtful discussions.
  • Do not judge a person before seeing a situation from her or his point of view, her or his circumstances, her or his experiences.
  • Distribute your return streams in order to minimise the risk of a big loss. Like in sales when you combine different approaches of lead generation: via phone, social media, mail or email, events…
  • View your mistakes as opportunities to learn from and to improve. Encourage others to share their mistakes and experiences so that the team can learn from it: “[…] we should bring problems and disagreements to the surface to learn what should be done to make things better.”
  • “The Olympic athlete finds his sport to be every bit as challenging as the novice does.”
  • Encourage transparency.
  • In order to face change, be open, stay light and flexible.
  • When you created and established your “system”, start early to find and train others to whom you can delegate your responsibilities.
  • If you see a big opportunity for you to grow, go for it. “In the worst case [you] learn a lot about [yourself], have an interesting experience, and leave for other jobs, in best case, […] you become part of an exceptional team achieving exceptional things.”
  • Whether a company succeeds comes down to the people and the culture.
  • “Having the basics – a good bed to sleep in, good relationships, good food, and good sex – is most important, and those things don’t get much better when you have a lot of money or much worse when you have less.”


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – Principles by Ray Dalio



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!

Simon & Schuster