wildebeests

  • June 6, 2014: Sign contract
  • June 9, 2014: First day on the job
  • June 19, 2014: Receive July Metro North pass in mail (paid with pre-tax dollars)
  • August 1, 2014: Approached on the way to the men’s room and asked how the struggle between your upper level you and your lower level you are coming; have no idea WTF this means
  • September 22, 2014: Overhear Ray talking to a lieutenant about a healthcare PM being one part Socrates, one part armadillo…scratch head
  • November 10, 2014: November 10, 2014: Confess to co-worker that it’s been months since you started and you still feel like you were just dropped onto a new planet with no instruction manual…are told this is normal
  • December 6, 2015: Acclimate to corporate culture

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Interest in the subject matter is a minor consideration. Unlike a lot of firms, we look at what someone is like rather than what they did before. We are first interested in people’s values, second interested in their abilities, and least interested in their precise skills. We want independent thinkers who are willing to put aside their egos to find out what is true. Did the candidate come up with a new idea and build it out? Like if when he was 15 he mowed lawns and developed that into a business by getting others to mow lawns with mowers he bought them. –Ray Dalio, “How To Get Hired At Bridgewater” [BusinessWeek, Related: “Firing people is not a big deal“]

As many of you know, Bridgewater Associates is mega-successful, multi-billion dollar hedge fund guided by Principles, a company handbook written by founder and Mentor Ray Dalio, which instructs employees to go on radical truth seeking missions in order to better themselves and in turn the firm. Bridgewater takes the principles very seriously and each member of the staff is given spiral bound copies to read, highlight, and imbue their souls with. While the idea of Truth above all else is the overarching idea, there are literally hundreds of principles (such as 31a. “Ask yourself whether you have earned the right to have an opinion,” 130. “…Firing people is not a big deal…” and 184. “Use checklists”), which span 123 pages and are broken down into outline form after being explained at length. Though familiarity with them has always been an essential part of the job, there has never been a formal test determining that all employees met the required level of efficiency. Until now. Read more »

It was a particularly windy day in Westport, CT and I delicately placed the mounted bird in my passenger seat, gingerly wrapping the seat-belt around its midsection without mussing the feathers. Carrying the bird in and out of the post office and several shipping stores became more hilarious each time. People stared. I smiled back. Finally though, when I’d reached the last place in the area that I could try before getting back to the office on time, I wasn’t going to take ‘no’ for an answer. The clerk gave me a look of disbelief when I placed the bird on the counter and I said, “I need to ship this to Japan.” He just laughed at me. I then looked at him sternly and said, “This is no laughing matter. This bird needs to make it to Japan in flawless condition or I will lose my job.” The guy looked back at the bird and then back at me. By then I had used my acting skills and summoned some tears. Finally he agreed to try and crate the bird for shipment. I still don’t know to this day if it made it past customs, but I was satisfied that I had not given up on my task. [Dealbook, related]

  • 21 Jun 2011 at 10:25 AM

Bridgewater’s Flagship Fund Up 11 Percent YTD

The radical truth-seeking sessions are paying off. Read more »

“Principles” is now titled “Principles (That Might Be Right or Wrong, for You to Take or Leave).” [NYM, earlier]

  • 17 Mar 2011 at 11:43 AM

Pension Funds Love Bridgewater

Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates clocked in as the hedge fund of choice among public pension plans, in a recent popularity contest, with 21 out of 150 PPP’s investing with the firm. If they can’t get a piece of Ray, the funds people will settle for are: Read more »

The latest issue of AR Magazine features a lengthy profile of Ray Dalio’s mega-successful Bridgewater Associates, with much space devoted to the “culture” of the firm, as defined by Principles, a handbook of sorts written by Dalio, which we shared last May. In sum, the firm requires its employees, 30 percent of whom leave within two years of being hired, to “trust in truth” and to “pursue the truth” relentlessly, in everything they do. Criticism is “both welcomed and encouraged” and rather than “depersonalizing mistakes” or saying “we didn’t handle this well,” the staff are told to “connect specific mistakes to specific people.” It’s an environment unlike any other hedge fund and those who’ve experienced the program firsthand seem to be divided into two camps, at least among those interviewed by AR**: Dalio and the Bridgewater officials (senior staff are referred to as “culture carriers”) who think it’s great and former employees who describe the place as “cultlike,” “sinister,” “eerie” and something out of George Orwell’s 1984. Here’s what one former exec had to say:

My fundamental belief is that Bridgewater is a cult. It’s isolated, it has a charismatic leader and it has its own dogma.” It was so stressful, he recalls, that one employee couldn’t sleep all night and then, in the morning, threw up before meetings with Dalio. (The incident could not be confirmed.)

Another likened being an employee at Bridgewater to being an abused puppy. Read more »