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Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio

What is an experience that helped you grow?

In 1982, I had calculated that American banks had lent more money to foreign countries than those countries were going to be able to pay back. That was a very controversial point of view at the time. And I thought that there was going to be an economic collapse. I couldn't have been more wrong. The economy did great, everything did great, I couldn't have been more wrong. And it was painfully wrong, I had to let go of people that I was close to, I was down to me. I was so broke that I had to borrow four thousand dollars from my dad to help pay for my family bills. But this turned out to be one of the most important things that ever happened to me 'cause it changed my approach to decision-making. I gained a humility that I needed to balance with my audacity. So that bad experience, that painful experience, was one of the best experiences.

What is the secret to success in business?

The most important thing to me is idea-meritocratic thinking, in other words to come find the best answer, wherever it comes from, not individually. What I want is an idea-meritocracy in which the goals are meaningful work and meaningful relationships and to get those through radical truthfulness and radical transparency. So, the magic formula for me is to know that I don't know, but you know what I don't know is much greater than what I do know, and then to have that idea-meritocratic thinking with radical truthfulness and radical transparency.

How do you create an idea meritocracy?

In order to have an idea-meritocracy you have to know the merit of each individual person. And it's not the same in terms of making the decision, right? So, we have a concept called believability. So, believability weighted decision-making is based on the idea of knowing the merit of each person in different dimensions, what they're like, and putting them together, ah, to make the best collective decision.

What advice do you have for the next generation?

What I would say to young graduates regardless of whatever industry they're in, the financial services or any other industry, is there are basically three things you need to do. First, have great dreams. Make sure that your life is - you're going for one audacious goal. Second, embrace and understand how to deal with reality. Whatever your realities are, they're your realities and you have to be an expert in understanding them. And third, have determination. Just keep doing it. Because if every time you encounter your problems and you start to reflect on those problems, you will learn. So, go after your dreams but be practical and learn and change and evolve and you'll get there if you have enough determination.


Ray Dalio, founder and Chief Investment Officer of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, shares both personal and professional experiences that impacted his career, along with his secret to success in business.